The Path – Hartford 2010

Like NYC and Cingular before, I didn’t want to be in Hartford, CT.  Aetna sucked.  It was one of the worst places I’ve worked.  It was highly political, employees lived in constant fear of layoffs, it was mostly bumbling Indians on contract and I was stationed at a 2ft x 3ft PLANK with a phone, the worst workspace ever.

But the Aetna cafeteria was awesome.

I toured the Noah Webster house, the Mark Twain house, rode a genuine 1890s coal-driven train, did a train tour of the fall leaves, toured the Mansions in Providence, RI.  I also attended the Valentine’s Day BDSM weekend and the Waterfire show in the canals.  Joined the local Hartford BDSM club and attended a few meetings.  Played pool and got drunk every weekend at the Cadillac Ranch.  Walked the Yale campus and the Foxwoods and Mohegan casinos.

I made several trips to Boston, including the 2011 Boston Marathon weekend.  I spent a weekend in Salem and walked through the witches’ graveyard, visited Fenway Park, rode the MBTA train, ate dinner downtown several times.

The ESPN campus was close by and I often drove past it.  A group of us ate a fabulous breakfast on the Willard Bay and rode the Cross Sound ferry,   Outdoor breakfast with a live band at Middletown on the Connecticut riverfront.  And Connecticut is a gold-mine of old churches.

The Path – Seattle 2007

I didn’t want to do the Cingular project.  It was a rush job, hard limit of ninety days, not a great rate but they pushed me into it.   And it was already fucked.  I salvaged it as best I could but it was bad code, bad design, an idiotic business premise but they wouldn’t change their minds.  I imagine it was junked a few months later.

But I was happy to be back in Seattle.   I rented a room in a nearby house (which I later learned was two blocks from my best friend in Lancaster, CA who’d moved there seventeen years earlier).

The Vogue and Phoenix Underground had shut down, there were attempted resurrections of both but they were a poor imitation and soon failed.  I spent more time at gay clubs on Capitol Hill, did some dating, played pool, drank vodka at The Central in Kirkland.

After Cingular I took a consulting job with Infosys, an Indian company.  I was flying weekly to San Francisco for two months and then at Boeing in Seattle trying to salvage more bad projects.  Infosys was one of the more dishonest companies I’ve worked for, mostly because of the division head, Arindem.

I met Janet in Feb, 2008.  Actually, I’d met her in January at the Seattle Museum but she found my singles ad a month later and emailed me.   We met at a Starbucks, talked for an hour, she blindfolded me, drove me around, led me into a hotel room with flowers, a hot bath, we had sex for a couple of hours and then went to dinner.

I was renting a million dollar house in Redmond for $1000 / month, the owner was a flipper who was caught by the real estate crash.  She was happy for $1K a month and the place was empty except for my bed and clothes.   Janet and I clicked, sex almost daily, anything I imagined.  She drew on me with a magic marker, tied me down with a four-point restraint, etc, etc.   We ate dinner together and other things – community plays, ballet, symphonies…    She was awesome; three inches taller and I think we both liked the height difference.   She was strong and calm, kinky, fearless and I was so comfortable falling asleep with her.

We joined the sex club, did a couple of threesomes.  I never trusted anyone this much.  We’d rent videos, order dinner, laid in bed together watching The Big Bang Theory.   We spent four or five nights together every week.   She was smart, stable and always surprising me.  She took me on a picnic once with no warning.  I fucked this up.  I think I’d have been okay with a decent job.  Janet was a dream woman in almost all respects and I don’t see how I’ll ever replace her.

I quit Infosys in Oct, 2008, they were harassing me about sales quotas and the dishonesty was too much.   I’m not a fucking salesman and there was visa fraud, billing fraud.  I was out of work for the next seventeen months.  During this period, the idea of The Path coagulated in my mind.

That perhaps the past four years weren’t an accident.

That perhaps the unpleasant events weren’t by chance.

If God wanted a ground-level reconnaissance of Mankind, He might induct an agnostic man with limited life experience (for low bias) and a singular, obsessive mindset, then set him traveling around the country. Somebody like me.   And this became one of my theories about The Path.

I had three job offers in March, 2010 and took a six-month contract at T-Mobile, one of my biggest mistakes.  Ultimately it cost me Janet, I accomplished nothing and my next position was at Aetna in Hartford, CT.   I wondered if it was Fate.

The Path – Miami 2007

The concept of “The Path” evolved over time and in Jan, 2007, I still saw only a series of unrelated projects to regain the seniority I’d lost after I left Boise State.   The Miami project was my breakout, a chance to recover.  I’d had a couple of visions but still believed they were separate from work.

I was in Ft Lauderdale but visited South Beach several times, once bribing my way into one of the larger megaclubs.  I spent a weekend in the Keys, ate lunch at Sloppy Joe’s (an Ernest Hemingway hangout, which I knew from Dominique’s journal).   I reached Key Largo at dawn and took a photo.   I walked a couple of miles into the real everglades (no tourists around) with a 9mm handgun and a cell phone.   I did Spring Break in Los Osos along with hundreds of college students.  I spent a weekend in Naples with riverways like Venice.  I got robbed at a club in Coconut Grove.  I did a few speed dating events with no results.  I ate dinner at a small club in Delray Beach with an awesome Sinatra impersonator.   I spent a day at Hollywood Beach.

I shared an apartment with a Morrocan man who had several jobs; delivering pizza, managing maids, cleaning pools, ebay re-sales.   His income was mostly undeclared and he showed me his daily ledger; he was earning around $80K per year with $60K untaxed.   Every week there was new Ebay stuff in the living room, once there were crates of whiskey and he laughed at my expression, popped open a bottle and poured me some shots.

One morning I walked out and the car next to mine was on concrete blocks, wheels gone.  Wow.   A coworker joked to me, “Miami is a place where everyone follows the laws…   of their own country”.   I saw a taxi jump into the opposing highway and exit through an onramp, just to avoid an extra mile of driving.  I suppose Ft Lauderdale is where I got serious about playing pool.   I’d started in Seattle in 2006 but was too busy with dating, the Vogue and work.

Shakar was the most incompetent Indian I’ve known.  He couldn’t even install java properly, I had to fix it for him.  And he destroyed that project in four weeks after talking the CIO into adding him to our team.

I left him and the CIO to their fate (they were fired later) and headed back to Seattle, annoyed and still oblivious to the The Path I was on.

The Path – Seattle 2005

I arrived in Phoenix, had gall bladder surgery and for the next two weeks I ate Percocets and slept all day on our couch.  Then I got the contract in Seattle.  I wasn’t sure I had the stamina to reach Seattle after the attack, cross-country drive from Charlotte and the surgery but I did it.

I arrived just before Halloween.  I’d visited Seattle before but only for a few days.  I stayed at my brother’s house and then rented an apartment at the new Lincoln Square in Bellevue, next to the bus station.

Seattle changed my life.  I was reading Dominique’s journal (and occasionally the other Wiccans,usually Lena’s).   I started at the Phoenix Underground in Pioneer Square.   I met Jody, a 25-y-o with good dance steps.  Then I met her husband and she wanted to sleep with me, it was my first experience with an open relationship.   But I was still married.

Then I visited the Vogue on advice of a long-time Internet adversary/acquaintance.  In my naivety, I wasn’t expecting Lena there but in retrospect it was inevitable.  She was shocked when she saw me, and I was, too.  We recognized each other from Internet photos.  She ran quickly to the rear bar, hid around a corner, peeping out at me and I had to chuckle, which probably seemed even more ominous.

The Vogue had live BDSM sex shows on Fridays which stunned me.  I’d found a group of people like myself – sexually kinked but unlike me, they lived it and were comfortable and here I was at 48 and still in the closet.

The Vogue.  Phoenix Underground.  Other clubs in Pioneer Square. I rode the ferries, hiked around Vashon Island, the San Marcos.  I visited gay clubs in Capitol Hill which had wedding parties of straight, single women; I didn’t care about gay men and they rarely cared about me.  I went to SEAF – Seattle Erotic Art Festival.   I rode the drunk bus every weekend at 2:30am.

I toured the underground city, I did the Ghost tour.  I ate lunch in the Space Needle.

I decided to divorce in Dec, 2005.  My ex-wife discovered my gifts to Dominique from my credit card bills, I started sending them after her cancer diagnosis in 2004. I was torn.  I couldn’t cheat on her but I’ve been sexually kinked since the age of eleven.

It was six months before I felt like dating and then my first three dates were a shock.  Sex each time, initiated by each woman and I wondered what world I was in.  But then they expected a relationships afterwards and that soured it.  The third woman was probably married and was my last one-night stand.

I decided to fix my relationship problems.  I read articles, books, I put together a business plan that measured my time, efforts, results across several venues and I met several hundred women from 2006 to 2008.   Eventually I figured out why I’d failed so badly but it didn’t matter because it was about who I am versus who women are.  I bought new clothes, tried the PUA tricks, pick-up lines, the psychology and they often worked but it was too false for me.

Seattle 2006 was about my divorce, The Vogue, Dominique and the Wiccans.  I loved The Vogue but wasn’t surprised when Lena had me banned.  Her paranoia was driven by her and Dominique’s guilt and they projected their fears onto me.   It’s happened so often that I’m not surprised by the guilt and paranoia of women anymore.

But this was one of my best times.  I was free of my eternal sexual fears, the divorce was in process, I was making peak earnings and I loved Seattle.  But the contract ended and The Path took me to Miami.

The Path – NYC 2005

I did not want to go to NYC, it’s the stuff of nightmares for an L.A. native.  But it was amazing and I don’t regret it.   My first night was in a company-timeshare hotel on Wall St.   I walked out the next morning and there it was…

The NY Stock Exchange.   I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t understand that Wall St is an actual street.  Later they gave me a company apartment one block from the Scores strip club that Howard Stern visits, I was there for two months.  The fifth floor apartment sucked, no elevator and heating/air conditioning/hot/cold water were unpredictable.  But it was free.

I visited Ground Zero.  I was almost completely alone, even visitors didn’t want to be there.  I walked the entire Central Park  a few times and ventured into Harlem.  I ate dinner in the Empire State building.   I accidentally crashed a private party in Greenwich Village but the bartender laughed and kept serving me free drinks.

My second night in NYC was Cinco De Mayo and as I passed a latino club, three men grabbed me, pulled me inside and bought me a shot.   At first I thought they were scamming me but they burst into laughter, bought me another shot and pulled out business cards.  A stock broker, a real estate agent, and something else.   I spent that night getting drunk with them and it was tremendous fun.

I alternately rode the subway/walked to Rockefeller Center, JP Morgan bank on the fortieth floor and a window view.  I spent my free time at the Blue Room, a seedy bar a few blocks from the apartment which often had local sports celebrities.  One befriended me on my first visit and we met there three or four nights each week.  He took me to other bars, restaurants, introduced me to friends and we often drank until 4am.  I met two cute Swedish twins, another woman who was couch-surfing around the world, a strange, bald IT guy who’d just been laid off.  I met so many people through him that I started bumping into them at other bars and restaurants.

During my last week in NYC, I told him (and the bald IT guy) I was leaving and they almost cried.  I felt so strange about it.  He declared that I couldn’t leave and I asked why.   He said, “Because you’re a regular and you belong here”.   The bald guy nodded his agreement.

An Indian co-worker at JP Morgan was upset, he’d just found out his car repair would be $500.  I asked him what was wrong, “the brakes”, he said.  I told him to do it himself; buy a car manual, the pads would be $30 or so but he was skeptical.   The next Monday he walked up, shocked me with a big hug and said, “You are my friend forever”.   He’d done what I’d suggested and saved himself $450.

Towards the end I got pneumonia in NYC, probably from too much alcohol, not enough sleep and too many people in proximity.  It was an unusual strain specific to crowded cities and the antibiotics didn’t work well, I lost weight for two weeks which triggered a gall bladder attack, the most pain I ever had.  I was in the ER room for fifteen hours and learned the true awesomeness of morphine.  A few days later my ex-wife scheduled surgery for me and I left NYC on a flight to Charlotte, NC to retrieve my car and drive back to Phoenix.

 

The Path – New Jersey 2005

New Jersey sucked.  The job was supposed to be Federal consulting in Virginia but Prolifics couldn’t follow through.  I got tricked again.   I ended up as an SME in a bizarre contract/dispute between IBM, Verizon and a 3rd party vendor, spending a few hours each day in conference calls for two months.

Verizon headquarters is a corkscrew.  It has elevators but you can walk clockwise/counterclockwise to each floor.   I met the “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy from the commercials and he had a small entourage.

The restaurants sucked, the public transportation sucked, the highways were poorly designed, so I sat in the hotel bar but drank little.  Central New Jersey is rural, more like Connecticut than a city and the roads are unpredictable so I avoided them.

I spent a weekend in Atlantic City which sucked.  It was expensive and there’s only drinking and gambling, no shows or distractions like Vegas.   I visited the Jersey Shore.  i spent a weekend in Allentown, PA because of the Billy Joel song.   I bought a new cell phone because lengthy conference calls burned out my Virgin pay-per-minute.

I spent time on my website, upgrading it from home-rolled (and poorly written) PHP to Sun’s roller blog, and on data-mining and memes.  Then the contract ended.

Prolifics forgot about me for several weeks.  I spent one week in Fredericksburg, VA and hung out at a country karaoke bar.  I spent a week in Virginia Beach walking the boardwalk and got my first acceptance to DEFCON.  A week in Norfolk walking the new riverwalk, toured a couple of 19th century churches, toured a decommissioned battleship, rode a ferry to the aircraft carriers, including a Russian carrier.  Two weeks in Charlotte walking the downtown, a couple more church architectures, gold dental fillings and then Prolifics remembered me and sent me to New York City.

 

The Path – Portland 2004

Since I have so much free time, I’m going to recount relevant details of The Path.  I did a lot since 2004 as you’ll see.   The Path began in Feb of 2014 (or perhaps Aug of 2013 if you count when I volunteered for the Avnet layoff).  But we’ll start from the shutdown of Sunhill Software in Scottsdale, where two former co-workers had given me a position even before I left Avnet.

After Sunhill, I got a stock java programming contract at Nike in Portland.  Here are the highlights of 2004:

I spent a weekend in Astoria because “Kindergarten Cop” was filmed there.   I walked all over Portland, often four or five miles each day.  In fact, my record walk was that year; twenty-six miles from the Portland Zoo to the airport and back aways until I hopped the Max.

The Max was awesome, my first experience with good public transportation and I quit driving.  I walked three of the Portland bridges many times.  I drank my first Bourbon Porter at the Marina.  I spent most weekends at McFadden’s where I was propositioned by two young couples for threesomes but I was still married and couldn’t do it.   I visited several nightclubs but Barracuda’s was the best, although I once got my ass grabbed at a hip-hop club.  🙂

I ate dinner in two high-rises, the Portland City Grill and an expensive hotel I don’t remember. I often walked through the Rose Garden to the Zoo.  I ate dinner at the restored Henry Weinhard’s brewery when it opened.  I toured the Nike campus on my lunches, the walkways lined with sports figures and histories, and met Phil Knight (Nike founder), who told me to replace my New Balance shoes. 🙂

I found a twenty-year-old Xevious video game and played it for a couple of months but never matched my high score from 1984.  I walked across the Columbia River bridge.  I was robbed by a kid on the Max, he’d talked me up and asked for change.  I gave him a twenty, knowing he would probably steal it but he looked desperate.

I met a German on the Max, a professional golf course designer and he was lost.  I offered him a ride which became a two-hour nightmare of neither of us knowing the area but I got him there around midnight.

I spent a weekend in Salem.  I drove through the desolation of Vancouver.  I spent a lot of time in my hotel room and became obsessed with Dominique.   I drank my first hot sake at an asian restaurant by Portland U campus, which I walked quite often.  Portland was fantastic and I walked in the rain without an umbrella or coat.  I walked the downtown almost every night and worried about robbery or assault but Portland and Seattle are pretty safe areas.

In November, a co-worker asked me to take a contract back in Phoenix, so I did.  There’s not much to tell about the next six months, so The Path picks up in New Jersey.