Monday, March 31, 2008

Goodbye March

Dear Loyal Readers,

Another month has come and gone. It was a pretty good month.

Time moves on and on, forward and forward; we'll never get last year or even yesterday back.

But I think March was a pretty good month for me. How was it for you?

Take care.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

In the Tropic of Capricorn

In the Tropic of Capricorn

There must be hyper-aggressive tree frogs
there, and Venus fly-traps, and quicksand,
and ground-dwelling clouds, and boa
constrictors with dagger-fangs that stab
straight into baboons’ faces and suck out
the brains, and giant tarantulas that slowly
straddle their hairy legs around sleeping
children, all in the Tropic of Capricorn.

Getting Along and Bucking Up

Getting Along and Bucking Up

When I’m nude and it’s noonish,
I intentionally drool on myself;
the slobber gets me out of bed
because it’s so gross.

When I throw something away
that ought to be recycled, I mutter,
“Take that, Mother Earth.”

The ladies from church wonder
how I look at myself in the mirror.

It's easy. I throw back my shoulders,
raise my eyebrows, smile, and say,
“at least you're not a Nazi.”

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I highly advise that you go to Pandora on the Internet. It's free Internet radio that you can listen to. I've been listening to a lot of early blues and folk music from Pandora lately. I like to put it on while I'm washing the dishes or cooking. Thank goodness for music. As much as I like to intellectualize art, there comes a time when we need to stop talking about art and start enjoying it. People would be happier, methinks, if they took more time to watch good movies, listen to good music, look at good paintings, watch good plays, and read good stories. Taking in good music is good for the soul.

Here's some old blues stuff I recommend: Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, and Leadbelly.

For folk music, I recommend Woody Guthrie. I'm pretty sure Bob Dylan called Woody "the end all and be all of folk music."

For show tunes, I recommend the Wicked soundtrack.

We live in a marvelous age. My heart beats with joy when I ponder upon the amount of musical options we have before us.

Stop reading this blog post and start listening to good music.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Northstar Alarm Services

Hello, Telemoonfa Time readers. Welcome back. Today I have an interesting blog post for you. The following is from my journal from May 2007. It’s about my experience working for Northstar Alarm Systems. Names have been changed. Enjoy.

Dear Journal,

In my last entry, I wrote, “Summer gives me a nice break from school.” One of the best ways it does that is it reminds me how much work sucks. When I was an overnight stocker at Wal-Mart, that was a pretty good job, but it really made me want to go back to school. And when I worked at Camp Raymond, I wanted to go back to school. It was kind of cool working there, I guess. But then we had about a month between the end of camp and the beginning of school and we did a whole lot of nothing and I felt like I was accomplishing nothing, just wasting time, so I wanted to get back to school and start reading and writing and thinking and doing University things. And of course school has its stresses, but they’re good stresses, for the most part. Well, this summer, even though I’m not even, (Well I guess today I’m a full week into summer. It’s Friday.) I’m ready to go back to school. Or at least to a different job. Right now I’m thinking that I just never should have come out here to Nashville Tennessee to sell alarm systems door to door for Northstar.

But, you know, I agreed to it: my wife and I bought $1000 worth of plane tickets, probably spent $400 in the moving process, and we signed a lease to stay here for the summer. We bought cell phones.

So here I am feeling sorry for myself. I tried selling on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I haven’t sold one. My wife, on the other hand, sold 3. One a day. That’s $450 she’s made us. And I… I’m just not as good as her. I’m in bad shape, journal, bad shape. There are some other co-workers we have, too, that aren’t really selling. But I guess some people do sell and it’s a pretty lucrative thing for them. And what a crazy job. What a crazy lifestyle.

I don’t mean to criticize this type of work too much, because if I criticize it too much, it’s like I’m criticizing my wife. But my co-workers, see, they all have cell phones and they talk on them all the time, talking importantly. They have money, and they like to throw it around. All of us are here for one reason and one reason only: money. I guess that’s not wrong, but I don’t feel like I’m in a really serviceable job. I mean, bagging groceries and pushing carts is performing service, packing up boxes to ship out -that’s a service- but selling – well – these people were fine before I knocked on their door. Maybe they were even having dinner, making love, watching a favorite TV show, or chatting with their loved ones – and then I come over to try to sell them something they probably don’t need.

That’s one of my big problems: I guess I don’t believe in the product enough. I don’t think I’d want one for my own home. I’d maybe want a sign that says, “This home protected by such-and-such security system” but that’s about it. That’s what my family has. But having to hear the “front door open” or “sliding glass door open” voice all the time and entering the code every time you come in the house (I know there’s a convenient key fob, but that’s just another thing to put on your key chain.) – all that seems like more hassle than it’s worth. See, I’m not scared about crime or fires or medical emergencies; they’ve never happened to me.

And I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying all the things they want me to say. Like, “I’m not the real salesperson. I’m just the advertising person. I have a budget and I thought that instead of spending $25,000 on a TV commercial, if we could just get a few homes in this neighborhood set up, that’d be great advertising for us. But the real sales team is gonna come through in about 3 weeks and they’ll be charging retail price for everything that we’d give you at no cost.” See, I feel a little uncomfortable saying that because there is no real sales team coming three weeks later. I’m the regular peon salesperson.

Another thing they want me to say: “We really like your location here because you’re right in the middle of the street and lots of traffic goes by.” Or, “We love your yard because it’s well-kept and you’re right on the corner, so we’d like to advertise with this Northstar sign in your yard.” Well, that’s sort of true, but the truth is, we go to every house. So it’s not that they were special – it’s just that we go to every house and try to make their house appear special.

Another thing they want us to say is, “How many doors do you have in your home?” (Answer) “Are those all normal doors or do you have some sliders or some French doors?” (Answer) “Now how many hinges are there on that door?” (Answer) “Oh, all right. Two hinges, see, hmmm… those are a little different. Do you mind if we go take a look at that?” And that gets you into the house. See, none of those questions really matter. It’s supposed to look like I’m an expert on doors and security systems, when really I’m just trying to make $150.

And there’s just little stuff like that all the time. Like, “Now if you want, I can lock in this $39.99 rate for 5 years.” The truth is, Northstar won’t raise the rates anyway, but if you get them to sign up for five years, you make more money. The less equipment you give them, the more money you make.

The Northstar people tell me, “You gotta find their hot button. Return to the hot button and keep pushing it.” For example, if a person’s hot button is their daughter being safe, you say, “Now tell me again about that window in your daughter’s bedroom.” So you sort of want to scare them without saying, “There’s lots of scary criminals out to get you all the time – you should be paranoid – and you should get an alarm system.”

Money money money money. Sales is so money-driven. One of the things one of the Northstar managers said was, “If you can make this summer job work for you, there’s no reason you should work for less than $50,000 a year. Gotta go.


Dear Journal,
So I’m going kind of early with my wife to some person’s house to see if they want to buy an alarm system before our meeting. We have a meeting every morning from noon to 1 pm, roughly. Then we go knock on doors until night time. Dark. And the past two nights, my wife and I have gotten

Dear Journal, Friday, May 25th, 2007

I am now sitting on a greyhound bus in Nashville Tennessee, at the Greyhound Bus Station. We’re just about to drive off to Arizona. Hooray! Oh man, we have two full days of driving ahead of us. My wife is sitting to my right. She’s wearing sunglasses and trying to fall asleep. She just popped a Dramamine pill. It cuts motion sickness down and it makes you drowsy. My wife gets carsickness easily, and she just wants to go to sleep.

My oh my, I have a bunch to write about. How should I arrange my information? Should I write about the good stuff first? Bad stuff first? Should I write about our hope in Arizona, or our bad feelings in Tennessee?

Bad feelings. Well, for now, I feel like writing about AZ, so I’ll say, for now, long story short, we quit our job selling alarm systems with Northstar Alarm, and we’re going home.

But now for some good news. First, I got straight As! Straight As! Yip yip hip hip hooray!! And man, I took 22 credits! 22 credits at NAU and I was in Grapes of Wrath and I passed the Constitution portion of the AEPA (Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment), so that sort of like sort of means I don’t have to take a class, Political Science 220, so I guess you could say I sort of did 25 credits last semester. But really, I took 22. But listen, reader, I made straight As! I thank Heavenly Father for his help with my studies. My GPA is a nice 3.75 now. My wife's GPA is 3.85, I think. She got all As except for one pesky B in Spanish 202. She expected that to happen.

I stopped for a moment to look out the window. I saw more of Nashville on this bus ride so far than I saw in the last week and half we were working there. Oh, my. I’m getting happier with each mile that we cross.

Second piece of awesome great news: we got our jobs at Camp Raymond back! I feel free. I feel good. Getting out of Nashville was not an easy task, but now we’ve done it and we’re on the bus ride home. Hallelujah!

So here’s the immediate plan: we’ll get to Flagstaff, Arizona at 10:35 pm tomorrow night, on Saturday, May 26th. Some friends will pick us up at the bus station and take us to their house. We’ll spend the night with them and go to Cedar Hill ward, our lovely old ward, with them at 1. Directly after church, they’ll give us a ride to Payson. We’ll probably spend Sunday night with my inlaws. Then, Monday morning, bright and early, we’ll drive down to Sahuarita. (You see, our Geo Storm is in Payson.) Why are we going to Sahuarita, you ask? Because I miss my family. I haven’t seen them since January. Also, I haven’t seen my sister in a while, and she’s coming to visit this Memorial Day Weekend. It’ll be like a family reunion! So we’ll stay with my family on Monday night, Tuesday night, and then we’ll drive to Camp Raymond on Wednesday. Gas prices are high now; it’s over $3.00 a gallon. I’ve thought about just staying in Payson until Wednesday, and maybe we will, but I’d like to see my family again soon. I miss them. So, we’ll get to camp on Wednesday and start working there on Thursday. (We’re getting our old Recreational Vehicle back!) We’ll stay there the whole summer, except when we’ll drive out to California for my wife's cousin’s wedding on July 15th. Around the end of July, Camp Raymond ends. We might extend by going to Camp Geronimo, another Boy Scout Camp near Payson, but we probably won’t. Um… after Camp Raymond ends, we’ll go down to Sahuarita to stay with my family for a week or two or three, and then we’ll probably go to Payson to stay with my wife's mom and dad for a week or so, and then we’ll move back to Flagstaff to finish one more semester at Northern Arizona University. My wife and I will both graduate in December (Her officially, me only ceremoniously; I’ll do my student teaching in the spring of 2008 somewhere, probably in the valley.) (“The Valley” refers to the Phoinex metropolitan area.)

One little problem about next semester is we don’t know where we are going to live. We applied to live in Roseberry hall again, and we really want to. But, we won’t find out until mid-summer whether or not we’ll have a place there.

Boy, the sides of the freeway here is trees tress trees. Besides the very tall billboards, you can’t see anything. My wife appears to be asleep. I’m not exactly sure where we are, but I’m pretty sure we’re on the Interstate 40 headed west. Here’s the itinerary for our trip:
Leave From Arrive in
Nashville TN @ 10:45 am Evansville IN @ 1:55 pm
Evansville IN @ 2:20 pm Mount Vernon IL @ 3:55 pm
Mount Vernon IL @ 4:30 pm St. Louis MO @ 5:50 pm
St. Louis MO @ 7:15 pm Springfield MO @ 11:15 pm
Springfield MO @ 11:45 pm Tulsa OK @ 3:15 am
Tulsa OK @ 3:15 am ? Oklahoma City OK @ 5:35 am
Oklahoma City OK @ 6:05 am Elk City OK @ 8:05 am
Amarillo TX @

Gee whiz, I’m an English person. I’m not good with graphs and numbers. I’m tired of copying my itinerary into this journal. Suffice it to say that on this trip, we’ll be passing through a lot of the country, and we’ll be making stops in Evansville, Mt. Vernon, St. Louis, Springfield, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Elk City, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Albuquerque, Gallup, and Flagstaff. Wow, huh? Boy, seeing this land from a bus is a lot different form seeing it from a plane, huh? You experience the land differently depending on your mode of travel. Imagine seeing it on a motorcycle. Or a bicycle. Or on foot. Whoa, dude.

So my wife and I won’t be sleeping well of course on this trip. And we’ll not be able to shower. We brought plenty of snacks and water bottles for the trip, but yeah, that will be weird. Oh, and we won’t change our clothes.

Do I regret going to Tennessee? Do I regret working for Northstar Alarm Services? No. Going to TN taught me plenty of things. And it makes for a good story. And it was adventurous. It sure was an expensive lesson, though. Do you want the grand total? Two thousand dollars. All things considered, we lost about two thousand dollars by hiring on with Northstar. $2,000. Oh my goodness. That’s a ton of money to my wife and me at this stage in our lives. We didn’t borrow money from our parents, thank goodness, and we didn’t have to move in with my parents, thank goodness, but we pretty much depleted our savings account. We only have $400 left in it, and we have an almost $400 charge on our credit card, so we’re basically broke. Well, we have some checks from Northstar coming and we’ll really be OK. (If we’re really hurting, we won’t spend the money on gas to get to see my family.)

OK, so, now that I told you we lost $2,000 on this Northstar adventure, I have some explaining to do. First I’ll talk about the math. I’ll talk about the numbers. Then, I’ll talk about the emotional and psychological and narrative stuff. As always, forgive me if I stray from my outline.

My wife and I spent $1,000 on plane tickets. We spent $400 on bus tickets. We spent $1650 to break the lease we were in with Cherry Creek Apartments. We spent $100 on stocking our apartment with food and household items. And, it looks like we owe another $400 for May’s rent. That brings us to a grand total of $3,550. (I forgot $180 on cell phones)

Now, my wife and I both got a $250 training bonus, and we sold 6 accounts altogether (she sold 4 and I sold 2), and they pay us $150 per account, so that means we earned $900. Maybe we’ll get more money for our cell phone allowance and gas allowance, and maybe Northstar will pay our small electric bill, and maybe Jerry will feel charitable and just give us more money, but probably we won’t be receiving an more that $1,400 for our training bonus and our 6 sales. Here’s our formula: Money spent minus money made = the total amount of money that we lost. So, 3,700 minus 1,400 = 2,300

These numbers are rounded off, but this means we lost $2,300 by joining Northstar. That would seem to me to be the bottom line. Again, maybe we’ll get more money from Jerry or Northstar. There’s another factor. My wife and I will try to get $825 out of Bobby and Sarah Brown. Who are they, you ask? Oh, it’s a long story. Now is a good time to start the narrative of our employment with Northstar.

It all started around the beginning of last semester when recruited us. We had seen Jerry around church. We were friendly. We were chatty. After all, we were friends. We had known each other during the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002 at Eastern Arizona College. I was in Another Gate, a play that he wrote and directed. Then he was a newlywed college student majoring in theatre. When I knew him before my mission, he didn’t have any kids, he loved shooting guns and being in plays, and he hadn’t sold so much as a watch. In fact, he was planning on becoming a theatre professor. He was planning on going to college for another 6, 7, or 8 years to get his doctorate, and then he was going to go down to Thatcher and take Dr. Crae Wilson’s spot when Crae retired. So, Jerry went to NAU and majored in theatre, but he only lasted a semester. He got a job in the summertime working at Bobsellers Toyota in Flagstaff. He thought it was just a summer job. But then, I guess he found out that he was good at it. He made a lot of money. Tons of money, in fact. So, he dropped out of school to become a car salesperson full-time. He soared in the company. For a while, he was the highest-selling salesperson at Bobsellers dealership. Jerry made so much money that he was able to buy a lot of nice things. He bought a big screen TV, a gigantic house, two nice vehicles, movies movies movies, and just stuff stuff stuff. He was making well over $100,000 a year, and he probably made way more, and he worked at Bobsellers Toyota Dealership in Flagstaff for about five years.

But maybe he got tired of selling cars, or maybe he got into disagreements with his boss, but, whatever the reason, around January 2007 I think, he quit selling cars and started selling alarm systems with Northstar. Since he had so much selling experience, Northstar hired Jerry as an area manager. It was his job, among other things, to recruit people to go out to Nashville, TN, for the summer to sell alarm systems door to door.

So, along come na├»ve little Telemoonfa and Telemoonfa's wife over to Jerry's house to watch the Superbowl. This was probably in February. (I need to work on my spelling.) We watched the game on his big screen TV. We ate buffalo burgers. (Jerry killed a buffalo near the Grand Canyon a while back. They chopped it up and put it in their freezer.) We ate potato chips. We ate cheese and crackers, neatly arrayed on a platter. (That was a dangling or misplaced modifier.) We joked. We thought we were having fun. After the game, Jerry invited us down to his room newly designated as his Northstar office. He showed us the summer compensation plan, which basically said that we were going to be rich rich rich by August. I was skeptical. My wife was skeptical, too, but I think she was excited about it. So we said we’d think about it. He invited us over to dinner a few days later. We accepted the invitation and said, “We’ll read over the information you’ve given us and we’ll think about it.” So, my wife and I talked and talked about it, and it seemed too good to be true. But if it was true, we would make $30,000 this summer. Then I could go to graduate school, we said. And then we can pay for this and that and both get glasses and laser hair removal and a bunch of dental work and we can give our families money and on and on and on and on and on and on. Money is alluring, reader. It’s very enticing. Money is not the root of all evil, but the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Still, my wife and I aren’t in debt, but we’re not raking in the big bucks, by any means. Money would help us get through school, and do a thousand other great things.

I might have told my family about Northstar before we signed up, or maybe it was after we signed up; I don’t know. But my family advised me not to do the Northstar thing. Dad and Borris especially told me it sounded like a scam and just to be very careful before jumping into risky things like this. I had talked with a friend, though, about selling stuff door to door, because this friend had sold pest control last summer and came out with 13 or 14 thousand dollars, if I remember right. That’s way more money than working at Camp Raymond! That’s way more money than working at Wal-Mart! Again, the Northstar thing seemed too good to be true, but uh… if it was true, it’d be great. And Jerry was my friend. He went to church. He seemed like a good guy. Yes it seemed a little crazy, but my wife was excited and I was willing to give it a shot, so we signed up. One night after dinner or whatever he brought out the applications/contracts/employment papers and my wife and I signed them.

Oh if I could go back to that night. Having the knowledge I have now, I would not have signed up for the job. But hindsight is 20/20. We can’t time travel, so this is how life goes. My wife and I made the decision, and we went to Nashville.

Recruiting tactics are smooth, too. Jerry is a smooth salesperson. Jerry sold us. He fed us. He told us all about how great the summer was going to be and how rich we would all be. He showed us promotional videos. Videos with good-looking college-aged people smiling and swimming and walking around selling stuff and getting x-boxes and laptops and more. Oh sales. Sales sales sales. What a strange business sales is. And what a stranger business door-to-door sales is! I could go on, but since this is a narrative, not a treatise or essay on sales-recruiting tactics, I won’t.

Jerry told us a lot of stuff. Just as it’s hard to separate Moses from God, it’s hard to separate Jerry and Northstar. Northstar spoke to Jerry. Jerry relayed the message to us. We spoke to Jerry, and he spoke to Northstar. We never communicated directly with Northstar. Indeed, Northstar is unknowable and mysterious, and perhaps omnipotent.

Jerry told us a lot of stuff. He said we would all caravan out to Nashville after school was over. The caravan road trip would be a great team-building experience. He said that we wouldn’t have any trouble without a car. We would all live in the same apartment complex and there would be vehicles aplenty. He said we’d go to church every Sunday, and to the temple often, and probably we could go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He said we’d become rich. He said we would have a great time and make new friends and blah blah blah. He answered every concern we had. He overcame our objections. He said we would be properly trained to make sales. I remember him saying something like, “If you go a whole day (maybe he said 2 days) without selling, I will be out there immediately knocking doors with you.” He said the team would do fun stuff together and have a blast.

While I’m thinking about it, there were other telling things that Jerry said about his attitude about life and sales and etc. One day Jerry and I were driving in his FJ. (Aside: the FJ is a sort of sport utility vehicle that Toyota makes. I don’t know what FJ stands for, but oh my goodness, it’s one of the most obnoxious-looking vehicles I’ve ever seen. And as if it weren’t tall enough, he put a lift kit onto the thing so that it towers over most other vehicles on the road. But the funny thing about the FJ was that we couldn’t refer to it as a car or a truck or a jeep, and it wasn’t your typical SUV, so we always just had to call it an FJ, as if it were above being classified as a truck or a car. It vaguely reminds me of Brother Goff and his deuce-and-a-half, a gigantic army vehicle. But Jerry’s FJ was just seething with testosterone. If the FJ was a person, it would be a self-centered body-building rich and better-than-you person. Oh! You will never see me driving an FJ; I promise you that.)

Enough FJ aside stuff. On to Jerry’s quotes/paraphrases. I asked him while we were driving, “Jerry, how long are you going to be in sales?” And he said, “Until I get rich.” Whoa, wait a minute, isn’t he already rich?

Once, when he was describing how he got a sale, he said, “I just wouldn’t take no for an answer.” The relationship between dishonesty and sales is a subject for a different page, but here I will say that Jerry is pushy when he sells alarm systems.

Jerry also told us about a guy who he sold an alarm system to who asked, “So where’d you park?” So the customer thought that Jerry drove up specifically to the customer’s house. Jerry was pretty proud of himself.

Jerry also said that one time he had sold an account acting like a fancy advertising representative from Northstar, and not an ordinary salesperson. So, a customer, after signing the contract, asked curiously, “So how do you get paid?” And Jerry had to make up an answer on the spot so he said, “I get commission on the amount of people in a one mile radius of your house that buy a Northstar alarm system.” That was a total lie, right? Yes, it was. He makes commission on the amount of account he sells because he’s a salesman! (By the way, we don’t really know how much Jerry makes per sale. My wife and I make $150 per sale, but since Jerry’s a manager, he probably makes more. And he probably gets a cut of everybody else’s sales. And he probably gets a bonus for every person he recruits for Northstar.)

Jerry said some other stuff that I’m skeptical of. If you know that somebody tells lies, then how can you trust him? I suppose you could say that Jerry is just dishonest when it comes to business, but that in his personal life he’s honest. Well, as the Scriptures say, a good tree brings forth good fruit, and an evil tree brings forth evil fruit. You can identify a tree by its fruit.

The following is out of order, but it’s on my mind: Jerry was pretty cooperative and helpful with us. As long as we were working with him, he let us borrow his FJ and all that stuff, but as soon as we told him we wanted to quit and go home, he tried to get us to stay, and then once we told him that we were leaving for sure, he pretty much said, “OK. Have fun getting home.” We didn’t have a car, a phone book, a map of Nashville or America. We had a bunch of stuff we had to get across the country and we were confused about our pay and we had to give him an address to send our check(s). Egad- my goodness. After he found out we were leaving for real, he wasn’t even going to call us to say that $400 would automatically be taken out of our checks to cover May’s rent. He didn’t even discuss with us anything about the apartment keys, the rented furniture inside our apartment – blast – nothing! We were leaving on such unclear terms, and he pretty much had nothing to do with us and wouldn’t help us get out of the state. My wife and I tried to meet with him, and we tried to talk with him over the phone, but he was just so busy that we couldn’t meet with him before our bus trip. So, last night I wrote him a letter and my wife taped it to his door this morning. In the midst of moving, we didn’t have any paper, so I cut out page 167 and 168 of this journal to write the letter. In the letter, I tried to sound very professional and impersonal. I asked him several things. I can’t remember everything I wrote, but I said something like, “Do we still owe $400 to Northstar for May’s rent? Can I get my 20 or 25-dollar beat-the-manager incentive? Can you return the keys to the leasing office? Can you get the rental furniture out of the apartment before the end of May? Since you know Bobby and Sarah Brown better than we do, do you have any advice for getting money out of them? On Wednesday morning, you said that although you were not technically or legally responsible for us losing money on this Northstar venture, you felt morally responsible for us losing money. So, if you feel inclined to give us money, we’ll accept it. If you do nothing to help us financially or if you ignore this letter, please know that my wife and I will be fine. Thanks for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Telemoonfa.” Whoa. I’m getting sleepy and emotional. In some ways, I feel like there’s some unfinished business back in Nashville. (We’re in another state now.)

Check out this scenario: Jerry doesn’t return the apartment keys. What do we do? We get fined replacement charges from Cherry Creek Apartments, right? Check out this scenario: Jerry doesn’t get his rented furniture out of apartment 3105 in time. (That’s our old apartment #) What happens then? We get charged some kind of bad-leaving fine. I really wanted to email Cherry Creek Apartments and let them know about the keys and furniture situation. I really hope that on top of losing $2,300 we don’t get our credit or reputation messed up.

Oh, thank goodness for my wife. She earned the money that was in our savings account. Some of it I guess you could say was from her scholarships and financial aid and Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, but basically it came from my wife. If we didn’t have the money to break the lease, I don’t know what we would have done. I guess we would have been stuck in Tennessee, or stuck with bad credit.

This reminds me, one time Jerry and a couple of us were talking about if it’s harder to sell an alarm system to a rich person or a poor person. Jerry said he preferred selling stuff to middle class or poor people. He said that blue-collared or average people are used to having a boss. They’re used to having a boss, someone in authority telling them what to do, because while Jerry is selling, he is being their boss, so to speak. He is the authority figure, and he’s telling his customers what to do. That’s the way he likes it.

I conjecture, then, that Jerry likes to keep people poor. Which brings us to another big long story: the Lovealls.

The Lovealls are a cool family. There’s Hal, Andrea, and a little baby named Hiram (maybe it’s Hyrum). They worked with us at Northstar here. More precisely, Hal worked with us, and Andrea stayed at home with the baby. Yesterday my wife and I went over to the Loveall's house when Hal was at work to return their van keys and check our email.

Well, we ended up having a very long conversation with Andrea about Jerry and Northstar and life. Andrea told us lots of crazy stuff. Turns out that the Lovealls are doing much worse than us financially. They went out to Nashville hoping to get out of debt, but now it looks like they’re just getting deeper and deeper into the hole. They have no place to live, except for her parents’ house, but they don’t feel totally welcome there. They don’t have the means, as I understand it, to actually get back to wherever they’re getting back to. I guess Utah, because he starts UVSC (Utah Valley State College) in the Fall. (He went to EAC for a while and met Jerry in the theatre department, just like me.) (I (use) parenthesis profusely.)

Well, Hal is not a very successful salesperson so far. The Lovealls have been there for a month, and he’s only sold two. That’s 300 dollars. If he doesn’t make 3 more before this month is over, then they owe over $1,000 in rent. They have a two-bedroom apartment, so it’s more expensive than ours. And what if at the end of August, Northstar calls up Hal and says, “You owe us $3,000 for the rent. Cough it up or your credit is ruined.” It sounds despicable but I just don’t trust Jerry anymore and I don’t trust Northstar.

As for the product itself, I guess we were selling some pretty good equipment. But the monitoring fee was $39.99 a month if you had a landline phone and it was 45.99 if you had a cell phone only. Personally, I would not buy the system. And now that I know the deceitful way in which salespeople try to sell you stuff, I really wouldn’t buy the system.

First of all, I think a sign saying “This house is secured by ADT” is a good enough deterrent. Second of all, if you have to sign a 36-month contract for 39.99 a month, that means you’ll end up paying $1440. Well, if your house gets broken into, let me start over. If someone were to break into my house, I doubt I have $1440 worth of stuff there, and you know, what are the chances of somebody breaking into my house? And check this out: Police have dealt with so many false alarms from residential security systems that they don’t believe house alarms anymore. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. I talked with a police officer the other day on his doorstep about alarm systems. So he’s a pretty reliable source. He said for every true emergency where an alarm system goes off, there are a thousand false alarms. He said that a fistfight has a higher priority than a house alarm going off. He also said that response time is so slow that usually by the time the police get to the house, the bad guys are gone. So the police officer does not have a monitored alarm in his home. But he does have an alarm that makes a lot of noise. A loud siren will usually scare people away, he said.

So, for these and other unmentioned reasons, I don’t think an alarm system is worth the money. Or the hassle. An alarm system is just another thing to worry about. It’s just another number to memorize. Another password to memorize. Even with our new convenient key fob, the system overall is inconvenient. I don’t want it. Oh, and the system is annoying. Every time it’s on the “Stay” mode, which is the mode you have it in when you’re staying at home, whenever a door opens, a computerized female voice says, “Front door open.” Or “Back door open.” Or “Sliding door open.” And it beeps a lot. So it’s just annoying man. It’s just annoying. And I wonder how good the service really is. I sort of feel like alarm systems are for paranoid people or control freaks or greedy people with diamonds in their closets. My wife never grew up with an alarm system. I never grew up with an alarm system. And we turned out just fine!

Dude, my hand and shoulder are getting tired from writing. But when you’re stuck on a bus, it’s either sleep or read or look out the window or be bored or write in your journal. I wish I had a map. I wish I knew where we going, exactly. I’m unfamiliar with this part of the country. All I see out the windows is green green green. Here and there a lake. Here and there a river.

It would seem as though I haven’t actually described to you how the work itself was. And I’ve sort of lost track of the narrative plan.

Uh… day by day…

May 10th Thursday of Final’s Week –My wife and I are finished with school. We pack up and prepare to leave Flagstaff.

May 11th Friday. Pack and clean. We found out that we might not be able to live in Roseberry next semester. Long story.

May 12th Saturday. We check out of Roseberry hall at 9 am. We go out to breakfast at a fast food Mexican burrito place. Yummy. We get gas. We decide not to go to John's graduation at ASU. I really wanted to go. I really really wanted to. I told John via email I probably would go. But my wife and I were so exhausted. Finals week was stressful. Oh man, it was crazy. On top of final projects and homework, I had a bunch of dental work done. I had a


Dear Journal,

I’m on the bus in Amarillo, Texas. It’s 12:40 in the afternoon. Around noon. 12:40 pm, I think. I always get confused with 12’s. Are they am or pm? I don’t know. But the good new is I have a hamburger and fries and soda in my stomach and we just have 10 more hours until we get back to our beloved Flagstaff. Oh I want to get back so badly. I can’t wait to see the our friends at the bus station across the street from Roseberry Apartments. I wish we would have kept room 301 over the summer and worked at Camp Raymond and stayed in our apartment on the weekends. But uh… we didn’t want to spend the money on the rent for the summer. But alas, you, reader, and I know how much money we lost joining Northstar.

But on to other things. Joey is going to manage Camp Raymond I guess. Remember Joey and Terry Wilson? Well, Joey’s managing Camp Raymond and Terry Wilson is managing a new Boy Scout Camp in New Mexico. And I guess Joey, my wife, and I are the only ones returning. I’m looking forward to living in the woods again. It was cool last summer living around all those trees and rocks and critters. Yeah. The showers weren’t that cool, but you know, it was just a good experience all around. By the end of camp you sort of got sick of it, but my wife and I promised each other we wouldn’t complain about working at Camp Raymond because we already had a miserable time at Northstar.

And make no mistake about it. Northstar was miserable. We would knock on doors all day. Well, from 1 pm – dark, Monday through Friday, and then on Saturday we started at 9 am and went until 6. But uh… a few nights my wife and I were left in the cold, waiting to be picked up. We were supposed to stop working at 8, or dark, and once we were shivering and didn’t get picked up until 10. And sometimes we ran out of water. And we didn’t like what we were doing. You pretty much had to lie to be good at selling these systems. You had to either lie or be very pushy, or both. Jerry’s great at lying and being pushy, so he sold plenty. Now, I don’t don’t don’t want to get mean-spirited. I really need to forgive him. I just don’t want to work with him ever again, and I don’t want to work in sales ever again. I’ve learned several things from this Nashville experience, though. My Dad used to say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Uh… I learned that I will be nice to anybody who comes selling stuff door to door. I’ve also learned not to really trust people that are trying to sell you something. I’ve also learned that the pursuit of money can make you crazy. It can make you sacrifice principles you’ve long believed in.

I did meet some cool people, though, going door to door. I met two good old boys sitting on the porch and they had a tractor in the driveway. I met a police officer. I met a crazy looking guy with giant dogs.

I cried once on the job. I think it was on the second day, and I was being rejected and just hating what I was doing. It was hard emotionally. Maybe the worst part about it was that my wife and I weren’t proud of what we were doing. We didn’t feel like we were doing a service to our fellow beings, you know. It didn’t feel like an honorable job.

Boy, Texas sure is flat. Right now especially. This might be the flattest I’ve ever seen my surroundings. It’s crazy looking.

I don’t want to say that all salespeople are dishonest. I’m just saying that to be a great door-to-door salesperson for Northstar Alarm, you have to bend the truth. You have to dodge issues, beat around the bush, move quickly past price issues, and mislead people.

Here are some of the things we said that I felt uncomfortable with: “I’m an advertising representative for Northstar Alarm Services. In a few weeks our sales team is going through the area to try to sell our merchandise, but we’re trying a special seed marketing approach to this area. We love your house and your yard so much that we’re willing to put an alarm system in your home if you just let us advertise by putting one of our signs in your yard.” What’s wrong with that pitch? First of all, we are not advertising representatives. We are salespeople. We get paid $150 commission for each sale that we get. And we use that language all the time: “sale.” I’ve never had any training in advertising. Sometimes some of our salespeople would say, “We decided” or “I decided that rather than spending a whole bunch of money on a television commercial, I would spend my advertising budget on your home.” What’s wrong with that? It makes the potential customer believe that the person at their door has a big say in how advertising dollars are spent. This is very far from the truth. My wife and I have never been in a Northstar meeting where we decided where the advertising dollars should go. Again, I am not trained at all in advertising, and yet, I admit, a few times I said, “I’m in the advertising department with Northstar Alarm.”

Back to this “we love your yard and we really want to advertise here” thing. This isn’t really true either. It’s not like I was driving around the neighborhood looking for houses on the corner with well-kept yards. I just knock on every door! But, the sales manual says that you have to make the customer feel special. You have to make them feel unique and that they’re getting a deal that not many people can get.

A way that Jerry makes people feel special is by creating “friction,” as he likes to call it. He tells a customer, “You know, I don’t know if my boss will let me do this deal, but you know what?- I can justify it I’m sure. Don’t worry about my boss. I’ll take the heat for you if he feels like I gave you too much equipment at no cost.” Jerry said it’s a good idea to blame stuff on somebody who is not there but has authority, like your boss or your manager, or the person at the other end of the phone call. Speaking of phone calls, experienced salespeople know how to fake a phone conversation pretty well. Jerry told us that during one sale he was about to get a voided check from someone but they seemed reluctant. The guy went into the other room to get his checkbook, and Jerry faked a phone conversation on his cell phone. He said stuff like, “Oh yeah, it’s could out there, huh? I’m jealous. I miss that weather.” He kept talking so that the guy wouldn’t have a chance to disagree with Jerry! Can you believe that?! Jerry was afraid that actually talking to this guy longer and addressing his concerns could have lost the sale, so he just controlled the entire situation by faking a phone conversation.

Another sales guy said that he was having trouble, “closing the sale.” (That means getting them to sign the contract and give you a check.) So he said to the customer, “You know what, I’m gonna call my manager, and see if he likes your location enough to give you a glass-break sensor. OK, so I’ll be right back.” So then he goes outside, fakes a phone call and a phone conversation, comes back and says, “Good news! He’s a little disappointed that we’re giving you so much equipment at no cost, but I explained to him how good of a location you have, and he said all right. So, let’s put that glass-break sensor on the list and get your emergency contact information…”

So, Jerry taught us to blame outside forces like a boss or “company policy” or “the computer database” when we were in a sticky situation. Crazy, huh?

Oh, I could go on and on about Northstar. Oh yeah, one more thing: the less equipment we gave away, the more “points” we get. The more “points” we get, the more money we get at the end of the summer. If we sign them up for 48 or 60 months instead of 36, we get more points. If we have them pay a $99 activation fee instead of a $69 activation fee, we get more points. So, a Northstar alarm salesperson personally benefits from charging them more and giving them less.

Let’s talk about the language we were taught to use. We aren’t supposed to say, “this alarm system is free,” because people hear the word “free” and they freak out because nothing is really free; there’s always a catch. So instead of “free” we’re supposed to say, “at no cost” or “we’ll compensate you with an alarm system,” or “and we’ll pay for that alarm system out of our advertising budget.”

Other words we’re supposed to avoid are “burglar” or “murderer” or “rapist.” These words scare people, and make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, we were told to use the word “intruder” (We’re also supposed to say “36 months” instead of “3 years.”)

We also aren’t supposed to say stuff like “This is an incredible deal. You can’t pass this one up!” Because that’s too salesmanshippy.

We’re in New Mexico now. I can feel Flagstaff getting closer. I think I might kiss the ground when I get back there.

Another thing to write/complain about: Cherry Creek Apartments. Those are the apartments we lived in Hermitage, TN, a suburb of Nashville. The layout of the apartment complex was incredibly modern and car-centric. By car-centric, I mean that it’s design revolved around the use of automobiles. At the complex, there was a car wash for residents to use. The mailboxes were all in one place, so you pretty much drove to get your mail. There were plenty of freestanding garages for rent for extra vehicles. The signs around the apartment complex were placed in such a way as to be very visible and convenient for people driving by. There was only one entrance and exit to the entire complex, but since the complex is so big, it would have been much better to have a path out the back way, closer to a commercial part of town. But I guess builders assume now that everybody has cars, and everybody uses cars to get everywhere, even to their neighbor’s house. So, they only have one exit and entrance and it’s gated, and there’s a sign that says “No pedestrian traffic” on the gate. I don’t know how people are supposed to get in and out of the place without a vehicle. I guess they think that anybody good enough to be in their fancy-schmancy apartment complex would have a vehicle. But here’s the kicker: they have a drive-through dumpster that serves the entire complex. So, they encourage people to drive their trash to the gigantic dumpster/trash compacter near the front of the complex. Isn’t it funny how Americans build their lives and their towns around cars, and then they wonder why they’re so fat? And they drive their cars to get to a gym? There’s this book called Asphalt Nation: How the Car Destroyed America. I haven’t read it, but I love the title.

We’re stopped. I think we’re in Tucumcari NM, not to be confused with Tumacacori, AZ. We’re at a McDonalds again. This must be the 4th or 5th McDonald’s we’ve stopped at on this trip. I bet Greyhound has a deal worked out with McDonalds somehow. Like maybe McDonald’s managers get to ride the busses for free. Wait, no, that really doesn’t make sense. Maybe McDonald’s gives Greyhound managers free Big Macs.

Our friends who are picking us up are so nice. They’re gonna pick us up from the bus station and give us a place to stay with a shower and a sink and a nice floor to sleep on instead of a bus seat. Yes, they are indeed our friends. We're going to give them $20 for picking us up, letting us stay the night, and taking us to Payson. We gave the Lovealls $20 for letting us borrow their van and for giving us a ride to the Nashville Greyhound bus station.

I wonder if Greyhound has a monopoly on the long-distance bus-traveling industry. Because at airports, there are several different companies like Delta, Frontier, and etc., that peacefully coexist in an airport. But at the greyhound bus stations, there are only greyhound busses, and that’s it.

I wonder when I’ll talk to Borris again, and I wonder what the conversation will be like. He might say something like, “See, I told you so.” Because he warned me not to go to Nashville with Northstar. But uh…

Back on page 112, I started a concise day-by-day chronology of what we did. Let me pick up where I left off.

Saturday, May 12th. Decided not to go to John’s graduation. Drove to Payson and chilled.

Sunday, May 13th. Happy Birthday to my wife! She turned 23 that day. It was also Mother’s Day. We ate made biscuits and gravy. Yummy. I gave my wife a cool present: a Caruso’s professional hair-curling system with this steam stuff. She wanted it and I got it from Sally’s Beauty Supply in Flagstaff and she likes it. My wife and I went to sacrament meeting only in Payson. Then we said goodbye to my inlaws and my wife's brother drove us to the Valley. We all spent the night at my wife's brother's apartment.

Monday May 14th. We wake up early and get a ride to the Phoenix Airport. My wife and I hang around the airport, waiting for our flight. The flight went well. I think we had a layover in Denver, Colorado and ate fast food in the airport. We arrived in Nashville around 6:30, got our baggage, and only had to wait 5 minutes or so for Jerry to pick us up from the Nashville Airport. He picked us up in his FJ and drove us to a Super 8 motel and checked us into a room for the night. Our apartment wasn’t ready because Bobby and Sarah Brown decided to quit and go back to Arizona, so they were in the process of moving out. Jerry dropped us off and said “I’ll be back later to pick you up for dinner.” So he left, we showered, and hung out, and he came back and took us to Applebee’s. I had a yummy steak. He dropped us back off at the motel.

Tuesday – Jerry gets us around noon. Our apartment still isn’t ready, so we leave the luggage in the FJ. We go to the “office.” The office is an apartment where Tommy lives. (Here are some of the people who worked with Northstar in Nashville: Jerry and Tommy. They are co-managers, but there’s a power struggle between them. They don’t get along. Blaine. Blaine is married to a Brazilian woman named Maria. Hal and Andrea Goodman. I’ve already told you about them. Dave. He’s cool. Dave and Blaine are the only non-Mormons on the team. Adam and Andy. They’re traveling managers with Northstar. They were in Nashville for a few days to train us and help us and get sales for themselves, too. Adam and Andy are bigger wigs than Jerry and Tommy.)

So here was the sales team: (by the way, calling us a team is a good use of rhetoric, no? I think I could teach a good lesson in an English classroom someday about connotation and word choice and propaganda based on my experiences with Northstar.) So here was the sales team: Jerry, Tommy, Dave, Hal Loveall, Blaine, Telemoonfa, Telemoonfa's wife. A guy named Joe joined the team last Tuesday, so we barely saw him. And tons of people quit before we even got there. These people are Brandon, Corey, Bobby and Sarah Brown, and at least one other person. My wife and I got rid of (I think) all paperwork dealing with Northstar, so I can’t remember the whole list of people who quit and who stayed. (I sort of wish I had kept the confidential Northstar Training Manual.)

Back to Tuesday – Jerry reviews stuff with us individually at the office around 2 pm. He wants to see our door approaches and he reviews the contracts with us. He gives us advice on selling. He gives us a pep talk. He gives us Northstar shirts and binders. He drives us out to a nice neighborhood, drops us off, and tells us to go sell alarm systems. We both work. My wife gets a sale on her first day. The job is not that enjoyable, I think. But I also think, “This is my first day. I’ll get better.”

Wednesday – We get to work by noon and have our meeting. Maybe this was the day we had an incentive to sell by this thing: We would throw darts. Whatever score we got, we would get that $ in cash that night if we sold an account. We threw 3 darts, and I got a score of 51. My wife got a score of twenty-something. Worked. Didn’t like it too much. Got cold cause we were waiting to get picked up. Can’t remember day by day like this. But my wife got twenty-something bucks, so that was cool.

Thursday – My wife got another sale. That makes 3 for her and 0 for me.

Friday – Neither of us sold anything.

Saturday – I sold 2! I experience emotions that could be called belonging to the joy family.

Sunday – This turned out to be the best day my wife and I had in Nashville. First of all, it was our one-year anniversary! Second of all, we didn’t have to work. Oh what a love-filled romantic day that was.

Monday – Back to work. My wife sold one. We both don’t like the job.

Tuesday – We both really really really don’t like job. I’m sad. My wife worked on Teakwood street, where several sex offenders live, and she gets scared and upset, and rightfully so.

Wednesday - My wife feels sick about knocking on doors again. I don’t want to go either. My wife prays and reads scriptures about whether or not to quit Northstar. I want to quit. We talk about it, and get up the guts to go over to Jerry’s house to talk about quitting. We want to know what to do to leave on a good note. We want to know about the rent situation. We want to talk with him face to face. So we go over there, and have a long conversation, which I don’t feel like relating now. My wife and I make the decision to leave, and she is crying, and when noon rolls around, we don’t go to the meeting because we quit. Our absence at the meeting brings us joy. She calls her parents, I think I call mine, and we make plans all day about how to get home, and where we’re going to live, and where we’re going to work. It’s a strange day, filled with uncertainties and worries, but also joy and relief. We were so happy that we didn’t have to face another day knocking on doors and waking up people from naps and bothering people and deceiving them and working with money-driven not-that-cool people.

Thursday – We return some food and merchandise to Dollar General and Wal-Mart so we can have more money. We borrow the Loveall's van to do that. We find out lots of awesome news and stuff starts to fall into place. We find out our grades when we borrow the Loveall's computer. I am so happy to discover that I got straight A’s. And my wife got all A’s and one B.

Back to Wednesday for a moment. I have a sort of bad short talk with my Dad on the phone. He doesn’t ask me how I am or chat or anything, he just thinks I’m a bum wanting to move back home and mooch off him. So he says, “So I guess you’re looking for work.” And I say yes. Then he explains to me that I should get a job working with Bill Vanscoy. Bill is going to be a foreman now on this crazy job they got working on a U of A dormitory. Check this out: Sun Mechanical is going to work on this dorm for the entire summer, 24/7. There’s a day crew and a night crew. The day crew works 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, and the night crew works 7 days a week, 12 hours a night. Bill is the foreman of the night crew. Maybe I’m namby-pamby, but that’s crazy, right?! I don’t know if I’m really cut out to be a construction worker. I’m not very handy. I’m not very good with my hands. I like flowers and literature and plays. And I can’t believe Bill is gonna work 84 hours a week. A normal workweek is 40 hours. Sure Bill will make plenty of money, but how will it affect his family and his health?

Back to the phone call. Dad says, after telling me I should work with Bill, “Looks like you got a long bus ride ahead of you.” I say yes. I can tell he’s mad at me for going to Nashville, mad at me for quitting, mad at me for asking to move back in with him, and then he mumbles something about loving me and my wife and I mumble something about love back and that’s the end of the phone call. So that was bad. But now, hallelujah, we don’t have to borrow money from Dad, we don’t have to move in with Dad, and we don’t even have to see Dad if he’s mad at us. Perhaps I’m being mean about my relationship with my father. He really is a wonderful man, a great provider, and he loves me and treats my wife well. It’s just that whenever he thinks that I might ask him for money, or that I might want to move back in, he gets mad. And especially if he thinks I’m being lazy, and that I’m not working when I should be, he gets very mad. I remember when he sort of asked me to leave the summer after my senior year of high school. Boy he was mad at me because I quit Safeway and wouldn’t get another job. He was very mad. He asked me to build a little flagstone patio thing outside his shed door, but I wouldn’t, and he woke me up early and threw gloves and a shovel at me and told me to get to work. I worked while he was working with me for a bit, early in the morning, just after sunrise. Then he had to go to work and I went back to sleep. Boy he was mad. And disappointed in me. And then I remember the summer after my senior year my family was going on a one or two week vacation, and they wanted me to go, but I stayed home for a long time by myself and it was cool. I was kind of bored, maybe. But then I don’t remember when, but Dad asked me to get out of his house and so John was kind enough to drive me and some of my things to Thatcher Arizona, where I lived with some other guys. I spent three or four weeks in Thatcher before school started doing absolutely nothing. But I digress.

The purpose of the preceding relation of these memories is to show you how adamant my Dad is about my work ethic. I can sum it up this way: If I’m not working, he’s mad. If I’m not working and I need anything from him, he’s really mad.

Funny story about yesterday morning in the bus station. I set down one of our bags and the Catch Phrase buzzer starts beeping. Beep beep beep beep beep beep faster and faster like it’s about to reach the climax, like it’s about to explode, like it’s a TIME BOMB! People look at us, look at our bag, and we assure them, “It’s just a timer from one of our board games. No need to panic. Sorry.” My wife and I spent the next twenty minutes trying to get the batteries out of the timer so it wouldn’t do that again. The battery compartment of the timer is only accessed through the turning of a Phillips-style screw, and screwdriver we had none. So we tried using forks and knives and keys and my wife's ladybug metal key chain trinket, but to no avail. Finally I thought of using a bobby pin from my wife's hair and my wife tried it and got it to work and removed the batteries.

So back to chronology.

Thursday – Packing, cleaning, phone calling, waiting for phone calls, planning, paying $1650 to break the lease, mailing stuff that won’t fit into our luggage, not knowing plenty of stuff, clogging the toilet with paper towels, going to bed.

Friday – Showered, put finishing touches on our apartment, borrowed a toilet plunger from a stranger neighbor, got out of the apartment and locked it, got a stressed-out ride from the Lovealls, rode the bus all day, heading towards freedom.

Saturday – Riding on the bus all day, today. Just another seven or eight hours to go. On the bus sometimes I sleep, sometimes I stare out the window, and sometimes I write in this journal. My wife is asleep again.

I said that I’m not good at construction jobs. I think that’s true. Those three weeks I spent as a plumber’s helper was rough, and not just because James and James were mean, but because I wasn’t good at the work itself. But I think I’m a good human being. I think I’m good at some things. I’m proud of myself for getting straight A’s all last academic year. I did well in the Grapes of Wrath. I’m smart and funny and people like me and I like people.

In about a half an hour we’ll be in Albuquerque. The last time I remember being in Albuquerque it was for the International Fiery Foods Festival. I went once with just Borris and then again with Borris and my sister and me. Good times.

I took a break from writing and now I’m back. We stopped in Albuquerque New Mexico for about 45 minutes and now we’re on our way to Gallup New Mexico. After Gallup, we’ll stop in Holbrook and Winslow, and then we’ll finally get to our beloved Flagstaff. Pretty soon I’ll get rid of my cell phone. They last until June 16th, but I don’t want it that long.

Straight As! Can you believe that? I hate to toot my own horn too much, but I worked hard and did a good job. Heavenly Father helped me too. It says in my patriarchal blessing that I’ll be successful in my educational pursuits, so now I see that blessing coming to fruition. I’m excited about camp. I’m optimistic about my life. This time with my wife has brought us closer, I think. “People who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content,” to quote Bob Dylan. But it’s more than that. My wife and I love each other. Our Northstar gig and our jobs at Camp Raymond will bring us closer together. I actually liked working at Camp Raymond for the most part. It was cool hanging out in the kitchen and having hot cocoa every day and walking around the woods and interacting with the Boy Scouts. I liked working with the KPs, too. (KP = kitchen patrol) I liked having a beard and roughing it and reading The Good Earth and my American Literature anthology. I like having a break from school, too. As much as I love NAU, it’s good to take the summers off. Life is so much simpler at Camp Raymond. It’s slower. You’re outside a bunch. You follow the sun’s day path. It’s hot in the day and cold at night. It brings us closer to nature. I wonder what books I’ll read there. I don’t want to go into our storage unit for anything, but I want to access good books. My wife and I mailed a box of books and a box of shoes from Nashville to Payson. They should get there before we start camp. Maybe we won’t go to see my family. This bus ride has been enough traveling for a good month or so. My sleeping pattern is out of wack. Because I was already short on sleep, and yesterday’s slumber was interrupted several times with bus stops. I remember I think in Tulsa, Oklahoma at four in the morning we were standing outside with our carry-on luggage waiting to find out what bus to get on next. This bus ride is an interesting experience. I’ve never traveled this far by bus before. Two solid days of riding on a bus and standing in lines and hanging on to tickets can really take it out of you.

Back to good books. I started the Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and I really like it so far. It’s about this artist who is sort of obsessed with this pretty boy named Dorian Gray, and the artist paints a picture of him and it’s a wonderful painting, uh… can’t remember more than that. But I’ve already read The Call of the Wild this summer.

The sun is down now and Flagstaff is getting closer. Oh so close! Once my wife and I are settled in at Camp Raymond, I can totally just relax and forget about Nashville and move on. It will take my wife and I time to put money back in our savings account, but we can do it. For a little bit I reviewed what I wrote in my journal, and I wrote that next semester I’ll just take time to build a professional portfolio, build miniature portfolios to give away at job interviews, do mock interviews at Gateway Student Success Center. Also, I can look into going to graduate school and write a paper worthy to be my writing sample and get letters of recommendation. I still sort of want to teach English 105. I want to have a child with my wife pretty soon, though. It was funny, when my wife and I were really excited about Northstar, we planned out the next five years or so. I would go to grad school and my wife and I would both be stinking rich because we would do Northstar every summer. Ha ha ha. Isn’t that funny?

So the other day when my wife and I checked our email and our grades on the Loveall's computer, we both got emails from residence life. We were told that since there was an enormous amount of freshmen coming in the fall, Roseberry Apartments would start housing single students. Thus, we might not be getting a room in the fall in Roseberry apartments. We might get a place in Campus Heights, I guess, but Residence Life said to wait until mid-summer to find out if we have good chances of on-campus housing next semester.

Here’s what they’re building at NAU to accommodate growth: the big Conference Center/ Hotel I think with a parking garage. They’re expanding the Union cafeteria to make it much much bigger. And they’re building a new dorm by the Gateway Student Success Center. But, according to projected growth, they’re going to need to build a few more gigantic dorms and parking garages and etc. Yes, Arizona is experiencing a huge growth spurt population-wise, and there’s not enough infrastructure to accommodate all the growth. That’s why I guess the economy is so fabulous. Growth = jobs.

We’re in Gallup, New Mexico. I remember at Western States Distributors we used to send stuff to Gallup. My wife is spraying her essential oils mist concoction all over the bus seats. She’s so cute. She just loves to spray those blends. She loves essential oils.

On this bus trip, I saw the St. Louis Arch! That was neat. I’ve seen a little bit of a lot of cities on this trip. It’s neat the way Greyhound bus stations are in the downtowns of most major cities. So, when you go on Greyhound busses, you get to see downtowns. Downtowns are the places with the big tall buildings and history and statues and big public art and parking meters and hip shops and interesting architectural studies.



Update: No checks ever came in the mail from Northstar. In fact, a bill for $112 from Northstar came. It claimed that we owed them money for the rented furniture. My wife talked with Northstar people on the phone for a while and convinced them that we really did not owe the $112. We never knew that we were responsible for the rented furniture. We thought it was just a furnished apartment. Long story short, instead of losing about $2,000 doing the Northstar thing, we lost nearly $4,000.

We sent two packages from Nashville to Payson, Arizona. One was filled with shoes and one was filled with books, stamps, CDs, recipes, and other things. We only had some dinky scotch tape to tape address labels on the boxes, and we didn’t affix the address labels well enough, and so only the package filled with shoes made it home.

This is a true story. It came straight from my personal journal. I have tried to be as honest as possible. I hope that all reading this will neither work for nor patronize Northstar Alarm Services.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


YouTube is a really neat thing. I’ve found some pretty cool stuff on there. Here's a list of good stuff.

Super Mario Brothers in 5 minutes.
Fainting Goats.
Reagan – A Time for Choosing.
Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question.
bambi meets Godzilla.

Leave comments and suggest more cool videos!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

News Flash!

June Carter Cash was the cousin of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter!