|Austin Dispatches No. 33||
Dec. 3, 2001
Fleeting seasons greetings.
Reaching 32 bestows the advantage of time's acceleration. Now my life has reached the fast pace of a Broadway revue, and zips through even the bad, turbulent or frustrating periods to return to the good times.
Take this year: The follies of 2001 debuted with such panache. I rang-a-dang-dang the real millennium in swanky style.1
Then, boom turned to bust in Austin town. The computer industry's cascading layoffs swept me into the year's weak second act, with a seemingly ceaseless rendition of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"2 Months went by between work, punctuated by temporary jobs or the odd offer. When they weren’t scarce, jobs were tantalizingly out of reach.
For example, I answered a want ad for a Mac expert. I was sure I'd cinched the interview when I walked in with my platforms, gold-headed cane, and red crushed velvet hat.3
Still, the work I did obtain remained interesting, or at least a raconteur's grist for my social circles. (And to reiterate, I'm not running for governor next year.)4 This summer, these same, cultivated circles – Kurt Vonnegut’s “granfalloon" – fed into each other for the first time.5 The new mix netted me $300 from a Scottsdale, Ariz., publisher, seeking my opinion on several textbooks.6
Before that, I did phone survey and data mining work for an accounting firm (which shall remain nameless) on behalf of a property management company interested in San Antonio rentals.7 Real boiler room stuff.8 Then I worked at a telecom company two blocks from my home to throw stuff out of abandoned cubicles.9 Talk about a man’s dream: to throw accumulated girly crap away and get paid for it.
Meanwhile, I still managed to have fun.10 On Sep. 26, I participated with the Cuban Folkloric Group in a dance recital at the Austin Children’s Museum. Then, on Oct. 13, we gave mambo lessons at the International Festival at Palmer Auditorium.11
Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my life was in the early stages of another Nantucket sleigh ride.12 And that was before the Sep. 11 attacks. They signaled the end of an era and the year's final act, with a derivative but still pleasant twist.13
The whole world slid into a recession, and my life’s fortunes are on the upturn again.14 “I know life isn’t supposed to be fair. But I didn’t expect it to cheat quite so much.”15
In this case, the San Antonio office of an established New York firm contracted me to document the latest version of software for lawyers (I know there's a joke in there somewhere).16 It's a good gig. Well, aside from the commute. I typically take Interstate 35 south, past the Adams Extract Co. headquarters, to work, and highways 281 and 290, past the Nutty Brown Café, home.17
I celebrated my renewed fortune with a party at Ocean's 11, a Rat Pack-themed tiki bar at Eighth and Red River streets.18 The crew of radio show "Liberated Space" attended.19 We generated a grand gabfest in between cocktails, while Dean Martin crooned on the hi-fi.20
The year’s finale brings matters back to the beginning. That is, I’m back in the season’s social whirl, and I hope you and yours are having as much fun as I am.
1 AD No. 25 (Jan. 4, 2001); Rudin, Mark. "Fly Me to the Moon: Reflections on the Rat Pack" American Heritage Dec. 1998: 52.
2 AD No. 26 (Apr. 27, 2001).
3 Berrey, Lester V., and Melvin Van Den Bark. American Thesaurus of Slang: A Complete Reference Book of Colloquial Speech, rev. 2nd ed. New York City: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1953: 135; Cringely, Robert X. [Mark Stephens] Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date, rev. ed. New York City: HarperBusiness, 1996: 188, and passim.
4 AD No. 28 (Jul. 10, 2001).
5 Hougan, Jim. Decadence: Radical Nostalgia, Narcissism and Decline in the '70s. New York City: William Morrow & Co., 1975: 226n.
6 Craft, Melissa et al. Exam Prep Network+. Scottsdale, Ariz.: Coriolis, 1999; Groth, David. Network+ Study Guide, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Sybex, 2001; Microsoft Network+ Certification Training Kit. Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft Press, 2001; Syngress Media Inc. Network+ Certification Study Guide. Berkeley, Calif.: Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 1999.
7 “Survey Says: Americans Endorse Tax Subsidies.” National Real Estate Investor Jun. 1998: 78.
8 Boiler Room. New Line Cinema, 2000.
9 Krapf, Eric. “Avaya After a Year.” Business Communication Review Nov. 2001: 14.
10 AD No. 29 (Sep. 4, 2001).
11 "Recommended." XL 11 Oct. 2001: 10; Simmons, Lillian Martinez. International Society for a Free Cuba newsletter Sep. 2001: 1.
12 World Book Dictionary. Ed. Clarence L. Barnhart and Robert K. Barnhart. Chicago: World Book Inc., 1991: II, 1160.
13 AD No. 30 (Sep. 11, 2001)
14 Kahn, Joseph. “The World’s Economies Slide Together Into Recession.” NYT 25 Nov. 2001: A4.
15 Royko, Mike. “My Belushi Pals.” 7 Mar. 1982. Rpt. One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko. Ed. Lois Wille. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999: 160.
16 Fonda, Daren. “Selling in Tongues.” Time Global Business Nov. 2001: B12-B17; Harrington, John. “Bowne Stock Pressing Toward High.” CNYB 19 Oct. 2001: 46; Mehling, Herman. “One VAR’s Litigating Circumstances.” Computer Reseller News 23 Nov. 1998: 91.
17 Pack, M.M. “Not Just Plain Vanilla.” AC 2 Nov. 2001: 37-38; Wright, C.J. “Nutty Brown Café Offers Everything From Lobster to Steak to Mexican Fare.” Hill Country Sun Oct. 2001: 11.
18 Gray, Christopher. "Red River Valley." AC 22 Jun. 2001: 60+; Hylton, Hilary. “Tiki Bars.” Time 30 Apr. 2001: 20.
19 AD No. 29.
20 Levy, Shawn. Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey, and the Last Great Showbiz Party. New York City: Doubleday, 1998; Schoell, William. Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin. Dallas: Taylor Pub., 1999; Tosches, Nick. Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams. New York City: Doubleday, 1992.