Live, from Tampa Bay, it’s Saturday Night Blues!
Hello, Dear Reader, and welcome to Part Three of Super-Long Weekend Update – Veterans Day Edition. As I begin this post, it is late morning on Sunday, November 13, 2022, and I’m grooving to the sounds of Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Volume III. I usually don’t listen to pop/rock music either in the morning or when I write – the people in the adjacent rooms are usually asleep in the morning, for one thing, and I also find songs with lyrics (of any genre) distracting cos I will usually want to sing along.
As you can probably guess from the heading above, my Saturday night was not a spectacularly great one. Everyone, including the Caregiver’s three adult “kids,” was gone most of the day – Gamer Boy is, finally, gainfully employed at the local Amazon distribution center, so he and his two half-siblings all were working yesterday. And, of course, the Caregiver herself makes herself scarce every weekend, so my only companions are my computer, my online connections, and Sandy, our miniature schnauzer.
Life in a ‘Fortress of Solitude’
Now, I have never been the most gregarious of people, not even as a kid. I don’t mind a fair amount of solitude, and it suits my choice of profession, since writers require a lot of “alone time” in order to write. It doesn’t matter what I am working on – a blog post, a script, or even a work of fiction – but if I am writing, you bet your sweet caboose that I will close my bedroom door and pull a Greta Garbo on you.
That does not mean, however, that I vant to be left alone on a 24/7 basis. Even in the eight or so months in 2015/2016 when I “lived alone” in my former townhouse, I went out with friends – mostly my fellow South Miami Senior High Class of ’83 alums – to parties, dinners, and even a couple of karaoke outings at the now closed Open Stage club in Coral Gables.
I also went for walks around East Wind Lake Village, the condominium complex where I lived from 1978 to 2016. I sought human company among my friends in the neighborhood, not only because I genuinely liked them, but because I had never lived alone for a long period of time before July 2015.
Before 2020, life here was not like that. I went out on dates with the Caregiver, who was then the Girlfriend, or we’d go out with her kiddos – as she calls them – to restaurants such as Ford’s Garage and Cali Viejo. And, of course, she and I would spend time together, even if it was just to watch movies or TV shows out in the Florida room.
After 2020…I don’t want to delve into that in detail, but since we broke up, the Caregiver has been in two relationships; one with a childhood friend who had a serious drinking problem and died in July – close to the anniversary of my mother’s death, eerily enough – and the current one with an Army veteran she met on a dating site not long after the death of her alcoholic boyfriend.
I don’t have any objections to her dating someone else; it’s her life, her choice, and I respect her decision. I came to the conclusion, albeit reluctantly, that she and I are not compatible as a couple, and I’ve made my peace with the breakup, even though I do admit that I was angry and resentful for a while.
Hello, Pizza Hut? It’s Me, Alex….
What I do object to, though, is being left alone for long stretches at a time beyond what I consider normal for a writer. Especially in a house where all the other adults must either go to work or study, and I can’t even make scrambled eggs or a pot of white rice because I can’t use a gas stove.
Since I can’t cook – even though I have the know-how, ingredients, pots, pans, and utensils for the task – if the “kiddos” are not home or don’t cook for anyone except themselves, I now must spend a lot on delivered food, usually from Pizza Hut because it’s marginally cheaper, but sometimes from Outback Steakhouse.
That’s how I was able to eat dinner on Thursday (the unofficial, caused-by-Tropical Storm Nicole start of this superlong Veterans Day weekend because the courts were closed); I ordered a Detroit-style pizza (one of those menu items that are “for a limited time only”)…and nothing else. The pizza has a retail price of $12.99 (plus state sales tax), which is fine if you are doing either the dine-in or the to-go thing.
However, if you’re in my situation – can’t drive, no one is able (or willing) to do the pick-up, and it’s too far to walk – and you must choose the delivery option, the $12.99-plus tax price balloons to $22.99 thanks to a delivery fee (which, Pizza Hut emphasizes, is not a gratuity for the driver) and a tip.
And because no one grabbed a slice or two of the pizza – at least the kiddos respect my food – I had enough food for Thursday and Friday night’s dinners.
I did not go to bed hungry – I have some packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal in reserve here – so I ate something. Not what I wanted to eat, which was scrambled eggs and toast, but at least I did not go to sleep on an empty stomach.
Tonight, on ‘Andor’….
As you know, I like spending most of my day here at my desk; normal amounts of solitude don’t faze me, and most of my daily activities – both creative as well as for entertainment – require it anyway. Writing, listening to music, watching YouTube videos, or gaming…I prefer to do those here in my room because my desktop PC has a larger screen, better audio, and it’s not in a public space .
However, I don’t like feeling like I’m “confined to quarters” all of the time, and while I admit that the video quality of my 4K UHD TV is better than that of my previous HDTV set in my room, I hate the fact that the audio is dependent on the TV’s speaker and not from a soundbar or home theater system.
For those reasons, I like being able to watch stuff – whether its “regular TV” from Spectrum Cable, Disney+ on the Roku, or my 2K Blu-rays – out on the Florida room TV set. It’s a big TV (50-inch screen, I believe it is) and it’s connected to a 5.1 surround home theater system.
I don’t use that TV all that much anymore since the Caregiver’s youngest, 20-year-old S., likes to watch Disney+ and/or Netflix with her boyfriend out there when she has time off from her job at Target and her academic commitments at a local university. Sometimes, though, S. will pack a bag and spend the weekend at her boyfriend’s house, so when that happens, I can use the “big TV” without worrying about hogging it.
I have Disney+ on my computers and my TV as well, but since the only way I can watch Andor or any of the new Lucasfilm Star Wars Disney+ content with subtitles is via the Roku app, I prefer to use the Florida room set because it’s fitted to a Roku device and account. Otherwise, I’d have to crank up the volume on my TV’s measly built-in speaker, and I can’t do that unless I’m totally alone. And even then, my hard-of-hearing self still has problems with dialogue in movies or TV shows. (Oddly, not so much with music.)
So, yeah. I watched this week’s episode of Andor and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Since I am not privy to the comings and goings of my housemates – any of them – I limited myself to just watching that one episode of the Rogue One prequel TV series. I even switched from my “account” on the Roku and put it back on S’s in case she came home last night and wanted to watch her shows.
Closely Watched Packages: The ‘Casablanca’ Saga Continues
As I predicted in yesterday’s post, my package with the new 4K reissue of Casablanca did not arrive last night, thanks to Amazon’s decision to ship it via UPS SurePost, which is its slowest delivery option because not one but two shipping partners are involved.
See, UPS handles the first leg of the delivery’s itinerary, which is from a distribution center to a U.S. Postal Service facility. This is because UPS relegates small packages to its SurePost division because it saves the shipping service the time and expense of making a van delivery to the customer. So “last-mile” delivery is handled by the Postal Service.
This is fine if the delivery schedule is for a weekday ETA, but if part of the itinerary happens to include a Sunday, which is a day when mail is not usually delivered, then consumers must wait until the workweek starts on Monday. As it was, even though yesterday was Saturday and Amazon – basing its estimates on the scans made along the transit of a package – predicted Casablanca would arrive by 8 last night, it turns out that my package ended up sitting at a UPS center in Lakeland at 6:03 AM yesterday…and has not been handed over to the Post Office since.
The oddest twist to this is that the facility from which the shipment originated is in Temple Terrace, a city in Hillsborough County that’s only 28 miles away from Lithia, which is also in Hillsborough.
That’s a 45-minute drive under normal traffic conditions, and it would have been more logical to simply take the package from Temple Terrace to the Lithia Post Office, rather than send it in a roundabout course, first to Orlando and then to Lakeland.
It’s a minor inconvenience – unless UPS screws the pooch and loses my package in transit – to be sure, but an annoying one.
Aside from that, I don’t have anything to write about, at least nothing of interest, so I will close for now. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.