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

The Hustle

I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

The struggle is surreal.

I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

Do I really want to work for these companies?

Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

Come to – er…wake up.

Clean up.

Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

A.

Day.

That’s tough to replace.

I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

It was $12/hour.

The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

I came to work!

I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

No shit? That was months ago!

Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

Oh, for fuck sake.

The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

Seriously.

Surrealiously.

This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

Obviously, The Gym.

But, I’ve digressed.

Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

Maybe a month.

Let’s say a few weeks ago.

I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

I felt bad about that.

Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

I could live with that.

I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

And it’s addictive.

Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

See? Addictive.

Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

– Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

What else?

– Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

– The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

It’s fucking awesome.

Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

Ah, yes!

– Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

I like the sound of that.

Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

Of course, that was after saying

I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

The Hustle

A Week For The Books…

Literally, now that I’ve typed out that title.

But the meaning behind it is simple: I had an opportunity this week to sign the first autographs on both of my books.

Quite spontaneously, I assure you. The first was my school friend, MMK. She sent me a text early in the week after reading last weekend’s blog entries. She was suggesting that it had been entirely too long since we last had a coffee date.

It really had!

I think our last coffee date had been at Sister’s Coffee House, which in the interim has essentially burned down and been rebuilt.

Essentially.

So, yeah…it had been too long.

She told me that I could sign her book. I thought she was kidding and just went along with it.

Imagine my surprise when she whipped out her copy of Dating Into Oblivion! We just happened to be meeting on the one month anniversary of DIO going live on Amazon, so it was rather amazing timing, this impromptu signing.

Fortunately, I’d been thinking of what I’d possibly write on an inscription for her.

I came up with nothing.

But as we sat there and chatted, it dawned on me how special this friendship is. I’ve been fortunate to maintain connections with school chums, thanks to social media. But I’ve known MMK since the second grade.

And we still see each other!

It really reinforced how unique that friendship really is.

We’re coming up on three years since my high school class had their 30 year booze cruise here in Portland. I was an honorary invite since I ended up going to high school in Kansas. That environment lent itself to easy chatting, alcohol seemingly having a strangely relaxing effect on social inhibitions.

I’m not sure if you ever noticed that…

But that event was really a little bit of catch up and a lot of glory days. With MMK, it’s usually the opposite – although, I must also admit that she’s a very generous conversationalist. She asks a lot of questions that allow me to talk about my favorite topic.

So I’m kind of double lucky.

It was what I suspected would be my only highlight in a fairly sad week. I’ll probably write about that tomorrow. The Silver Fox was out of town, so you can’t imagine how restorative my time together with MMK was.

But I ended up being wrong. That’s a strange sensation, let me tell you.

The Silver Fox came back to town late yesterday and we got to meet for coffee this morning. I had told him I planned our usual coffee activity of writing, but then showed up without my computer because I chose to update my laptop when I got in the shower.

When I was ready to go, the damn thing still had 43 minutes remaining.

Oh, well…I think The Fox and I have only gone longer than five days without a hangout three times in the last five years, this being the fourth. Not having my laptop with me allowed for more actual conversation.

When I show up, he asks about my laptop and I tell him.

Oh, well did you bring a pen?

And he starts digging around in his bag. I’m thinking it’s for a pad of paper and I think, “Aw. How sweet! He’s gone help me keep writing!”

I was half right.

He pulls out the copy of No One Of Consequence pictured above and plops it down in front of me.

Boy, I really don’t think I see him happier or prouder than when he pulls one over on me! Counting my surprise birthday party, this is twice this year and it’s still only April, so it’s quite a roll he’s on!

People who know my friendship with The Fox will know he’s more likely than not to need to run to the store for bananas on any given errand day. I swear, sometimes he goes twice a week.

For bananas.

You know what that is?

Yup…bananas.

So for his inscription, I referenced the cover of the book and said now he’d always have at least one banana.

And, no…that’s not why the banana is on the cover! Although I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with letting him think that.

So, my week ended up having two delightful highlights.

Imagine my surprise as I’m writing this to – shocker, procrastinate about completing the damn thing by opening the Twitter. In looking at my profile page, I realized that in the last week I’ve tripled my followers. That’s a big deal, to me, anyway. I’m not saying I now have Kardashian or influencer-level followers, but the followers themselves are significant.

They are other independent writers, editors and bloggers. That’s a network I’d like to be social in, so I’m a week on unexpected surprises…that little occurrence ices my cake. I should go hang out with them a bit now.

PS: I’m filing this under “work”, that’s me manifesting a solid side gig as an author. So, there.

A Week For The Books…

Always Begin With The End

It’s official!

As can sometimes be the case, I finished early.

Let’s call it “ahead of schedule”.

My goal was to have this available on 4/1. To that end, I released my Dating Into Oblivion compilation in the second week of March to get a feel for what to expect of Amazon’s publishing routine. Better to know what to expect ahead of time versus missing a deadline, right?

Can you believe I can’t get a regular job with that attitude? Truth.

Here’s what I learned from my first crack:

– Cover design is pretty easy in Amazon, no need to pay for any software to create one. Ask me how I know

– Except, the back cover. That’s another story. But I figured it out after the first dozen or so copies were ordered, so there’s some collectors edition Dating Into Oblivion hard copies out there with nothing on the back cover but my face. Getting that kink out basically came down to making the assumption that you should paste or enter content into the space where the dialogue box was. Somehow it just works out.

– PDFs are formatted as 9×11 documents. Have you ever seen a book that size? Too big for a paperback, too small for a coffee table book. The cool size paperbacks are 6×9, so I had to overcome a “I can’t fucking do this on my own” moment when I previewed that.

Therapeutically yelling

I need a 20-something!

was helpful in reducing stress. Alexa, on the other hand…

Calling Felipe

Not as helpful.

– It’s better to start the publishing process with your hard copy and then go to your e-book afterward. I don’t know why…it just is.

– There seems to only be spellcheck in the paperback process, too. So…yeah.

My impatience taught me another lesson:

My first stab at publishing warned me that it could take up to 72 hours for formatting to be approved and the book to go live. It took 4. For this second effort, it took 34.

That could have been a real problem had I found myself in possession of a normal timeline versus arbitrarily picking April Fool’s Day as my live date. Because that just wasn’t going to happen.

But, what are ya gonna do?

As it was, my novel went live on 3/25 and I’m just going to be content with that reality.

Now, since I’ve had this blog for four years, officially and never bothered to monetize it, I’m gonna drop a link for y’all.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/f.html?C=Z9SQXHR9LXA4&M=urn:rtn:msg:201903130222099bb62a7a858d4eb8b682ee7bd520p0na&R=V158RSV9LR9Z&T=C&U=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fauthor%2Fchristophergalbreath%3Fref_%3Dpe_1724030_132998060&H=DHROTLNEXOMIGVARF6X15DAUPM0A&ref_=pe_1724030_132998060

Wow. That’s a terrible link.

https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060

That’s better.

That’s my author page on the Amazon. It has kindle and hard copy versions of both of my books.

If you’re a longtime reader, just enjoy knowing Dating Into Oblivion is out there, you’ve read about 80% of it here for free. However, No One Of Consequence is a largely fictional work that I hope you will enjoy in either format.

And, please, if it’s not too much to ask…share this post if you think you have folks in your readership I’d appreciate you reposting or sharing this to get it in front of them.

Thanks in advance!

And in the meantime, enjoy this picture of what I encountered when searching for myself of the Amazon.

Yeah. Sometimes you straight folk don’t make such clever kids. We’ll talk about that later. For right now, just know that this was the progression of my childhood nicknames:

Grade School – Gallbladderbreath

Middle School –

Girlbreath

High School –

Ballbreath

Now, even though I knew they were onto something with that last one, when my brother coined the nickname Galby, I was on it.

But I’m glad the Amazon is there to help pick at that emotional scar.

Always Begin With The End