I was born on February 11th.
"When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then . . ."
Boys and trains.
During a 1983 family trip to Rehoboth Beach, we had one really awful day.
My first job, if you don't count a once-a-week newspaper route, was working at Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre.
June 10, 1985 - D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, DC.
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard Pan Am flight 1077, providing nonstop service from Baltimore-Washington to San Juan."
Why did 98Rock have to play "Headphones Only" so late, and only on Tuesday nights?
Kids, don't do drugs.
Indian Summer 1986 had arrived at Montgomery College, and I was sitting outside Science West, basking in the unseasonable November warmth, happy to be getting one last look at legs, when Deandra rushed up behind me and took ten years off my life.
(A big thank you to my soul-mate [Maris], without whom half of this post would not exist.)
The heaven that was my first non-retail job was relatively short-lived.
The tape ends.
The "My First Concert" story.
Me: Banal Lie Custom Truck Slurpees, thank you for gloaming, this is [inaudible], may I have your princess' cheese?
I'm told one should start at the beginning, but then I'm told lots of things.
Since one of the big differences between my prior stints as an unemployed person and this one is the fact that this job had been for most of its duration beloved, I feel it would behoove me to take a minute and shed some light on why I had so adored it.
Vortex of Doom Communications became a vortex back in 2007, at least 18 months prior to its acquisition by a slightly-less-doomed company - possibly much earlier.
As a veteran of four involuntary separations from employers, and the witness to a slew of others, I know that there truly is no good way to do them.
My amazing boss at Vortex of Doom Communications left the company on her own terms, after holding herself hostage for a huge "stick around" ransom, thanks to having a new job offer in hand when the board finally bothered to talk to her about the post-acquisition transition.
One of the benefits of being laid off with advance notice, as I was in 2008, is that there's time for support groups to form.
(Yes, if you're doing the math, that's really Day Minus-5, but let's not quibble.)
I left the Vortex of Doom, spinning inexorably toward oblivion in my rear-view mirror, and proceeded directly to a rendezvous with [Maris] at Dogfish Head Ale House in Gaithersburg.
I don't really count the fun and busy Thanksgiving weekend, because it was fun and busy.
Thanks to my day of unconsciousness on Monday, my internal clock was all screwed up and I spent a lot of that night awake and repeatedly thinking "now what?"
Temp Lady, in sing-song mode: "Good morning, Joe - this is Maggie from [temp agency] and I have some great opportunities for yooooou!"
Bubba is gone.
Well, well, well.
My first in-person interview of this layoff!
As a full-time seeker of a new place where I can toil thanklessly for the benefit of those who are already wealthy (and for a paycheck I can pass along to my creditors), I do a lot of my job-seeking online.
I remember this day.
For some kids, sixth-grade camp is five days and four nights of pure excitement, adventure and just generally wonderful memories that they look back on with warmth and fondness for the rest of their lives.
Another two weeks without a job, another generous payment of $720 after taxes from my beloved state of Maryland.
It was bound to happen, and happen it did, in May 2009 - my sixth month of unemployment.
I was looking through my drivel-y scribblings today, trolling for anything interesting to tell you guys about my Unemployed Summer (the first of two, so far), when I happened upon this handwritten piece, buried in the middle of a half-spent note pad.
[Joining the unedited hand-scribbled "Manifesto" I somehow spewed forth about 14 months ago, already in progress.]
With no job prospects in sight, my unemployment switching from "regular" benefits to the double-secret probation that was Obama's "Emergency Unemployment Compensation" and the summer dragging on for me and killing [Maris] (now in full-on Vortex-of-Doom mode at her job), I re-watched the masterfully subversive "Hamlet 2," one of our favorite pieces of escapist ridiculousness.
Okay, so I promised myself I wouldn't do this again.
So, what happened was...
Well gang, what can I say?
Welcome back, my friends, to the show you know you wish would end...
Disclaimer #1: I am not one of those Christmas Nazis who gets all bent out of shape at each and every "Happy Holidays" he hears.
Hello, my wonderful and loyal reader or readers!
I know this isn't really about being unemployed, let alone double-barrel unemployment, but it's part of the story, so I have to include it.
2010: Hey baby - I was hoping you'd call.
Tonight, we're going from Day 432 to Day 700 of Double-barrel Unemployment in the next hour of distracted, half-TV-watching, 38 words-per-minute typing.
Miss Ann Thrope: Are you feeling any better?
I don't wanna get all bloggy on you guys, but well, here we go...
"Life is a shit storm, kid - and when it's raining shit, the best umbrella you can buy is art."
Hey gang - it's time to foist some Crackbarry and Fleen upon your unsuspecting noggins.
In the past several years, there have been many things that I've encountered that have sent me scurrying for the comfort of a comically-large rum and coke and my DVDs of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos."
Another scintillating peek into the twisted - no, mangled - world of Crackbarry and Fleen:
This has been a long time coming.
One cold 4th-grade morning, we came into our double-wide classroom to find "SPELLING" scrawled on the blackboard.
Well, the Rapture didn't happen and the world is trudging right along, just as it was on Friday.
I'm no good at this kind of thing, so I'll just come right out and say it.
Subject: Things I'd really like you to stop doing
He held the cricket bat with his right hand and one of the 9mm in his left, told Doug to stay, then crouched down and crept, cat-burglar-style, across the asphalt to what was left of the body he'd just passed.
Local police were summoned to the 5200 block of Marley Drive on the slightly frightening side of Germantown at 2:45 this morning to investigate reports of possible domestic violence or, at the very least, a loud and embarrassing dispute between a man and his long-time, live-in drug.
What has taken longer than "Double-barrel Unemployment," dates back to the midpoint of GWB's second term in office and is about to end?
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If everyone could please take a seat.
"I, Joseph Userov Steroids, being of sound but rage-y mind and body, do hereby declare this document to be my Last Will and Testament, blah blah blah."
I'm pretty sure my Dad knew what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of the movie.
Okay, before I start on my ridiculous, doomed-from-the-start quest to tell the stories of all seven hundred of the hoboes on this list, let me say this.
Cholly The Yegg cracked his first safe when he was nine years old.
Holden The Expert Dreamtwister raced from the hobo camp, chased by a stick-wielding and enraged The Rza.
Jack Skunk wasn't the worst-smelling hobo.
The next hobo on the list is Lord Dan X. Still Standing, and writing about him is extremely exciting to me.
Originally, what I wanted was "Watching 'The Jupiter Menace' in my underwear while listening to Tangerine Dream, drinking Crystal Pepsi, eating a Priazzo Milano and reading a groomzilla thread on Etiquette Hell made me late for the spin class I haven't paid for yet because my last Ginsu knife order put me over my credit limit."
Not all hoboes were slovenly, stinky homeless drifters.
One of the most misunderstood hoboes was Bazino Bazino, The Kid Whose Hair Is On Fire.
"Everything I whisper is true."
[Recovered pages of the April 1935 issue of Hobo Times magazine - "Hobo Interview Of The Month: Nit Louse."]
There wasn't much that could scare a hobo.
I was a child of the 80s. Late-70s and early-80s, actually.
There were not many hoboes who could accurately be described as beloved.
I had the flu, and had gotten in big trouble for stabbing that kid with a nail file at recess.
No-Shoulders Smalltooth Jones was not one of those hoboes.
I spent June in a state of self-induced torment called Camp NaNoWriMo, a summertime version of National Novel Writing Month.
Nancy Jeanne Terwilliger died of polio in 1932, at the age of eight.
In 1937, the House Committee on Hobo Re-assimilation was given the daunting task of defining an underground nation of transients in order to make recommendations as to how the US government could transition the track-side drifters back into civilized society.
Stan Wolf tried way too hard.
Before the Great Depression, long before the Hobo Wars and longer still before the advent of atomic power, there lived in Zanesville, Ohio a successful arborist named Frederick Bannister.
For all that we have learned about America's hoboes, they are still a people shrouded in mystery, their ways often hiding behind misconceptions, myths and outright lies.
This is going to come as a bit of a shock to some of you, but I sometimes think about things apart from hoboes and zombies and prednisone.
Well, here we are again. I was doing fine without you.
Now, I'm not going to argue for one second that he didn't do it.
TOMORROW IS ELECTION DAY IN THE US...
Floyd Dangle: "Good day. I'd like to vote, please."
We are exhausted, so we'll make this quick.
Being a hobo wasn't only about hardship and despair.
Throughout November, many of my Facebook friends have been posting each day the things for which they are thankful.
You can count on one hand the number of hoboes who slept in trees, and of those, only one slept upside-down, hanging by his feet.
Saturday morning scampered up from the Atlantic Ocean with a sparkling blue sky, little fluffy cloudlets and a warm southerly breeze.
He was born in Germany in 1900, emigrated to England with his parents in 1903 and was the only member of his family to survive the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15th, 1912 - his twelfth birthday.
A few years ago, during one of those Jimmy Buffett moods that my iPod frequently experiences, I decided to write about turning forty.
I was born on February 11th.
(and that makes ONE HUNDRED!!!)
Yes, if you have made it this far and still haven't figured it out, each of the 100 sentences above served as the first lines of each of my 100 blog posts. There were a handful where I used a sentence other than the actual first one, but hey - it's my blog and I can do whatever I want. I stopped short of making each of these lines a link to that post, because the thought of doing that a hundred times made me sad.
I hope those of you who weren't around for the beginning of Mostly Harmless Drivel on January 26, 2010 will be intrigued enough by this collection of teasers to go back and check out some of the older stuff. The rest of you might find some fun drivel you missed the first time around. If you're as lazy as I am, just use the search box at the top of the blog to locate posts using these sentences as search terms.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Please check back often, and share my blog with any of your friends who might find it worthwhile.
Your Pal, Joe