When Your Ex Calls…

Call me what you will: cynical, crazy…whatchu got? But when my ex – Rib – texted this morning asking if we could talk, my mind immediately went dark.

It’s been a few years since we’ve talked outside of random social media interactions. Even longer since we’ve caught up in real-time.

Note to self: chill that white burgundy I got on their wine tasting trip to Portland. That’s gotta be 6 years old now?!?

Anyway. Out of nowhere came the thought, “His mom died”, and I was immediately sad. Thinking about her in the past tense. Thoughts like “She was the same age as my dad!”

Was.

Welp, I’m happy to report that guess was wrong. But the dire spirit was warranted.

He’s getting divorced.

That was in my top two reasons he’d want to talk, but by all (observed) accounts, they were strong.

Despite the reason Rib gave for them getting married – he needed insurance, which is a typical Rib dodge to a question he doesn’t want to answer – they seemed pretty solid. They’d bought a house together a year or so after getting hitched. They recently sold it for $400k more than they bought it for and had an offer on a million dollar build.

They were able to get out of that with less hoops to jump through than Elon trying to get out of his Twitter deal.

But the benchmark of our relationship was that we ended as friends. I figured breaking up with someone 18 years my junior when I was in my mid-40s was gonna be it for me, relationship-wise. A prediction that has held up, but I thought finally having an ex that became a friend was a good high water mark.

Or I had inadvertently strayed into lesbian tendencies territory. I did avoid buying a Subaru when I went car shopping, so I think I’m not in any danger of losing my Gay Card.

Using it is another, less likely story scenario.

Another moment of…not pride, but, y’know…something pride-adjacent was that he wanted to talk to me before he spoke to his family.

Especially his sister. Ironically, she’d gotten married for the same reason. Hey, I never said Rib used original material. That union also ended in divorce. After living in separate states for most of the marriage.

When I’d ended my relationship with Rib, I’d laid out my view of his worldview pretty plainly: he’d moved from his mom’s house, to his sister’s to mine. He needed to figure out who he was before he could be a real partner for someone. “You need to get the shit kicked out of you by the world for a bit” were my exact words.

We found an apartment for him and got him settled in his new life. Two weeks later his sister fixed him up with his soon to be ex-husband and they were immediately inseparable.

I was pissed at her, not him. He was just doing what he knew. She should have known better.

Anyway, a decade later, hearing his plan for his fresh start and then him finishing with, “That’s what you told me that I should do when we broke up. You were right. I don’t even know who I am right now, much less what I want!”

He was a real brat when we were dating. Fun, but a brat. But when I told him I was t dating someone with no job, no education and living with his sister, he batted down my objections with actions. Well, two of the three, he got a job a few days later and a few weeks later was asking me for help filling out financial aid paperwork for college.

I was really impressed by what this guy could do when someone expected something of him. There wasn’t much I could reasonably expect from him on the housing front, but four years later, we fixed that. At least for a few weeks.

Now he’s closing another circle in his life and I gotta hand it to him for having the insight to be able to look at his actions the last time he found himself single and decide what he wants to do differently this time.

I may not have had kids of my own to release into the world, but my MO when dating younger ‘mos had been to leave ‘em better than I found ‘em. I’m happy that I was able to see the results with Rib not once, but twice now.

Here’s hoping I get to witness the rewards he reaps for the work he’s signing up for, too. But I’m not taking my chips off the square that says “Takes his half of the house money and moves away” either.

When Your Ex Calls…

Non-Practicing

You know how when you meet a lapsed Catholic and religion comes up in conversation? Eventually it comes up as, “Oh, you’re Catholic, what are your thoughts?!?”

The response? Well, obviously, it’s varied. They’ve left the cult and can now exercise free thought and expression. But it usually starts with a clarifying variant of “Non-practicing Catholic” before any deeper response is given.

It’s like “Let me be perfectly clear, here…”

Well, that’s me and my sexuality.

People usually want to know if I know their gay friend when they are introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance. “Oh, Chris-Chris?”, they ask. our mutual friend like my eyes and ears aren’t connected to my brain.

Mentally I add, “Non-practicing” before they even finish their sentence. But I have managed to perfect the mental eye-roll. A few of those made it awkwardly out into the wild. I wasn’t the first to realize it, either. Not even always the second. I had to ask myself a few times whether the person-I’d-been-introduced-to’s eyes widened before or after my friend’s overly dramatic coughing fit began to figure out the appropriate level of chagrin or combativeness to display.

I say all this by way of introducing my topic tonight: I deleted the sole dating app on my phone a couple weeks back.

Sidebar: This is dating not mating app I’m talking about. I rarely act on the opportunities that prostrate present themselves on the mating app, but I enjoy opening it to “see who’s around”. It used to be fun to surreptitiously open up Grindr while shopping or at a show with plenty guy candy present just to see if there were other gays around. Now, though, it’s so much easier to profile gays in a crowd. Well, queers in a crowd. What with the rise in visibility of gender fluidity over the past 5-10 years, I’m no longer wondering if that hot guy is gay so much as I’m curious if that guy wearing nail polish isn’t gay. This is what I lived through the AIDS crisis for? Seems like a lot of trouble in retrospect.

So, yeah. I deleted OKStupid a few weeks back.

Not like I was actively using it. But at least I could tell myself I had a line in the water, right?

Sports analogy!

Don’t get me wrong, I was completely fine letting them app linger, tucked away in the social media folder on my Home Screen. But a while back, they sent me this bullshit:

Yeah, GoPuff knows a lot more about marketing than the folks at OKStoopid. If I wanted manipulative behaviors like that, I’d date. So I ignore it thinking, “Save me the trouble, will ya? But, just like dating, they kept coming back like they hadn’t thrown down a failed ultimatum.

“No, they don’t.” It’s just the same Lost Boys I encounter in the bars or on the truly asocial media apps trying to assuage their shame by having an actual dating app on their phone. Poor stupid, stupid dears.

Or, channeling my inner Groucho Marx, riffing on not wanting to meet anyone who would want to meet me. In case you missed this the last 100-ish times I’ve used it…

The thing I didn’t like about this app experience wasn’t the caliber of the offerings – I’m sure it would surprise no one to hear that my expectations were set appropriately low and we’re still unmet. It was that the app was just a gaslighting shit show.

I’d keep seeing the same guys. My mental conversations would be something like, “I know I’ve swiped left on that train wreck before.”

Being <ahem> situationally charitable, I’d assume the best. About the app, not the person. When it came to the people, my thoughts would range somewhere near the “Who is this hard luck case (from me) trying to fool with a new profile?”

Turns out, it wasn’t the people trying to juice interest with a fresh profile, it was the app recycling people I had no interest in by presenting them as potential matches again. Like “It’s been 3 months and you haven’t met anyone, are you sure you can afford to be so choosy…at this point?”

Yes, I can. 1000%.

I finally gave them a hand and deleted the app myself after getting another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email from them.

Yes, please.

I’m not kidding, the next day I got two emails from them. The first was another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email that briefly made Gilbert Godfried my dominant personality.

The second email almost earned Apple a repeat sale on my phone. Check it out…

Two hours after a “WTF, I deleted my profile, why are you still sending me emails?!?” email, they’re trying to lure me back with my epically useless Super Like.

Hey, OKStoopid, I kinda super like myself – at least compared to any of the people you actively call Users. I think I’ll be ok.

That’s not a declaration I make capriciously, as I admit I am wont to do. Nono, this comes years after the 50th-birthday-party-turned-dating-intervention. That led to a year of focused dating effort – also where the loathsome OKStoopid app earned its place on my Home Screen.

That led to this –

Still active on Amazon…<hint, hint>

And it’s all been diminishing returns since then. Turns out, if I want oddly unsatisfying entertainment, I can binge watch a quirky series on one of my many streaming services. Cheaper than dating, less frustrating and much less potential for follow-up therapy! Plus, unless the internet goes out, binge watching always shows up.

Non-Practicing

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…

Idle Hands

What people are saying:

<crickets>

What I hear:

Tick-tock, good old Xtopher…it’s been a minute since your lazy ass posted anything.

And those bitter and twisted voices in my head ain’t wrong. I’m just not feeling it. My days, Mondays or not, aren’t manic as a certain song might have us believe. This is just more of that ennui that I know and tolerate so well. Well, on the fancy side. On the less fancy side, this is more likely plain old apathy.

Oh, the glamour!

So I thought I’d take a break from my extended existential dread-slash-slomo-breakdown and at least let anyone who cares know that I’m alive. For anyone disappointed in that disclosure, here’s what I can muster content-wise: a joke that’ll make you want to kill me. I told it to my parents today at breakfast and they lolled. Maybe it was more of a good natured groan…

A kid is visiting his grandad for dinner while his parents have a <giggity> date night. His grandad tells him to set the table, and as he does he sees that many of the plates and utensils appear to be dirty.

When he points this out to his granddad, he testily replies, “Those plates are as clean as cold water can get them!”

The boy puts his head down and finishes setting the table. However, when grandpa suggests ice cream for dessert, the boy sees the same problem. Pointing it out once again, the grandad yells, “Damnit, cold water only works so well!”

The boy drops it, idly wondering why his grandpa is so averse to using hot water on his dishes.

Soon after dessert, his parents pull up and honk. The boy shakes his grandad’s hand and runs out to the waiting car, inadvertently letting his gramp’s dog out into the yard. As he climbs in the car, he hears his grandad yell behind him, “Goddamnit, Cold Water, you get back in this house!

You. Were. Warned.

Not sure this will be the jumpstart to my creative juices any recreational or occasional readers might like. I have some stories to share. Vacation stuff. Life stuff. Grumpy old man stuff…go figure. It’s just getting out of my own way to tap these things out. Tonight’s effort is brought to you by Vitamin B

My hope really is that I can clear out some cobwebs and manage a slog through NaNoWriMo, which starts in about two weeks. Perhaps there’s a couple posts for you die hard followers between now and then. My mental back burner is going to be occupied deciding whether to continue building on my existing fiction universe, namely No One Of Consequence; tackle a companion to my non-fiction piece, Dating Into Oblivion, that would focus on worker bee life in one’s 50s versus dating; or take on a separate fiction piece I’ve been kicking around that I would publish under a pen name. I’ve had a couple of publishing folks give me their cards during rides after hearing this last idea, so I’m leaning toward that option. However, it seems like building on familiar frameworks might be an easier exit from this creative dormancy.

So…stand by?

Idle Hands

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

Valentimes Part One

Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…

So, there.

Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.

There’s been fewer than expected drunks.

More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…

Rides to funerals and memorials.

Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.

A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.

Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.

Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?

And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.

Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.

I was actually okay at one widow.

Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.

But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.

Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.

Nor because they were high school sweethearts.

Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.

The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.

Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.

These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.

Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.

The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.

The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.

Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.

Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.

Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.

Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.

She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.

She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.

That got me.

On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.

This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.

This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?

Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.

You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>

But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.

And I can’t even get a return text.

While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…

Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

Valentimes Part One

Break Time!

This might be more of a Hail Mary post than an actual blog entry. So expect to be appropriately underwhelmed.

That said, this email from yesterday caught me off guard, enter the Hail Mary portion of this entry.

About a month ago, I skeptically clicked on a link on the Facebook that I fully expected to create a full blown spam implosion of my account. It was from NORC, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. As best I can tell, they are a legit entity, even though they are new on my personal radar.

They were offering a paid opportunity to participate in their election survey, specifically the influence social media has on people during an election cycle. The whole 6 week enchilada pays about a tenth of my monthly nut, so it’s not significant, but it’s also not nothing.

But it is a 6 week break from the BS that is Facebook, so I happily signed up – after doing my due due diligence.

Haha. Doodoo.

I was just surprised to get the email yesterday that said “Boom, bitch, it’s now!”

Well, maybe I’m paraphrasing.

The long and short of this Hail Mary is, basically, maybe they signed me out of the Facebook, but maybe that act does not keep any of my tethered accounts – such as WordPress – from syncing up. If that’s the case, my ALIHAFG followers there will see this entry and understand my silence. I mean, I only had about a month to get ahead of this thing and failed

So either this works, or people come to the understandable leap of logic that I’ve obviously died. More on my personal experiences with that later.

Maybe.

In the meantime, I’ve apparently got to go be asocial. Also in the meantime, I’m using my one-less-distraction existence to get shit done. I’m halfway through editing – and I humbly discovered a few obvious typos in doing so – my revised book two of No One Of Consequence, splitting book two into books two and three to keep my price point palatable and my earning equally low, I’m sure.

Hehe.

Gulp.

<starves to death>

Kidding, I’m very lucky to have parents – in my damn fifties that would never let that happen! In the interim, I look at this social media break between now and November 3 as freeing up my time to complete this book two rewrite and wrap up a tangental project called Longtime Survivor – which will probably result in a Cease and Desist order coming my way – ahead of November’s NaNoWriMo event…in which my plan – such as it is – is to get a first draft of what I’m calling Fifty Gig – my second non-fiction entry in the Oldie Hawn trilogy. The first of which was dating. Fifty Gig is work and the third entry will be (I think) fitness, now that COVID has iced my physical shitness cupcake.

We’ll see how that optimistic planning plays out.

Break Time!

A Study In Opposites

That’s what I am.

Somewhere today, I got a wild hair to start cleaning up my Instagram. I had noticed a few days ago that my follow to followers ratio was about 3:1.

I wouldn’t say that bothered me, per se, but I did wonder what that imbalance provided me.

Entertainment.

Giving it a very little bit more thought, I added a qualifier or two.

Minimal and prurient.

I was able to admit that I got nothing out of this but minimal entertainment watching strangers’ stories and pics as I mindlessly scroll my free time away. Sometimes that entertainment is minimally thrilling, too, as several of the folks I followed were prone to what I like to call soft core selfie-porn.

A lot of this was obviously one-sided, too…remember that 3:1 ratio?

There were also random or aspirational restaurants that I hadn’t gone to in over three years.

Some had closed.

There were people I chatted with on asocial media back during my 2018 writing challenge that led to Dating Into Oblivion. Some of these pages had zero posts, and only ever posted story videos.

A couple of the empty pages had thousands of followers, too. Thousands of followers without a single post?

Yeah…hi, comrades.

A few of the pages I deleted hadn’t posted in years. I knew some of them and wondered if the attention they put into their pages shifted to relationships.

There were a couple of friends that I knew had died. I just couldn’t delete their pages. Is that nuts?

So, what’s the opposite?

I’m doing this as I am actively adding friends on the Facebook. Last year, I started weaning myself off of my Facebook habit. When I wasn’t driving, I had lots of free time during my public transit commute to spend mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Now that I’m driving and notably not commuting to or from work, I wanted to put a little discipline into that scrolling habit.

But ever since mid-December, I’m adding friends on Facebook. Some are friends of friends. Others are guys I had texted with after hitting it off on asocial media. One worked at a bar that suddenly shut down a couple years back. Still others were just cute.

Shoot me, ok? I’m a guy.

But the real standout was a guy that currently works somewhere I worked three or four years ago.

Four. It was four years ago.

What truly set him apart was that I’d given him a ride in my car! I had picked him up from a something-con at the convention center a few months back.

He granted my friend request and then began chatting with me on Messenger.

Our conversation was catch up stuff on the random crossovers in our lives.

Then some strange things began dropping into the conversation.

How old are you, hon?

And “hon” had company like “dear” and “sweetness”…which in chat is a little hard to interpret.

So, I just flat out ask the question.

Are you flirting with me?

Too many denials followed. Enough that I was left feeling both undesirable and dubious about their veracity.

A couple days later he drops in that he has a date.

I mentioned that ~36 hours after clearing up his disinterest in me was a little too soon to begin parading a date with someone else into the conversation. He apologized. Then mentioned he had a follow up date the next day.

So wait…you’re going on a first date on Christmas Eve and already scheduled a follow-up for the next day? What if you don’t like him?

“Oh, that’s what the second date is for! We’re doubling with my bestie – I won’t know if I like him until my best friend meets him.”

Wow. Don’t give away all of your decision making power there, Sparky.

I also thought, what a junior high level dating mistake. That thought just kind of faded into the mist of my memory since I had no further contact with him. I actually began to wonder if he’d unfriended me.

I popped over to his page and the very top post – from just a few hours before – was “In A Relationship With”.

It had been a week since their first date. And he lives an hour south of town.

Kids.

Outside of this post, I kept my thoughts to myself. But each of the red flags he’d bemoaned during our chats was now being waved in celebration…

The bestie must have really liked him.

But as the realization and acknowledgment of my – oh, hell – inconsistent behaviors settled in, i consoles myself with the knowledge that at least on the Facebook it’s a mutual decision. With Instagram, you can pretty much follow whoever strikes your fancy. That’s the allure, Insta is more entertainment than actual friendship.

At least my list building is mutual.

And in the other hand…

I’m down to about a 2:1 ratio on Instagram. So, there’s that.

A Study In Opposites

Awkward Things I Did This Week

Ok, how this isn’t an ongoing theme for my blog…I just don’t know.

Maybe I should try making #ATIDTW a thing.

I realized after my walk this morning – doing prep for a larger entry tomorrow – that I was wearing mismatched socks. No biggie…it’s just a Saturday morning walkabout.

It was the second time this week. No, they weren’t the opposites of the other mismatched set. Yes, last time was a workday.

I guess I should be more careful about golfing laundry in dim lighting.

Or around wine.

I barely avoided sending a snarky email to the owner of the company I am consulting for the other day. I realized I had somehow chosen to “reply all” as I was proofreading it – I’ll explain what that means later, Silver Fox – and decided it was safer to just tell her in person.

In a small victory over my own awkwardness, I fell into my chair at work without spilling my coffee. I was attempting to sip coffee, hip-check my chair so it spun so that I could sit down and turn around all at the same time. My foot landed on one of the casters, sending me off balance as I turned and my chair skittering in the opposite direction from my vector.

I fell backward.

Somehow, I hit the chair.

Arms flailing.

Coffee sloshing but not spilling.

Thank gawd I was alone in the office, but I still looked to make sure not even the Chief Feline Officer was present to witness my derp.

No, neither of those three things – socks, reply all or near fall – happened on the same day.

I am only in the office three days a week, so I’m batting 1000 in the awkward department for this week.

I had a date this week. Someone I met online and decided to throw $20 at to see if he was as good in person as he was online.

He was!

A cute construction worker type. Maybe 5’8″, so right there in my shorty sweet spot.

And while he was an engaging conversationalist, he was also a good listener. Letting me prattle on about me-things while he listened attentively and encouraged me with relevant follow up questions instead of scrambling to get the conversation back to himself.

Turns out…he was 20!

Is. Fine.

Goddamnit!

While he was trying to sell me on the fact that he was almost 21, I was asking him if he voted in the last election.

“Nope. I wasn’t old enough, silly! But I’m voting in 2020, for sure!”

“Nono. In the midterms!”

Blank stare.

At least I came away from the encounter with something more upsetting to me than his age.

And to cap off my week in derp, I stopped on my walkabout this morning for a coffee. It was my backup coffee shop because it was geographically desirable, plus my primary shop opens at 9 on Saturdays and it was only 8-ish.

I haven’t been in in about a month because my Barista Boyfriend has a girlfriend now. Or at least he did last time I was there at the beginning of November. We were the only two people sitting on the mezzanine and he stopped by to kiss her.

No kiss for me, though. But fresh off a really good kiss (goddamnit!) from The Toddler yesterday, I figured there’s worse things than being fake betrayed by fake boyfriends.

“Oh my god! It’s been so long!” – Female Barista, Boyfriend Barista was looking on, smiling from behind his La Marzocco.

“Coma.” – Me

“You look all flush! How are you feeling now?” – FB

“I think it’s just walking in the cold. Or maybe my scarf is too tight! I miss Elvis, though.”

“That was a long coma…”

We went on to chat a bit more, then finally convincing me that I needed a hot coffee if I was going back out. Might as well be a peppermint mocha, too if it’s the only hot coffee of the season.

Winning argument.

I also found myself without my reusable bamboo straw, this being a spontaneous event. FB convinced me to get one of the metal straws, since it had a silicone tip and she could chew on it.

“Well, you can chew on the bamboo straws if you really want to.”

“P’shaw…I’m not a panda!”

“Whatever you say, Ping Ping.” – Me, in perfect deadpan.

That was the awkward, by the way….

“Well, I may be Chinese, but I’ll leave the bamboo chewing to the pros. I’ll still answer to Ping Ping, though, but only for you!” She gives her coworker a little side eye warning.

She was laughing, as was Boyfriend Barista and I thought Ping Ping could stick. Still, there I was…totally feeling like a latent racist for bringing panda names into the conversation with someone who turned out to be of Chinese heritage.

It registers on some level with me when someone is a POC. But that level is the same level as hair color.

Still, when race comes up, so does my guilt. Honestly, I couldn’t profile an Asian person’s race if there was a million bucks riding on it. For a cool mil, I might make a guess. Otherwise, I just don’t care.

One of my best friends is Philippino. Something I only remember because she nicknamed herself Filipina Fox. The Silver Fox’s daughter in law is Asian, but I have no idea what race. She’s from Las Vegas and Seattle, the end.

Anyway, with Ping Ping, I decided to ignore her race drop in and pivot. I segued to panda trivia.

“Did you know that it costs $10 million a year for China to loan out pandas? That’s per panda.”

“No! Really?”

“Yup. Key word: loan.”

“Goddamn. That’s quite a racket!”

“And any pandas born while they are on loan belong to China, not the host country! No anchor pandas allowed!”

The discussion went on from there, but I never got to impress them with the full extent of my panda trivia because people came in.

I’d bought my cool reusable straw –

– but I did manage an aside to my two-timing Barista Boyfriend as he topped off his latte art with a few dollops of chocolate whipped cream.

“Hey, if anyone asks for a loaner straw for their drink, charge them $10. Per drink, no free use on refills!”

“Right? Why should China have all the fun?!?”

I don’t think these things only happen to me. I do kinda think that it’s possible no one embraces their awkward with as much vigor as I do, though…

Awkward Things I Did This Week

Point Galby

I mean, point taken.

The Silver Fox pointed out after my post this morning that it’s the first time I’ve posted since he abandoned me – er, left on his six week vacation back on September 16th.

He didn’t specify the year, but it seems like about a decade since he left.

Between that and this insane grind I’ve been on since around the end of July, my routine has been pretty erratic. Hell, even my self care has been off.

Side note: I’ve got to figure out a way to reference these jobs I’m doing in a shorthand format. It’s crazy trying to keep them straight in my own mind. I can’t imagine it’s any easier reading them without much context.

For ease of reading – I hope – I think I’ll refer to them by number, in the chronological order in which they came to me:

Job 1: writing.

Job 2: Peterson’s, aka – the convenience store. Surprisingly not the worst paying at Oregon’s minimum wage of $12.50/hr…see Job 1.

Job 3: the temp HR job, which is looking pretty good for the temp-to-hire scenario.

Job 4: Lyft, aka – The Verb.

Job 5: Postmates.

Side note, squared: I’ve got to divest myself of a job or two. The thing is, I tried resigning from Job 2 three weeks ago and it was somehow rejected. There was a deal that lasted a week until I got a “Can you pick up an extra day?” Luckily, that ended up being unnecessary, but I’ll admit that I’m passively trying to get fired now by actively disobeying a rule here or there.

So far, no dice.

Anyway, to address the Silver Fox’s point, I have begun doing little mini-workouts over the last few weeks at home. Just two or three times a week, nothing major. There’s a draft called Post in my pipeline that kind of elaborates on that and my In Living Color Jamaican Skit worthy number of jobs…but I started it as part of that game I mentioned playing earlier today. Alas, I “lost” that round and got a ride before I finished it.

So, today I had ended up with a draw in The Game – finished the blog entry after failing my initial mission to retrieve my laptop.

Made $100 in three hours, so let’s really acknowledge that this was a win.

To honor The Fox, I took my self-care up a notch. I addressed the brown thumb situation that is my balcony pot garden.

Calm down, mother. The other kind of pot.

What a friggin’ mess. Such a waste of a summer planting opportunity. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that the only plant out there was Ollie the Olive Tree. The Hens & Chicks and the sedum in the second pic are barely clinging to life and everything else that could be considered as plant life has pulled a Carol Anne and walked toward the damn light.

To that end, I took my hun from this morning and parlayed some of it into a few plants. Honestly, I’d been thinking about it since this morning. My second ride was to drop a guy off at his car, which was parked at the Home Depot.

Ok, here’s how driving frequently goes – and I’ll be honest, the cyclical/coincidental nature makes me question whether the Universe is putting signs in front of me…

Ride 1: dropped Sweatpant Guy at the airport.

Ride 2: took a guy back to his aforementioned car parked at the Home Depot by the airport.

At this point, I start to think,

Aight. It’s gonna be an airport-type day.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Especially on a Saturday, when the traffic isn’t bad. The run only takes 20 minutes and if you get tipped, it’s about a $20 journey.

But then nothing happens.

I had made a comment to my second passenger that maybe I should look at some plants while I was there, but didn’t feel like dropping money on plants at that point. I play The Game all the way across town to the office of Job 3, pick up my laptop and had just stashed it in the back of Pat the Patriot when I get a ping.

From two blocks away.

Which brings us to…

Ride 3: I drop off a young lady at work. She works at Ross on Jantzen Beach – which just so happened to have relocated to the building of a Linens ‘N Things that I used to manage before that company went out of business (no causal relationship, I assure you).

There is also a Home Depot right there. I drive by the Home Depot on the way back to the freeway, but a slow walker crossing the parking lot on The Diagonal pissed me off and I felt like my ire might be toxic to the plants, so I kept driving.

Normally, I’d respect The Diagonal, except: slow walker. And you know when someone sees you and knows they’re pulling a dick move, so I got away from that Bozo.

I’m back on the 5 heading into town, and I start to see tail lights. I decide to get off – of the freeway, Diezel, calm down – and head the rest of the way into town on surface streets. I kinda think it’s hard to get a ping on the freeway, too. It happens, but I’m not crazy about it when it does.

Sure enough, I get a couple blocks and I get a ping.

Back to Jantzen Beach.

Ok, maybe this is the type of day it’s really going to be. Getting yo-yoed all over kingdom come.

Back to the beach I go.

Ride 4: This guy wants to go from Jantzen Beach – as far north in Portland as you can go before hitting the dreaded Vantucky – to Hillsboro. Hillsboro is west of Portland city limits.

About 30 miles west.

Allons-y!

It was a $30 trip, so I’m not complaining.

Turns out, he’s picking up his car, too.

What the fuckity-fuck are you trying to tell me, Universe?!?

Assuming the two Home Depot adjacent trips and the two Fetch the Car trips cancel each other out, I begin to wonder is maybe it’s a Hot Guy Day and maybe the Universe is telling me to get laid.

Since I’m old and fell in love with a rider yesterday – another story – I decide it’s not worth the effort. Plus, I kinda buried the lede earlier…you know what I ended up doing.

I’m actually curious why you’re still here since I ruined the surprise! Hehe.

Then The Fox sends me a message on WhatsApp from Italy about finally posting while he’s gone – which I’m now realizing was a perfect chance for me to ask if he took my book with him if he misses my writing so much, damnit! I hate missing a chance to mess with that man.

Anyway, I went and used my Driving For Dollars money and bought some plants.

Still some empty pots, but it’s a start! And Ollie looks much happier with some friends.

You’re welcome, Neighbors and Hotel Guests!

Point Galby