Ohai…

No wrong answers here, but did you miss me?

Look, procrastination takes a lot of effort, ok? So I’ve been busy…not being busy.

I’ve somehow managed a few words here and there on my NaNoWriMo project for this year. Few being the key word. I should probably be closing in on 40k words and I have barely cracked a fifth digit.

Less surprising is that I’ve watched Ally McBeal, The Last Ship and the most recent season of The Crown in their entireties. Plus a few less memorable other series, I’m sure. And I’m current on season two of The Mandelorian. Not to mention starting Brooklyn 9-9 and restarting 30Rock.

And…even less surprising, haven’t found the mojovation (Chrisism) to exercise or bother with a blog entry in the last six weeks.

To that end – and to further my open secret procrastination goals – I’m committing to posting a blog entry each day this weekend. And seriously, with my mixed results enthusiasm for portmanteaus, you’d think I’d have come up with prochristination before now!

With all that in mind, and not wanting to hurt myself by starting out with too heavy a topic right out of the gate, let’s talk about my Murderous Myrtle. I promise, we’ll get to the Stupid Americans and Red Shirt Diaries posts I’ve been kicking around soon enough!

Last week, Facebook was kind enough to remind me that it was mine and Myrtle’s Cativersary. A nice welcome back to the platform after sitting out the election cycle as part of a study on how social media influences information sharing.

She was such a cute lil new and newly abandoned momma kitteh when we met. We’ve both piled on a few body positivity pounds in the ensuing five years we’ve shared. I’m sure there’s a hashtag around here somewhere if you want to track our misadventures together.

Hint, hint: it’s #MistressMyrtle

To mark the occasion – and put the $150 Amazon gift card I got for participating in the aforementioned study to good use – I got Myrt a new cat tree. Behold: cat tree 2.0!

Let’s face it, it needed to be done. Cat tree 1.0 had seen better days!

Her original, five years abused (and already once recovered by my sister) cat tree was a “welcome to your new home” gift from the Silver Fox. Seriously, look at the shredded rope on the lower post and just wonder why I sometimes call her Murderous Myrtle. Now, imagine what my lower legs look like.

Anyway, don’t be too surprised that I haven’t gotten the old cat tree out of my unit yet. I still have my retired area rug to get rid of.

This is the rug I bought in the Spring of ’19 – not to be confused with the Spring of COVID-19 – to replace the rug Myrtle ruined during our first two years together. That first rug was a nice coco-fiber number that I’d had for…almost two decades?!? Is that possible? Yeah, I think that’s about right. I bought my house in the Spring of ’99 and bought the rug shortly thereafter. I pitched it after growing tired of cleaning up balls of shredded coco-fiber from Myrtle sharpening her claws on the damn thing. Plus, the bald spots were trip hazards for my often over-indulged ass. The newer rug was just an uninspired industrial low pile affair in geometric grey shades. It lacked the rewarding claw sharpening experience, so Myrtle used it as a “powder room”. I could spot treat the affected areas so they didn’t stink or stain, and yet she persisted, so I just rolled it up to remove the temptation – extra emphasis on the “p“.

Both it and the now redundant cat tree 1.0 need a trip to the basement of my building for disposal. But as one of my still unfinished Red Shirt Diaries entries would establish, I have developed a growing fear of falling down as I’ve aged. Those stairs to the bowels of my building are steep!

And narrow!

I’m not sure adding carrying bulky things to them is good for what my doctor calls my apparently surprising condition: Persistent Survival.

So here they sit.

For her part, Myrtle gifted me a new wallet for our cativersary. My old one was nearing critical wear and tear.

The tearing from the top edges was only millimeters away from meeting the poked out holes in the corner seams. Luckily, upcycled bicycle tire tubes are surprisingly resilient.These tears had been slowly growing over the years. But this wallet by Alchemy Goods – in case you can’t see the company name on the card – has lasted since about 2007, so we had a good run.

Myrtle must have noticed the same Night Out style wallet on Amazon while approving the new cat tree options and added it to the cart before I checked out. Sneaky lil cat. But the replacement is in use and performing beautifully!

Everything you need for a night out, right? A window for your ID, in case you get carded – how retro – and a pocket for your credit/debit cards. That’s all I carry, so this is a great style for me. Plus, “night out” is a great way to shorthand my lifestyle.

So here’s to another 13 years of wear and tear. For my new wallet, from me; not from Myrtle to me…just to be clear. Since Myrtle is ~7, now, I figure this won’t be her last new cat tree. Still, I’m not sure we have another 13 years together, so her cat tree 3.0 or 4.0 might be bought by whomsoever takes over her care should she succeed in facilitating my demise in any of her possible future sneak attacks on my lower legs…

In the meantime, after a few uncertain examinations, Myrt seems to be warming up to her cat tree 2.0.

And, finally

Although, that last shot might have taken some covert dried salmon treats to accomplish.

Ohai…

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!

Dos Peliculas

Here’s the Quarantine Level of procrastination I’ve achieved. I am openly admitting that I can do one thing per day.

Now, don’t think this means I have to decide between showering and eating. I’m factoring those basic activities – that I almost always succeed at on a daily basis, almost – out of the equation. Likewise, involuntary biological functions like breathing and pooping. Although, I had Chipotle today, so let’s put that last one on standby for a bit, eh?

No, these are what you’d call larger scale accomplishments that I’m succeeding at in the singular.

Writing.

Exercising.

Lyfting.

Things that require a chunk of time.

The pisser is that I started the quarantine off with promise.

I exercised consistently every third day for the first month. I took 5+ mile walks around town on my off days. The amount of time I’d put into being at least somewhat physical each day was anywhere from two to four hours, and I felt great. But then I deprioritized exercise – claiming an off week and considering what changes I wanted to put into the routine after my test week. Never went back.

I participated and completed NaNoWriMo’s April writing camp, exceeding the 50k word threshold and getting to within what I’d say is two chapters of completing my first draft on a new novel. I’d easily spend four hours a day considering how uncomfortable my barstools are while tapping out anywhere from 2-5k words each day. I even went into that goal determined to come out of it and go into editing my second non-fiction book, but that has also gone to hell.

I’d drive four days a week, committing to a 10 ride goal and usually spending about four hours, minimum in the car on my drive days. I actually have been focused lately on stretching my driving shifts so I can tweak my week to three days of driving while still achieving my weekly financial goal. That’s been more miss than hit, though. I’ve only hit what would be the revised daily dollar goal twice in the last two weeks. Regardless, though, on days where I actively choose not to write or exercise, I’ll generally make myself drive.

That part isn’t so bad. I’ve finally started making extra principle payments on Angela – the new to me BMW, because cars need names! – and finally bought a router/modem combo so that I can tell Comcast to shove theirs up their ass. If I recall correctly – dicey, I know – they charge either $11 or $14/month to rent theirs. Whichever it is, what I spent on those monthly charges in a year easily amounts to more than I gave Bezos to buy my own. Even if I have to replace my personal modem every year, I’ll save money. However, I’ve had my current Comcast modem for three years. You’d think they’d write it off as paid off at this point.

Bastards.

As a result of this lack of motivation and accomplishment, I’m watching movies that have been buried in my queue for friggin’ ever.

Hardly an accomplishment to offset what I’m not accomplishing. But, here I am – notably dragging you along with me now, dear reader.

Last week I checked two such movies off my list – hence the name of this entry. In Spanish, no less.

The two movies were 2012’s Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2017’s Death of Stalin, both of which I had wanted to see in the theaters when they were out. In each of those instances, I had also failed to motivate myself to accomplishing a simple goal.

I guess in that frame, maybe watching them is an accomplishment to crow about.

Especially Death of Stalin, as it turns out. What an ordeal.

Let me tell you, if you’ve ever felt proud for saving $15 on a movie ticket by not seeing a movie, you know how I feel now. This show had such promise for me. A movie about an actual historical event. During an oppressively and globally sad era, no less. And it was billed as a comedy!

Right up my alley. But then they threw in bonuses like some of my favorite performers – Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi and the now disgraced Jeffrey Tambor – doing experimental acting by playing real life Russian political players but using essentially their native accents. So, you’d think I’d have loved it.

It was so boring.

I was looking forward to something close to Stooge level neurotic bumbling through these real life occurrences as these actors portrayed Stalin’s closest confidants attempting to manage the situation his death created.

No.

Just like quarantine is two months (and counting) of my life I won’t get back, this was two hours of my life I’d like a do over for.

Here’s hoping The Death of Trump is a much better movie – that can’t be made soon enough. Keep popping those hydrochloroquil pills, champ!

Perks of Being a Wallflower, on the other reel, was a delightful surprise of a movie. Ezra Klein, Emma Watson and Logan Lehrman in basically introductory lead roles for the two males and Emma’s first post-Potter Star turn. I was kind of irked at myself for depriving myself of the experience for nearly a decade. It was truly a movie that I could identify with:

An out gay High School character – representing for me the freedom I didn’t have available to myself in HS.

Small town life in the 90s or early aughts.

Unrequited love.

Basic Anywhere, USA HS angst.

A great soundtrack.

Writing that captured a moment but pulled you into the story – at least for me – as more than an observer.

Oh! And actual mix tapes.

Actually, I plan to watch it again – and not just for the procrastination value of that act.

It was a good example of what procrastination can result in – seeing these two films.

On the one hand, I put off something that I’d wanted to do that resulted in a sense of relief at having deprived myself in the moment.

But on the other hand, the way I felt at having missed Perks for so long…well, it’s giving me something to ruminate on concerning my procrastinatorial (Chrisism) ways.

Getting stuck in my head over that oughta kill a few days…

How about you? Are you still posting pics of bread you baked or the Caldona Coffee you’ve made or are you starting to struggle to keep yourself and your discipline away from the couch these days?

Dos Peliculas

I Get The January Thing, Now

First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

“They” even made t-shirts!

Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

Apparently, January seems like a long month…

Maybe it’s all the exercise?

Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

But not this year.

Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

How do I know?

I average 25% in tips each week.

Also,

Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

She never sent it out.

This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

Nothing.

What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

But she didn’t send it.

So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

Idiots.

Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

So I did.

Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

Of course, I checked the payroll database…

Once.

She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

Bless her pointy little head.

Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

Really, I wouldn’t!

Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

As a company employee.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

Just kidding, I was born during the day.

But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

I Get The January Thing, Now

Well, That Was A Surprise

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

~150 words

~400 followers

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

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

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

Frustration.

Location.

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

But then I also got texts.

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

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

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

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

Yup. Still dumb.

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

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

Take it from Antoine.

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

What do we expect, though?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School is government funded daycare.

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

United in denial, by the way.

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

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

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

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

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

I think there is an absolute difference.

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

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

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

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

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

Money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That a few people actually read what I have created.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, That Was A Surprise

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

My Simmering Facebook Rage

My dad swung by my place yesterday.

He was on his way home from my grandfather’s house, where he’d been staying for a few days.  Apparently, grandpa is losing it.  That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why he would think that spending his 97th birthday in the hospital was a grand idea…anyway, he got released and dad spent a few days with him, getting him resettled.

And…since I’m on the way home, dad and I spent some time chatting in his car and catching up.

The hot topic:  my book.  Well, we could also call it how I’m passing the time while I’m not working, but where’s the fun in that?

It all reminded me that not too long ago, I was mad.

Oh, so mad.

I know.  Don’t sprain your face trying to feign surprise.

You see, a while back there was a Facebook policy change re: linking non-Facebook “businesses” to an individual’s profile.  That means WordPress, specifically, in my case.  At least until Fuckerberg buys it up.  Basically, this forces people to create unique “pages” for their blogs, crystal jewelry Etsy page, etcetera, etcetera, screw you, Zuck.

Let’s all take a moment to remember when he was trying to enforce “real names” on profiles a few years back and how well that went over with the drag queens…

Yeah, that was a misstep…in 6″ sequined heels, no less.

But, intrepid souls that they are, they chose to Lean In on a few other changes.  This has all resulted in what appears to be the Facebook incessantly trying to monetize my newly created blog page by recommending what they call a boost for my page.

“For as little as $30, your post could rea”…and I’ve stopped listening, Mark.

When that didn’t succeed in getting my attention, they gave me a $30 credit to prove their point.  I went back to read how many people I could be reaching if I followed their recommendation:  up to 16,000 and change per day?  No…3,000.  Well, I mean it depends, I guess.

I’m not going to lie.  I tried it.  I don’t just decide to get mad and fly off the handle with only a perceived affront, after all.  It was kind of an interesting experience.  I got to select my target demographic from an age and gender and lifestyle perspective.  It’s kind of like a Choose Your Own Algorithm Adventure, right?

Still, what I ended up with was a half dozen new followers and two people commenting on my boosted post something along the lines of “Why am I seeing this on my page?”

Fuck if I know, ask The Zuck.

As far as I know, there aren’t any angry women in the Liberal, Gay & Lesbian, 25-50 demogra…oh, wait.  Hey, Mark, my advice?  Just shortcut that into an Overly Woke demographic option and save us all some trouble.

Anyway, as an offset to this trauma, the Emoji upgrades are cool-ish, except the nerd emoji now looks like a Minion on FB

It makes me wonder how Disney is just letting that go?

So, what about my conversation with dad got my hackles up about this again?

Well, since this forced transition, my overall WordPress traffic has been down.  Like…way down.  I have managed to put that particular ire on a back burner, since I don’t really care.  It’s not like I’ve monetized my blog.  That was actually slated to be a 2019 consideration…ta-da!  I think the folks who have signed up for ads on their blogs are the ones who truly care about traffic.  300 per week seems to be the magic minimum from what I’ve seen in my research.  I get there.

Truth be told, that’s been a struggle since the transition, though.  On the flip side, the only day I’ve ever hit over 100 views per day on WordPress was post transition, so it seems – like so many of the metrics on WordPress – to be fairly random.  One of the things that WordPress doesn’t seem to be able to track well is the people who scroll from your archives versus people who click from one post to another.

Whaddyagunnado, right?

You’re probably still wondering why talking to my dad would bring this back up, right?

Alright, alright…a friend of mine connected me with a publisher for my book.  I have a FaceTime (thanks, again, Zuck) meeting with them on the 15th.  Then there’s the whole NaNoWriMo Pitch-a-palooza thing on the 17th.  That could result – depending on how much faith one puts into random math – in a consultation with some professionals, too.

But, the more I look into this, the more I lean toward simply self-publishing.  My research tells me it’s a viable concern and that you get more out of it.  I’ve read testimonials from authors who have done both straight to self-publishing and worked with publishers and then converted.  The control you have over that process seems to be preferred.  Hell, if only for the reason that one author gave that you get paid every month instead of twice a year.

Let’s face it, this book isn’t a vanity project, for that I have this little blog-thingy.  I’m going to see this through for the potential income stream.  Y’know, since I can’t trick anyone into hiring me, that’s gonna come in handy.  If I didn’t need to consider that, I would simply leave the book in NaNo-Land and pat myself on the back for doing it.

And that’s where my frustration bubbled over a little while talking to my dad.  One of the things self-publishers need to do is rely on support from their social network to drive initial purchases – er, I mean…reviews.  Favorable reviews drive sales from new readers.  So, I need to be able to connect with my Facebook friends and family to ask for that review or share.    I realize that posting a link to my personal page is not that hard when compared to the old system where WordPress automatically shared to my Facebook page.  But it’s my rage, so just let me manage it.

…plus, I am getting over it.

But you just know that I’m going to try boosting my post when there’s an Amazon link involved.  I can’t wait to see what the Overly Woke demographic makes of that.

Oh, and you’re all on the hook for a review or a share.  So, there.

My Simmering Facebook Rage

Would You Read This?

After finishing my NaNoWriMo challenge in November, I was lost.

I did it. End of challenge, end of story?

Ok, maybe not lost-lost, but in my mind, I had accomplished my goal. It’s not like I had a plan to publish and ultimately have the movie rights picked up by that scrappy little studio over at Amazon. So, for me it was all FIN.

But, because I’m an idiot and talked about what I was doing, people wanted to know: So, what’s next?

Fuck if I know. I wrote a book. Surely, that’s enough?

For me, it really was. But at the same time, going back to my finishing point, I felt like it was more of “Welp, there’s my 50k words. Donezo.” Rather than leave it that way, I went back into my ending to make it an actual ending.

Then I looked at my word count and thought, “Well, that’s really more of a novella versus a novel, per se.” That caused me to give it another read to see where I could flesh it out a bit. As I began reading, I was feeling critical about my lack of scene set up. I hadn’t really thought that I needed to do much in the way of actual world building, since people can probably figure out what Portland in the near present day looks like. Everyone will have their own little bubble world when they read it. Having no aspirations to describe a bougainvillea bush over the course of three pages like Anne Rice would, I didn’t dive too deep into what my main character’s house looked like, whether his office had plants or whatnot. I was letting that go.

But, in making that decision to keep the background simple, I was still staring at a novella-length work. My concept was to demonstrate a generational relationship within the gay community with my characters. I think for whatever reason – AIDS essentially wiping out a generation or two of us gays, which we could hardly avoid once it was upon us; or, being an extremely youth obsessed sub-culture as we are, which has backfired on us spectacularly and instead of forming bonds between generations we have a culture of age-shaming because, newsflash: most young people don’t want to have sex with “old” people. Go figure. That last one we certainly could have helped by simply not objectifying the subjects of our youth obsessed culture. Maybe. But here I was, Monday morning quarterbacking.

Great, now I’m making sports analogies. That’s surely a bad sign.

Neverthemess, that being my concept, I thought it would be cool to think of this as a three book arc. Arc One being a protagonist in a middling generation – a gay guy in his 30s and this isn’t a horror novel? Unheard of! – befriending a younger gay and an older gay and letting the story go from there. Arc Two would see the main character in his 40s while his younger friend gay-grows up and his older friend gets older. In Arc Three, his younger friend would gay-die age-wise in the gay culture and maybe his older friend would just die-die.

The vision I had for the stories was all how that generational experience unfolds and how one learns from the others or how information is handed by one to the next.

Y’know…how it should be. I wanted to show the sharing of information that we need, like when parents have to talk about the birds and the bees with their children because they need to learn about how life works. Well, gays need to know how a gay-life works, too. Instead of talking about the opposite sex, maybe we talk about STIs and anal douching. Keep reading, I’m pretty sure I’m not talking about that topic! Just giving you an idea of where gays need gay-guidance beyond what their parents can provide. Maybe some guidance of younger generations by the older characters that is something that straight parent-child relationships have but manifests differently between gay kids and their parents because…well, the shared experience is gone. More accurately, there’s a gap. Where does one comfortably pick up parenting their gay children once they have figured out who they are as adults? It’s still needed, but…even in my own experience, which I would put up there as one of the best, it’s different. My parents aren’t talking to me about raising a child or empty nesting as they might with my sibs.

One of my own biggest frustrations with gay culture has been how we seem to have lost cohesion and how the collective gay ego fills that void. Where we have an opportunity to build up future generations or respect previous generations, we tend to remain isolated in defense of or because of our inability to become thee better selves that aren’t driven by our next sexual conquest. Turns out, there’s no app for that.

But I also wanted to show the payback we could get for nurturing these intergenerational relationships, how it gives us something to look forward to as we age versus the fear of the unknown that is so often left unsaid between comments among friends like, “I never thought I would live until 30” or not having a friend base with the experience base to guide us through relationship obstacles. How many of us as adults – regardless of sexual orientation – could rely on our parents to guide us through the validity of the open relationship culture that gays face? Of course, the challenge with intergenerational relationships within these characters’ chosen families is to keep them like actual families, non-incestuous. This enabled me to correct one of my own perceived societal wrongs, too, as none of my main character’s sleep together. Their bond is formed based on an individual connection and the resulting dependency – which is not a bad word! – versus a sexual bond, which is where I think our culture’s intergenerational relationships have gone off the rails.

My characters forming a bond was only step one, and a very small step at that. My protagonist learning that there’s more to life than a steady boyfriend after a failed relationship besides work was the catalyst for building those bonds. The pacing when I started out was to alternate between personal life and work life with each chapter. In looking to flesh out my work’s size into a full novel – because if you’ve just got three novellas, why not edit them into a single novel, right? – I may have jacked up that original rhythm, but as the future unfolds, the cadence shifts further and further from work and into life, because now the main character actually has one. So I’m willing to let my thoughts for the original cadence go.

So, now I have my novel. Well, I’m two chapters away from fulfilling that statement, at any rate. That brings me back to the original question:

Now what?

NaNoWriMo tries to help out. The name of the event actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual event each November and it seems to me that they have heard this struggle I’m up against before. To that end, they have created a support environment for writers to set other goals for themselves throughout the year to avoid losing momentum. After fucking up my timeline with hubris in December, I took a step back in January to wear my writing impulse out so that I could do some legitimate editing. This also allowed me to make notes in my novel about where I wanted to add to the story to flesh the character relationships out further without doing so willy-nilly and potentially making mistakes that would be harder to correct than they were to make. I don’t trust myself or my own work ethic to put the effort into unfucking up something with that daunting a prospect to begin with.

I mean, look how long it took me to actually commit to writing the damn thing!

Oh, six years. Sorry, I thought you knew that. Maybe more, but I’m not thinking about that right now…

For February, that’s what I did. Reread my book and did some for better or for worse formatting. Turns out, when you aren’t trying to add content, you can do that in a couple of weeks. And I had met my NaNoWriMo editing goal of spending 40 hours in February focused strictly on what I had done in November and where I wanted it to go next. I had figured two hours a day, five days a week would get me there. Turns out, without some sort of stupid work to distract me, I was able to spend two to six hours per day on that process. The key was getting myself away from the house, as it happened.

So for the last week-ten days, I have been still getting away from the house and working on those added chapters. Since I kind of went balls out on this process, it was largely stream of consciousness writing. No outline, aside from what was in my head. Had I not been working off of a specific starting point from my own life, I’m not sure I could have succeeded with that lack of actual prep. Part of me thinks that is exactly what I wanted but instead of failure, I became President of the United States.

No, wait…that doesn’t sound right.

Ah, yes. Instead of failure, I had this slightly random fictionalization of something that had happened in my life. Turning the tables, it gave me a good opportunity to therapeutically re-write my own history from a really shitty starting point.

Going back into those chapters I wanted to add, I had a grasp of who the characters were in this quasi-alternative universe. That allowed me to make purposeful content additions that gelled – I hope! – with the rest of the story.

Needless to say, for Arcs Two and Three…definitely gonna need an outline. I’m going from scratch there and I can’t wait to see what happens to these folks.

And, of course, with NaNoWriMo’s guidance and motivational help, today was supposed to be spent working on that pitch letter. February is the month – I learned – where they host a pitch workshop. Any writer that completed a novel – or their 50k threshold, at any rate – can submit a 250 word pitch to their partners, named The Pitch Doctors, and they will select 20 at random from all submissions and workshop them. Of those 20, they will select one to be partnered up with a publisher. So, y’know, that’s kind of cool. The deadline is February 28th. No, wait…March 1st? Regardless, either way, I have built in plenty of latitude in my goal to submit a pitch letter so that I can make some false starts. Like this one, where instead of writing a pitch letter, I’m jacking off on WordPress. Out of 287,000 participants there were 35,386 plus ME that finished their novels. Out of those 35k writers, I’m hoping only 19 others actually take advantage of their pitch workshop…

But, honestly, it’s gonna take a little mental prep time to get my mind around only using 250 words to describe a story that I just used 87500 words to tell. So, this is what that effort looks like today. I’ve still got over a week…

Would You Read This?

Noah’s Ark

That’s really the only way to describe the weird coincidences that popped up in my day yesterday. But, since I kinda low-key committed to writing every day in January – mostly as a procrastination technique to avoid editing my NaNoWriMo book – by god, I’m gonna tell you about it.

Yesterday was definitely a Noah’s Ark day.

If something happened, it happened twice. And since this is my life, it was random and bizarre.

Two-by-two weirdness, if you will.

First, out of nowhere, I got an extremely welcome check-in IM from a high school classmate, the Notorious KPG. She’s pretty damn inspirational – makes me feel a little guilty for the aforementioned procrastinating, actually. After raising her family, she’s gone back to college and is taking what seems to be a full damn load. She still balances family time and date nights with the hubster. Her Insta and FB are full of pix of her and her family or just her making crazy faces at the camera. She’s a delight!

Plus, she knows me well enough to send this lil gift along with her IM

She says Baby JGL. I say

JGL, baby!

Tomato, to-mah-to.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. Just enjoyed the quick check-in and the Guy Candy.

Chrisism.

Until later when this happened.

I’d been late responding to the Silver Fox because I was tapping out a lil blog. He didn’t mind and seemed to think me writing was an acceptable excuse for my delayed reply. Actually, the gif he sent is animated…

Better, right? If I can’t get a little Joseph Gordon-Levitt action, I’ll take a little JGL in action.

In and of itself, I’d go about my day without giving that coincidence more than a bemused Instagram post.

Except…

Last night I was watching a series that Bachelor #4 from last year’s Dating Into Oblivion theme got me hooked on during our late night on/off again texting and IMing – Lucifer. They won’t be at the Golden Globes tomorrow, by any means, but it’s entertaining enough to pass the time.

It beats baseball.

This guy popped up in an episode.

He looked very familiar – and I decided to obsess about what I’d seen him in rather than focus on his piss poor gay interracial love triangle with a married man.

Seriously, talk about an overworked plot point. Just to make it completely eye roll worthy, the boyfriend ended up murdered.

Lucky bastard.

Clearly an IMDb rabbit hole was preferable to watching that play out too closely.

Turns out, he played Anna Kendrick’s boyfriend in Twilight.

It’s true, Anna. And this guy was your love interest…

Since I was avoiding paying too much attention to last nights episode, I dove into his IMDb “did you know” section. That’s where I saw this.

Now, Aaron Himelstein is what one might call an uncommon name. It jumped out at me and I couldn’t shake the feeling of

Who the fuck is that and why does that name sound so familiar?!?

So…off to see if he had an IMDb page…

In scrolling through his credits, I realized he’d been in a couple of Marvel movies. That got my attention. As a matter of fact, Google usually throws a good half dozen Marvel related articles on my radar a week…and I’d just read one that morning.

I went back into my Google history – no shame there, it’s all geek guy stuff and settling argument searches! – and reread the story from earlier.

Yup.

There it was, typo and all.

Does that seem like a lot of work?

Welcome to my brain.

Sadly, all this unbridled curiosity ain’t curing cancer.

It’s just minutia.

Drivel.

But it keeps me from trying to edit my novel and applying that shotgun attention span to something important that needs focus. Plus, it reminds me that while Michael Welch might have been in Twilight, he was also in one of the favorite movie franchises of my life.

Much better to be able to geek out over his Star Trek role than Twilight, right? I’ll call it the highlight of his career.

And, no…since I know you wanna know I’m those depraved little hearts of yours that I just adore. I didn’t get laid twice yesterday.

Or once.

But god bless you for thinking I could…

Good lord. Did I actually type that I wanted to blog every day this month?!?

Yikes.

Procrastinating on that goal might actually drive me to the gym!

Noah’s Ark

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

I was talking with one of my Bartendresses yesterday after she invited me down for a beer. She was bored. She manifested being super busy by inviting me down. By the time I got to the Big Legrowlski, she was busy with a group of four at a two-top table (yes, I instantly disliked them) who had all ordered food, a group of two at at four-top and me, who had pre-ordered tots, since they take 20 minutes in the bar’s air fryer. Right after I walked in, a group of three walked in and bellied up beside me, ordering food and then more food.
I had to wait for a break – aka, a second beer – to be able to talk to her. She had invited me down out of boredom, but I had – I told her – been thinking about a celebratory beer after crossing my 50k word count on my NaNoWriMo goal. I think she was equally excited and insisted I come down to celebrate with her. Naturally, she wanted to know what it was about.
This is something I have been struggling with: what’s my book about.
It’s a story about gay generations connecting.
My position is that this is something that gay culture is missing, that thread of community across time. AIDS didn’t help, to be sure. I usually shorthand the impact of AIDS on the gay community as having wiped out an entire generation of gay men, so…you know, that’s gonna take a toll. But, gays being gays, I don’t think we needed AIDS wiping us out to prevent this generational connection from happening. We’re ageist as a group, anyway. Twinks and VOGs (Very Old Gays) rarely coming together as a community, outside of a new iPhone release, anyway.
So, that’s one thing my book is about, but in a very top level description kind of way.
There’s a popular saying amongst writers or writing instructors: write what you know. Maybe that’s for writers that are too lazy to research or who lack the creativity to build a world from scratch. That certainly sounds like me…so I started there. The starting point that I chose was my main character picking up his life after a break up. That’s another way of describing my book.
But I did something after that point. Sure, I wove in anecdotes from my experiences and used friends as a basis for characters, but outside of those frameworks I made shit up. I created a story that was positive. A life for my main character where he is able to make an impact on the people in his life and learn and experience new things as he goes through his own life. It’s kind of an experiment in “what ifs” looking back at my own life after the starting point of this break up. It was a fun type of alt-nostalgia for me to write. Is that like alternative facts, KellyAnne?
Long and short of it, we talk about my ex briefly as a bridge into my book and then it’s over.
The Silver Fox and I grab coffee this morning, which is our usual, but Sundays are tough because the local cafe is closed. We generally default to Nossa Familia, but their seating is typically outside and I’m not keen on sitting outdoors in low 50-degree temps. So, we made our way to the SW quadrant and had a cup at Heart Coffee. Best things first: guy candy. Worth the trip for the man honeys alone. But, as we’re sitting there chatting by the cafe window – and we had a lot to catch up on after not seeing each other for a week over the holiday – my ex walks by with a couple other people. He approached from behind me and I suspect he saw me first because when I looked up from my cup, our eyes met. They didn’t lock, they just met. I did not roll my eyes away, because I’m a mature person. “Sacha just walked by”, I say, interrupting The Fox. In the coolest way possible, he wildly starts spinning his head like Linda Blair on speed while I say “Outside. Outside. Oh, they’re coming in. C’mon.”
They actually did not come in, but one of the two people with him happened to be a former co-worker of his and a mutual friend who was in town for a post-holiday visit. She did come in, just to say hi and give me a hug and it was lovely. I told her is was great to see her and that I appreciated her coming in. I told her to tell Sacha “hi” for me. I did not tell her to tell him “thank you for staying outside”.
So, I guess that’s what I get for using that part of my life as a starting point for my book. An opportunity to encounter the catalyst and not have a bad experience.
That was nice.
In reality, I expect nothing to happen with this novel now that it is written. I’ll proof is, but after that? If nothing happens, I will have accomplished what I set out to do. But in the back of my mind is the fantasy that my book does get published. And becomes a three part series. And gets optioned for a movie. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Ben Whishaw plays the young main character in movie one, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the middle aged lead in the second and then Ton Hanks steps into the role in the last movie. And Mike Meyers as Fat Bastard gets cast as my ex…who has only one minute of screen time in the first movie.
Y’know, just as a little mental amusement for myself.

Putting the “Man” in Manifest