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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Shootist

Death is never a fun topic. This past week, my grandmother passed away. It was an exhausting week, considering that throughout it, my grandfather threatened to shoot two people.

It's difficult to think of freelance work and the job hunt in trying family times. But when you grandfather hurls threats at family members along the lines of "if he comes to front door, I kill him," you feel a little thrown off your game. No, I didn't leave out a "the" in the last sentence. My grandfather likes to get his point across as quickly as possible.

Lets roll back the days a bit. Approximately 10 days ago, I was sitting in my girlfriend's studio apartment applying to jobs and trying to get the dog to shake with its left paw. My father called with the bad news and I raced home to a solemn house and a kitchen full of food brought by generous Italians. Three days later, I was sitting in my grandfather's kitchen with Polish relatives who like to drink shots and accuse the 7-year-old paperboy of being a meth addict. I argued to the contrary, but they heard nothing of it.

During the afternoon, my grandfather turns to his cousin Henry and after a few choice shots at his character, threatens to shoot him if he doesn't carry out my grandfather's plans to the letter. I think those plans included something about pulling weeds and reading Exodus. Then, exactly one day ago, my grandfather threatens (via long-distance phone call) to shoot his granddaughter's licentious ex-boyfriend if he ever steps foot on the family property again.

Threats of death have never sat well with me. How does one react when they witness such things? Not that any of us believe the old man can actually stand up, much less hold a gun and aim it at a moving target. Such words have become "normal" in these parts, but to my knowledge no one has ever been shot with anything except a cork on a bottle of wine.

This week, thank God everything is back to normal. The Photoshop tutorials have continued, the resume is updated and I'm looking up bullet-proof vests on Ebay just in case I don't show up for Sunday dinner on time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Waiting on a call from you....

I'm not a huge fan of bridges. You know, the type where you can't see the bottom and you pray the maniac driving behind you listening to thrash metal has the same type of fear you do. Most of the time, as he drives his 1987 Z-28, he doesn't. And then you can feel his angry eyes fixed on your bumper as you plod along 20 miles slower than the rest of humanity. This happens to me at least on a bi-monthly basis as I drive back and forth to Michigan, via the illustrious Grand Island bridge outside of Canada. Four years ago this month, I decided to accept a great journalism job in Lansing, Michigan, and since I still have a life there (girlfriend, friends, etc.) and my family lives in New York, I must travel through Canada to see them. They might as well have put a flaming moat in between them filled with vodka and cranberries.

The road from New York to Michigan, by way of Canada is set-up with countless roadblocks to haunt you. If it's not the traffic, it's the border where grown men have been known to wait for five hours in blazing heat or abhorrent weather in vain attempts to show their passports to the customs jockeys. I've been literally pulled over for having nothing in my trunk expect a pair of swimming trunks and Hostess cupcake. Not exactly part of the terrorist tool kit.

Then you can deal with construction, black traffic cones, and wild chappies from Ontario in minivans with lead feet. The latter will get you every time, because there's a deadly game they secretly like to play. It's called, "Don't Let the Americans Merge." The winner gets four tickets to a Tuesday night Maple Leafs game.

Each time I travel, I bring a few new CDs to get my brain off things, but it doesn't work. I get caught in traffic and Canadians yell at me. This week, I rocked the new Dead Weather CD. Musical pundits have told me Jack White can do no wrong and at this point in my evolution, I have to agree.

There is though, only one thing that bothers me more than Canada: no return phone calls from job prospects. Between freelancing, drinking large amounts of dark roast coffee and looking for a job, I don't have time to convince the cat that peeing in my sandal is not a good idea.

I recently applied to a job about 20 miles away from my parents' house. I was qualified. I was familiar with their business. I followed up twice. You know, the basic "did you get my information" deal. Maybe leaving a message wasn't the best idea. My days as a reporter have taught me to be persistent, be nice and leave strong messages. Still, no return phone call ever came. But being a reporter taught me to never stop until you get your story. So now I approach getting a job like trying to get a scoop. Even if you don't call me, I'll call you.

And if you do call back, I'll even answer my phone on the big blue bridge to Canada with the Slayer fan on my tail.