Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Knot in My Stomach

As my time was winding down on the job, my frustrations had boiled over onto Buffalo as well: for not having more people to justify more frequent bus stops out near where I worked or for not having more jobs so I could more easily quite one I hate and easily replace it.

When I came back to Buffalo this summer, I came back with no illusions about it being something it wasn’t (and isn’t) and with expectations no loftier than discovering some of the things it might still nevertheless have going for it that I may have previously missed. If that job had done anything more it removed me from the physical city too frequently, for too long each day. Now that I have the free time to be in the city itself everyday, I am making sure, at the very least, that if I am to leave Buffalo again, I am going to leave it on good terms.

Because, that said, I’ve definitely been seriously considering a move back to Portland a lot lately. Enough so that I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in my life next and find myself in a limbo state--both welcomed and unwelcome--at the moment. Everyday I’ve had a knot in the pit of my stomach constantly pouring over the possibilities, half excited, half nervous about making a good decision and making it for the right reasons. I know that it’s a knot that is a result of being willing to quit a job, live off as little money as possible and be willing to move about on an instinctual whim when the feeling dictates. I know too that I will eventually, when looking back, appreciate this situation as being a result of that freedom, but that will be easier than actually going through the experience as it interferes with my day from time to time.

I recently had a passing thought that I may have seen a bit too much of myself in Buffalo: a proud past that potentially had a promising future that ultimately went an unforeseen and unexpected route. That Buffalo isn’t as big a city that I might want to be living in, but, like I said, I had no illusions about that before I came back. If I am going to leave, it will be reasons unrelated to such arbitrary standards but rather for the fact that I may just have to admit that Buffalo might not be the place for me to be at this time.

And between Buffalo and I, the one I can change the easiest is myself.

Daily Routine

Now that I’ve been off for a full week now and I did my heavy drinking last week, I’m finally getting into a groove with my free time. Other than the mornings after drinking, I’ve been keeping up very well with my goal to wake up early (woke up at 8:00 this morning) and take my time to enjoy breakfast.

From there I usually take a few hours to read—online or books—or what have you before lunch. After lunch, my mind a bit tired from concentrating for so long, and my body tired from sitting still that entire time, I’ve been leaving the next few hours open to taking a daily walk, watching a little TV (Seinfeld), making dinner or whatever else might come up. I try to make plans to get out of the house at least once a day to prevent cabin fever and have done so everyday so far. Even have plans to meet some people from an old job at Nick’s Place tomorrow for lunch (breakfast).

From there I’ll usually end up back in my room, finishing off the night with a drink or two while catching up on some wikipedia or reading to calmly finish off what usually amounts to a 17 hour day.

Yet, even with all that time, I still have yet to make a post here and have plenty of other things that I’m not doing that will hopefully keep me busy the entire time I am not working. Which at the moment I have no idea how long will be.

Ode to 9 to 5

Notes from my last week of work:

Having one friend who has 10% required overtime every week as part of his contract; one who works six days a week, usually more than 50 hours; another who is required to work one Saturday a month and gets only a limited number of holidays off a year; and including myself, having just quit my second straight job that had no definite quitting time everyday: a toast to 9 to 5 and thee days when work, as meaningless as I know it to be, was at the very least confined between eight hours (not 8½ or 9 with lunch), usually between 9-5, not including holidays, even now forgotten ones like Veteran’s Day and President’s Day, and long before the 24/7 customer service industry based solely on convenience (as close to the king of the country as there’s ever been) to the customers and not the employees required to performed the task.

As easy as it would be for me to bitch about banks, I at least applaud their sticking to “banker’s hours” (though even those are slowly disappearing)—though too, already having all the money, it’s probably a bit easier for them to make their own rules.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

First Day Off

I think pants will be optional.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Truth Boils Over

The truth boiled over yesterday.

The job that I have been working, with hours that vary on a day to day basis depending upon volume of and distance between pickups, for a place nine miles away from my house on a bus route that sees service only once an hour has not only taken far too much of my time but taken even more of my energy.

Every job I've had in recent memory looking back, has hat at least one aspect that wasn't completely unredeemable: The Buff St job office job—hopefully the last of those I'll ever have—did require I have a car and I did work with one of the most overbearing, nosey and demeaning coworkers I’ve had the displeasure of knowing, but it was always an 8-4 job and was no more than three miles from my house; the delivery job I had in Portland did demand a lot of overtime, but I worked with friends my age and was close enough to home that as soon as I was done I could get on my bike and leave; and even a job I had at FedEx that I commuted 35-40 minutes from Lockport for and had the most miserable workers I hopefully will ever see at least, once again, had hours set in stone.

As for my current job, I show up early everyday (because my ride works this early) and no matter how efficiently I perform the daily tasks, find myself in a constant nerve-wrecking race against the company’s willingness to take orders no matter how late or out of the way they might be—nothing personal of course to the worker, just business—just to get back for a bus that if I miss by one minute adds another 59 to my day.

Obviously I have a thing against any kind of job. Based on my low needs for money, there is no such things as a low paying job to me, though, likewise, probably no good paying job either. Still, I can go without completely abhorring the act as well. After all, I willingly admit that I need a job to remain social. Ideally I’d like a part time job that I could support myself with, or at least a full time job that I can count on leaving at a reliable time everyday. At this point even, I’d take a job that, even if the work fluctuates , would allow my efficiency to be rewarded and could leave when done.

This job has offered none of those things. The number of times I’ve sat around early in the day only to be busy at the end of the day is a weekly occurrence at least, the number of times I’ve had to turn around at the end of the day to go out for a run that adds 60-90 minutes on the end of my day are not as frequent but more memorable. Sometimes things get so out of hand and annoying that I see more dignity in asking for change or returning cans from the garbage than being at the consistent mercy of customer’s orders, warehouse incompetence and owner’s willingness to do anything for one order.

Ultimately I know this comes back on me and my willingness to compromise for work—just look at what I wrote above by even taking a job as shitty as one that would always fluctuate but might allow a minor reward for efficiency.

While I’ve saved a good amount of money from this job, I’ve cheated myself, once again, out of free time and moods that I am in more direct control of. If I’ll ever learn from this is to be seen. It seems I keep finding myself in such compromising situations. If I’ll ever find myself in the right job situation I doubt but I can at least hope to handle it a little better in the future, as it seems that I’ve also done in the past. Lastly, with free time now on the horizon, it’ll be up to me to retrospectively justify and rectify the time and money saved worth my while.

The truth of that will soon enough boil over as well.

The truth always boils over.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I'm just counting down the work days I have left at this point. It's four.

And trying to avoid the suddenly terrifying feeling that I haven't done much in the way of reading at all over the past four months (the exact number of months I worked...hmmm). At least I've been posting here and doing a few other things, but if I'm not careful I'm going to start feeling overwhelmed by the number of things I need to catch up on with all my time off. Obviously I haven't quite come to be at peace with the idea of actually doing nothing and I'll chew over that in my mind for a few days before I expand upon that.

One thing at a time, one day at a time.

Just, life help me, don't let me drink and sleep it away this time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best and the Worst

Over Thanksgiving weekend I didn’t know if I was going to get a ride to Rochester for dinner but was willing to concede defeat and spend the day by myself. I certainly wanted to go, believing it would be better if I could, but I was going to make the most of it either way.

Then out of nowhere three situations showed themselves that allowed me to not only get a ride on Thursday but also to go out on Wednesday night. I didn’t sweat it and things just fell into place.

Same thing for my friend Mike who found a ride from New York City to Lockport—Lockport!—with seeming ease. The two of us even talked about how easily things seem to fall into place just by expecting or allowing them to.

Now, today, with things up in the air there are certainly options that I hope to take more than others. Still, I found myself immediately drawn to concerns that the best case scenarios might not happen over the course of the next month or two and did it with a mindset that those were suddenly the only options that I have. And as it became apparent that the best case scenario was not absolutely certain to be there, for a good part of my day I dwelled upon that uncertainty and expanded it into an overwhelmingly discouraging fact that depressingly left no other possible desirable scenarios behind.

Whatever it is that makes the mind immediately dwell upon the worst situation I don’t know. That it seems so universal amongst people, where most would let the fact that the only thing worse than the job you have is actually looking for a job force them to keep one, suggests to me that it isn’t an inherent trait amongst us—nothing is that inherently universal—but instead seems to me to be an acquired state of mind that is passed around on a daily basis. But what do I know?

It certainly requires a strong concentration on my part to overcome immediate reactions such as these and have found myself even thinking of them now that I'm home.

But the very idea quitting a job is to have options. Great, so I don’t have an immediate source of income. Perhaps things won’t work out as perfectly as I can imagine them. The benefit of allowing yourself to have options is to have options. There is never only one. No need to worry about it. Because sometimes, like the best case scenario worked out on Thanksgiving, just by allowing yourself to be in the position to be able to take it, even the best case scenario does work out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm Not There

After yet another day of work that required an irritating and demeaning waste of my time thanks to incompetent people, waiting in the cold rain with wet socks for a bus that ultimately got me home just under twelve hours after I had left it for work and the unbearable realization of just how much time and energy this inane job has been sucking from me, I changed my plans on the fly and, unwilling to any longer attempt to foolishly justify the lengths I literally go to in order to keep the job, decided that I will not be quitting at the end of the year.

Instead I gave my two weeks notice at the end of the day.

The sudden possibilities of free time ahead of me, of not having to leave the Elmwood District, of perhaps finding a lower paying part-time job in the area to ease my regrets about not quitting sooner, or perhaps fixing even bigger far off mistakes before it's too late are already freely being raced around.

For now, I have two more weeks to get through. Two weeks to consider all those possibilities.

I feel the relief setting in already.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Car Borrowing/Bike Riding

Tomorrow will be the first day in almost two weeks that I won't have a car to drive myself to work. As many free drink I've still been seeing every weekend, the cars have been being loaned to me nearly as frequently.

And as incredibly convenient that they have been in cutting down the commute to work and allowing me to use them for little errands like grocery shopping, as soon as I have to fill them up with gas I am immediately reminded just how little interest I have in actually have in owning a car again.

It's an incredibly generous offer that I will take every time from a friend in borrowing a car. But as soon as I would have to pay insurance, repairs (etc) would be when my interest in an automobile would cease.

And despite the colder weather now arriving, I still haven't abandoned my bike. In fact, I used it to go food shopping today. Today was the very type of day that I had been romanticizing when living in Portland and such a day that I wanted to ride my bike on just to show it possible. Once I got past the brief moment that I thought I was fucking crazy for ever romanticizing such a stupid thought, I warmed up and made it back and forth with an enjoyable ease even with the winds picking up.

So even on a day when I was mostly lazy (but not drinking at least), I did manage to accomplish something I had set out to in my return.

Thanksgiving Weekend

The past week has been a week long reason to drink. Perhaps thanks in part to it being a five payday month I have kept my word of a previous post and have not felt guilty about the amount of money that I've spent over the long weekend. My monthly total is now approaching October's current high, but with good reason after all the fun I had these past several days.

That said, it was also a sort of farewell celebration of sorts to that free spending out at the bars as well as in my daily habits in general. With my plans to quit my job impending, I am going to have to watch my spending a bit more scrupulously once again. $3 dollar beers and shots have once again increasingly grown annoying and I'm going to be looking to instead go out to bars with some sort of bargain (ie, Essex St. Pub). As well, I haven't been as focused on posting here and have even grown sloppy in some of my daily habits--sleeping (too much), reading (too little), cleanliness in my apartment--that could use a second wind as far as attention paid goes.

It's nice to think that the cold weather alone would keep me in more on the weekends and cut back on the spending, but a colder house is also hard to stay in. Either way, beginning today I've begun to take the necessary steps to be a bit more prepared to be focused once again.

Then again, it is only one day and the bars are open everyday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Into the Wild

It's been almost a couple of weeks since I and my roommate Daren went to see the film version of Into the Wild and have been digesting these thoughts for days now.

In the strict cinematic sense, I was surprised just how well the two and a half hours that I thought going in were going to be too much were used. Nothing felt unnecessary, like filler or even self-indulgent. It left plenty of room for interpretations and personal prejudices to influence one's own take on the movie: did Chris become a vagabond because of his parents' relationship or because he was a strict philosopher heavily influenced by his readings? Was Chris McCandless arrogant and overconfident enough to think he could master the the Alaskan wilderness or simply a naive romantic that, not knowing what he was getting himself into, got in over his head?

What I took away most from the movie, as much as I took away from the book, was a deep appreciation for anyone like Chris McCandless who can abandon everything they've ever had in order to physically carry out their personal ideologies.

But it also served as a reminder that that is the only way one can fully carry out any ideology without any compromise: alone. Let alone the fact that I find little worth in any philosophy only capable of working in seclusion from society, as well as the fact that I respect the fortitude of anyone willing to take their ideas that far, in the end, as even Chris McCandless figures out, happiness is only worth a damn when shared.

In my desire to work as little as possible, I daily face the compromises that I make to this philosophy and recognize that at the core of these compromises the desire to be a social creature is stronger in me than the desire to completely abandon work and go about fulfilling that idea uncompromised and pristine on my own; separated and alone.

I openly expose myself to stories such as Into the Wild so that I must constantly meet face to face the compromises that I am making so as to not only reconsider my stance but ultimately strengthen the stance I settle upon.

In one of the last scenes Chris is leaving for Alaska when his elderly friend asks if he could adopt Chris as his son, he being the last of his family to carry on his name. For me it was a moment heavily saturated with an unnecessary yet intrinsically basic human need to see one's name/genetic lines carried on. But more than just that it showed just how much we influence and impress upon each other's lives no matter how little we might try--perhaps out of social interactions that are impossible to escape or a universal clumsiness of human nature, I'm not quite sure.

In watching that scene I began tearing up knowing that in the past I had been selfishly unwilling to accept that truth. But even more so knowing that I would always be willing to work at least a little bit for those small moments I am always able to share between friends and family.

I would expand upon that idea if I were a better writer and yet, as of now, I am not. Such writing may only be capable for those willing to go into the metaphorical wild to better their craft which I've entered only done in ambitious talk and wordy intentions, but as of yet have been largely unwilling to do so in an even less than absolute practice.

Perhaps further testimony to my strong love of those moments my friends and I do share.

Perhaps further testimony to my willingness to compromise against my loftier ideals in order to experience the immediate physical pleasures.

And perhaps further still, yet another reason I might have teared up at that moment.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Morning Coming Up

Today I woke up like I have not on a Saturday morning in quite some time: before 2:00pm and less than mildly hungover.

This minor victory to the beginning of my day was quickly turned into a short trip to Wegman's where my roommate and I had our jokes about the lives we were leading somehow oddly reaffirmed when I walked by my prom date, unnoticed, only to overhear a conversation that mentioned she had recently been married.

On the ride home I jumped out of the car at a traffic light to pick up two tubes to fix my bike's two flat tires. And having gotten that out of the way I began walking the six blocks home and noticed it started snowing.

I have been waiting for snow in Buffalo for two years now. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to keep walking in that weather so I hurried home, unpacked my groceries, ate and headed back out to go for a walk.

As I walked south down Elmwood humming songs from Dylan's Time Out of Mind there was an odd feeling that I was somewhere both in my past and my future--a combination of a longing romanticism of previous days and the optimism that there is a pay off somewhere down the road that says everything I've ever done had rightfully lead up to that moment--in the very moment that I was experiencing.

The snow still falling, my breath visible and an unexpected warmth derived from the otherwise dreary gray overcast above me, for the first time in months I felt comfortable right where I was as I was right where I wanted to be. Even though I was just walking, observing, passing by and not actually touching anything, it--Buffalo--was all making an impression upon me that made me feel as though I were as much a part of it as it was a part of me. These were the moments that would always be recalled when remembering Buffalo and I was conscious enough to enjoy the moment for what it was.

I made it all the way downtown on my walk, saw the new M&T building that, while still new and pristine to offer any sort of welcoming feeling, will at least give notice that there were in fact still people living in Buffalo in the '00's, made it down Chippewa and then back up Elmwood before going all the way back north to Talking Leaves on the corner of Bidwell and Elmwood.

And all the while, contrary to usually being too trapped in my head to take in the details of the scenery, I noticed all the side streets--Virginia, Edward, Trinity, Tracy, Johnson Park--that I wish I could live on though felt life's limited length will prevent me from doing so, and I took in views down alleys and through parking lots and up and down the side streets that I hadn't ever seen before despite the number of times I had walked the very same route.

And because nothing can exist without its opposite--a city must first die before being reborn--I felt that the last few months that I've been sluggishly pushing through were suddenly worth it for they allowed this day and these moments, their total opposites, to occur. It might be gone tomorrow and I might return to that limbo place soon enough, but from this serene (re)connection to Buffalo today I saw signs of a personal rebound and again being assured that this is where I want to be and this is what I want to be doing with myself at his point, these thoughts all culminating in the calm realization that this is what I could do everyday if I simply didn't work. Or at least as much and so far from my house. And so all questions and doubt were ended at that moment: I will be quitting by the end of the year and will trust that work will be found and bills will be paid and, most importantly, I will again find myself back in the moments that led me to return to Buffalo and that will, should I leave again, always be calling me back.

Curious to know if every Saturday could be like this should I only wake up early enough.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Biding My Time, Wasting My Time

If only for the sake of honesty and full self-disclosure, I will again note that at the present, I am only biding--wasting--my time until I have a little more money saved up because of my previous immediate willingness to compromise my goal of finding only part-time work. How I could possibly allow myself to waste so much of my precious time trying to save money I have an idea only in theory. But I'm still doing it. I have been tired and uninspired lately and while I know I will eventually retrospectively turn these moments into proof of the static nature of work, let them also be noted as a result of my complacency at the moment and nothing more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Things Have Changed

Every conversation I’ve had hasn’t been one to point out my hypocrisies. My same friend Dan said that I have changed since I have gone to and returned from Portland. His reasons to back this statement up weren’t entirely clear, but I was somewhat disappointed by my immediate disappointment in such a statement.

Why would I take offense at such a statement? I certainly hope I’ve changed. To be one boring consistent human being until the day I die is one of the things I hope to fight against so long as I am consciously thinking. And while he didn’t mean it as a compliment, I don’t know why I didn’t take it as such immediately. In the future, I would hope that I would react a little more appropriately.

Days Off

Coincidentally enough, today (now yesterday, thanks to not having an Internet connection yesterday) was my first day off since the last day I really made any posts here. And if the proof I have right here before me of my productivity on days off, not to mention the reminders I had all day of just how much time I could have if I wasn’t working, isn’t enough to convince me to carry through my plans to quit work soon enough, than nothing will and I am nothing but a paper philosopher unwilling to carry out his own theories and might as well go all out and go back to school and get myself a real job.

$1,000 in October

Last Month marked the first month that I cracked the “allotted” $1,000 spending mark in one month. I did have to pay a little more money in bills, but mostly I just spent a little more on dining and going out.

And after every weekend that I went out and spent that money, I spent my entire Monday putting myself through a gut-wrenching guilt trip for spending too much money, money, I argued, that could have been used down the line paying for essentials rather than entertainment.

But—and I’m hoping this isn’t yet another one of my white lies that I tell to myself in hopes of justifying a compromise I will once again regret later—I’ve finally come to the realization that allowing my moods to be negatively affected by spending money is as equally absurd as the notion that money can buy you happiness: in both cases emotions are reliant upon money.

My whole life I’ve always been happier the less I’ve spent and more unhappier the more I’ve spent. I’ve counted and calculated my spending to the point that it becomes a pressure I put upon myself not to spend so much, yet I naturally respond to pressure by overdoing the very thing I am pressuring myself not to do.

But if I instead eliminate my emotions, both positive and negative, from the equation, spending simply becomes another event free of pressure, a pressure I will no longer respond to by overspending. If I am going to count every penny on Monday mornings I will simply do it as a math equation. If I want to quantify the rest of my weekend I will do so separately and remember the number of times I thought during my nights out with my friends “these are good times” and stop feeling guilty for having had to spend a few dollars to have them. I understand that I could have the same times for free, but if my friends want to go out, they’ll go out. And in wanting to have those same good times as my friends I’m willing to make that compromise and go out with them.

Only now today, I no longer feel so guilty about that as I have in the past.

Who Needs Actions When You Got Words

I’ve been neglecting any sort of posting here as of late for what I had considered to be no other reason than it was merely a reflection of my natural tendency to lose the momentum that I create at the beginning of a project, especially in any sort of creative venture.

I’ve once again found myself in a sluggish routine of not-reading, drinking and watching television too much, and working even more to the point of becoming creatively paralyzed, indifferent and inactive. Not only has this project here suffered, but the main creative goal I had set for myself to finish in my return to Buffalo has hit an equally inactive snag as well

What I have managed to do is, as I have been slowly saving some money up, to begin thinking of ways in which I might spend it. The most enticing way that I have considered was to save enough money to buy a van, quit work and drive cross-country alone over the course of a couple of months—having no timetable whatsoever being essential—while living out of my van, avoiding the big cities, and seeing how many ways I could spend my days without the conveniences of television and the internet to distract me. And believe me, nothing would sound like a better way to spend my summer or the money that I’ve been saving.

But the daydream is one by its very definition based upon the need for money. However, the goals that I have set out to accomplish this year were set in hopes of showing that one can easily live on an average of $1,000 a month, but were also set in hopes of working as little as possible. It’s not the spending the money that is counterproductive here, but the necessity of earning the unnecessary money.

In a recent conversation, my friend Dan accused me of being amongst the hardest workers of our friends in that my work day is the longest and therefore hypocritical to this supposed cause I have taken up.

And I couldn’t defend myself. He was right. My work days have become what I previously stated in a post: nothing resembling an eight hour day but instead upwards of 11 or 12. My average day has been approaching eleven hours easily and by the time I’m finished eating it is nearly 12. Such a long work day was the very sort of things I set out to work [sic] against this year. And yet here I am correctly noted as a hypocrite.

While I can successfully argue in favor of keeping the job so I don’t have to look for another, I can no longer deny what has been crippling my creative motives over the last few weeks: the knowledge that I am compromising my intentions far too much for the sake of a little financial stability and to save up for trips that do not need to happen immediately, especially ones based on such a large need for capital, rather than compromising in favor of accomplishing the things that require free time.

Reading my last post, I have no idea what I was thinking sugar-coating the compromises that I’ve been making just for work. Yet it was true. I even began appreciating the idea that I didn’t have to wear a uniform or maintain my beard to the point of thinking that the job was a “good” job. But this will have to change.

As of now I can afford to be fired or quit this minute and survive until at least February on the money I have saved. So for now I am only working, really, to save more money. But instead of mapping out my future as far away as March or April, I am forcing myself to quit by my birthday in January, if not by as early as December. And even that seems to be a bit of a compromise when I see it written out in front of me.

If the trip can still be taken, it will be. But such a trip is not my goal this year. I must stop compromising what I have put before me at the moment, and must be willing to be a little less stable and maybe even uncomfortable and give myself the necessary time and space to accomplish the creative goals I’ve for far too long neglected and, even worse, compromised against.

I certainly hope I will take the necessary actions required to once again be fully inactive, but knowing myself, it is a matter I can easily speak of, though carrying through on them might be altogether another matter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Workday Burden Slightly Lifted

Over the past couple of weeks my mood in regards to work has taken a noticeable turn for the lighter.

Now that I've managed to put enough money away that I could get by for a month (if not two on a very tight budget) should I suddenly decide to quit work, work suddenly feels less of a necessity as it does a reluctant choice that I'm making everyday at this point.

As much romanticism as there seems to be in the idea of living check to check, struggling to get by just to eat and drink, there is something even better for me in the idea that the time I'm putting in now will allow me to take time off soon enough. That I can once again look at options beyond simply making sure that I eat each week, quitting work has not once again become a very reasonable option, the atlas has found its way out of my closet and another summer vacation, if not even another trip, next year doesn't seem so unlikely as it did when I first started working a couple of months ago. Some people save up for a house or a vacation, I save up for free time and I feel that every day that I work now will allow me to not work another day or two down the road. I'm at a point where I have a few days saved up already and if I can just hang in there long enough I'll be able to have plenty more with them soon enough.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

TEG, Week of 10:18:07

Standings W L GF GA Home
xy Todd 8 1 36 18 4 1 4 0

Kevin 6 3 29 21 3 1 3 2
x Dan 6 3 24 21 3 2 3 1
x nait 6 3 29 21 3 2 3 1

Khris 3 6 22 26 1 3 2 3

Pat 3 6 12 30 1 4 2 2

Chief 2 7 18 21 1 3 1 4

Churchie 2 7 14 26 1 3 1 4
x-Clinched Playoff Spot
y-Clinched tie for First

Week Four Games:
nait @ Kevin
Dan @ Todd
Pat @ Khris
Chief @ Church Knate
Kevin @ Dan
Khris @ Chief
Church Knate @ Pat
nait @ Khris
Todd @ Chief
Dan @ Church Knate
Pat @ Kevin
Todd @ nait

Playoff Picture The playoff picture cleared up substantially by the end of this week even though it remains somewhat of a muddled mess. Todd has all but clinched first place. Kevin has the upper hand on second place at the moment, but cannot overtake first and has not clinched a playoff berth while Dan and nait, sitting behind him in third and fourth respectively, have already clinched playoff berths and nait is the only one who can catch Todd for first place. As for the fifth and final spot everyone else is still eligible to make the playoffs, though Khris has the inside track on that spot.

The scenarios: Todd only needs to win one game or have nait lose one game to clinch his league best third career regular season title. With tie-breakers over both Kevin and Dan, but having lost to nait, Todd can only be caught by him assuming he loses out and nait wins out.

Kevin can technically fail to make the playoffs if he loses out and Pat wins and defeats Kevin by more than three goals.

Dan and nait can both finish anywhere between second and fourth but cannot slip to fifth under any circumstances, both having the tie-breakers over Pat and Khris, the only two below them in the standings that can catch them.

As for the fifth and final spot, the winner of the Khris-Pat matchup this week will have the inside track for the final spot, though both Chief and Knate can make it but would need other teams to lose even if they won out. As far as TEG can remember, this would be the first time that all teams have a stake going into the final week of play.

Meaningful Game Sighted in Churchland After his upset of Kevin, Knate's second win this season not only equaled his career win total heading into the season, it also propelled him into the thick of the playoff chase. In fact, his game against Khris marked the first game Knate had ever played with his own playoff implications at stake. He ultimately lost the game 2-1 in OT, but the fact that he was even in the situation signals a huge step forward for the franchise's history.

Stats of the Week:

1. Todd's eight game winning streak set a new team regular season record, besting his previous best of six straight regular season wins. The streak is now the second longest regular season winning streak behind Colin's twelve straight regular season, but is three behind the 11 straight that Todd won over the course of the end of Season Four's regular season and playoffs.
2. Todd has outshot every opponent in his eight game winning streak. And was outshot in his only loss.
3. Todd is 7-0 as the Blue Team.
4. Kevin has now gone 87 straight games without being shutout.
5. nait and Kevin both insured that they would finish no worse than .500 for the sixth consecutive season, the only two teams to hold such a streak in league history.
6. nait clinched his six straight playoff appearance, the only team in league history to make the playoffs in every season.
7. Dan tied a career best five game winning streak and besting his best in-season winning streak.
8. Chief is tied for last place despite having the league's best save percentage.
9. Original Four teams went 7-1 this week against expansion teams, bringing their record to 18-2 on the season in such games.
10. Knate has both victories by an expansion team over an Original Four.
11. After tying the single season shutout total in Week 2, no team was shutout this week.
12. Only one team has had 20 SOG this season--and lost.
13. Teams that held a two goal lead went 5-1.

One Goal Made All the Difference In the last game of the first week, Chief, sitting at 2-0 and looking to end the week as the only undefeated team left in the league, was leading Pat 2-0 late in the game. But Pat, hanging in there, scored a late goal with time left on the clock. This allowed the puck to be put back into play and Pat again took advantage by scoring the tying goal and ultimately the game-winning overtime goal to overcome a two goal deficit. Since that game, Chief has not won, going on a seven game slide. In his seven game losing streak he has lost five of his games by one goal and the other two by two.

Even in his rematch against Pat this past week he once again held a late two goal lead that Pat overcame again to continue the losing streak. TEG cannot help but wonder what would have been the outcome of Chief's season had he simply held onto that lead in his third game.

Still, in the new Thursday Night Bubble Hockey, Chief still has a chance to get into the playoffs despite the sudden setback.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bye Week Sunday

It only hurts when I move.


I found a great way to force myself to do nothing for more than two straight days: play a little pick up football with my friends!

We (my standard group of friends) played this past Bye Week Sunday (yes, it's worthy of capitals) at Delaware Park, figuring we would play a five-on-five or six-on-six game against each other. But when we got there there was another group of seven guys ready to play a game amongst themselves until both groups decided to play each other.

But rather than play ten-on-seven, we politely suggested playing seven-on-seven and we would begrudgingly substitute our players throughout the game. Who would have known that rotating ten guys would help our rag tag, hungover, out of shape team against an otherwise borderline Johnny (or is that borderline-Johnny?) team that may not have been thoroughly in shape, but at least appeared to have been in shape at some point in their lives?

Still the game was close. Playing to seven, we were up 4-2 and then 6-4 before they tied the game up both times. And as our game-winning drive came to an unsuccessful conclusion when I femininely went for a pass that was thrown only slightly high and tipped it to the safety for an interception, I doubt I was the only one who worried we were going to blow a two point lead.

But perhaps I was the only one because my friend Jay followed up the turnover with a great tip into our very own Don's hands giving us the ball deep in their territory. From there we dropped a couple more sure fire touchdowns only to be saved by a spectacular diving catch in the corner of the end zone by Cakes for the game winner.

"Don't celebrate unless you got it," said the worst of the goons.

Oh, we had it. We had it the whole time.

The entire game further deepened my preference to play a game of any sort rather than watch it. And the fact that my friends and I banded together and defeated the common Johnny enemy (some of the guys were good guys and fun to play against, though, like all groups of people, that was by no means entirely the case) made it all the more sweeter.

But ever since then I have barely been able to move. Perhaps the body, in not being a bicycle, requires constant physical attention to maintain a youthful exuberance after all. But either way, I've gotten my way and haven't done a thing since.

And even though we all know we won because we had subs, I'd hate to think how I'd feel right now if we didn't.

Friday, October 12, 2007

TEG, week of 10:11:07

New Dogs versus Old Tricks Now that the financial stability and future of Colin's team is uncertain, it leaves only four of the Original Five still playing. After last week pitted the Original Four against each other, and the three rookies and one-time expansion team Churchie against each other in separate round robins, each of this week's games saw one of the Original Four play one of the expansion teams. And my what a rookie hazing it was! Of the 12 games played, 11 were won by the Original Four and the "expansion" team that won was Churchie: meaning no rookie team beat an Original. This however is by no means a recent trend as the Original Four have a career record of 63-10 against teams that did not play in the league's first season. Todd has the best such record with a 19-1 while Dan holds the "worst" with a putrid 13-5 record. I would go into further depth but then I would run out of stats for the stats of the week section, so see below. By the end of the week the Original Four held the top four spots and where parity once reigned it suddenly seemed feigned and disparity is present again.

Running Items Department: Four Goals and a Victory TEG's irrefutable law still holding strong with teams scoring four goals or more going 9-1 this week. No surprise there except to see that four goals were scored on ten occasions after only seven last week. Perhaps then the following item will prove unnecessary.

Two Goal Leads Are the New Four Goals Equals a Victory As stats are proving, goals are down this season, as are shots. As stated here last week this will ultimately decrease the number of comebacks over multi-goal deficits and add an increased pressure for a team to score the first goal. To support these thoughts, TEG did his best to track the number of times a team that lead by two goals at any point wound up winning their games. By my tally, 10 games featured a two goal lead and eight times the team that held it won. Or put in a less complicated manner: teams only came back from two goal deficits twice. One was by TEG himself who only came back because of how quickly the first two goals were scored against him. (And, almost echoing the words of a bubble hockey playing Tim Connolly TEG, perhaps believing a little too much in his own new theory--almost said to himself "no one comes back from two goals down in bubble hockey.") Todd was the other benefactor of a comeback and he did the same by overcoming an early two goal lead as well. There's no way for TEG to go back and track the number of two-goal leads that have been overcome in the past, but, without trying to sound like the elderly speaking of supposed good old days, TEG is willing to bet that there were a few more such comebacks when the games were longer.

Stats of the Week:

1. Dan's 2-0 win over Chief was only the third 2-0 game in league history. As stated by TEG here last week, there has yet to be a 1-0 game. But with the scoring as it is, it would stand to reason that it's only a matter of time before we see that.
2. nait's holding Pat to one shot on goal marked only the second time in league history that few shots have been register. Much like the 1-0 game, a 0 SOG game seems a matter of time as well. In fact, unconfirmed rumors spoke of one such game, an exhibition, that occurred after league play this past Thursday night.
3. Kevin has never been shutout, a streak that now stands at 84 straight games.
4. There have been seven shutouts already this season, tying the league's season total record.
5. Todd has held opponents to less than 10 SOG for five straight games, breaking the old record of four previously held by Dan (Season Two) and equaled this week by Kevin.
6. Dan was outshot his first four games and has been five of his six games this season.
7. Khris is now 2-0 when outshooting his opponents but 0-4 when being outshot. As TEG's very own real live father used to tell him: "you can't score unless you shoot." TEG's advice to Khris? Shoot!
8. Pat is 1-1 when outshooting his opponents but 0-3 when being outshot. As TEG's very own real live father used to tell him: "you can't score unless you shoot." TEG's advice to Pat? Shoot!
9. After registering a 32-20 edge in shots against his opponents last week and going 2-1 in the process, Chief was outshot 53-14 and wound up going 0-3 in the process.
10. Knate has been outshot in every game this season and counting 11 straight dating back to the last season. In his career he is 1-46 in games he has been outshot. As TEG's very own...SHOOT!
11. Knate ended his record 25 game losing streak with a 2-1 OT, comeback victory against Dan. Two of Knate's three career victories have come against Dan.
12. Chief currently leads the league with a 2.00 GAA and is ahead of the all-time season save percentage record with an .836 percentage and yet is only 2-4. TEG does not know exactly what that could possibly mean except that perhaps the world isn't always fair.
13. Pat has one less GF and two more GA than Knate but has one more win. TEG does not know exactly what that could possibly mean except that perhaps the world isn't always fair.

Bonus Stat Even Though I Know It's Rude to Talk About Him When He's Not Here Colin won his first four career post-season games but has since gone onto lose his next seven (and counting).

Lesser of Two Evils? A new rule change this year, established after Todd broke tradition last year and chose to be the Red Team even though he was the home team--until then it was just given that the home team was Blue--now gives the home team the choice of which side to play on. But so far the home team, aka the team that picks their side is 10-14. Within those choices, Blue is showing to be a better, though only slightly, choice having gone 5-6 when picked, where as Red is 5-8.

Though TEG must ponders what could have changed so drastically from last week to make Re d picked nine times last week and only four times this week.

Next Week: More shots on goal stats! And maybe something more about the Blue/Red battle for good and evil.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Ol' Hockey Game

I meant to add this post during the Bills game (and actually before last Friday's Sabres' opener) and now after yesterday's performance feel the need to post it even more:

Despite the now 0-2 start, I am excited about the upcoming Sabres season.

This season looks to be something of a relief in the face of all the heavy pressure and expectations to win it all last season. And even with the departure of the two captains and their immediate impacts in their first games for their respective teams, there still remains a lot of promise and talent, not to mention a lot more youth than the two captains took with them.

Maybe it is a standard denial experienced by any hometown fan (Buffalonians--and I one of them--seem especially competent at it), or perhaps the Sabres teams of the past two seasons really did transform me into an actual optimist exactly as I claimed to be last season when it was far easier to be one (remember, this talk of optimism from a Buffalo team was written before last night's Bills game -ed.), but the Sabres didn't win in either of the last two seasons while having both of the now departed captains. Now getting older, how much could those chances have increased over the last two seasons? Not to mention by the time their new contracts would have run out?

It still hurts to have lost their services, especially New York's acquisition in that he, perhaps better than any other previous Buffalo athlete, embodied what Buffalo fans want from a player.

Still, I look at the new season, at its best anyways, to be somewhat like two seasons ago when the success was a surprise and enjoyed in the light of its unexpectedness.

And if all else fails, it can't be any worse than the Bills season. Bring on that good ol' hockey game and Harry Neale.


I'm doubtful that today's day off couldn't've gone much better.

After making my initial posts here for the day I went on to finish reading the book, Jailbird, I had started a few days ago. From there, very restless with the amount of free time I had on my hands, I went for an hour and a half bike ride.

For whatever reason, I have long accepted the notion that Buffalo is a small city and that the only healthy areas it has are Elmwood, Hertel and, to a lesser extent, Main St.

The truth is that Buffalo is a small city relative to the many other cities on the planet. And 280,000 people is still a lot of people unless compared to the 6,500,000,000 of us funny little creatures running around on the same planet. A planet which we also accept as small, but this is true only when compared to other known planets.

But to me, on a bike, the planet is fucking enormous. And even Buffalo is big. Big enough even to house neighborhoods I have never been in. Thankfully, I found a few of them today. In fact I went down eleven streets I had never been on before: Florida St, Hedley Pl, Hughes Ave, Blaine St, Beverly Rd, Meech St, Oak Grove Ave, Loring Ave, Burbank Dr, Meadowview Pl, Agassiz Cir that lead me to the previously unvisited Medaille College that anyone who has ever driven on the 198 has been next to while waiting at the light at Parkside.

Some of the views include:

Beverly Rd, which with its consistent row of houses with the median in the road and those seemingly ancient street lights rotating direction gives me yet another street scape that makes me immediately think of Buffalo:
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Trees on Hughes Ave, right behind Canius College, that I didn't think grew that tall in Buffalo. Or survived the October storm for that matter:
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Florida St, where I see five distinct Buffalo characteristics in this view:
1. Parking Lot Front property (though that may be more of an American characteristic than specifically just a Buffalo one)
2. An empty parking lot
3. Sparse, unhealthy looking trees
4. A boarded up attic window
5. A plastic covered window
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From there I slowly made my way through Forest Lawn Cemetery for a few pics:

Death Front Property:
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Once I returned home I caught up with a lot of the small daily distractions that I tend to put off in the name of not annoying myself like straightening up my room, catching up on emails (I'm still behind) and continuing some other things I've been meaning to spend some time working on.

I did catch a couple of brief naps, as well as a brief Seinfeld for my only TV (as opposed to those long Seinfelds). By the end of the day I did take one more bike ride after making dinner and am now winding up the day with a little bit of posting here and the hopefully some reading before I go to bed.

All in all, not a bad day. Seeing what I can do with an entire free of drinking or a hangover it almost makes me wish I didn't drink.


Last Thoughts On Last Night's Bills Game

Really, this is it. I'm ready to move on now.

Seinfeld once suggested that, with the way players change teams so much, we are really rooting for laundry. And for the most part I can't argue with that point.

But I think it's more a matter of simple arithmetic.

See, last night's loss was especially harsh because of the almost impossible chances the Cowboys overcame just to win the game.

Normally, I love watching the nearly mathematically impossible. It just might be the very thing had keeps my interest in sports alive. Except when it victimizes my team.

As fans, we'd like to think that winning vs. losing is a 50% likelihood. Thus, when one thinks of the chances of losing four straight Super Bowls, it would look like the chances are 1 out of 16 (1/2 ^4) and we were victims of mathematical absurdities.

But deep down we also know the other factors influencing those odds--talent or coaching disparity, injuries, home crowds, etc--and that it's rarely an even 50% chance of winning.

But likewise, it's never a 0% chance either. And when you get to watch a team overcome what were said to be long shot odds to win, it makes the win all that much sweeter.

The Bills were :02 away from doing just that. And up to that point they put all the odds on their side but still lost.

And that's what makes this such dirty laundry to have to air out today.

Coffee's On

With an unexpected day off--one that I didn't learn about until I got to work today--I've got a whole day's worth of free time with no one to suggest or pressure me into boozing at the moment (notice how it isn't my fault when I drink?).

I only got five hours of sleep last night (not much for my body), but I figure it's a perfect chance to see just how much I can do with this time. I'll probably catch up with a few more posts here, and the hopefully go on a bike ride for a little bit at least, as it looks like it might be the last really nice day before fall comes (and Good Life I hope this is true: bring on the fall already).

Had I had to work I'd've been dragging ass all day. Now? I'll do whatever it takes to stay awake and make the most of this time.

I always bitch about work getting in my way. Today's my chance to prove it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Short Open Letter: To the Buffalo Bills



There is no way you just lost that game.

Super Bowl XXV.

Six turnovers. Two defensive touchdowns. One kickoff return for a touchdown.


And still you let them nearly tie the score in the last minute.

Music City Nightmare.

But redeemed yourself by stopping the two-point conversion.

Only to let them grab the on-side kick.

The season opener against the Jets.

And even when the officials upstairs sided with you and said T.O. didn't catch that pass, you decided not to cover the little dump-off pass that had killed you all night.

Not once, but twice.

Jacksonville season opener.

And then you had the audacity to call a timeout and force us, your fans, to watch the game winning kick twice.

How many ways can you lose in one fucking game?

The blown 24-3 4th quarter lead against Miami two years ago.

Over the years I've slowly distanced myself from getting so emotionally involved in games that I have no direct influence upon. And yet watching that home crowd going absolutely berserk for a 1-3 team, seeing our depleted defense play like a Super Bowl contender, and having confidence in a quarterback for the first time since--who, Flutie?--how could I not get wrapped up and think we deserved to win?

Even the Denver season opener just four weeks ago.

How many teams have made their fans say that it would have been better to let the opponent score the tying two-point conversion with twenty seconds left and go to overtime?

Worse, how many teams have made their fans say, with :20 left, after just stopping the opposition's two-point conversion attempt, "this game still isn't over. I remember that Titans game."

Yes I remember it. But tonight, I didn't think I would have to remember it.

As I will now also have to remember this game, not as one of those sweet shining moments that gives us reason to hope and to hang in there and root for a team hoping to rebuild, but as a part of that ever increasing list of utter disappointments we saw coming but failed to believe would actually happen.

I feel like I've got to keep my friends on suicide watch. I can't even imagine what it's like at the stadium now.

That's enough for now.

No, that's enough for good.


Weekend Roundup

Well, I was working on this while watching the Bills game. Then it got interesting. Before it got devastating. Nevertheless, no point in wasting a post...

My Mondays usually have three steps:

1. Reluctantly wake-up, at least mildly depressed from another weekend of more boozing than constructive work accomplished, if not also from having to wake up to work.
2. Slowly pull myself together and not make more out of my partying than needs be made.
3. Ultimately get over it and go about enjoying my day.

Only today, my first two steps were far shorter than they normally were. The reasons, to me, were obvious. There was no way I would have guessed, especially after a Sabres loss on Friday, that I would have had my longest consistent laugh in recent memory.

But had I known that my friends and I would consider it a good idea to talk with stereotypical southern accents for over an hour (with Drew and Poose stealing the show), Chief would "round up" some sort of wagon with an extension cord, my friend Nick would be smooth enough to provide a consistent supply of stolen beers, Nick and Chief would slow Allen St down into only one lane with only two orange cones and their traffic directing abilities, and that we would collectively taunt (still in said southern accents) the girl working for Molson Canadian dressed up as a Mounty that was giving us free beers via some promotion they were running when she asked if she could borrow a cell phone, then yes, I would have definitely guessed it would have been a good night.

Once Saturday capped it off with a marathon bid pitch session, Pat riding Jay's bike inside of Merlin's (with Queen's "Bicycle" in the background of course) and a "long distance darts" session despite the constant buzzing of the "insert a quarter" sound, yeah, it was a good weeekend.

So even as I slept my Sunday away I couldn't help but not care. If a good time meant sleeping a whole day just to catch up, then sign me up ever time.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

TEG 10.4.07

nait..............1 ..2......6......7....0-1.....1-1

Week 2 Games

Chris @ nait
Chief @ Todd
Churchie @ Dan
Kevin @ Chris
Chief @ Dan
Churchie @ Kevin
Chris @ Todd
nait @ Chief
Todd @ Churchie
Dan @ Pat
Kevin @ Pat
Pat @ nait

Eighteen Month Sentence Served On a night when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere scored winning goals for each of their new respective teams, Buffalo fans might have needed a little something to distract them. And nearly eighteen months after the last game played, Bubble Hockey finally returned! And for all the traveling I had done in between, Thursdays just never felt the same. Not even this summer's Thursday in the Square felt right. Thursday had just lost its charm. On a rare good Thursday in the past year I remember once texting Church Nate "I forgot how much fun Thursdays could be." How I forgot just how much fun it was to know that on one given night you'd be amongst the best of your friends competing and hanging out I don't know. But I remember it now. I missed this and it's good to be back.

Last 1990's NHL Finds Bubble Hockey Home It was almost noticed immediately. Something didn't feel quite right about the length of the first game. And then the final stats started rolling in and it seemed all too obvious. The games may be cheaper now, but the games are also shorter as well. This will not only effect the likelihood of all-time records of being broken, but it more than likely also effect the number of high-scoring games, high shot totals and, perhaps most disappointing, multi-goal comebacks that we see. Also, more boring records such as the least SOG in a game (1) are suddenly more likely to be broken. There has never been a 1-0 game in league history (there have been 2 2-0) but, with this mid-1990's like dip in scoring, it may just be a matter of time before we see that.

Running Items Department, Four Goal Minimum: Another stat that immediately jumped out as being down was TEG's favorite rule that a team that scores four goals has an 80% chance of winning. The actual numbers for teams scoring four or more goals is 201-37: a .845% winning percentage. Teams that score exactly three times, just one goal less, fall to a mere .336 winning percentage, having gone only 37-73. The winning percentage for teams scoring even less than three continue the trend downward.

But this week, 4 goals were only scored seven times (out of thirty six) and there was only a single instance when both teams scored 4 or more, that being done in the second game, a 5-4 win for Kevin over Dan.

These stats do remain consistent with TEG's rule as teams went 83.3% of the time they scored four goals or more. But where it doesn't remain consistent is that out of those 246 previous games, 201 had at least one team score four goals or more. This week only saw 7 of 36, a 19.4% that is far less than the previously established 81.7% of the time.

Still, that isn't to say that there weren't any interesting stats this week.

Stats of the Week:

1. Kevin still never been shutout in league play, a streak that is now sitting at 81 straight games.
2. Todd became only the second team to shutout Dan. Dan was only shutout twice previously, both times by Colin.
3. Still on the topics of shutouts, there had been 22 previous shutouts in league play. In his first three career games, Chris had two.
4. nait was held, by Kevin, to a career low of four shots on goal in a game. nait's previous worst was 8, though Kevin has held teams to three shots three times in his career.
5. Chief fell one win short of the longest winning streak by an expansion team to begin their first season.
6. The record for most shots on goal in one game is 34. After three games, only nait (39) and Todd (35) have more than that.
7. This marks the first time there were no teams undefeated after the first week.
8. Teams shooting more than 20 times had previously been 52-13. This week they were 0-1. Only one team had more than 20 SOG!

Slowly Working My Way Back After a long lay off from the TEG column, I'm sure to need a little bit of time before I get back into the thick of things and have more stats and insights. As for a possible new name for TEG readers are encouraged to suggest one, as TEG is uncertain as to when exactly he will be writing this weekly and it is almost certain to not have the Thursday night consistency it previously had.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tonight's Bike Ride, Part II: Do Nothing About It

If the best things in life are indeed free then what are we working ourselves to death for?

For me, it’s the desire for travel. To move around and stay in motion because that motion is a motion against the stability of the settling down I still swear I am against. I am aware of the possibility to do it as a hobo for no money at all, but I am also aware of a certain standard that I am still unwilling to compromise.
(And it is in having something to actually work for—Goddamnit—that ultimately prevents me from begrudging anyone who does work, whether it be for a home or a family or what have you, because we each have our carrot on the stick that we find worth working for. If nothing else, maybe I am just trying to chase a stick of celery, one I will salt the hell out of, instead of a the same carrot stick?)

And that’s why I still work: just for the possibility of going somewhere else again.

Yet it’s hard for me, even with that possibility lingering, because, besides having to tell myself I am not compromising my idea of doing nothing, when I work I pressure myself to be constructive with my time when I come home and if I am not I almost overwhelm myself with a sense of disappointment (with myself). But when I don’t work, I do not have that urge to do anything at all; only the desire to literally do nothing at all and find little disappointment with such a thing. Perhaps that is yet another reason why I grow so easily frustrated with the idea of work: it requires of me (thanks to internal pressure from myself) to do a specific kind of nothing instead of whatever kind of nothing I wish to do. It inhibits even my options of nothing.

And it’s always hard for me to do something specific (just to sit here and write this is usually difficult because I always know that I could be doing something else—I still haven’t hung up the picture my roommate drew of me sleeping on the couch; I could put my rear light back on my bike) because doing something specific is doing something. And vice versa, doing something is to do something specific. Or, doing nothing specific is doing nothing.

Like the Renaissance Man who is an expert in nothing but familiar with everything, I do not want to be tied down to one specific thing at any given moment. I do not need an expert to support what experience itself can show me and thus can find myself overwhelmed by all the options that are before me when I wish to do nothing at all.

By the end of my bike ride, my body was well exercised and my mind a bit more focused. I was glad to be riding in Buffalo but knew that I didn't plan on staying there forever. And I was even reassured that it would be alright for me to sit here for a short time and write out some thoughts, and even waste a few more months working, because it was by no means ever required to do so. Nothing specific ever is required for me to do. I just find myself thinking that it is sometimes and that's when I need to do nothing about it, like go on a bike ride. Then I find myself back at ease and in the moment of eternal nothingness.

Tonight's Bike Ride, Part I: Any Road

With the continuation of summer that we are experiencing here in Buffalo I made the most of it tonight by taking an unplanned bike ride with no destination in sight.

I’ve been having a lot of thoughts running through my mind lately and a body in motion calms the mind.

The bike ride took me through some of the North Buffalo neighborhoods. It was a little after eight o’clock and there was still enough traffic and noise to remind me that I wasn’t in the suburbs though the houses and wide streets in the area certainly suggested the possibility. For a brief second I thought that, were I in the market as a homeowner—and my how I laughed at the idea of picturing myself being one, if not more than a little frightened that one day I will probably concede defeat and find myself begrudgingly mowing my lawn on a Sunday morning (because if you think I’m going to pay someone to do something that I can do myself you must be fucking crazy!)—this would be the sort of neighborhood that I would look for a home in.

But looking for a home is the very thing that someone who is doing something with their life would do. And I, a no one wishing to do nothing with his life, want nothing to do with that. At least not now.

In fact, many of my thoughts lately have dwelled on what I my next move is going to be.

I have been more than happy to be back in Buffalo. And I still have a lot of things to do that I wished to do in moving back. But at the same time it has also come to a point where it’s feeling a little weird being back here too. Perhaps some nouns—or people, places and things if I was taught correctly—that I found in Portland are missed more than I thought they would be; perhaps the idea that there are so many other nouns to be discovered everywhere; or perhaps even the idea of doing nothing only in Buffalo sounds static enough to me that I have begun weighing my options.

And thus, I keep working so as to have those options.

October Nothingness

Rent and bills have been paid and so I know I will live yet another month (though I certainly hope I remember to file my taxes as my six month extension is rapidly expiring) and what better time to be alive with so much nothing to do on my horizon. While I have gotten lazy with the research I was working on in relation to one of my favorite books, I am still reading, playing music (is there a way to not make that sound vague and corny?) and riding my bike frequently, as well as finding the time to not watch television. Though, that might not be the case for long with the Bills suddenly showing the vaguest signs of life as well as the baseball playoffs and Sabres seasons starting very soon. Additionally, my friends and I are supposed to be restarting our Thursday Night Bubble Hockey league this week with a couple of expansion teams and there is also some talk of a pick up game of football in Delaware Park either this week (thanks to the Monday Night game) or next (Bills’ bye week) which all but guarantees a house reeking of Ben-Gay the following three days after that.

And who can do anything when they’re so sore that they’re reeking of Ben-Gay?

Nothing shall come from nothing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Monthly Totals

Unless I decide to spend an unforeseen amount of money tomorrow, or if I decide to go out tonight--which is sitting at a comfortable 50% chance right now--it would look like my monthly spending has come to its total and it once again is slightly over $900.

And again that still feels like way too much for me to be spending, especially considering that I've managed to remain without a car, which alone saves me almost $300 a month. Picturing myself spending almost $1200 a month with those car expenditures seems even more lavish, if not almost too expensive even.

But once I remind myself--and my don't I need to constantly do that for myself?--that while my goal here is to generally do as much nothing as possible, it's specifically to spend under an average of $1000 a month for an entire year. And not only am I successfully carrying out that goal at the moment, an average of $900 a month calculates out to a mere $10,800 over the course of the year.

And while that may sound like nearly a million dollars to a third world resident--though I do not mean to speak for someone I have never met--in terms relative to my home and its financial standards of living I am far from living a lavish or even, statistically speaking, a comfortable lifestyle.

But yet, that's the very joke of it. For I am living as comfortably as I ever have. I always have enough money to satisfy my occasional consumer impulse and have even continued to save money for yet another possible trip across country or to give up work altogether for a few more months in the near future.

I don't know where this internal pressure I'm always putting on myself comes from, but once I put it into these terms and relate them to my surroundings, they seems all too pointlessly burdensome if not ridiculously unnecessary.

Though so too does the idea of having any more money than I already have.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cloud Cover

I don't whether or not it's the impending weather change that suddenly has me talking about weather and weather related things, but yesterday I once again noticed that an awe inspiring imposing wall formation of clouds that seemed to stretch for miles inland was noticeable from the 290.

They appear to be just about far enough from my viewpoint that it would make sense that they are the clouds just coming off of Lake Erie just south of the city. I don't know how I never noticed this great view before I left, but this was the second time I've noticed this since I've gotten back and will be one I will continue to look for now whenever I have the chance.

Thankfully, the first time I saw them, my roommate snapped a pic of the view:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(photo by D. Magee)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bills due...

Watching football is about as collective as this country gets in doing nothing together. (Or anything for that matter.) Rather than play our own pick up games or participate in any event that we can directly influence and are more than just a spectator in, we stand unified in saying that we would simply rather sit around and drink beer and watch others have the fun.

And while I would rather play my own pick up games, I do like the sound of hanging out and drinking beers with the possibility to crack each other up for at least three hours just as much. If not more.

And so, even though this Bills team is godfuckingawful (and I get shit for saying that) and I vowed to stop scheduling my entire Sunday around their games, I was nevertheless baited once again this past Sunday into watching them "play" all because of my addiction to said hanging out (our house is the central locale for Bills' road game get togethers).

It almost makes me long again for a town like Portland where if I did watch a Bills loss it would be over by 1pm and I had the entire day to reclaim those three wasted (pun intended) hours because I wasn't surrounded by an entire disappointed fan base.

Portland or Buffalo. Pluses and minuses. You win some and you lose some.

Except in Bills games. Then everyone loses.


Blowin' in the Wind

If Buffalo wasn't already so self-conscious about it's weather reputation--not to mention the inevitable lawsuits that Buffalonians would certainly level against any signs of such change--I would suggest it should do it's best to rightfully claim for itself the title of "The Windy City" from Chicago.

I already knew that statistically speaking Buffalo is windier, but this has also been something that I've noticed the entire time I've been back, especially on bike. It seems that it is windy almost all of the time here. And not just breezy, but actually windy.

It certainly helps keep the air moving on yet another unseasonably warm day like today (unless you live on the east side of a duplex that faces north and south) but you can't prepare for how sharp it's going to get in the winter. Probably a lot worse in wind chill factor than Chicago.

As to why Buffalo is afraid to embrace anything that allows it to claim any sort of distinction, even if is supposedly bad whether (you really couldn't spin that into a positive in any way? How Buffalonian to be so easily defeated!), I would be surprised and confused about if only I needed to look no further than everywhere to see just how alike each of us is and just how negatively most react to even the slightest observed difference, if not an altogether supposed defect, we see in others.

As the old adage goes something like, I am the only one who can allow myself to be embarrassed. It's too bad Buffalo seems so embarrassed about being a cold weather city. Strange, but certainly human. But, whatever, let Buffalo continue to deny it's windy and cold reality. I however know it's best to ride a bike towards the east and preferably during the summer around here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Giving Directions (The Nothing that We Do)

On the bike ride I just took to go get some sleeping juice (aka a 40oz)--a ride and purchase that were spurred on by all my talk about breaking today's routine--a driver asked me for directions.

For whatever reason, probably just some awful combination of knowing that I know something that someone else doesn't and the narcissistic feeling that I get in helping people (all help is like that, right Brandon?), there is little that comes up randomly in a day that I love more than giving directions.

And yet, how many people are able to help with such a basic thing as knowing the streets around them? How many people can point out east/where the direction the sun rises right now? How many know the quickest way to the thruway from where they are? In my experience, not too many. And while they might argue otherwise, it's not because it's something that people are incapable of picking up on without a lot of practice.

Obviously, there are things other people think are obvious that I am unaware of (I'm being modest of course) it's just that it seems to me that knowing one's way around is a very valuable piece of knowledge if not also, unfortunately, all too uncommon.

Still, I'm willing to bet that that driver was thankful that I had developed the pointless accumulation of knowledge of Buffalo's street grid that will never get me a new house or a fortune to retire upon but one that nevertheless can, and did, help two people's nights feel just a little better.

Does This Bus Get Off at 82nd Street?

That said (re: the previous post), the bus rides home have given me a new, if not odd, reattachment to the city of Buffalo itself.

Most of my experience in public transportation has been in using it in other cities. In using it in my hometown for a change, it gives me that feeling of being somewhere new, someplace not altogether known to me. By no means is Buffalo ever going to be fully known to me (only a routine mindset would argue otherwise). And just by finding something that proves this point has been somewhat liberating.

As well, now, rather than riding a bike alone amidst enclosed cars I am personally exposed to the others around me. Even if no interaction takes place between them and I it is still a situation that enables the possibility of that personal routine to be broken. Not to mention one can always over hear conversations and those eternal laughs like the women across from me on the bus yesterday.

And lo and behold, I’ve even yet to be mugged or assaulted. In the city no less!

Perhaps a very romantic view of the situation, but one that has helped alleviate that routine that has been haunting me and given me the necessary boost to get me to be ready to consciously break that routine even more.

Labor Days

I cannot believe that September is already half over.

And that fall is only a few days away.

Nor can I believe that I’ve only posted eight times this months.

Time flies when you’re caught in routines.

Everyday I get up at seven.

But now, rather than getting to work via bicycle, I catch a ride with my friend Andy to work. And just having someone who is in a relatively similar boat as I am—he’s only working to save up and quit his job again next month—helps alleviate the otherwise stressful disdain I hold for work and reminds me that I am not the only one who is going to work every morning. Not to mention that I no longer have to worry everyday whether or not my bike will go flat.

Every night I go to bed at midnight or thereabouts.

And now at the end of every work day, due to our unstable workday schedules that makes me getting a ride home too much of a pain, I catch a bus ride home. And suddenly my entire day is much more at ease. For one, because the busses I can take home only come once an hour, there is little difference between 4:45 and 5:15 (both will get me the same bus) and thus time becomes less of a pressing thing: there is nothing I can do to make the bus come earlier or make it get me home any faster.

But I have consciously allowed myself to be in this position of routine.

Also, with such waiting times looming, I come prepared with a book to read while both waiting as well as riding and so have managed to bring an otherwise neglected as of late hobby back into my daily routine.

If it is routine that I despise so much about the workday, is it at least possible to alleviate that routine so that it is, even within the strict pillars of my times of sleep, not so predominate?

Still, at the end of each day, I find myself not riding my bike as much. As well, other things that I had set out to do in returning to Buffalo, or just little things to mix my days up a bit, such as taking more bike rides through the neighborhoods or hanging out with my friends every night have gone largely neglected. Hell, I’ve even been drinking less on the weeknights.

Even giving our tired bodies is a routine. If not the basis of most of it.

I understand I get into ruts here and there. Quite routinely actually. And I understand that I will not be able to go completely without working at the time. Still, I have my eyes set on working until I am comfortably set with enough savings to do so.

Routine thinking is also very evident in my day-to-day routine.

The important thing is to be sure to break out of these ruts and routine ways of thinking as quickly as possible and, if not immediately, to make sure they still do not dominate my entire day. To make such breaks takes a constant conscious effort. Because I've failed to do so lately, it is once again my intention to make sure to do something everyday that, even if it is the minutest detail, does not subscribe to such routine that keeps me from doing nothing.

Less I find myself suddenly a year from now again wondering where the latest September went and awaiting the routine of yet another seasonal change with no change to show for it myself.

Shat Mat (The Nothing that We Do)

After another weekend of excessive drinking left me too hung over to even drink during the Bills game—and the Bills leaving me too sick to even watch the entire game—last night I was able to reap the benefits of all the people that were over the game by plundering the leftover beers they left behind.

And while doing so my roommate and I decided to play some chess.

Chess is like so many things that I really enjoy doing—drawing, playing music, playing sports, doing chicks, doing nothing—in that I just don’t do enough of it. And it always takes only a brief moment to remember how much I like these things as soon as I get to doing them again.

The thing that fascinates me so much about games is just how representative they can be of human intelligence and ingenuity. Chess alone, from what I’ve read, has more possible moves than there are believed to be atoms in the entire universe. One has to consider that games are mostly the result of people who were sitting around with nothing better to do and simply decided to create something out of doing nothing. (If you’ve never been a part of a creating a game that was maybe played for even only a day, then by all means your life is truly representational of doing nothing.)

And while ultimately, unless the feelings of competitiveness and enjoyment actually do count for something, they contribute nothing in what would be described as a meaningful way, especially in the arenas of making money or pointing your life in that all import direction, that is the very point of them: a natural expression of what we are capable when the burden of meaning or having to do something is lifted from us.

In my mind they are just as pointless as making money, only much more memorable and far more fun. And if that isn’t the purpose of our lives, it has at least be the purpose of our games.

If the two are in fact separate entities.

Check mate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Short Open Letter: To the City of Buffalo

(Which leads me to this.)


You know I love you—even if I don’t necessarily know why (see: obvious painful end to Bills’ game on Sunday)—which is probably why you don’t give a damn about these complaints. As such, they must be aired.

It’s bad enough that you’ve allowed the majority of both the people and jobs to move away to the suburbs—as opposed to having them all in one obvious place like downtown maybe—all but requiring a car due to the lack of any light rail system like most cities might have in the 21st century. And it’s bad enough that everyone here instinctively suggests that I should just get a car as the obvious solution to such travel demands. But if you had one person for every ten shards of glass in the streets, New York City would be the Queen City; if the streets weren’t lined with nails and potholes perhaps those jobs in the suburbs would seem a bit more accessible.

But they’re not and they won’t be any time soon. And so I get pissed off at you and how demanding you can be and the mindset of the people here—though I’m really enjoying getting to hear the accent again—even though I know I still love you.

But that doesn’t mean I will allow you to change me. I won’t change for anyone or anything no matter how much I love them. I gave up on the car for my own reasons and I will only take it back up for my own as well, if I ever do at all. But I can assure you that if I do it will not be for a job, and especially not one in the fucking suburbs.

So now I’m leaving it up to your Metro System. Maybe, even though the subway/light rail line doesn’t go all that far, perhaps the buses will make up for that. Holding my breath will be withheld, though I hope to be surprised.

Just be reliable long enough before I ultimately quit. Maybe a month or two. That’s it.

That shouldn’t be too much to ask and I hope it isn’t, not even here because I am glad to be back and hope to be here a while still. Should I need to leave for reasons as arbitrary as poor public transportation I will do so with no hard feelings but would do so still nevertheless.

So now it’s up to you. Thanks.

And, hopefully, thanks for the ride.

Bend But Don't Break

Even though my stated goal to “work as little as possible” automatically suggests a certain amount of work will have to be performed, I nevertheless despise the time that must be dedicated to the act. Obviously. And my constant irritation over the last week was only amplified as I have slowly begun to feel as though I’ve been completely compromising myself in the way in which I have been working.

My spending for the month of August, though exactly on par as to what I said I would spend per month over the course of the year, still felt far too extravagant. There is no reason why I should be spending nearly $1000 a month—especially not on going out so much. Also, the willingness I’ve shown in spending the necessary time to travel the nine miles each way to the job—not even all that noticeably shorter by car—is equally excessive in its extravagance in my opinion. Combined with my savings being lower than where they should be—and thereby making me feel as though I had to keep working even though they are enough to get me by for at least the next month and a half—and, by last week, a mounting misery was accumulating.

And then, in the face of yet another flat tire on the way to work, I realized that, while I will bend my beliefs—and hopefully only temporarily—I will ultimately not allow them to be broken. As I have tried every which stubborn way to get to work on my bike with only frustrating success at best, I told the kid I’ve been working with that I will no longer be riding my bike to work and will instead rely only upon rides from friends and public transportation. If that will not work, I told him, then I will simply have to find something else closer to home. Even if that means less pay.

And from that came a soothing sense of relief. It may not quite be a teenage girl standing in front of an army tank, but it at least reminded me there’s only so much I’m willing to do in the course of working. Just as well, it reminded me to stop allowing my thoughts to be governed by arbitrary numbers that must continually accumulate and simply trust that I will be able to eat each day and, beyond that, nothing more need be considered necessary.

Friday, September 7, 2007

[aside] Ode to Friday Night, 6:00

It was just about 6:00 as I rode home from work today and I could notice an immediate buzz in the air: Friday! Who doesn’t love it? Who doesn’t notice it? I even began constructing an ode.

Ode to Friday Night, 6:00 (As Sung by One Who Is Employed)
Ode to Friday Night, 6:00
The furthest away from work all week
Everyone’s as happy as they get
The furthest away from work all week

That’s all I got. I don’t compose poesy (or “poetry,” for you post-Victorians) but I won’t argue the point it makes. Still, I did decide to compose one more:

Ode to Friday Night, 6:00 (As Sung by One Who Is Unemployed)
Ode to Friday Night, 6:00
I did not know it was you right now.
But I still sing my ode to you
For I always sing to the moment that is now.

That’s all I got. See above for the reason why.

Though it’s a great time either way, I think I like the second interpretation of Friday Night, 6:00 just a little better.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

[aside] Thanks for Nothing Instead

While watching TV the other day I caught an election ad where the candidate was bragging about having brought jobs to the area.

Why the fuck am I going to vote for someone trying to give me work?

Timecards and Timetables

As I have not been mentioning much here, I’ve spent the past month or so working full-time. As one may have noticed, in the same span of time I have also been posting less. It would be correct to assume a direct correlation.

With work now taking up nearly two thirds of my day between sleep and getting to and from work, by the time I get home there’s too much to do, and too little summer remaining, to be easily encouraged to sit in front of a computer.

But that hasn’t been the worst of work’s inconveniences.

The worst offense of them all has how work immediately influences me to begin setting timetables in my head: ranging from 9am’s countdown to 5pm and Monday’s inevitable countdown to Friday, to mentally calculating when I will have enough money to quit if I wanted or how soon I would be able to have enough to pay rent and do some traveling, I constantly find myself mentally drifting away from the moment at hand.

And while it is these very carrots that I hang over my head—such as quitting or traveling—that get me through each work day, it is also the very thing that distracts me from fully enjoying the moment in front of me.

During the three months I wasn’t working I was laid back about both time and money—for I had all the time I needed despite the dwindling funds of money. But now that I have some money, though by no means all the time that I need, I not only spend that money, but also set different standards in regards to it. Whereas $20 was what I was spending for a full week’s worth of food, that is now a Friday night out—and probably a cheap one at that. Whereas I previously looked forward no further than tomorrow, I am already counting the pay before it comes and seeing a small amount begin to be saved. Even though by the standards I was holding without a job I would, at the moment, have enough money to pay October’s rent and bills and still eat—meaning I would be set all the way through November 1st already—I am also figuring how long I would have to work in order to not have to work at a later point.

Unnecessary timetables. And until I can overcome this and instinctively be able to still enjoy moments at hand, even perhaps during work, I will look to pack as much fun in the free time that I have and post whenever possible.

Or just as well, quit as soon as possible.