The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

Singledom vs. The Aging Brain

I’m no hoarder, let’s get that <ahem> straight from the get-go. So last year when everyone else was buying a garageful of crapping paper, I was blissfully going about my own days.

Such as they were, in lockdown.

That said, household supplies in my household exist on only two par levels:

1) A nine month supply, easy; or,

2) Oh, shit…I should have bought toothpaste yesterday!

If you want to know how much coffee you have to drink to cover morning breath, don’t ask me. My neurotic ass is convinced that I’ve never accomplished this feat. But I’d guess the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “a lot”.

All that being said, I took my CRS riddled brain on a little shopping trip yesterday with the mantra “Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwasher detergent” playing on repeat in said brain.

I knew I needed other things, but the mantra covered what I knew was urgent to remember. The rest of my shopping trips usually amount to grabbing go-to staples like Mac & Cheese and hamburger or assessing whether I’d eat something before its pull date (broccoli and salad kits are the primary aspirational purchases in this category) or actually eat it at all (anything else that’s borderline healthy or with a risk of too many leftovers).

So shopping with me is pretty fun. If you lose track of me, I’ll be wandering through the beer and wine aisles until someone comes to get me.

As opposed to shopping with the Silver Fox on one of the many times he’s allowed me to coattail on his Costco membership. We hit the cart corral and he’s off and running on his familiar shopping routine while I’m still standing by the roll up doors wondering aloud to no one about a pallet of electric toothbrushes.

Next time I look up, I see only the smoke and dying flames that his feet left. And that cagey bastard expects me to keep up, actively preventing me from retreating to my safe space.

All this, of course, is just my attempt at lede-burying.

I went to the fridge today and grabbed my last cold soda. Not wanting Future Xtopher to be caught without an appropriately chilled soda, I went to the pantry to grab another 12-pack: none.

No worries, I have back up 2-liters for just this…oooooh, fuck.

So, yeah…this is that second par level I mentioned earlier.

I even looked at soda yesterday as I grabbed a cart. Specifically, I recall thinking, “3 for $13.99, that’s a crap deal” and pushing on.

Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwashing detergent!

Oh, mania…my steadfast companion.

Back to this morning, having finished my one measly soda, I showered to be ready for an interview. Then I debated running out for a soda, energy drink or coffee; ultimately deciding there wasn’t enough time.

There was time, however, to do last night’s dishes. It seems most of what I used for meal prep last night was too big for the dishwasher, so…dishpan hands, here I come!

Except

I was also out of liquid dishwashing detergent.

Ooooh, fuck…

The only bright side here is that I know I would never have remembered six things in a mantra. I’d have had to write it down…and then find it in my coat pocket next fall.

You think I’m being too hard on myself? Well, my brain, at any rate.

When I went to get my first COVID shot on Tuesday, I took my coat off so they’d have access to this skin. As is my habit when removing my jacket in public, I checked my pockets to make sure they were zipped.

You don’t want something falling out of your pocket as it gets tossed around a coat rack or bed by others. Learning this the hard way, if you watch me in public, you’ll see me surreptitiously checking my zippers – coat pockets and pants fly, can’t be too careful – often enough you’d think I should be medicated.

Probably, I should.

But that’s not the point.

One of my zippers was open, so I zipped it as I was shirking off my coat. The other one was zipped. But, what’s this? There’s something in it!

I love little prizes from Past Xtopher.

I open the pocket while the nurse is readying my dose, boom…$1000.

Thanks, Past Xtopher!

The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

It’s My Anniversary

Of sorts.

The Facebook reminded me of a personal milestone when I checked in this morning.

Two years…

I’m really conflicted about this.

On the one hand, this life event was the culmination of leaving professional work in April of 2018 and giving myself time to indulge in my hobbies. Well, hobby: writing. More specifically, story telling. It turns out that my only other hobby turned out to be rage hair growing.

That Fall, I participated in National Novel Writing Month – aka: NaNoWriMo – for the first time. I’d sat it out the prior six years because it occurs in November and that’s just hell with a retail career.

After completing my 50k word goal, I fleshed out my story over the next couple of months to around 90k, took a swipe at editing and declared my story “good enough” for the telling.

Then I started exploring publishing options. Because I wanted this to be a hobby versus a career, I was quickly and easily turned off of traditional publishing. The horror stories of deadlines didn’t daunt me as much as the stories of writers getting fired by publishers after fulfilling their contract.

If I wanted to get dumped, I’d date.

So I leaned into self-publishing. I reached out to social media contacts around the world to pick their brains about their experiences. There were plenty of holes in my knowledge of the process, but I felt I understood it enough to take a stab at it.

The cover you see in the pic above was that stab. I decided to take a practice swing at the process by collating a blog theme from WordPress and going through the process. Ironically, the blog theme was about dating, which was a personal growth challenge I’d undertaken for the entirety of 2018. Effectively, my practice run at self-publishing was about dating and I’d decided on this route to avoid getting dumped by a publisher down the road.

I can mentally bend over backward for irony.

Anyway, it was a surprisingly intuitive process – even for a tech-naive Oldie Hawn like me. Sure, my first few orders shipped with blank backsides, but that’s all part of learning.

Right?

Since that initial foray, I’ve published two additional books. I have also completed three other drafts. All of that took place by the end of April 2019, so I feel like I embraced my storytelling hobby rather enthusiastically.

By the end of that April, I’d finished the draft of my third work in progress and had a timeline for release of all three.

Then the world basically ended. Or came to a screeching halt just short of meeting a calamitous end.

You’d think lockdown would have been a perfect environment to hole up and write, but I rarely wrote at home. As a matter of fact, finishing the draft of that third W.I.P. was a real challenge. I don’t have a comfortable writing nook here and used my daily caffeination or intoxification outings as the settings for my creative productivity. So, being forced to stay inside really curbed that process.

While I was home, not writing, I was also watching my third book not sell well and indulging in some good old self-doubt. My concern was that the cost of printing a 500+ page book was high enough that the lowest price I could charge (garnering me less than $1 in royalties, mind you) was too high to be palatable by consumers. I reached out to some early readers about my concerns and was assured that all was good, despite the story sales were telling me.

By the end of the year, I had decided to split the piece into two books. So now I really had five W.I.P.s and no mojo or pathway to publishing.

And that’s where I’ve been since January.

Sulking.

Not even proChristinating, just good old fashioned sulking.

I could dress it up and call it a writer’s ennui

I’ve taken a couple of runs at recommitting to this blog. Trying to get at least a couple posts up a month. This week, I low-grade challenged myself to publish daily…a challenge I’d abandoned yesterday because I was worried I couldn’t follow through with regular posts after the fact.

Then that darned Facebook memory surfaced. Thanks, Fuckerberg.

But while I’ve been writing this, a news story dropped saying that the House had re-passed the most recent stimulus package, sending it on to the White House. President Biden is expected to sign it by tomorrow and stimmie checks should start going out by month’s end.

Assuming I get one this time (I didn’t get the second one, somehow ending up in the group that gets to claim it as a credit on their tax filings) I’d been vacillating between buying a Peloton or a new couch with the $1400. This was dependent upon achieving my goal of exercising more consistently.

More exercise = Peloton, less = couch for further potatoing.

Oddly, that is the theme for my third non-fiction installment: fitness. I’d blogged about it in the year leading up to my 50th under the fitfy hashtag and thought it was due for a revisit as I enter my mid-50s.

So now I’ve created a nice, vicious thought cycle for myself:

New couch could easily morph into a new desk set up at Chez Galby so I had a space for writing.

Which would keep me off of my couch more, in turn reducing my need to replace it.

But would inhibit my ability to buy a Peloton to reward myself for being more active and propel my fitness efforts further forward…giving me more to write about.

I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m not so much a “Friend of Dorothy” so much as I am Dorothy Gale and my mind is the cyclone that swept her away to Oz…only for us all to learn it was all in her/my head in the first place.

Maybe I should just start an OnlyFans where I can livestream a fundraiser. In it, I’m naked at the beginning and put on clothes as people donate.

I’m sure I’d make enough to accomplish all three purchases!

It’s My Anniversary

The Red Shirt Diaries: #29

The Bathtub Blues.

I’ve recently become increasingly aware of the pitfalls and dangers of my bathtub. Here’s a backward timeline of my increasing disease:

January ’21: my drain starts clogging more frequently because of my lengthening hair. The slower draining and pooling, soapy water leave a slippery residue for me next time I step into the tub to shower.

November ’15: I adopt Lizzy, now known as Myrtle because I couldn’t see having a cat with a diminutive form of my sister’s name. Shortly thereafter her murderous intentions are made clear. Compounding that, she also begins peeing in the tub, leaving a slippery streak from the back end of the tub all the way to the drain. I imagine her feasting on my assorted soft bits after I fall in the tub and decide to start keeping the bathroom door closed.

February ’03: a former work colleague misses several days of work after falling in her tub and a new neurosis is born!

Recently, I’ve taken to holding onto the wall when I tip my head back to wet or rinse my hair. Also, while washing my feet – not sure how much increased stability holding the wall with a soapy hand offers…let’s call it a sense of security. I should probably look at getting a few of those tub tread decals or install a bar – not the kind that serves shower beers – for actual safety.

It’s weird, though, how something that started out as a semi-recreational vicarious fear has become more of a potential reality in less than two decades.

Living alone makes the fear potential feel more real. Living with Myrtle makes that fear more of a terror. You just know that b-word wouldn’t care if I was truly dead or not if she were hungry. You should see the mess I return home to if dinner is late.

Not that living with another human would be a treat for them in the eventuality of a shower slip and fall by yours truly.

Maybe if I go silent too long, send a stranger to do the well-being check. Less traumatizing for my friends and family should I fall and end up a snack to tide Myrt over until her rescue. Less traumatizing for me in the event I survive.

And since this is my life/death we’re talking about, you just know I’d live in order to have to endure the awkwardness of being “that guy who fell in the shower”.

Screw it. Once gyms fully reopen, I’ll just start showering there…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #29

The C.R.S. Chronicles #2: Routines

This is a tough topic for me: routines.

For the singular reason that routine rhymes with poutine and then my figuratively fat ass is off to the races.

I mean, can you blame me? Poutine and routine are of far opposite edges of the self-discipline spectrum. One with alleged rewards, the other with now rewards.

It’s like that old saying about procrastination:

Hard work will pay off in the future, procrastination pays off today.

I’m kind of a Subject Matter Expert on procrastination.

Anyhoo…I digress. (Another form of procrastination, no?)

I was thinking about routines yesterday in the shower. Hey, I don’t do all of my thinking on the porcelain throne, but the bathroom counts for a large portion of my aha moments.

Anyway, I have a routine in the shower. Mostly because I’m a little bit or a germaphobe but also because I’m a recreational hypochondriac. As 2020 taught me we all should be.

Crotch.

Feet.

Hair.

Face.

Pits.

Here’s why:

I don’t want to wash my face with “dirty” hands. Like washing a dirty body part with soap somehow fails to leave my hands clean…anyway, I figure starting with my crotch likely addresses the dirtiest region of my body, right? Then I move onto my feet, probably the next dirtiest part.

This is the way my mind mandates this occur. Crotch->feet. It cannot go the other way, because I’ve had athletes foot in my lifetime and just in case washing dirty body parts with soap doesn’t result in clean hands, well, I’d hate to accidentally transfer any athletes foot germs to my bawdy parts.

C’mon, Dater Gurl, tell me that’s just not possible. I know it in my logical brain, but I can’t get my irrational brain to play along.

Anyway, shampooing my hair next effectively takes care of the neurotic germy impulses that do their best to ruin a perfectly nice shower.

Once my hands are “clean”, I can wash my face and then hit the armpits and I’m G2G – good to go.

The only deviation from this routine is typically adding in some oral care.

Not that kind, Diezel!

If I want to stand under the hot water (my building’s only “amenity”) longer or kill time while I’m conditioning my hair, I’ll brush in the shower.

What? Don’t make it weird.

Any deviation from that routine just fucks the rest of my life up.

For instance…I don’t like to wash my hair every day. I have been trying to get into a “rinse only” routine on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays, to keep my mane from getting too dry and split ends-y.

But only rinsing my hair throws of the whole “clean hands” routine, right?

On those days, I start with rinsing my hair then wash my face; moving onto crotch, feet and then lastly, pits.

Sometimes it works just fine.

Other times?

Can’t Remember Shit.

I’ll get my hair wet, then wash my face, hit the pits and then shut off the water, having completed my normal cycle. Just forgetting that I started in the middle. It’s usually about the time I reach for my towel that I remember. But occasionally I find myself in need of a fresh towel after starting to dry off and remembering that I’m still a filthy whore from the navel down.

Second time is generally the charm, though.

Regardless, how big a mental case am I?!?

Not just because I forget simple shit like what I’ve washed in the shower. No, you have to add in that I have a specific shower routine that is a routine for quasi-insane reasons.

Anyway…overall, I’m a fan of routines. But having to endure C.R.S. doing its damnedest to ruin a good thing sometimes makes routines more of a boggart than a friend.

Maybe I should just etch a checklist into the shower wall…

The C.R.S. Chronicles #2: Routines

Here’s The Poop

Hell, yes, this is gonna be a colonoscopy tale.

Command performance, no less!

For all of you tl,dr readers, here’s the punchline:

The evening you’re taking human grade drano to clean out your insides for your colonoscopy is not the time to watch Challenger: The Final Flight on Netflix.

Just hear me now and believe me later on that one, m’kay?

I mean, seriously – and you’ve got to believe that this was only a coincidence, this being the anniversary week of the disaster – a documentary about rocket boosters and failing O-rings?

Tell me that wasn’t accidentally brilliant foreshadowing.

Ok, now, for all you long form readers:

The Date

When the GI doctor calls, you answer the phone, ok? Just…pick up your phone and schedule the appointment.

My doctor is so cute, how he implores me to at least put on a veneer of self-care.

My response? “How long did you chase me around to take this damn shit – “

“Fit. It’s called a Fit test.”

Shit test?”

No response.

“Three years. At least. You think I’m just gonna let this GI guy off easy without making him work a little bit?”

“Just answer your phone and then this will all be behind you.”

“Pun intended. Look, this is all Chadwick Boseman’s fault. I only took the test because he up and died”

Sidebar: “up’n died” is southern speak for a sudden death. I picked it up when I lived down around the Gulf. Probably my one takeaway.

“Anyway, we both knew that I’d fail the damn thing after complaining about my come and go, passive-aggressive hemorrhoids for the last five years!”

“Just – “

“I know. Pick up the phone. Sheesh.”

So they called. Which I considered rude.

And I scheduled the damn appointment…probably nine weeks out, no less. But their earliest appointment afforded me an opportunity to indulge a dark behavior that I’ve kind of let slip away over the past couple of decades: scheduling consequential doctors appointments around my birthday. The earliest appointment available was on January 26th, my birthday is on the 21st, so this was close enough to be darkly satisfying.

The Foreplay

Now, I’ll admit that I scheduled the damn colonoscopy with near certainty that it wouldn’t actually transpire. I’m not saying I was intending to put any effort into making it not happen. It’s just…this is my life we’re talking about here, weird shit just happens.

Maybe my GI guy would get hit by a meteor. My life being borderline ridiculous, whatever might cause my appointment to not happen would likely be something even more Wile E Coyote worthy than that.

I certainly did not think it would be anything as mundane as me potentially losing my insurance. I did nothing to renew my existing coverage during open enrollment because…I was on the cusp of getting a PT job with Multnomah county that would start in December, with benefits kicking in on January 1.

Who’s life is it?

Right.

So…what happened with the job? Fuck if I know. Let’s call it festively colored tape. Mom would have been so proud, too. Alas…

A little more on point for my appointment being canceled: Snowpocalypse ’21! Native Portlanders shrug when snow is forecast for the valley floor. This is a stark contrast for the enthusiastic loosing of Portland’s collective shit – not to be confused with what I was about to experience: the losing of one’s shit – when snow is predicted in the mountains. Those local ski bums go nuts for those forecasts.

However, Portland sitting on the valley floor between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges protects us from a lot of weather. The ranges frequently keep us insulated from the severe stuff on either side. Additionally, our famed rain comes from clouds that cover the valley like a blanket, keeping our temperatures too high to really foster a good snowfall.

Yet, here we were, a couple weeks out from my appointment and my weather app was showing four days featuring a ❄️ next to them. That still gave us several days before my appointment for things to clear up, but Google “Portland Snowpocalypse” and see what you get.

Never mind – the fun begins around 45 seconds in.

Nonetheless, Portland weather being the exercise in insanity that it is…those four ❄️ became two and then one and then two again over the next seven days.

And then…it just rained.

Cut to the weekend before my appointment and the whispers were starting again. I could barely hear them over the sound of my eyes rolling and supermarkets being ransacked for kombucha and kale.

I had other problems of my own making to worry about.

In addition to having a macabre sense of scheduling for impactful doctors appointments, I’m also loathe to be dependent upon others. Especially when it comes to driving. Having not driven for close to 15 years, I learned to mostly make do on my own two feet. Usually, when I couldn’t, I felt like a bother or a burden. These jokers telling me I couldn’t drive after my <ahem> procedure just kind of pissed me off.

Never a good ingredient to add to the mix of “I really don’t want to do that anyway” that I was already feeling here.

I wasn’t going to ask my parents because, ew. Also, they already do so much for me, their most pathetic favorite child.

This would have to fall to someone who was 1) in debt to me for performing a similar friendship task; and B) a close friend…no way was this falling to an acquaintance who’d not cleared the friendship bar.

Obviously, they had to be local, too. That made this a fairly small candidate pool. Plus, still ew. I’m not the type of person who is comfortable being helped. Particularly in such a helpless state that I’m unable to operate a vehicle.

I’d already predisqualified the Silver Fox, since he’d been isolating with his ex about 90 minutes out of town since last March. It was hard to do, too, since the colonoscopy transport tally was 2-0 in my favor.

The only other friend I’d consider a candidate was Diezel, who I’d taken to his LASIK last…spring? Maybe summer? I don’t even know. I just know that I had a credit in the ride bank. Mind you, this is a friend that had helped me move five years ago, truck and all. He also just replaced my rear brake pads for me, so asking him to give me a ride felt like extra ice cream on my neediness cake.

It was for that reason – those reasons? – that I’d said “Of course!” immediately when he’d asked me during my brake pad installation for a ride back to his LASIK doc to have one eye tuned up.

Just let me know when and I’m in…

I’m not taking bets that you know what happened.

What are even the freaking odds that his appointment would be within 90 minutes of my own on the 26th?!?

When I joke about my life…it’s really just my way of coping with the horror-slash-irony of my reality.

So I had to cave and ask the Fox.

But I waited. The bitter end has nothing on my proChristination. My pre-tooter-rootering call was two weeks before my appointment. Because of my insurance debacle – which turned out pretty well…I was automatically renewed in my current plan versus canceled when I did nothing during open enrollment – that call took place 10 days out instead of 14.

During the call, they asked about my ride home and I told them I didn’t have one.

“That’s ok, you can take a Lift. They have a medical transport you can use.”

News to me, being a Lyft driver.

You see the problem here?

Fucking homonyms.

So the Silver Fox got his shoulder tap maybe five days out. And, not that he would, but how could he say no two days before my birthday?!? Haha. I wasn’t remotely worried about that, simply neurotic over being a bother to him. He insisted that he’d come up that morning and then drive back down that evening, but that it was no bother.

Crazy bastard.

But I was ready to go. Finally.

The “Let’s Do It”

I’m not gonna lie. To this point in my life, I’ve never spent a night in the hospital and I’ve never had stronger sedation than novocaine. Naturally, my neurotic self had built up a mythology that had me believing that the cumulative shock of experiencing either would simply kill me.

Because: obviously.

Since I was assured that the anesthesia I’d get was nowhere near the level of a general sedation during my intake call, clearly I’d check in for my procedure and then immediately be hospitalized and surgery-ized by whatever terrors they discovered up in my dusty, old man claptrap during my scope.

I couldn’t imagine any other possible outcome.

Yet, there I was…sipping my preptail at 6 pm the night before my procedure. Watching Challenger: The Final Flight with zero irony.

I made quite the last hurrah of what I’d imagined to be my final meal – ever: Cajun Mac from my current favorite food cart, Montage a la Cart, and finishing up my birthday cheesecake.

Then I’d had a weedtini around 11 PM on Sunday night, resulting in my waking up at noon on Monday. I highly recommend being unconscious for as much of any day that requires you to fast or be on a clear liquid diet from the time you wake up.

By the time I sat down with my preptail at 6 PM, I had only been up for ~6 hours, yet I hadn’t eaten for 20 hours. Very tolerable.

Each episode of the Challenger documentary is about 45 minutes long, give or take a few either way.

The first episode took me 90 minutes to get through. About 30 minutes in, I was blasting off my couch to the can – still absolutely without irony. I’d had the wear with all –

Or is it wherewithal? I need to look up the ideology of that word. To me, it connotes a certain sense of smarts…something you would “wear” with anything. Why the “where” version is seemingly correct according to spellcheck is…completely off topic.

– to put on my jam pants and leave the bathroom door open so I wouldn’t have to mess around with belt buckles or doorknobs in what I had been forewarned would be a crisis. Still, my journey from blasting off the couch to a panicked, if not literal, splashdown on my toilet seat was bridged by what I imagined was some sort of manic looking forward moonwalk.

Apropos of the documentary I was watching; inconvenient, though, given that mental image made me chuckle along the way. Chuckling while trying to hold your guts in is not advised.

Within 90 minutes of finishing my preptail – which was nowhere near as horrific tasting as I’d been led to believe…barely more distasteful than cough syrup – my *output* was clear. Quite a feat, given my last supper. I also considered it to be a harbinger of good things ahead…like a fool.

The next morning, I woke to jokey texts from Diezel about my upcoming violation. For my part, feeling cocky about my clear stream that obstructions hadn’t predicted until after the second dose, I offered him my remaining prep solution to use…as he would. We enjoyed the humor that colonoscopy prep for his proclivities and peccadillos brought to mind, both knowing no one in Portland is *worth* that level of prep.

But like a good soldier, I took my second dose. I immediately started worrying – having absolutely no experience with what men who bottom during sex do these days for prep, outside of being the beneficiary of such preparations – that I would either not be completely clear for my scope or that I wouldn’t evacuate all of the liquid from my system prior to my appointment.

I am a neurotic mess, I tell ya. I think it’s my subconscious fucking with conscious Xtopher, but still…in my imagination I was envisioning laying there unconscious and the doctor experiencing something like the Log Ride at Disneyland as he went about his doings.

Erase that mental picture.

Of course, it snowed while I was sleeping. But only a slush. The GI guy had called while I was texting with Diezel and I’d answered with, “You are not closing your office!”

He wasn’t.

But someone had cancelled and he wanted to see if I wanted to get violated an hour earlier. Since The Fox was driving up, I passed. For his part upon hearing that option, the Silver Fox had encouraged me to take it. Because of course he’d be on Fox Time, despite driving 90 minutes to get me.

As it was, I ordered my take and bake pizza – and a salad! – to pick up on the way home and then just waited for the time to come nigh. I decided on take and bake since I would be enjoying my post-procedure meal alone, with The Fox slated to return to Monmouth after dumping my woozy ass off at home.

I tried to make “operating the oven” my biggest concern for the next couple of hours.

Sadly, my niggling fear of results and – oh, look…SNOW! – had me distracted.

I was watching pics/stories on Instagram of Portland getting some snow. Thankfully, my view was clear. On the other hand, the doctor’s office was on top of a hill with an elevation of all of 500 feet above sea level. Whenever there’s a chance of snow on the valley floor, this is basically the only part of town affected. Well, this elevation.

Once The Fox picked me up – 45 minutes before my appointment, and this is about a seven minute drive without traffic – I started to have some concerns.

Actually, that’s not a fair statement. Because I’m a petty bastard, if the Silver Fox insisted on picking me up 45 minutes early, I was gonna make him run an errand with me on the way. Just a few blocks out of the way to our bank so I could take some money out of one account and deposit it into another. It was two transactions at the ATM. We were back on track by 1:55 and my check in time was 2:30.

As soon as we got onto highway 26, heading up the 500 foot high hill, we started seeing what might be flakes. Halfway up, we were sure they were flakes. By the time we hit the top of the hill, it was as close to white out conditions as you’re gonna get in Portland.

It was 2:06.

You know my motto: What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, the Universe has an answer for that: Just you fucking wait.

Intrepid is hardly the word one would use to describe me. Still, after killing some time in the car, I began my reluctant trudge into the office at 2:24.

My intake paperwork was done by 2:40 and by 2:55 I was laying on a gurney with an open in the back gown, an IV line in my arm (another first) and a nice toasty blanket.

I was actually dozing on the gurney.

Around 3:20, the anesthetist wheeled me into the “suite”, as they called it. I noted that there were no adjoining rooms, so it wasn’t much of a suite and could I get a discount?

She laughed at my nervous banter and we chatted until the doctor made it to the suite.

He asked how my prep had gone and I told him how relatively easy it had been. I also told him my hemorrhoids had decided to just remind me of their presence the morning before, just so he wasn’t surprised.

If you’ve got a melon baller handy, feel free to scoop those mothers out, ok?

More chuckles…

The Afterglow

…then I woke up in the recovery area.

It was 5:00 PM.

Who slept like a champ?

I was mostly surprised about that since the anesthetist had told me that I’d wake up pretty much immediately once she stopped pushing the drugs into my IV. Either it took a long time or my being anesthesia naive affected me more than she’d anticipated.

That last point makes its own argument.

Here’s my argument for the former point:

Thirteen polyps.

Because, of course my colon would have 13 lucky fucking polyps. Adding to that that two were 12 and 20 millimeters in size – 3 to 5 times the size of the other 11 polyps and…well, there was some work to be done up in the old fart cannon. For what it’s worth, my thumb is 20 mm wide. That is certainly no baseball or grapefruit sized shenanigans but still seems pretty big.

But on the plus side, what I’d pretty much self-diagnosed as hemorrhoids, with my doctor’s non-visual buy in, had apparently been polyps. So…those are gone, now. And, unlike Challenger, my O-ring is now pristine.

Huzzah.

Now, maybe it’s that I slept until 5:00, but I swear, aside from a few wobbles in the recovery room and on my way out to the waiting room where I would be transferred to the Silver Fox’s custody, I didn’t feel a lot of aftereffects of the anesthesia. The Fox may have other examples of how I’m wrong, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Almost like the snow was sticking to the ground that afternoon.

How’s that for a transition?

The Fox decided – to my relief – to stay until morning versus driving back to Monmouth in the snow. Based on pics his ex wife had sent, it looked heavier down in her rural area.

However, a take and bake was fine for my post-procedure meal, but it simply would not do for a thank you dinner for The Fox. We stopped and picked it up – him declining when I asked if he was going in to get it, further proof of my functionality! I toddled in and then back to the car. Climbing back in, we decided on fried chicken from a local fancy schmancy restaurant that was still open for takeout. As the Silver Fox made his way, I ordered our meals through their website…again, coming out of anesthesia like a champ!

We picked up our chicken, made it back to my place, opened some wine and put in a movie. We both made it through the meh-movie (Outside the Wire on Netflix) but neither of us made it more than halfway through our meals. You gotta love coming off of what turned out to be a 48 hour fast with fried chicken leftovers and an entire pizza in your fridge.

Oh, and a salad. 😒

It took me a full 24 and then some hours to have my triumphant return to the poopatorium. A weird sensation, feeling your guts fill up. But, no issues – which was a pleasant surprise given what I was told about the effort required to get that 20 millimeter sized guy out of me.

Because – I suppose – of the size and effort of removing that fat bastard from me, the GI guy said he wanted to do a follow up in three months.

Hoorah.

Although, the paperwork he sent home with me said six months, so maybe it’s more a matter of he doesn’t know exactly when his kid’s tuition is due.

That’s what I’m going with. Unless, of course, pathology comes back with something I don’t want to hear.

Here’s The Poop

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

No, no…not a Mayo pic.

Myopic.

I’d dare say not many would accuse me of lacking imagination. And thanks to my mother’s apparently favorite game when I was growing up – What If – I think that I’ve a well-nurtured sense of foresight, and I’m on the look out for all the possible outcomes I can imagine. Also courtesy of my parents and their desire to provide me with a good education and hold me accountable to a respectable return on their educational investment, I think I have an above average grasp of intellectual insight.

All of this provides me with the wherewithal to ask with a straight face:

What the fuck are you people doing?!?

It also provides me with the ability to analyze my own history of asking such challenging questions and determine from the past patterns of behaviors what the response will be.

And yet, knowing that…I still ask.

I think being raised the way I was, having the values instilled in me that my parents and education provided and then living the life I have as an adult keeps me from writing these stupid, stupid Americans off as a loss as so many do. And encourage me to do as well…but I can’t.

When even Melania Trump gets it enough to even articulate if not fully understand her own First Lady branding, well…I guess with that low bar I expect just about anyone to understand how to Be Best.

Or better. Or whatever the hell slogan she puts on the hats on her website.

Ah, found it. It’s Be Best. And here’s a picture that sums up the execution of her own initiative about as well as anything else that this administration has done:

Although, I particularly enjoy this iteration, too…

So, why am I rambling on about myopia?

Honestly, it’s mainly because I continue to be broadsided – and I mean that I’m a completely genderless manner – by people pursuing their own myopic interests, usually in an overtly selfish manner. But on occasion in a super nice looking cloak of larger social issues. Even if that cloak doesn’t actually go with the rest of their outfit, if you know what I mean.

For.

Example.

Exhibit A:

I was just caught off guard by this guy chatting me up on A4A while I was responding to a message from a guy I’ve been trading platonic, neighborly messages with since he lives down the street from me and the Silver Fox seems to have abandoned me. (By the way, SF, you’re out of everything again…😂)Remember the guy I was there chatting with? He’s close to me, just like I am to this guy. Perhaps my failure to demand to see his junk has somehow retarded the advancement of our friendship. Nah, I kid…it’s because he doesn’t drink.

Anyway, I declined this Hungjock1995’s offer to view and assess my junk, assuring him I was a fair and modest representation of my race and gender. He didn’t want to take my word for it.

See how he throws out himself as representing “the normal” of The Gays as a pejorative? Our prior few messages were all one word replies from him, which is the challenge you see at the top of the frame in the first pic. As his criteria for engaging are: attractive, nearby and big dick, I can’t disagree with that assessment, I just won’t accept it and speak out against it when I encounter it.

Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from someone whose screen name is Hungjock1995 and can’t muster the fortitude required to have a face pic on his profile. It seems like my habit of telling people my name when I engage with them and unabashedly decorating my asocial media profiles with a picture of my face makes me unique.

And that was my catalyst for finally tapping this out. This guy can’t see past the tip of his own dick far enough to act like a normal human being. Nor can he muster any sense of shame or appropriate mortification for his behavior when it’s pointed out to him. He just sinks back into the cesspool of collectively acceptable human behaviors, indicating that other people let him get away with it so it’s ok.

Quite a dichotomy at work there: unapologetic about crap behavior, smart enough to at least not associate his image or sully his good name with those same behaviors.

Seems like he is hung in the “all frank, no beans” way. Cuz his cowardly behavior clearly indicates the absence of a set of balls.

His myopic world vision is at least self-serving in an immediate way: he wants to get his (apparently sunflower seed sized) rocks off.

Other people’s recent nearsightedness has had a more immediately dangerous impact. Actively treating others with disrespect in pursuit of your own selfish desires only demonstrates the minimally acceptable behaviors to the people who’s paths you cross, setting an example for them to live down to. Given my parting shot before – I assume – getting blocked, people don’t experience bad behavior anymore and think “I didn’t deserve that”. Nowadays, they look at those experiences and the takeaway seems to be “Ok, so that’s what I can get away with, too!”

Exhibit B:

There’s this local activist whose Instagram profile I came across as I’ve been witnessing my anarchist jurisdiction of a hometown’s protests from the mostly safe distance Instagram provides. So I followed him. When I see good content, I want to keep seeing it – and these protests are too important to not see. Yes, I just worked Nazi into this example that is centered around police brutality.

Then he followed me.

Then he followed me from a secondary account.

Instead of making a nice veil out of that red flag to match the dress and continent dragging train I’ve made with the other red flag behaviors men give me, I just took it at face value and let it lie.

See? Sometimes I can be chill.

Ok, maybe I called it out a little and accepted the response that one was his personal page and the other was – and I’m paraphrasing here – more of his brand page where he could catalogue his participation in the protests. Just like he didn’t overreact when I observed that his accounts both seemed to like each other’s social media activity quite a lot.

That’s the way it’s done.

Gawd, I really loathe that rationale.

But I’m chill. I let it go.

He’s got good content on his protest page. The messaging is responsible and he’s not glamorizing any of the more destructive elements of our local protests – which makes his content a lot more focused on the point than the news seemed to be able to do.

And as I watch his feed for the next few months and we trade messages that are sometimes nearly long enough to qualify as a conversation, I begin to feel a familiarity. Like we’re people who could meet in real life and have a not-awkward conversation…yes, this is the bar these days.

Of course, then he starts working in videos of his remote viewing experiments and I think, “Oh, here we go…all aboard the Crazytown Express”. Not too long after that, I see him on the Grindr and am not even upset that he’s a Top/Vers, because I’m not thinking like that. However, I also see his profile blurb and wonder why men even bother to speak. Gay men in particular seem to do nothing with their mouths of any value unless their lips are wrapped around a – well, never mind. His profile ends with him imploring people to “be realistic”.

The implication there not being that it’s not realistic to expect him to be polyorgasmic or ready to settle down on the first date. No, the implication was more, “Look how desirable and hot I am! If you aren’t as hot as me, don’t bother.”

I may have only nearly avoided experiencing a remote vomiting episode.

Which is really disappointing after the effort he’s put into polishing up that turd of a personality on his other social media profiles. But I get it, it’s 2020. People compartmentalize their needs in order to meet them expeditiously. Truly, I believe that compartmentalization is part of how people become so myopic. They forgive themselves their shitty behaviors by locking them away, out of sight and view themselves only through the filter of their better qualities they keep on public display.

For instance this guy’s Grindr profile presumably meets his sexual needs as well as his need to posture and establish himself as superior to others.

But I let that go. I thought about calling it out, because, really…it’s one sentence. How hard could it be to edit it out or carry on with the burden of ignoring advances from unworthy and unrealistic people? But I’m chill, I let it go.

Then last night I saw him attending a wedding on his Instagram.

In Texas.

I’d only recently gathered that he’s from Texas, as a story from the day before was his family singing happy birthday to him – so I also assumed that was the reason for his trip. I get that. I’ve experienced the familial pull to come home when living away.

But, in a pandemic?

To Texas?

And the birthday story seemed to be evenly split between people who take their health for granted and people whose age puts them at risk on top of any other underlying conditions that may be present.

I kept it low key with a private response to his post…

He seemed so much smarter than that level of behavior. He consistently wore his mask while at protests – not even doing that dumb thing people do where they pull down their mask to talk.

But here he was, traveling to Texas and immediately exposing his family to whatever he brought in from Oregon as he loaded up with whatever the Texas fam had to give him to bring back…by not wearing a mask at either the birthday party or the wedding.

And then he publicly posts my private message to him on his story.

It was super nice of him to block out my profile pic – which is just the cover of my first book, including my name but no picture of mine truly. His response was…uninspired.

And after that, I was done with the conversation and went back to watching The X-Files. If he’s in that headspace where he’s defending his brand over his individual wants and whims, I have heard that song too many times.

That’s his nearsightedness. I didn’t really feel the need to let him practice his validations and rationalizations on me.

Little did I know, he wasn’t done. When I checked back in before bed, he’d added like four new thoughts to what had become his one sided conversation. Apparently, he was going to practice his PR regardless of input from me.

So, I spared my words in response and gave him the “Sure, Jan” and “Live Long & Prosper” emojis and went to bed.

It’s amazing how hard someone will work to defend their actions instead of thinking, “Geez, people will probably have an issue with this action…maybe I shouldn’t post it until a future date, if at all”.

One path certainly seems like less effort.

But also…less attention.

You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is saved by people clapping? I think that’s what it is, clapping…it could be something else. And not to draw any unintentional lines between The Gays and stereotypes like Tinkerbell…but that’s what’s going on here. This guy can’t not do the right thing and not engage in risky behavior by attending a wedding in Texas – which was certainly a myopic decision in and of itself by the bride & groom. Nor can he not get the attention – positive or negative, because he comes right out and says that he knew people would take issue with his decision – for participating so he just throws out his videos for the world to lavish him with attention in any form.

Look. The Fuck. At. Me.

I see you.

No, no…I see you.

Your validation for going is that it was your best friend, who apparently holds you in such high regard that he invited you to his Hot Zone Wedding. You back that up with some Swiss cheese pseudo-scientific BS about keeping your masks on until picture time – and I’m sure that the virus would certainly respect your need for photos at this wedding and not take advantage of your naked faces. Just like smoke did in bars when it was permissible – it never made anyone’s clothes reek of smoke but the people who actively smoked inside.

Riiiight.

For good measure, he reminded me that he’s a social worker and that two of his friends that attended are teachers and parents.

That didn’t make me feel any better at all for the future. Actually, it made me feel low key bullied…so I haven’t engaged with him about his going on three day layover in Seattle on his way home from Texas – so much for that quarantining he assured me he was going to do when he returned.

Please, be realistic

Exhibit C:

I’m taking a break – I’m exhausted reliving this…should I mention it all happened over the course of 30 hours? From the first Exhibit, which is actually C, to now – the point at which I need a break because my eyes are crossing from reliving these experiences…

BRB.

Aaaand…it’s been two days. Trust me, Exhibit C is just continuing to make me believe that we are going to “evolve” into nearsighted cyclops.

Cyclopses? What the hell is the plural of cyclops? Moreover, should I just know this by this point in my life?

I don’t know…

So, longtime readers/followers should have a ton of problem picking out my triggers from this post I found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Wait, I guess it’s my feed, but the friend’s post appeared on it.

Anyone want to go first?

No? Ok…<deep breath>

First, generalizations. All non-cis-male and non-white people were rioting prior to RBG’s death. ✅

Second, they attacked white cis-men, while not acknowledging that up until maybe two years ago, they enjoyed that label, even if only as a product of other people’s assumptions. ✅

Third, they are using emotionally charged words and absolutes. Also, misusing the word “literally”. Absolutes OM particular are credibility dealbreakers for me. When people say things like “everyone” or “all the time”, etc, I pretty much crack my knuckles and prepare to slap my trust buzzer. Hard.

Fourth, and there’s no way you could have known this – they posted this shit from Norway, where they enjoy dual citizenship thanks to a parent with the poor judgment to move to Amerikkka during the Bush 2.0 years. When it got too stressful here, they booked a trip the fuck outta here, so…yeah, tell me again how you’re out protesting the state of America before the white cis-men?

Fifth – for extra credit – yes, it only took two comments before the impact of the potential damage this inaccurate shitpost could create became clear: a commenter asked them to make it shareable and by the time I screen shot this, it had been shared 3 or 4 times. So, basically, this inaccurate and emotionally malignant post was being shared as some sort of internet wisdom.

My comment – which was third – was exactly

Generalize much?

That earned me only a 😡 reaction from the poseur poster, which I had to call out along with enumerating my issues with the factual and moral issues I had with this post. The response I got was basically “What I meant was” followed by the same inaccurate statement including absolutes and emotionally charged words. But in all caps, apparently for clarity.

We’ve gone back and forth for three days now. And I say “we”, but really, it’s been me engaging three friends of theirs, two of whom blocked me after responding, which earned them the nickname of Seagulls since they just flew in, shit on me and then flew off again.

Have I mentioned that using the block button usually signals to me that someone knows on some level that they have no valid position to argue, so they don’t. But instead of admitting their error, they just block the person who pointed out their error.

Very mature, I know.

Anyway, this original poster has popped in twice after his all cap non-response. Once to reply only “Yikes” to a rebuttal of mine to one of their friends. The other to comment something like “Yeah, see?!?” to another friend’s comment to me – which was basically a personal attack like “This is why no one likes you”.

This example of myopic behavior – nothing matters but my rights and I will tell you if you’re supporting me wrong – is particularly bothersome to me. The implication is that they aren’t happy and the cost for that is that no one else can be happy.

Only then will things be right.

In this case, the wronged party is a trans woman, whose deadname I respectfully forgot – also CRS – in spite of the fact that their chosen name reads like syphillis. Even though I know their chosen first name represents the Earth in Norse mythology and is also the wife of Thor.

Humble, no?

People who fancy themselves social activists need to be responsible. The theme of the rebuttal comments were basically targeted at the gall I displayed by daring to challenge a minority group member’s inaccurate language.

Imagine. Me, an old white man. I seemed to be the only one concerned with how close this post came to demonstrating that equality wasn’t the goal, punishing people who had more or got more sooner was the only acceptable outcome.

These individuals had zero problem setting aside the fact that we were members of the same subculture – that being the LGBTQI+ community – and how dare I call for unity when I am white and cis-gendered.

Really?

I most certainly made a comment that they – the original poster, not all commenters (gender neutral pronouns are sometimes real head-scratchers in conversation) – were behaving immaturely as evidenced in both their irresponsible choice of words and their intractable stance at how potentially destructive they were. But I followed that up with the fact that despite how often I see posts that I feel miss the target, I’m still supporting my community with my vote.

Not because they prove through their words and actions that they deserve equality – they don’t, as a matter of fact, Pride season any more just makes me want to stand on a corner holding up a cardboard sign saying “What have you actually done to feel proud?” because I can’t tell what it is anymore – but because equality is the right way to vote.

Despite the fact that marriage equality – since it was the example used in the post – isn’t something I vote for for my own selfish reasons, as my marrying ship has sailed. I vote for candidates who espouse continued support of that right and others – DACA, Roe, ObamaCare – because the rights of younger generations with their futures ahead of them deserve these rights.

Despite the fact I’ll likely not personally avail myself to them.

In spite of the petty manner in which they demand these rights and the manner that they destroy their own culture from inside in pursuit of them.

I vote for what’s right.

Sometimes I feel like our country can be divided into two factions that are beyond politics or religion:

Binocular Vision vs Monocular Vision?

That seems like a fairly safe way to phrase it. It’s only vaguely threatening to a myopic citizen’s ego.

It’s certainly safer than a more overt but nonetheless accurate Adults vs Children. Not that it matters, regardless of how one labels the two factions, I’m not sure the adults can stop the children from what I’m convinced will be a pyrrhic battle to get their way.

I’m sad and scared to think of how much further into the bowl this country can swirl before it disappears.

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

COVIDness

COFITness?

How do you properly portmanteau COVID and fitness? Regardless, I should probably emphasize the “co” since what motivated me today was my obnoxiously fit friend’s – Filipina Fox – Instagram post yesterday.

Not mad, jealous.

She took a page out of my home workout book from back when I was obnoxiously fit. When I was living in Seattle, my condo was in the top floor of a 13 floor building.

See also: How to not make money in Seattle real estate – buy on the 13th floor and laugh about it.

Anyway, my home routine included running stairs. Including the basement flight, my route from 13-LL was 1/10 of a mile and I used to knock out a mile or two a few times a week when the weather was shitty.

Usually before catching a car to a bar.

Party-orities.

I’d been thinking about doing some what-I-call-running of the stairs in my building during quarantine, but have been expertly procrastinating. Not (only) because I’m lazy, but I started quarantine off with some reasonable exercise – starting with a couple of long walks in the early days followed by a HIIT home workout and a two mile hike later in the week.

Except

After that HIIT/hike day, I found myself sore. Just a reasonable soreness on day two, prompting me to reason, “Give yourself another day to fully repair and then get back to it on day three.

Except: part deux…

I was more sore on the third day after my work out. Clearly, I needed another day to get my next level procrastination excuses up and running.

Filipina Fox posted her workout story yesterday on day four of my HIIT/hike workout.

This morning, I woke up to a shame double-whammy. First, the traitorous Facebook:

Yeah, five years ago I could eat a 5 lb tub of licorice. At least, that’s what I tell myself these days.

Then the Filipina Fox has to chip in helpfully with this pro-tip:

Already knowing I was doing this, I playfully demurred hoping she would not have any of my resistance. Riding to the call, she fully enabled:

But I still felt I could balance the reward with a little exercise. I’ve got a decade plus on Filipina Fox, so I thought that afforded me the option to adjust my workout down by a magnitude or two.

But it was also a HIIT/stair workout, so there were six upper body supersets mixed in between each six floor stair circuit.

Forget COVID-19, I’m making this quarantine about CoFit-20!

Also, about pizza, beer and now licorice!

COVIDness

So, I Cured Coronavirus

You’re welcome.

Ok, not really. But I feel a rant coming on and think that’s a longer commitment than I can offer on Friday morning – for instance, it’s now Friday night – so I’m posting something pithy to take my mind off of that other shituation. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I will let my EOG/White Privilege out to whine.

You’re still welcome.

Damn. Now I want wine.

Earlier this week, I had a doctor appointment and found myself sitting in a waiting room with a hipster/homeless/homo-type who thought he was funny. He coughed – incorrectly – and after a few moments looked around and chuckled “Coronavirus” at the room.

Definitely homeless.

Naturally, I woke up the next day with a sore throat. One of those stand-alone types of sore throat where the place that your throat and sinuses meet is burning. Y’know, like after you do some coke?

Ok, me either. But I have these oversharing friends…

Anyway, I bought some Zicam and figured I’d nip this in the bud. However, as the day wore on, either that Zicam was doing a great job or my not-so-secret-hypochondria was asleep at the wheel. I’d barely managed to imagine a runny or stuffy nose – let alone manifest anything serious.

The next day, however, I succeeded in waking up congested. After a few hours, I began to wonder if I should email my doctor, just to be safe. I took a Zicam while I fretted about it and a couple hours later, I went into my medicine drawer looking for more serious ammo.

Y’know, just in case.

Yeah, I don’t even know what some of that crap is. I know there’s writing on the foil backing, but when I tossed the boxes away, I hadn’t anticipated my eyes reminding me of the age I strive so hard to forget.

Then my eyes settled on the Zirtec and I thought, “Yes! That’s all this is, allergies…again!” It’s an annual rite of passage from Winter to Spring for me. Having only developed allergies six years back, this ritual still catches me off guard. Plus, Portland weather being Portland weather, I never know if this will occur during our Fake Spring or later in the year when actual Spring rolls into town.

So I patted myself on the back, popped a Zirtec and went about my day.

Two hours later, I realized I felt fantastic! Well, for me.

The next day, I did the same.

Also, Thursday.

And again this morning. That was when I realized I’d been taking Zirtec that was…vintage?

Ok, it expired almost five years ago…while my poor mother facepalms and wonders where she went wrong, I’m patting myself o the back and wondering what they’ll name the process of taking “moldy” allergy meds to “cure” a flu.

I’m not going to warn you not to try this at home. If you’re dumb enough to consider me a role model, I’m happy to get credit for the Darwin assist. <grimace emoji>

So, I Cured Coronavirus

Well, That Was A Surprise

You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

~150 words

~400 followers

It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

Frustration.

Location.

I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

But then I also got texts.

Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

Yup. Still dumb.

Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

Take it from Antoine.

I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

What do we expect, though?

I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

School is government funded daycare.

Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

United in denial, by the way.

Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

I think there is an absolute difference.

Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

Money.

I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

That a few people actually read what I have created.

Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

Well, That Was A Surprise

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I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.

Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,

I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.

I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.

Post-that.

It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.

I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.

I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.

This old Groucho Marx quote:

I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member

It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.

Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.

I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.

When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.

It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.

<pause to glare at millennials>

Moving on.

But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.

Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.

I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.

That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.

I kicked that one around for a bit.

Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.

I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.

My parents were proud of me.

I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.

My parents? Still proud.

So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.

Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?

I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not

Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.

But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.

Not make me happy.

Certainly not erode my happiness.

That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.

Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.

And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.

I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.

You know where that left me?

Fucking religion.

Can you believe that?

Who answers your prayers?

God?

I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.

Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.

Bosses.

Customers.

Boyfriends.

Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?

I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.

Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.

I’d written a book!

That realization made me feel good.

Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.

But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.

Just a few.

Not even a gang.

They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.

But they were there.

Just like my parents.

Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.

I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.

Needed to hear, honestly.

The sincere people in my life.

But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.

That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.

Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.

I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.

I decided I was over that.

Postthat.

Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.

Job boards.

Dating apps.

Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.

Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.

To find my own satisfaction.

Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.

And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.

I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.

And you know what?

Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.

So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.

PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…

Go read a book!

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