Mental Venn Diagrams

I’ve been taking some deliberate time lately. Grabbing back what I can of “me” time versus running from work (from home) to social engagements immediately after. Or making a point of taking a lunch to workout and shower before the back half of my day instead of working from 8-5 (or later, many days) without taking a lunch break at all.

I’m not mad that the job I ended up signing on for keeps me engaged at that level. I’m just forcing myself to remember, my work is only one part of my identity and happiness.

To that end, sometimes I’ll leave work (from home) and meet friends – or not – for drinks, maybe dinner. Others, I’ll leave work (from home) and go do dinner deliveries for a couple hours to get out of the house for a bit.

The thing that was missing there wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Just really revealing itself last week – the week before my vacation.

Me time.

All of my activities involved being a participant with someone else. Not that I know the intent wasn’t there. I know I would intentionally set out take myself out for a solo drink often. Sometimes neighbors would drop in to the local watering hole. Others, just the staff would pull me out of my solo time to just be at zero, thinking Xtopher things and recharging my spirit, if you will, so I was ready to put my best self out into the world again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad about being world famous on my block. I just remember from my days of career management, I always had my me time.

I was missing it.

Since my usual activities weren’t providing the recharge I needed, I ripped a page out of the Silver Fox’s playbook and just started staying home. There’s a bit more to that, which I’ll get into later this week or this weekend, but I looked at what I was doing and made a conscious change to change my results.

Like a damn smarty.

It’s kinda hard to stay home. I don’t have a big place, and there’s literally a bookshelf dividing my desk from my couch. Ergo, if I’m looking to get away from work, and “get away” isn’t physically executed…what’s giving me that perceived distance?

Since I’d joined HelloFresh, there were two nights of cooking built in as that get away. That was nice. Keeping the kitchen clean from its newly increased full-function usage versus the usual fridge and microwave abuse it was accustomed to could provide a nice transition one night a week. Can’t say I was keen on turning that critical cleanliness as an escape mindset loose on the rest of my home, though.

It’s a mess.

Last night, in a fit of semi-boredom, I cleaned to metal light fixtures that hang over my kitchen bar. The years of cumulative dust and cat hair since their last cleaning – lacquered in place by kitchen grease now that I’ve taken up cooking again – made it quite a task. I’m not lying when I say each fixture took closer to ten minutes than five to clean. Since it was hands over shoulders work, that added some extra humility to the exercise.

But I needed it last night.

Why? Why did I need a couple 5-10 minute tasks?

To give my mind time to make decisions in the background while I was focused on something else.

It’s a good trick.

And there are just too many TV show options to be able to decide!

If I were a younger gay man – or just one interested in blending my DNA in with the rest of the Gay Herd – I’d have opened up the loathsome Grindr and used that to kill time. But I’d still bet that I’d stand out from the other livestock there by thinking about something while there…

Are you shocked my dilemma is essentially nonsense? What TV show to watch…this is a first world problem of the highest order.

Here’s the deal, though. Last week I’d watched My Policeman – more on that in another blog – and had seen Don’t Worry Darling available to stream on another recent scroll through my entertainment options. In that moment, as the credits rolled, I was able to ask myself, “Self, do you want to watch both of Harry Styles’ current cinematic offerings in one night?”

I quickly responded – reflexively, even – in the negatory. I also dismissed switching to Disney+ to watch The Eternals as some sort of Harry Styles Plan B (he’s in the end credit scene).

Somehow, my addled brain ended up watching the first Kelvin Universe Star Trek movie to scratch the itch I was feeling. It’s Harry Styles adjacent since Chris Pine plays Captain Kirk in Star Trek but also co-stars with Styles in Don’t Worry Darling. As an extra Venn moment, the teaser at the beginning of the film – the moment that we later find out was the break from the standard Trek canon to Kelvin Universe – is Kirk’s birth. Kirk’s dad is played by none other than Chris Hemsworth, known for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which The Eternals is a part.

Exhausting, right? And I didn’t even mention that Zoe Saldana plays Uhura in the Klein Star Trek films and Gamora in the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. See? I pulled a punch for you in describing my insanity.

It took more effort and time to type that out than it dI’d to process and execute in real time. And I mention that because yesterday I finally got around to watching Booksmart.

Amazing movie. It did a fantastic job of presenting a story that should be relatable across multiple generations. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

As the credits rolled I found myself thinking, “Should I watch Don’t Worry Darling? Wait. Didn’t I just watch it a while back?” You see, Booksmart was Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Darling is her sophomore effort.

This is why I needed to B-reel the question. I couldn’t recall whether I’d watched Don’t Worry Darling recently and I also wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate an afternoon/evening geeking out on one director. It’s neither star Trek nor Wars, so giving something multiple movies in a day elevates it.

So I cleaned light fixtures.

Ultimately, the media drama – not buzz, drama – surrounding Don’t Worry Darling made me decide to give it a watch. It was time to see the thing that created the opportunity for all this other stuff people were talking about to exist.

Couldn’t find it.

I was goading myself in an attempt to sharpen my focus or resolve to succeed because I knew I had seen it available recently. Did I need to rent it to play out my plan?

Nope. Wasn’t even available for rent on any of the streamers I have.

I popped over to IMDb to see where I could watch it. HBOMax. I don’t have that one, and I wondered if I’d seen it advertised to watch while watching House of the Dragon with the Silver Fox at his place. Didn’t seem likely, the last time we’d watched TV together was too far removed.

Maddeningly, I couldn’t find it.

Gave up, I did. Watched Star Trek: Into Darkness instead, I did.

And, no…it wasn’t because of the Uhura thing since the overlap didn’t exist. But since Benedict Cumberbacht plays Khan in this movie, it was enough to derail the fleeting impulse I had to pull up Disney+ and watch an Avengers et al movie – because Xtopher definitely does not watch one Marvel movie, it’s “Sayonara, rest of the week” if I start down that rabbit hole. So the MCU crossover double casting in Into Darkness satisfied the Marvel impulse while also finishing up the two best Kelvin Universe Trek films. Sorry, Star Trek: Beyond, you were…fine.

Interestingly enough, Beyond also dips into the MCU casting pool with Idris Elba as the bad guy. Crap. Guess now I have to watch it. It’s not like I have to get up early tomorrow, so…why not?

I guess this blog was tonight’s B-reel activity. How nice you got to experience that realization in real time right along with me.

Mental Venn Diagrams

Falling Apart

I have to admit that this could be it: the best I’ll feel for the rest of my life.

That might sound dramatic, but compared to the thought I had the other day about houseless people and warmth…maybe less so?

What prompted my musing on this age of slow decay?

Well, my toothache last weekend, for sure. Then, the other night I was sitting on my couch watching Mythic Quest (highly recommend!) and casually rubbing my face. Unsurprisingly, I found the usual psychotic puberty-era throwback oily skin. Along with that, though, were these oddly placed patches of dry skin. Not the usual T-zone dry patches…these were weird.

This, mind you, is on top of the still randomly rampant maskne. Why that needs to be hanging in a year after mask mandates dropped, I’m not sure. Probably karma.

Anyway, this new facial geography kinda felt like it would just flick off with a little lift.

So I did.

I don’t know why it made me feel better to accomplish something as small as removing dead skin cells, but there I was. And because the universe is a sonofabitch, there it was.

I’d explored the area under and around my eyes – and then was just kind of tracing the outline of a nostril with my fingernail and found something I’d never have seen. It was right there where the nostril meets the cheek, so the curve of even my unflared nostril would totally obscure it – if it were even visible to my aged eyes.

All thoughts of the randomness of these flaky, dry skin cells completely and instantly disappeared as blood started cascading out of my face.

And that’s only borderline hyperbole.

So, y’know, I get up and go get some tissue, dab it, drop it in the toilet and make my way for the couch.

Oh, no…that’s pure hubris. That fucker bled and bled and bled.

Nothing like these little shaving accidents that throw out a perfect orb of blood and then clot or are satisfied being staunched by a scrap of one-ply TP. No, this was more like – well, have you ever had your ear (the pinna, not the lone) accidentally nicked during a haircut? Yeah, it was like that.

I didn’t entirely rule out bleeding to death.

It took a return trip to the bathroom – I waited this time – applying pressure until the tissue was saturated. I waited during the second application of direct pressure instead of returning to the couch because it wasn’t slowing.

Finally, I opted for a double wad of TP to staunch my not-life-threatening wound and went back to the couch. I finished my episode of Mythic Quest before tentatively removing the pressure.

Finally.

I mean, sheesh. That was a lot of blood wasted. And wine! Well, not wasted wine, but wine drinking time wasted. Still, I wasn’t going to risk spilling or spoiling my wine, so I waited.

Seriously, though. Should it take 20 minutes for blood to clot? And that’s when it hit me, that this was probably the best I’d ever feel for the rest of my life. I’m sure the best age related physical shenanigannery (Chrisism, boom!)I can expect is massive bruising when I casually bump something.

Fun!

Falling Apart

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I got a call from my boss yesterday afternoon. She gets me. Here’s how the pre-call planning went via Microsoft Teams chat:

Boss: Hey!

Me: Quit screaming at me.

Boss: Call me.

Normally, my neurotic ass would immediately spiral with that enigmatic command. But like I said, she gets me. We have a…rapport.

She starts our conversation off with “Guess what?” Even though her tone suggested good news, that opener is cryptic enough that mentally I replied, “You need me to bring back my laptop?”

It was just the opposite, though. She told me that the CEO had finally signed off on my Offer Letter.

I probably added a “finally” retroactively where there was not one in reality.

Seriously, though, it had taken three months to get my Offer Letter put together and approved. I know this because I found it hard to take her seriously when she asked if I was interested in converting from a contractor to a core employee…since it was April 1st.

When I pointed that out a couple weeks later during our weekly touch base, her response was, “Wait, did you mean it when you said ‘Yes’?!?”

And this is why we get along.

I probably could have shared my thoughts on this surprise (to me) development with my boss. Thoughts like, “Thank gourd for The Great Resignation making employers desperate enough to hire a grumpy old bastard like me!” or “You could hire millennial or Gen Z folks for less than me…if you could actually hire anyone from those generations”. (Sorry, Vee!) Actually, I’m confident she would have beat me to the punch on that last part.

Anyhoo…she’d warned me it was gonna take a while. “We move slow”, she had admitted. She did not undersell that.

I just never imagined it would be a longer process to complete than the tenure I had as a temp with the company at the time she had issued that warning. I’d gotten the exploratory offer at two months.

Two weeks later when she’d “updated me” about my salary expectations, I’d told her that was faster than I’d expected. Two weeks after that, she’d confirmed that HR was starting on my Offer Letter.

Ok

Five weeks later I hear that my Offer Letter was on the CEO’s desk for his approval and I’m all, “Eureka!”

Three weeks go by. Mind you, a week after I heard the CEO had it, his Admin called me to check on some expense reports “he’d” submitted.

I had patted myself on the back for not quid-pro-quo-ing his expense reports and just told her that I process expense reports on Fridays. It was Thursday…so the next day I reimbursed his $25,000 from four months worth of expense reports. Before the day ended, the Admin was back in my inbox telling me “she’d” completed the last two months of reports, so I added another $15k to his reimbursement before beer:30 that day.

You know how you know someone makes too much money? Not just that they can get by submitting expense reports only twice a year, but that they can do it by letting an average of $7k a month ride.

Oy.

Anyway, I’m glad I coughed up his dough because it took a scant two more weeks for the Offer Letter to find its way back to HR. No telling how long it would have taken if timing hadn’t worked out like it had!

But someone was impressed enough with me to throw a couple extra percentage points on my salary from what my boss had said she’d try to get for me – which was less than I’d asked for, but more than I was making as a contractor, so I wasn’t mad. But seeing it come back just a shade off of what I’d asked for made me feel it was worth the wait.

Mind you, this is still a 45 hr/week base at about 60-65% of what I made last year driving with Lyft. I’ve been doing some DoorDash deliveries to help bridge the gap, too – but that’s another shituation. I can max out at about a dozen hours on a good week with DoorDash, that’s about half as many hours as I drove for Lyft and on a good week I earn about a third of what I made driving for Lyft.

All that boils down to me working more than twice as many hours this year over last and maybe making 75% of what I earned driving <30 hours a week for Lyft. Since it’s July, I don’t think it’s premature to declare that this is gonna be a financially tough year.

But the first six months of this year have helped me get back into a budget mindset. Between that and the 16% bump I’m getting converting from contract to core, I think I can stare down the balance of the year without having to steal from my parent’s present retirement fund.

Anyway…here I am, the guy who swore he was done working for Da Man back in 2018. Didn’t quite make it five years before I found something that appealed enough to me that I could sell myself back to an outfit long-term.

Maybe this company is the conversion therapy I needed to take away the shitty taste my last few professional roles left in my mouth.

I don’t want to shock anyone – I have more than a few older readers – but, yes…that was me sounding optimistic. I apologize for not warning you ahead of time.

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

TRSD 32: When You’re With Me…

…you’re with Stupid.

Surrealiously.

Pure, adulterated – let’s face it, I can’t pull off unadulterated – stupid.

I went to coffee with a friend this morning, came home, worked out and then finally got around to cleaning my bathroom.

I’d been proChristinating it for too long. Almost as long as I’ve been putting off a haircut, and, no…the causal relationship between a messy bathroom and long hair has not escaped my notice.

But here I am, finally addressing one of those issues.

So I do the whole thing: toilet, sink, mirror, sweep, baseboards and then mop.

I was rather surprised that my back only complained a little. Mops and brooms are not really made for long people’s bodies.

Then I reward myself with a much needed shower and as soon as I pull back the curtain…

And I just didn’t have it in me to do anything more than stand there naked with the shower running and chastise myself for my completely-within-my-control level of idiocy. I stepped into the shower and just sulked about it.

Sadly, while standing there, I realized that this wasn’t even the dumbest thing I’ve done in the last several weeks. Instead of boring you with proof, I’ll skip right to the apex of my dumbassery.

My parents has this big that was going around a while back. It descended upon them the week before Mother’s Day, causing them to isolate that weekend. My youngest brother also came down with it around that same time, prompting the chicken/egg question no one wants to openly ask anymore – except me, apparently.

I wasn’t asking the question. I was observing.

They were down for about a week and change, then flew to Dallas to watch BSB’s kids while he was down for back surgery. They are gone for a week and then want to connect with me for breakfast – which I’m always down for with them!

Except

I wake up that day feeling…things I don’t like feeling.

My head was at about 30 psi, but there was nothing else. No runny nose, no headache, no fever, no phlegm-y throat…just pressure. Oh, my eyes were all runny and light sensitive. I’d slept like crap.

Naturally, I just assumed I had whatever they had. I told them, they’d just had it and were game, so off we went.

Well, almost off we went.

First, I went foraging in my medicine drawer. I’m sick rarely enough that I never know what I’ve got for over-the-counter cures around the house. With masks the last few years, that rarely became even more so.

Finding something in a blister pack that didn’t look like pepto, I made my way to the fridge for a bubble water to wash it down. Remembering my crappy night of rest, I popped a GOAT Fuel – a locally made, BIPOC-owned energy drink – and washed down my mystery cure with a half can in one quaff. Then I put on my shoes and ran out the door to meet mom and dad.

By the time I sat down at breakfast, I was high as a kite. I felt amazing. Not normal amazing. This was like MDMAmazing, and if you know, you know.

Over the course of breakfast, I over caffeinated to compensate and live-streamed my physical status updates to my poor parents. They seemed to enjoy – albeit in a horrified parental way – my body’s goings on. I’m sure they were simultaneously wondering how I’d made it this far in life without somehow winning a Darwin Award.

Simple – not dead yet. But don’t count me out!

Surprisingly, my parents let me leave with my car keys. I kid, but honestly, up until that last cup of coffee, I’d been thinking I was probably best walking home. I was also curious to see what I’d taken and how expired it was.

Literally.

I am use-my-camera-zoomed-all-the-way-in-to-take-a-pic-and-then-blow-the-pic-up-to-read-the-label years old.

Clearly, I’d lost the squinting game this time around.

When I get back home, I double-check the trash to make sure there’s an actual blister pack in there. I had begun to wonder if I’d accidentally taken that acid a passenger had tipped me back in my Lyft days.

Sure enough, there it was, one destroyed capsule package. I go to my medicine drawer again: allergy meds.

Ok, I can see that causing me to feel a little woozy. Ever since I have been on OTC remedies versus prescription, I’ve been a little more judicious in my use since they always hit me a little differently that they Rx stuff I took the first few years I had allergies.

Chalking it up to caveat dumbass, I decide to polish off the last of the GOAT Fuel from the fridge. Hey, the coffee seemed to help, right? When I open the fridge, I literally said, “Oh, for fuck sake” out loud.

If you’re wondering…my self-made attention deficit self had popped a can of 8% alcohol by volume White Claw and chugged half a can with an allergy pill on an empty stomach.

As humorous and simultaneously horrifying as that is, my brain instantly wondered if I’d just exposed my parents to the COVID since how would I not notice drinking alcohol if not for the loss of my taste?

Of course, I had to take several quick sips to see if I could taste the drink.

All good.

Knowing I was only a vector for stupidity and not a communicable disease, I laid down on the couch for a half hour and just reflected on what kind of dumb luck it must require to keep me alive.

A lot.

Like, seriously…if guardian angels and god are a thing, how the hell many angels are tasked with saving me from myself just to keep me alive to endure my hellacious existence longer?!?

Then it hit me. Maybe I was dead and this is my purgatory.

Or I’m just stupid.

TRSD 32: When You’re With Me…

Frayed

Is it sad that both of my parents are sick on Mother’s Day weekend and when I reviewed my “notes” about what I’d been wanting to process write about this weekend, both topics involved non-Mother’s Day friendly topics?

It’s true, though. One potential entry was the simple lessons we learn growing up – that are usually, let’s face it, imparted by our moms – that we fail to reach back to and just check in with to ensure we aren’t pieces of shit humans. Denial, am I right?

The other topic – this one – is literally closer to home.

It’s about Black Sheep Bro. More to the point, the collateral relationship damaged his sudden reemergence and desire to wreckoncile with the family is having.

At least as it appears from where I’m sitting. Which, strangely, is relatively on the sidelines.

Also, the last time any of us didn’t see him was when he ghosted us at mom’s house on Mother’s Day in the very early aughts. So his residency in my subconscious this week is timely.

I know I’ve mentioned BSB a few times over the years. Even recently, since his desire to repair his familial relations seem to have not surprisingly coincided with his divorce.

But here’s the deal, no one knows why he left. And when I say no one, I’m including him. I think he’s tossed out so many lies false flags over the 20 years he was MIA in his marriage to explain his estrangement, that he (conveniently) doesn’t even remember the truth. The reality of the situation – again, just from my personal interventions interactions with him during his estrangement – seems to be that when backed into a corner, he’d make something up. Probably something he presumed the listener would want to hear and just take at face value.

That certainly happened with me when I pushed him. My favorite story of his was blaming mom for his decision to leave. “She wasn’t supportive of me when I got my DUI” – and you just know he’s already on thin ice with me here for using someone else’s alleged poor behavior to deflect from his own law enforcement sourced actual bad behavior.

“How so? How was she unsupportive?”

“Well, when she brought me home, she sat me down and said to me, ‘I’m really disappointed in you’. That just was really hurtful at that moment and not what I needed to hear.”

Ok, well A) I think disappointed is the appropriate parental response after picking one’s progeny up from the drunk tank; but, B) that’s not what I remembered happening. I remember her running point on the collateral insurance damage, getting legal advice on BSB’s options and that type of supportive parenting.

And you know I told him exactly that,

“No, no. That was the first time.”

And…C) of course you have a second and secret DUI. But of course this is also none of your own fault. You are the victim. Yeeeeessssss.

Obviously.

And here’s a D) for ya –

I’ll take “Things to never say out loud” for $500, Alex!

– it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think any of it is true!

I mentioned he was a no-show at a family Mother’s Day gathering. Well, you can damn well bet I called him on the way home to low-grade chew him out over that decision. I knew he’d been thinking about “taking a break” as he had put it. Needing some time away to figure some things out he said.

This conversational thread came up several times during our weekend hang outs during the early part of that year. His former live-in girlfriend was my employee and they’d met through me. She was also great friends with my very own psychic herpes, Sacha.

He never really provided any detail, but I had a feeling his desire for distance stemmed from his breakup with his girlfriend sometime around the prior Thanksgiving. That was a shitty situation in and of itself, given the years-long relationship they’d had.

In true men-are-shit form, not long after that breakup, he’d taken up with his ex. We didn’t put any stock in the causal nature of her sudden reappearance on the scene. I actually knew it was the reality of the shituation. Everyone else in the family didn’t waste much energy on the chicken or the egg scenario BSB was trying to exist in.

But there we were, at mom’s for Thanksgiving and trying to plan Christmas. My sister started out trying to pin down headcount with my bro by asking him directly if the former-ex was coming. He replied cryptically, “She won’t be an issue” and then continued to stick to some variant of that vague BS every time the question came back around.

You see, we’re big White Elephant people.

Ok, that didn’t come out right.

We don’t try and play “hide the tree” with our gifts. We just try to have fun. We’ll draw names and do a gift exchange or pick a theme and then buy one gift that can be stolen…that type of thing. You can see where an accurate headcount being important comes into play.

“Don’t worry about her, I’ll deal with her”, honestly, I couldn’t tell if he was breaking up with her or disappearing her.

Suffice to say, no one present – haha – present thought there was a third option. Imagine our surprise when he showed up Christmas morning with the former-ex…and we’d followed his directions and not worried about her.

We were all pretty irked by his lack of follow-through. None more than my sister, who felt extra blindsided as the host.

However, flash forward to that last Mother’s Day and he’s not thinking back to that at all. He’s just laying it all – again, vaguely – at mom’s feet. “She knows what she did.”

Well, she didn’t.

She did know, as did we all since it was oozing out of every cell of her being, how hurt she was to hear that. Well, to hear it and have no idea what egregious wrong she’s committed that would earn her this retaliation.

That’s what she lived with for two decades, though. The pain working it’s way to the surface every family dinner or holiday, right there behind her eyes. Sometimes spilling out of them.

It got better over time.

Then it would get worse again because she’d somehow hear that he’d gotten married or that they started and then expanded a family.

But once they moved to Texas to be near the wealthy grandparents-in-law, I think we all expected that was the last of it.

Finally.

From me.

I’d been the one closest to the situation when he left. I was the point of contact after he started a family – since my job forced me to relocate to the city he was allegedly calling home at the time. That was a failed attempt.

Then when his kids started asking about his family, I was the one he and his former-ex-turned-wife reached out to.

With conditions.

You don’t have to know me too well to know that wouldn’t fly. And then there was the added murkiness of new but unimproved blame and excuses for why he left.

He and his wife were always drunk when they called me. And they were in Texas, so a couple drinking hours ahead and very late hour combined for some pretty abrupt ends to our conversations when I did what I did best: pulled at the logic threads until they – the arguments, BSB and/or his wife – unraveled.

Now, though, I feel like his resurfacing is starting to fray the fabric of my family.

Just who would have thought I’d be the one to take his BS best? I’m usually the least forgiving son of a bitch around.

Seriously, I can provide references.

I’m perfectly happy to point to the bed someone’s made themselves and tell them to get comfortable. At the same time, I’m able to treat this guy as a non-threat because he’s half a continent away and in a state I’m only ever setting foot in again if my plane goes down while flying over it. Then, of course, my feet are equally likely to be separated from my body, so…

Mom and dad, of course, are doing what amazing parents do. Parenting. I think they kept themselves fairly well insulated initially, which I respected – but still worried about.

A year-plus (maybe two-plus?) in, I know their defenses are down, I’m not surprised. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent – let alone in a situation as painful as the one my mom has endured with BSB.

What’s caught me off guard is how tightly my sibs are holding on to this, though.

Then again, they also held on to the pain dad caused when he divorced mom. When he came back around – at the arrival of his first grand – it didn’t look good for him and his hopes to reconnect with his family.

In that case, though, I felt I had an emotional leg up over the sibs. While they’d moved back to Oregon with mom after the divorce, I’d stayed in California – because: baby gay – and eventually ended up living in the same city as dad. We had a huge lead over his relationship with his other kids. It was kind of symbiotic: I had to accept his tearing apart of the family and he had to accept my sexuality when it wasn’t a popular thing.

With BSB, though? I don’t fucking care. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s still alive. Not just because his ex-wife is a redhead, either.

If he wants to try to make brotherly with me, let him. If I respect his approach – and it rings true, which is a high bar for a man with his gravitational pull to pull off – fine. If his approach doesn’t pass my sniff test?

Well, just picture me as King Kong atop the Empire State Building swatting down his biplane overtures at reconciling.

But my brother and sister care. They are bothered. My working assumption up til this very week has been that they’ll eventually meet me where I’m at emotionally with BSB – however that looks for them.

Maybe they start texting or messaging him back when he reaches out. Maybe it wouldn’t be until they see him at the vacation mom and dad planned for him and his boys. They’re coming to Oregon to visit their other grandparents who live in a remote southern coastal town. They visit for two weeks every year, but their personalities are stricter than the ideal grandparent. That has manifested as shorter trips or, like last year, a week with my parents after a week with the in-law grandparents.

This year, it’s a week in Sunriver. I’m planning to go. My sister lives nearby but isn’t staying in the Sunriver house like she usually does. No telling what my youngest bro will do. So far, I think getting him to my sister’s house would be a good level of participation.

This, though…this is where the fray really began to show.

My parents were very transparent about their desire for their kids to all get along. They also admitted that they knew our relationships with BSB would heal differently than theirs.

I was comfortable with that being where things were with us.

But this vacation? It overlaps with the two weeks my youngest brother takes his solo-vacation around his birthday each year. The expectation hope was he’d join us for a week.

Fray.

Then BSB re-injured his back and was looking at surgery in the next week or two. He was supposed to get confirmation of that yesterday, so I don’t know where things stand there.

What I do know is that my parents canceled a trip to see my sister so they could be ready to fly out to help BSB with the kids while he recovered.

Huge fray.

That’s where we’re at on Mother’s Day eve. And I do not like it one bit.

Best part? BSB has sent me a couple of IMs while I typed this out…and one of the pushes I saw included an emotionally charged phrase that makes me…afrayed of what the full message will say.

Super.

Makes me wish the dead-to-me would cooperate by accepting their dead-to-me status.

Frayed

Settled Affairs

I think I mentioned a while back that my grandfather passed away. He was just weeks shy of his 100th, so I like to say that he pulled a Betty White. I also like to say he might have liked older women, so was sure to leave a cushion between them. I think she died 3 weeks shy of her century and grandpa had closer to 6.

Of course, as he handed off the patriarch title to my father, I also like to think he was teaching us one last life lesson: don’t get your hopes up. You see, I’d bet the family was a bit more excited about having a centurian in our midst than he was about being said centurian.

Why doesn’t spellcheck like that word – centurian? It wants to make it “centurion”, but grandpa wasn’t a gladiator. The spelling paradigm for other decades of age grouping is “ian”, so why not here, too?

Septuagenarian.

Octogenarian.

Nonagenarian.

Centurian.

Maybe there’s just not a word for it in the English language since it’s such a rare thing in Western culture. Maybe there’s another word for it. Look, I don’t have time to Google it…I’m making sauce!

Also, my place smells fantastic right now.

Anyway…he decided to die without a Will. My uncle had helped him draw one up while he was visiting years ago – along with a power of attorney – and all he needed to do was get them notarized. He managed to get the PoA completed, but just didn’t find the time to get the Will done.

I come by my procrastination honestly.

So my dad and uncle have been slogging through settling grandpa’s estate.

It wasn’t – or hasn’t – been too challenging, aside from dad being local and my uncle being in Texas. My dad’s goal had been to have the house sold by the time that he and mom went to my cousin’s wedding in early April. Then it was just a matter of waiting out probate.

My uncle’s goal was a little less defined. Actually, it may have not even existed. Honestly, I think he has separation issues. If I’m not mistaken, someone still has some of grandma’s stuff in their garage that he couldn’t part with. She’s been dead close to 20 years now.

But my uncle did manage to go through a lot of stuff when he was here for the service. Including a quarter of a closet worth of stuff he wanted to keep.

I get it, this was the house he grew up in. That’s a rare occurrence anymore.

That said, he was reluctant to commit to anything more than what was ok to donate. At the same time, he actively poo-pooed the notion of an estate sale.

But once he was on a plane, my sister and I got right to work doing just that. To hear my parents talk about it, we were amazing. Honestly, though, my sister was an absolute force. I don’t have her drive or determination. Plus, her round trip commute every day with mom and dad was close to 3 hours!

Hats off, sis. All the props.

Since mom and dad credited us equally, it was their pleasure to encourage us to liberate anything we wanted from the estate. In the interest of heirlooms and legacies, y’know.

Since grandpa’s house closed a couple weeks back – the didn’t quite make dad’s timeline, but they were signing papers at the wedding – and there’s about a month left on probate, I figured now was a good time to highlight some of the things of his I’ve brought into my home.

Also, I’ve done the work on my relationship with grandpa and feel like I can look at these reminders and think of the man he was without being reminded only of the good or bad.

Oh, quick sidebar: one of the things that my uncle found was the original advertisement for his house – which was new construction in the mid-60s. Let me just say that I think the reality of owning a house for 40+ years os a thing of the past. Americans can’t commit like that. At the same time, selling a house for 30+ times the original purchase price is also a thing of the past. At least on my coast.

Now that the sidebar is out of the way, you can probably think of some of the amazing things that gathered dust at grandpa’s during the last half of his life. Not to mention all of mine.

I swear, I don’t covet. Really, the one thing I wanted once it was pulled out from the back of a bottom cabinet was the cookie jar from my childhood.

I knew it was valuable – estimates put it at around $300 – so I was reluctant to accede to mom and dad’s encouragement. Dutifully, I posted it online. But when takers failed to materialize, well…it wasn’t going to Goodwill!

It’s so cool. And aside from grandpa bringing out his 5 lb coffee cans full of change for us to sort through during our visits, stuffing my hand into this cookie jar was very looked forward to part of visiting grandpa.

And that was kind of how I approached my heirlooting heirlooming. Make it available for sale, but if no one took it, it was up for grabs.

I say “kind of” because there was a slatted bench I wanted – despite having nowhere to put it. Grandpa had it at the foot of his bed forever, however, my bedroom isn’t as spacious as his. Still, you know how The Gays are with the mid-century aesthetic.

So, for me – for now – it’ll be a plant stand. Also, like the cactuses on the other window sill, this keeps Myrtle out of the windows, which means I can put the screens back up for the summer. Who knew that Myrtle would hate slats?

Don’t worry, she’s upped her pooping out of the box game to let me know she objects to the placement.

You can’t really see it well in that pic, but there’s also one of a pair of nifty ashtrays that I pinched. I don’t smoke, so really these were just nostalgic discoveries when we found them. However, when I turned them over to find my grandmother’s signature of them, they became a remote tray and place to drop my keys and wallet.

I’m not a smoker. That’s not to say they aren’t well used…luckily, grandma’s glazing game was right on, otherwise I’m sure the smell that went along with those nicotine stains would have been a nostalgia dealbreaker.

Yes, yes…dusty. I know.

Unbeknownst to us, grandpa had a thing for old bottles and insulators. Like an “entire kitchen cabinet full” thing. That being the case, I didn’t mind adding a couple of his to my own collection of glass whatnots.

That bottle is an old Old Bushmills bottle. The glass – in raised letters – says that “Federal law forbids the reuse of this bottle”. My limited pre-post-Googling on this topic hasn’t brought and federal prohibitions – see what I did there? – to light. I’m sure someone <cough, cough> Phil! <cough> will have a notion on the topic, so let me know in the comments.

The last instance of heirlooting I’m gonna share was both a last minute discovery and an “I’m grabbing that before the house goes on the market” type of thing.

No one in my family agrees with me that this had been in great-grandma’s kitchen when she died in the mid-70s. So I’m likely wrong, but that’s what I remember. Still, when we cleared away the project remnants from it and pulled the protective cardboard off of it, I think everyone was surprised by its presence in grandpa’s garage. Clever man had the wear-withal to protect its surface, despite its relegation to his garage…

I’m just stunned that no one snatched it up at the estate sale! So, that being the reality, once dad told me the date the house was going live on MLS, I did a midnight run and picked this baby up. If no one else wanted it, Myrtle can use it as a feeding station. Saves my old knees and back squatting done multiple times a day to feed the not-as-old-as-me bitch gal.

I mean, look at it. It’s amazing! And in better shape for its age than I – but I’m working on it! Since entertaining isn’t really a thing these days – at least in my life – I’m in no hurry to add chairs. But I will, I’m sure.

Someday.

Until then, I’m glad I have these mementos of grandpa’s. For as difficult as our relationship was after I came out as gay, these remind me of the amazing grandfather he was, even if he wasn’t always the best human. And on that last point, he didn’t change so much as he changed his behaviors. That says something. I knew in certain moments of silence that he was editing his responses, if not abandoning them altogether. An impressive feat for someone whose anachronistic behaviors had been written off by most as “That’s just how he was raised” things we would have to endure.

Well, I was watching, and I think he proved them all wrong. That’s both a memory and an example that I can embrace.

Especially as my family faces it’s next obstacle: bringing Black Sheep Bro back into the fold.

Settled Affairs

I Can’t Have It All?

Part 2: What the hell was I thinking?

Damn universe, always teaching me lessons…like crippling humility.

So, there I was…having most of it. Gently nudged into balance by the Silver Fox. I’d gotten Angela all spruced up for her annual check-in with Lyft, but was focused more on those other pillars that make me feel like a normal person productive: writing and exercising.

No big news on the writing front.

Yet….

Couple blog posts. I re-read my prime WIP, by way of seeing where I need to tweak formatting before I hit publish. That’ll happen this month.

For sure.

So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.

Also something?

I exercised twice as many days in March as I had in February. That ain’t nothing. April’s looking good, too, there’s a Class Every Day challenge and I’m on track. But balanced old Xtopher is keeping in mind that some days will be ride days, others will be strength…but mixed in will be days that are just a longer than my usual 5 minute post-ride stretch classes or even yoga classes.

Balance.

Also helpful? And this is where all that foreshadowing nonsense comes in: I got de-platformed by Lyft.

You read that right. Boy, they rogered me but good. Real good.

But that’s another blog.

I chose to look at it optimistically. The removal of a barrier to a balanced day.

The thing is, though, my temp gig doesn’t pay that well. I mean, I can’t complain, it’s not minimum wage – which I’ve certainly done as I explore non-career level employment. And it pays the bills. And-and, in a real Pinocchio twist, they started making sounds about converting me from a temp role to a real boy job.

The pay talk…we’ll see. I’m looking at it as a positive – even though the talk happened on April 1st. That’s just how my life goes. It was a good talk.

Except, the universe being the lesson teacher that it is, I was de-platformed by Lyft after dumping about $3k into little repairs for Angela that I’d been putting off. That was the month after the surprise $2500 I’d put into her in January, no less.

And after all that I had boldly (ie: no drink in hand) faced my taxes.

The day after I’d done my first draft of the taxes was the day I got the dry fuck from Lyft.

I’ll tell ya…I don’t believe in god, but I fully embrace the notion behind the phrase “If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan”.

And that’s what I had done. Made a financial plan that included making quarterly payments to the Feds for my $11k tax bill.

Thank god it was only a first draft. The second draft is a much less traumatic $8k, but it’ll still require an episiotomy after my main revenue stream gave me the same treatment it gave the driver that raped a passenger here in Oregon.

That seems fair. My punishment is the same as a rapist. My crime? I got two speeding tickets in a 12 month period. Yeah, well stick with “sounds fair”.

More on that later, I’m sure. You know how loquacious I can be when I get going on something.

Now, look…I may be seriously fucked right now, but I’m all Mr Bright Side, damnit! Even if that just means I jump off the bridge with the best view in town – that’s a tough one here in Portland – and don’t take anyone else out with me.

So that naive dumbass Mr Bright Side fella is looking at this as a way to achieve balance. Less opportunities for proChristination. Fewer distractions.

Bright side. Mr. Me.

But since my temp job doesn’t keep me in the happy hour budget I like, tax debt or no, nor does it afford the luxurious $30 treats Mistress Myrtle prefers…I need a second income stream.

Reluctantly, I signed up to be a delivery old man boy with DoorDash.

I hate it. It’s boring. It does give me that “in service to others” paycheck I found I missed after leaving retail. So, that’s a plus. And it pays around $7-10 more and hour than the temp job, so there’s that, too.

But it’s sooooo fucking boring.

Bright side? I can really only tolerate doing 5 deliveries in a shift. More than that is excruciating. Ok, that last part wasn’t very bright side, I admit. But, dashing out to do 5 deliveries after work a few nights a week and then a double or triple on a – singular – weekend day leaves me plenty of time for happy hour hangouts during the week – and it gives my budget the wiggle room to offset said indulgence. It leaves me the time for writing and exercising.

All. That.

There’s plenty to be grateful for. And since I hate it, the ~20 hours I give it each week balances my books. Well, excluding the G-men obligation. I might have to see if there’s a niche market for barely out of shape old men on OnlyFans to solve that problem. God only knows what weird shit passing as erotic that The Gays are lapping up these days.

Fucking morons.

But I think I’ve got a third draft of my taxes in me. I just need to make a phone call first. I think we all know how long I could drag that task out. So I’ll also file an extension…sometime between April 14th and 17th.

It’s good to have a plan.

And goals. Since my goals are work, exercise, write and not “pay less in taxes than Trump” I think I’m in a good place.

Fuck, being optimistic is a weird feeling. I should’ve stretched more before this post. Anyone else miss grumpy old Xtopher?

Don’t worry, he’ll be around. Until then, cheers to the bright side and cheers to you for reading. Thanks!

Look how my thigh is about the same size as my thumb in that pic. You go, Chicken Legs McGee!

I Can’t Have It All?

I Can Have It All!

Part 1: Everything’s fine!

I creep into every week with a simple goal – to have a day or several where I succeed in all three pillars of what I consider a “good day”. I want to make some money, exercise and write.

That’s it. Nothing earth shattering. No outrageous goals like cure cancer before lunch.

You may wonder how I struggle to accomplish this. Like, why is my weekly goal “a day or several” and not something more aggressive reasonable like “at least three days a week”?

The answer is simple: go fuck yourself.

Wait. That came out wrong.

I used to run, run, run and go, go, go. All day. I did that for 30+ years, starting in high school, no less!

Now I’m tired. Actually, I’m not just tired…I’m fucking tired.

And after leaving my retail management career behind after 30+ years, I was ready to rest. I liked my little income setup: Lyft 25-ish hours a week and keeping an iron in the temp job fire to keep things fresh. My average for temp placements was 2/year, which I was fine with.

I was a little less fine when I got my W2 for last year’s temp assignments and saw that I’d earned around $1700 in 2021. And that mindset is never the right time to pick up the phone when your temp wrangler calls.

But I did, didn’t I?

Because I’m a dumbass.

Which is how I ended up on assignment in early February. It’s full-time, which I hate because I frankly make more driving. Plus a 40 hour/week commitment seems so vulgar now. But I’m getting used to it.

Stubbornly.

Case in point, I was still committed to getting my minimum $500 in ride earnings in each week after this temp job came through. That goal actually wasn’t much of a problem, most weeks I was clearing four digits. I swear, with Lyft, if you download the app they practically automatically send you $500/week. I think if you go longer than one week without managing to earn over $500, they send someone to check in on you.

What I’m saying is that it’s pretty much a sure thing. People gotta go places, you’re going to make money. I’m ok with that.

Until…the Silver Fox ruined everything. Root of all evil, that guy.

I met him at our local after work one day when he’d come back up to town. Him being all pro-me, he was apologetic or overly grateful or something…stressing that he didn’t want to keep me from making money.

Ooh, foreshadowing!

But I assured him everything was fine. I’d overachieved prior to his visit, so it turned out that Bob’s now my uncle. In assuring him I was ready for a rest – there’s that foreshadowing again – I spilled my prior week’s Lyft earnings to him.

Amazed, he asked how long that took me.

Me: I dunno…like 30 hours? Nah. Less! I dunno…I was getting up at 430 if I couldn’t sleep and going out for the early bonus hours before plugging in to work at 8. Then doing a little driving after work on some days, too. Oh, and then Friday and Saturday!

SF: And you worked 40 hours on top of that doing the payroll thing?

Me: <raises glass to self> Yupperz.

SF: Geez! You worked 70 hours last week!

Me: <blinks cluelessly>. That can’t be right.

SF: That’s amazing.

Me: It never occurred to me that I’d worked that much. Driving doesn’t feel like working. Not at all.

See? He’s obviously the devil.

Anyway, that also drove home the point that my stubbornness had over-corrected and was keeping me from succeeding at accomplishing my other metrics: writing and exercising.

Shift my focus, did I.

Plus, Angela needed some spa days. I’d been putting off my oil change and replacing a fog light some malcontent had popped out of my bumper last summer during our…protests.

Who objects to a fog light being in a bumper where it belongs?!? That’s what I want to know. Stupid protester.

Anyway, I book a few days in the shop for the car and dial back the driving.

Ratchet up my workouts – which had gotten ridiculously infrequent. Like less than two/week.

I still struggled to write. I posted a couple of blogs and opened my laptop to check on a draft…the shock of which nearly fried my laptop.

What? It was a long pandemic.

But I still have WIPs to get out on “in progress” status. The Gays aren’t big readers, so it’s really only for my own sense of accomplishment. It still bothers me that they are languishing there in WIP status. That’s on me. No one reads them? That’s on someone else.

Shockingly, that stubborn streak of mine asserted itself in a strangely non-self-sabotaging manner. I started choosing to exercise or write versus choosing to drive, aka: proChristinate.

It was oddly liberating.

And motivating.

Maybe I could manage to have it all several days a week after all?!?

Tune in soon. See if that next shoe that drops is a platform heel with a goldfish living in it or a cross-trainer that washed up on the shores of the Puget Sound with an amputated foot still in it.

Yeah, I think we all know which way this is going for foolishly optimistic old Xtopher….

I Can Have It All!

Well, Now I Feel…

Something.

Bad?

Nostalgic?

Accomplished?

Formerly accomplished?

Probably that last one. So…thanks, Facebook Memories.

Three years?!? How has it been that friggin’ long already…since I’ve had a date?

Kidding. Trying/not trying.

But I guess it’s just one more reminder that it’s been a long pandemic. If we factor those two years out, then it’s only been one year!

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make hay out of the forced free time we all gained with the 2020 lockdowns. In April, I started NaNoWriMo – despite having two WIPs from prior NaNos still waiting for completion, then didn’t finish. Again.

I think I got derailed after a Twitter battle with a local stripper, who I’m sure knew nothing of my existence until I dared to correct him on his feed. Then I was all he could focus on, earning me featured status in his social media stories where he called me old and ugly. Not to mention a failed writer.

The young people are so woke – which seems to manifest with being disagreeable and combative. That’s regardless of the validity of their initial point. What moxy.

Sure, I’d only finished three books at that point, clearly, that’s failure in the eyes of a stripper who leaves the stage in a thong.

I actually finished all tasks associated with my job title, son. I have to imagine that a stripper’s job isn’t complete until they are clothes free. But what do I know? When I was a young man, tracing on one’s flesh was viewed differently than it is today – and I appreciate the evolution of sex work from villainized and humiliating to artistic expression and empowering.

This kid was – pardon the entendres – a dick.

Ultimately, that all stopped when he blocked me – the penultimate admission that he was wrong. The ultimate expression being actually saying it. But this is hardly the United States of Accountability, let alone Admittingyouwerewrong.

Anyway, as this was going on, I flirted with the idea of going to one of his shows and tipping him one of my books – yeah, I’ve got a few copies laying around. My overt grumpapotamus self imagined reading wasn’t high on his hobby list, see also: how he got to his current level of misery in his life.

Judgy.

The women strippers I meet driving with Lyft are all – every damned last one of them – such interesting people. Very engaging. Great stories. The male strippers I meet are all cunts. And not in that cool English slang type of way. At best, they look at me, and treat me like, I’m an ATM. Not that I go to strip clubs often…none of them have palatable beers.

I also considered going and tipping him $.02, since me giving him my figurative two cents was what set him off in the first place. Ultimately, I decided my absence was the best action for me.

Still determined to make some productive hay out of the lockdown, I pivoted to another project I’d been kicking around. When I finished my third book, it came in at a whopping 530-ish pages. I hardly consider myself a gay George R. R. Martin, so I sought out opinions from a few beta readers. They all told me it was fine.

But that length made printing costs pretty high and I think the lowest price I could charge was $19…and that was with me making less than a buck a copy. I knew there was a logical plot break that I could use as a kind of cliffhanger if I chose to split this into two books, I just hadn’t.

But with one half finished draft from April’s NaNo making me feel guilty, I decided this was the perfect time to tackle that split.

Obviously.

And I did it!

Well, “did it” so long as completing the split and edit of the first half. I knew I needed to flesh out the second half to beef it up a bit. It had originally suffered under the pressure of me knowing the page count was running high for one book. This was my chance to flesh it out.

But my first goal was to get the newly shortened second installation in my No One Of Consequence series back up online. Then I hit a formatting snag. Just a teensy one, but it proved to be overwhelming to my lockdown self and I never went back to finish it. I couldn’t imagine jumping to the third installment to get that story wrapped up, it just seemed wrong.

Four frustrating months go by. I spent a lot of that time considering the optics of dying during a pandemic with unfinished works. I thought it looked pretty good. Other artists somehow pull it off.

Margaret Mitchell.

Elvis.

No, wait…Hemingway! That’s a better comparison. I’m a drinker, not a druggie. And we’ve established the fact that 500+ page books are not my style, so…yeah. Hemingway.

That was probably my biggest self-soothe of the pandemic.

It carried me through the next three months. Right up to the next NaNoWriMo event, the big one in November. Now I can finish!

Or…start another work.

The following April?

Ok, this was pure motivation. And adrenalin.

I had just gotten my Peloton and was jazzed to pick up the autobiographical trilogy I’d fancied when I wrote Dating Into Oblivion. When I wrote that, I was nearing the end of a year long blogging theme that had resulted from a friendly intervention at my 50th birthday party.

Rude.

As a result of the collective will of my well-intentioned friends, I leaned into a blog theme I had just finished that I hashtagged fitfy. It was a play on fifty, an age I had been determined to reach with some progress toward accepting my aging self with a healthier attitude toward diet and exercise.

I’d been having trouble forgiving myself for not being able to eat and exercise like an idiot twenty-something. Naturally, my 51st birthday had involved me tapping a keg of my favorite beer at my then-favorite bar.

Anyway, knowing I had that “fitness in my fifties” notion in the back of my head, I decided to tackle dating in my fifties. It gave me something to do, at any rate. I figured the trilogy could round out with working in my fifties. It was a notion I rather fancied.

The problem was, there wasn’t much I could actually do since I’d just gotten my bike. I considered harvesting stories from my year of fitfy blog posts, as I had when I put together Dating Into Oblivion. But I considered that would have been only a portion of the project. I needed new content to complete the story.

Another partial credit NaNo for old Xtopher. PaCreNaNo? Kind of sounds like a pancreatic medical crisis.

Maybe that stripper was right.

Shudder.

Possibly, but improbable. Maybe what I needed was the motivation of writing something people might be attracted to en masse. My current accomplishments and WIP library all featured what I call gay shit – and I hate to break it to you, but The Gays aren’t known collectively as big readers.

It’s the pandemic – everybody else was pivoting, why not me? That sounds like a riff of a Cranberries album.

I picked a theme close to every Portland NIMBY’s heart: the homeless. Came up with a mystery plot. I even created a nom de plume based off of my parents middle initials and old world naming paradigms – JT Robertson.

Finally…in November of 2021, I completed a NaNoWriMo! Have I published? No. I’m mentally kicking it around, polishing it up. Completely retooling the voice. Flipping the plot 180 degrees.

Y’know…the basic writer’s nightmare.

April’s NaNo is weeks away.

Weeks.

I’m determined to finish something from my WIP list before adding anything else to it. I figure at this point, if my goal is to have a WIP library consisting of a prime number of works – it isn’t but I need to set boundaries of some kind – then I either need to finish one or add four!

I think seven is enough of a library. Let’s see if this Facebook Memories shaming is enough of a motivator to get NOOC2 published and back online. Lord knows that providing airplane reading material for a friend’s trip to Africa last month wasn’t it, so fingers crossed.

Sure enough, I woke up this morning, uncovered my laptop…and started organizing my tax receipts. Then I got this text

RUDE!!

So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.

To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.

Well, Now I Feel…