Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Old Friday Release: "These God-Damned Awful Things"

A Friday Release Special Report from the Job

“These God-Damned Awful Things”

Part I

Can I ride out the stress, the madness, the all-in-all “antsy-ness” of eleven hour shifts at the consulting firm where I am employed? Well my friends, yes, I can. How, may you ask, is such a feat manageable under these circumstances…the itching, writhing, restless, even chaffing-YES, CHAFFING monotony of 10+ hrs in a 2 ½ ft. work desk shaped like a cheese wedge-actually forcing your legs uncomfortably close together. I have personally met a cow named #14369, who lived at slaughter farm that has a better, bigger spot to spend the day in. And he sure won’t be there for years, either.
The answer to my problem-and doubtless uncountable other co-workers’ new mal-ergonomic malady is a readily available and consistent supply of Xanax-actually a chemical compound called alprazolam hydrochloride, which is a middleweight anti-anxiety medication. Just ¼ of one of these strange looking stick shaped tablets will medically alleviate all symptoms of anxiety & tension. One-half tablet will do the same with the exception of the increased dosage providing a calming “buzz” of sorts quite similar to Valium (or to the clinically inclined, hydra-5-diazapam hydrochloride). Venture into the 1.5(3/4 tablet) mg. dosage and you will be noticeably intoxicated. Slurred speech is common and stumbling while walking is a guarantee. Severe drowsiness may accompany such a dose. Usually too much for a beginner.
For the seasoned pro, I recommend a full “bar”- a clinical two mg. dispension of the drug--lasting 20-24 hours. You will, be it to a positive or negative end, experience several hours of memory loss.
Time flies by, the brain turns to jelly, and by now (since many folks convince themselves too take even more in this state), you will be falling over or babbling like the village drunk.
In most cases, this dose can knock your average drug consumer out into a miniature, yet harmless, drug-induced “coma”. If you DO retain the tenacity to stay conscious you’ll just end up good old-fashioned wasted. Not to mention that use of more than 1mg. of Xanax can increase the effect of alcohol as much as up to 5x. That means now that drinking two beers equals drinking ten! My brain begins to trail off in a ridiculous direction that only a large dosage of Xanax could induce.
These were my final thoughts, literally. Don’t ask I was already half asleep...
“Nancy Rod Billywho, a ’68 ‘vett engine, a fully fueled 2002 USAF Stealth Bomber super-sonic jet, and a healthy cheetah and my brain…all on the starting line waiting for the big crack of the go-gun. Nancy Rod is a new addition to the race line-up. She is actually a Blood Diamond rebel thief. She tries to counteract the harm done by the diamond cartels by planning and executing robberies of inter-continental shipments and deliveries. She is used to running; having to be quick on her toes for the sake of her own life. A human spark plug--she will make for a great competitor. More on Ms. Billy-who to come. And though it moves like a shaking bowl of Jell-O- my brain still leads the heat into the second lap of the race..."
Xanax may also cause you to momentarily lose focus on the particular task at hand and start describing bizarre racing competitions between things that just don’t fit and don’t belong on a starting line together…right.
I’m just going to rest my eyes for a second…

These God-damned Awful Things
Part II

Ah-ha, and good morning…I think--or perhaps early afternoon. I could be more certain, but some son of a bitch stole my desk clock which was propped up against my flat-screen monitor only about 3 inches from my sleeping head. Amazing! Which one of my brass-balled co-workers could have pulled such a “streets of shanghai” maneuver without waking me? Nevertheless, before we attempt to get to the bottom of this, I would like to take a moment to thank my long-time coworker and soon to be ex-close friend,  Dave Ettenbury, for taking blame for this gibberish-- that is if it should ever be discovered by management or the police. And there will be no denying it-you lanky, clumsy, playboy! Because Dave my friend—I wrote the original on your stationary.
Apparently, while I was putting the finishing touches on “Part 1” on Friday at my work station after-hours, I went unconscious—and if it made sense to point a finger, I’d point it at one of these god-damned awful things-these “hell sticks”--the Xanax; the current bane and simultaneous point of my office existence.
What type of monster would find me passed out slumped over my desk-unresponsive- on a Friday night and just use that opportunity to steal a $3.99 wall clock and ruin the beginning of my weekend? What was the thought process there? “Hey, there’s Matt Byr…uh--no wait--Dave Ettenbury slumped over and not responding…should we try to wake him, call the paramedics, or steal the cheapest thing on his desk and just leave him?” Although the unknown amount of time--be it hours or days ( could it be Sunday?!) has left me so baffled that I can’t even stand, I do retain the energy to pull up the IP Phone (which, in my position here at the company is illegal- but I broke in to the hard-drives boot-up service menu and re-enabled the phones functionality for personal, covert use.) and order up a sizeable meal from Market Square. Good old Market Square Restaurant--the “anything you want for a price” style diner that makes about two dozen daily deliveries to my office during the work week. But would the demand for hasty delivery be granted on a weekend? Certainly, for a price, given their seemingly “sliding scale” delivery fee-it may just be cheaper to take a cab and pick it up myself. If I ever do gain back the strength to stand up on my own, given the 2 ½ bars of Xanax still in my blood--I’ll be needing grilled cheese with bacon-(well done) and tomato, with fries, chicken noodle soup, a beverage, and I suppose an order of cheese sticks-just to toss around…and at once.
Moreover, if the restaurant tries to fuck me on my “high-quantity” ketchup demand--we may just end up with a missing short order cook or delivery boy who “was previously very dependable but has now somehow gone missing”. And I want bread for this soup--and they know this, but may just leave me to suck down my chicken noodle in shame with no rolls, no butter, and a spoon with a funny shape (only in the north suburbs of Chicago would a restaurant waste money on sending a formal, plastic “soup spoon” with every bowl full). But the inner-workings of an overpriced diner’s purchasing decisions are of little interest to me.
What I was originally trying to strategize, before I passed out, was how these goddamned awful things can benefit my workplace as a whole… as an extended, over anxious family--as a community. My need to share my discovery/ secret weapon is almost more than I can bear! They must know-they must all know what they’ve been missing-and I’ll be the motherfucker doing the enlightening.
So here’s the nut of my original plan: To crush, divide, and if possible evenly distribute 120 bars (about 3 months worth of prescriptions) of Xanax into, say, 10-12 of the “unopened “ Hinckley & Schmit 5 gallon water cooler jugs…now “safely” stored in the warehouse.
This way, we can administer small dosages of the drug to any and all thirsty individuals just looking for some cold water. Floor wide sales and dials would go through the sheet metal roof! No one would ever leave their desk. And forget all the loud blow-ups and arguments amongst the managers….they will henceforth become quiet, 2-way discussions. The only problem, technically at least, with this plan is that we must also consider a conceivably NEGATIVE situation. For instance; Dean K. and Larry Ling come out of Dean’s office…thirsty after putting the fear of God into an employee for downloading & printing pornography here at headquarters. They make a bee-line for the water cooler. Unfortunately for them and everyone else, the 10 crushed up bars in that jug have settled to the bottom-now unevenly distributing about four full bars each into their little blue Dixie cups of “water”…I’ll stop there. Use your imagination to finish out the day for our two now heavily drugged corporate directors. I must work out the kinks.
By the way, how the shit do I get home from this place on the weekend? Fuck it-a good meal and ¾ of a bar should put me right into the “figuring things out” frame of mind. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll have to wait to see if I ever execute master plan #13. I’ll keep you posted. Until I find a way home or till the next Friday Release, take care.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Days When 911 Blocked My Number

An Older One from the Unfinished Book:

"On the state of Love & Trust"
“The folks at 911 no longer honor my emergencies.”
By M. Byron

Since about the age of three, I’ve experienced traumatic and reoccurring nightmares. And as far back as I can remember, one of the most frequently reoccurring happenings is being asleep and waking up-within a dream, still really asleep- and then being convinced I'm awake(within the dream, mind you). I momentarily relax only to have the nightmare be suddenly at the foot of my bed…standing next to me-behind me-or floating over me. Until recently, there was no cure except calling 911-because if you’re still actually in a dream & call 911 claiming you’re freaked out and just found a huge pile of dead bodies in you basement or something of the sort—-ten cop cars, an ambulance, state police, and a channel 7 news team don’t come roaring up your driveway to aid you—which, believe me--they definitely do if the dream is actually over.
So after several incidents I received a letter from the township of Deerfield:

June 20, 1995
Re: misuse of village resources
To: Mr. Matt Byron/et. All residing
Although we respect the difficulty of appropriately dealing with mental illness within the confines of any home, we at the Village Hall-under approval of the Town Mayor and Board of public safety-in cooperation with the local Emergency Dispatch/911 Call Center, have temporarily banned incoming calls from your address at:
2620 Wildwood Ln.
Deerfield, Ill
to the emergency call center.
Regrettably, we feel that 100% of your calls to our 911 Center have been frivolous and with no merit, which is of course, an inexcusable misuse/abuse of our townships’ limited resources in terms of emergency response.
Please keep us posted of any advances with your illness; we would be happy to be able to safely restore your service.
Any questions or comments can be directed to:
H. Bhosley, rm. 204
Deerfield Village Hall/Police Department.

We apologize for any inconvenience,
and wish you a swift recovery.
Nancy Martino
Village Secretary

You could imagine how well that helped me sleep. So I started calling family, then friends. Few could handle the deep weirdness of my needs. Most stopped picking up. And still, twelve years after that horrid letter from a board of village demons, several therapists, medications, and true improvement, sometimes the nightmares get so bad I still need to call someone just to be certain I'm really awake…and no craziness Is about to go down.
I’m, for the most part, still pretty much asleep when I make these calls--as to compound the general may-lay of waking a friend up in the wee hours of the morning to discuss some new gore-ish imaginary nonsense I’ve just dreamed up: this time I awoke panting after 3 hours of Brazilian Hasish induced sleep. My imagination-or conscience-had taken me for a ride.
Luckily, a while back, I replaced the button on my bedroom phone-the one with the little blue police badge icon--the one set to dial the authorities at a single touch, with my friend Diego’s cell phone number. So I reached over and delivered a serious one-fingered jab to the new “911” button.
“Hello?” My friend D whispered as he, from a sound slumber, managed to answer my call.
Sounding frantic and terrified, “I’m so sorry man-I had the worst fucking dream…am I…am I up…HELLO!!....OH SHIT-D?!!..Hello?”
"D" had fallen back asleep momentarily.
I scream: “OH FUCK-I AM SO FUCKED!!” and that apparently woke my buddy on the other end of the phone up. He tries to settle me down.
“Oh yes, sir, uh buddy…you are awake-you’re ok…just relax, sir!”
Extremely relieved at my friends' alertness I breathe-still struggling to get the words out.
“Oh my god, D, it was fucking awful!” My friend let out an exhausted yawn.
“Was it that one with the fire again”?
“No,” I return, “It was a new one…there was this…this crazy train with…OH MY GOD! Are you sure I'm not still sleeping??”
Diego was naturally getting frustrated (I always insist I’m still asleep-but regardless-now poor D is up). Quite unfortunate for him. I'm not even kidding, any asshole may just assume “ well this guy's just a weirdo-what kind of person could get so twisted up over his own dreams?” But the last time I had woke up from a really bad one was only 2 weeks ago.
As usual, per such an incident, I wake up in know, freaking the fuck out, sweating, eyes wildly darting around my pitch black room-and after a minute or so I calm down.
“Whew” I think and feel, “At least I woke up from that one”.
I am grossly sweaty…sick. “I need water,” I think to myself in a haze. Damn-it! My water bottle was empty.
So I venture down the stairs for a cold glass of water, and to my horror-in my living room, there was a huge executive style black board room table, seating every serial killer and maniac I had ever heard of….and they were clearly outraged by my intrusion.
“Jeffrey Dahmer looked up at me with blood-shot eyes and said in hallow tone, “ LET’S KILL HIM THE WAY THEY KILLED ME”.(For those of you who don't know how Dahmer died you're probably better off).
Edward fish, who had before him a formal southern place setting-including a silver tea set-was ravenously dining on what appeared to be an amputated human arm. He dabbed the blood and grizzle from his white beard and adjusted the crucifix around his neck; “Now relax Jeffrey,” he said “...haste makes waste.” as he pulls out a hammer and begins to smash apart his own pointer finger on the table next to his dish. Blood was going everywhere.

I turn to run and slam straight into Charles Manson who slaps me-fucking hard-grabs me by the collar and screams, “ LOOK WHAT YOU’VE

DONE!!” and point outside to my back-porch, where Lori Dan (the freak school-ground killer from the 80’s) was summarily executing grade schoolers at point blank range with a .45 Chrome Plated Beretta…
Whew-so I’ll just stop there. But D knows this shit happens-and in light of it-I need firm god damned reassurance of my own consciousness!

“Listen up” D pleads, “ …just go down stairs, grab a pair of pruning shears, and lob off one of your thumbs. If it’s still gone in the morning you’ll know this call was real…besides that I just don’t know what to tell ya.” He continues, “ If this were a dream would I start bringing up how much time I’ve spent with all this shit…how much money you owe me and haven’t paid back a dime, except a jalapeƱo burger from Melrose Diner…and you still show up at my office demanding bottles of pills and cases of Nag Champa?” D seemed suddenly concerned with hurting my feeling. He said, jokingly: “but don’t worry sexy, you'll always be my special buddy….very special….” It was at this very point after comment that I considered I was still in some new nightmare.
“Alright,” I sharply interject, “I have no fucking idea what you just meant by that last part…but whatever”
“Oh, just relax for shits sake,” D shot back, “ I can say all kinds of crazy shit to you when you’re like this-and you never remember hardly any of it!”
“Oh really?”
“Oh yea man-I could tell you some awful shit like I’m into bestiality BIG TIME and even if I act sincere you’ll have no idea the conversation ever took place” he exclaimed.
“That’s fucking kinda crazy, bro..” I said, “ We’ll have to test this theory now.”
“Are you cool now? You gonna try to get some more shut eye, sir?” he asked.
“Ya, ya-thanks, buddy-I might not remember all the details, but I know in these situations you’re always a hero to me-thanks sir.”
“No worries-just get some sleep-you probably have 5 hours of commuting and a 10-hr. workday…or something like that, right?”
“Yea, for sure D-good night, man-I’ll give you a call tomorrow after work.”
“Sleep well, sir.” And he hung up.
Thank the powers that be for good friends.

I woke up for work several hours later. Before I left, I faxed this message to Diego’s home office:

“I would have called, but didn’t want to wake you twice in a 24-hr. period. Thanks for yr. services last night. The whole incident is hazy but a couple of things you said stuck out….just remember this you sick bastard: whatever happens-you stay away from my dog, animal fucker. My sweet Labrador, Bailey-- is one of the few “pure” friends I have left. Have a good one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday Release: Letter to the Management

The Friday Release 9/18/09 - An Oldie but a Goody...

Sincerest of apologies for the 2 week delay on a new Friday Release, but my keyboard was giving me problems, so I had to "put it down"--like the rest of my malfunctioning electronics that have gone before the keyboard. Whether they are fixable or permanently damaged matters not...not to me at least; a kink in the hose is a kink in the hose.

My system, once the appliance or piece of equipment becomes troublesome, is to wish it well and hurl it Earth-bound from my 4th floor fire escape...and with an appreciative salute, looking down below at all the smashed bits and pieces, I give silent but sincere thanks for all the good times we once had together. Then I run back indoors before anyone can identify the "maniac" who almost regularly whips microwaves, stereo systems, remote controls, dvd players ( they are my favorite ones to put an end to) and various computer equipment from someplace high up on the side of the building. Onward...

It's Monday around 7 AM , 8/31 in this tiring year of 2009, and I can already feel the summer slipping out of the city. Just me and a few other half-asleep early morning commuters humming down Lawrence Ave. on the 81 bus, and I'm just trying to rationalize the madness that has ensued this last few weeks.
It was the last week of August, to boot, which has always been a king-hell loser of a month, and also the hands-down unluckiest page on the 12 month calendar.
My old band even wrote one of our most "popular" songs: "Unlucky August". I would surely be one of the first to sign a petition calling for the exile of August from the calendar year, and, for safety's sake, close all successful businesses during the time period that used to be August, close all schools, individually quarantine those involved in happy relationships as to avoid their impending blow-up argument or total demise-- due to the month, the cruel bastard August.
But the curse of August (and truly, no offense to those born in August), is too large a nut to crack here and now. I'll just say, that IF there were a particular time of year to avoid-- it would be August. Especially when you're like me... going through an eviction, scrambling to get enough cash together, looking to find a new apartment to let you in, while trying to get packed and moved while neither me or my girlfriend have any common days off work together--making scheduling an easy moving date im-fucking-possible.
For my relatively young age, 29, I've had a vast array of living arrangements--studio apartments, 1-4 bedroom apartments, and 2 condos. I've stayed with friends, lived alone, lived with 6 roommates. Lived in a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, lived in old swamp land in Florida. I've stayed in shacks and mansions of all types. I've lived on a farm. I've spent alot of time on the road traveling with bands as well, which, after awhile, the in and out of towns for weeks on end starts to feel like something similar to moving.

Anyways, Ashley and I think we found an apartment...luckily the judge in courtroom 106 downtown gave us a couple of weeks to, I figure I'll depart with writing a letter to my landlord--just to get some things out in the open since I'm leaving anyways.

To: Mary Burlsberg
bldg. mgr/landlord

I've never been the best tenant for landlords; as I am loud, constantly overpopulating my apartment with boisterous, chemically impaired guests, loudly sexually active, and, saving the best for last, typically broke and unable to always pay rent promptly.
But sweet Jesus--when I moved into your building, being a defunct 1930's era historically- certified Capone brothel, my first act after moving in was to trap one mouse in my bathroom, and cold-bloodily murder another with a dictionary.(I was calling myself a murderer for weeks, in shame). In addition, I also had to find a way to stop myself and my food supply from being decimated by the live-in battalion of both Red American and Asian cockroaches, so I thought for sure I'd get a little flexibility from the management.

Secondly, I surely didn't know about the buildings' geriatric mafia-like organization; 80+ year old citizens who lurk in the dark places of the building ready to ask personal questions or eyeball fuck my girlfriend at any time. For a moment, I was looking into group rates, with a discount of course, on castration procedures for the lot of them; but at their age not only don't they use "it", but it was simply out of my range of financial options.
You collect their rent (or do you?)...So you obviously know Fred. Fred (possibly the "GodFather"to the organization) actually demanded monthly extortion money out of me for "laundry room protection", claiming the he'd "hate to see anything go missing or happen to my clothes while they were in his "territory". To this I paid little attention until I went to get my clothes out of the dryer, and several of my left socks were gone. I noticed the laundry gangster starring at me so I went over and asked if he'd seen anyone near the dryer I was using.
"Sorry fella" he said, "never failed to surprise me just how much stuff disappears doing laundry..whats missing? Some socks?"
I wasn't buying his bullshit.
He continued, "Next thing you know a shirt or nice pair of slacks will up and grow legs on ya."
Although this was both humorous and worrisome--I decided to take action. For days I stalked those who I knew or believed to be involved. But as you can imagine, waiting to witness, in-person, a group of octogenarians committing a crime or planning a heist was truly like watching paint dry. So I decided to cut to the chase and go straight to the laundry terrorist himself--close to 90 years old with a voice box, rickety cane, and that uninviting odor of a nursing home. Which, in hindsight made me realize people don't smell like nursing homes--nursing homes stink like the people.
"So whats the racket?" I asked Fred.
The old bastard acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. Shit, I thought, is he trying to be clever or is this poor old fucker suffering from dementia?
A couple of days later ALL my damn socks vanished from my load of laundry. So, I grudgingly agreed to the steep $7/week protection payments he had originally offered-which really I suppose at $1 a day is a great deal to keep my undergarments safe. Fuck it, I thought. And since then, no other items have gone missing. Only in Chicago, in an old ex-Capone operated building, could an elderly mob organization have the balls to extort for "laundry room protection" , but better to be safe than sorry in the windy city.
Oh and yeah, I don't like being asked if "I've been drinking". Firstly, because I work 15 hour days, and thats why I'm usually red-eyed and exhausted. But mainly because I don't drink. Never-the-less, you'd ask me on a semi-regular basis. No, god damn it, I have not been drinking... and even if I had told you what I had been doing, at your age you'd never understand anyways.
"No, ma'am, no booze," I'd cackle, "but I did just twist up a 'B' to bring back all the benzos I ate earlier, and in about 15 minutes I'll be rolling ( ROLLING BALLS! I think to myself)-and I'm no threat to you." Which I'd say calmly as I extend my arms for a hug.
Having to break it all down would've killed my damn roll so I decided to fuck the wordy explanation for your sake, not out of shame or embarrassment.

Then there was the burglary. Ahh... and a frosty rage creeps over me at the mere mention. Let's see. Anyone who lives in this building knows there are no less than 4 members of the said gorilla faction of old folks lounging the day away in the lobby at any given time between 7am and 6 pm. My apartment was broken into and robbed between 1 & 3pm-- so I would love to know, how exactly did none of the seniors I interrogated see a damn thing when they are, in fact, perched all day long in a semi circle around the only publicly accessible door to the entire building?
A hum- fucking-dinger, huh? The perpetrator had to get into the building, break into my place, and go in and out of the building at least two more times-even with a partner, to carry all the shit out. Even if it was a tenant of the building, wouldn't they have been spotted or asked where they were going with all their stuff? Maybe there was a studio apartment protection tax I was not aware of. Either way, all our things are gone.
Shit, at this point do we even need to get into the bed-bug incident(s)?! To which, in honesty you were helpful and sympathetic, but never the less a nightmare of a situation when they did happen. But since the bedbugs have been effectively driven from the land of apt. 204-- I guess I I'll drop it...nearly... teeny, horribly itchy, red bites mysteriously appearing all over me and my girlfriend, and blood marks on the sheets!! OK ...I'm done now for real.
I suppose I'll just wrap it up by saying: we quite possibly never should've crossed paths-or maybe it was twisted fate. And out of all the bullshit-- late rent, 5 day notices, and the never-ending cloud of pot smoke seeping out from under my door-I'm glad I had you for a landlord. You've been more than accommodating and above all, helped me keep my home in your building for the better part of 6 years. And, for that, you have my thanks...and I wont soon forget my years on Virginia Ave.
Sincerely-your worst tenant,
Matt Byron
National Affairs Desk, Chicago