L1zards and L0ve Bugs

So I've made it to Florid@ alive. If you've never travelled 1200 miles with two drugged cats and all your worldly possessions in a Dodge Neon, well you just havent lived. The trip itself was pretty uneventful. Passed the arch in St. L0uis, drove through the southern tips of the non-descript Illinois and Kentucky, drove down some sort of mountain in Tenne5see complete with runaway truck ramps, made it through Atlant@, where two lanes became ten, and though the maximum speed is 55 mph, even at 70, I couldnt keep up, and stopped for the first night somewhere around 100 miles south of Atlant@. Dragged the cat carriers into the Travel Lodge and went in search of something to eat. Got back, opened the door, and out runs the fluffy or@nge cat. Keep in mind no pets are allowed at this hotel. Chased cat up and down hallway several times before cat began hyperventilating and gave up. Returned to room and applied band-aids (to me, not the cat). S1amese cat stopped in middle of bed and threw up a large hairball. Lovely. Took a shower with water pressure that was somewhat like having someone stand and spit on me. Why dont hotels offer shampoo anymore? $29.95 for a room, guess I was being to optimistic. Woke up early to buy a can of cat food to put the kitty tranquilizers in. Spent $2 on a single can of food at the 7-11. Cats developed intelligence overnight and realized my evil plan to sedate them and backed slowly away from food. Plan B was implemented which involved me chasing and holding down already highly stressed cats, prying open mouths, and inserting a dropper full of sleepy goodness. Dried self off and applied more band-aids (again, that would be to me). Loaded cats in car and set out on the interstate again, arrived in Tampa at about 3:00, drove around for about two hours looking for my apartment, and well, found it. So there it is.

I kind of panicked for a few days when I first got here, thought that I should just go back home. No job, no friends, no furniture, what was I thinking? I handled it pretty well, you know, by lying on the floor and sobbing. That was fun for a few days, but then it occurred to me that hey, Im in Florid@, this is crazy. So I went to the beach. I signed up to be a volunteer at the humane society and also with Big Brothers Big Sisters Im guessing Ill be the sister. Went and saw some bands play, went out and found a job, two actually.

The full-time job is through a temp service. The possibilities boggle the mind. The assignment I am currently on is data entry. All I do for eight hours a day is type 1s and 0s. I know, I know, it sounds fabulous. Oh sure, occasionally there are other numbers, but its pretty much and 1s and 0s type of thing. I thought I would never be able to find a job more boring than my last, yet here I am. Luckily the pay sucks. Wait, thats not lucky. No, the lucky part is that I can get lots of overtime. If I work 10 extra hours a week, I can almost make what I was making at my last job. Unfortunately after 8 hours, all I want to do is run screaming from the building, with my bloodshot eyes and cramped up hands, to the nearest bar.

My first day here I was in an 8 X 6 cubicle with two other people. They score the tests that I get to enter. Let me tell a little about the tests because its just absolutely fascinating. Not really, but its my diary, so then. The tests are a battery of neuropsychological assessment tests designed by a bunch of doctors with a government grant. I bet those guys know how to party. Each test has about 4000 questions and takes about 4 hours to complete. Participants are paid $75 for completing the tests. After the first couple of tests I entered, I realized most people always got certain questions correct, and it was easier to copy and paste the data, rather than enter a 1 followed by 4 zeros 31 times in a row. Oddly enough, one of the questions people often miss is Is the south pole north of the north pole? For the record, the correct answer would be no.

I was told the average number of tests I was expected to enter an hour was 3. I can enter around 12. Am I getting paid 4 times as much? No, no I am not. So I compensate by wasting time. Also, I now have my own cubicle, which is good, because the guy I shared the cubicle with the first day Ill call him Mike because his name is Mike took off his shoes halfway through the day. The hell? Since when is this acceptable behavior? Airing out your stinky feet in a cubicle you share with two other people that is roughly the size of a coffin - except a coffin would have better air circulation is just so not cool. Mike wants to be a lawyer. I can totally picture him as one of those sleazy lawyers that has one of those commercials on tv have you been in an accident? Let me help! Except Mikes not even cool enough for that, hes just kind of blobby and pasty and drinks a lot of coffee and has pungently smelly feet. Enough about Mike.

So then the part time job is in a shopping mall at Bath and Body Works selling overpriced hand lotions and candles. The company is a little fanatical about their training and adherence to conformity, but for a part time gig, its doable.

What else? I bought a sofa bed because sleeping and sitting on the floor was not as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. Who knew? I bought a scale I threw mine away before I left, thinking I could live without it. Ha ha ha. Its worse for me to not know how much I weigh than it is to know. Without a scale, I become convinced Ive gained 10 pounds or more. I know Ill never be happy with the numbers, but as long as I know how much space Im taking up in the world, every single day, its just better, it just is.. Last, but not least, I bought cigarettes. I quit smoking about 2 years ago, so I was a little worried I would be out of practice, but not to be concerned, I am more than making up for lost time. It was like, Hello, old friend, welcome home! Yeah well. Some people might think that this makes me weak, but I trust none of those people are here. I may have complained in here around two or three or seventy eight times about my roommate always smoking, but that was because she was doing it IN the apartment. I smoke outside, so Im far, far superior. Plus, she was just really hooterific.

You know what I had forgotten about Florid@? Lizards. Those little things are everywhere, and before too long I have the feeling a cat may catch one and bring it to me as a gift. Oh the joy. Also, love bugs, I dont know the technical name, so love bugs. When I first got here, the swarmed my car. Interesting, I thought, theyre all stuck together. Then it was Oooooooh, theyre STUCK together, ewwwww. And were walking . . .

I must get back to typing the all important 1s and 0s its like programming, but with no actual purpose. The fate of the neuropsychological world may just depend on me.

2002-10-01 at 12:21 p.m.