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.

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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

NaNoWriMo ‘18

So, this happened today.

I know this kind of falls under the Everybody Gets A Trophy banner, except…only almost everybody. I certainly know that I haven’t gotten one before, despite four or five years of intending to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Turns out, they don’t give out awards for intent. You’ve actually got to cross the 50,000 word threshold between November 1-30th in order to qualify.

So, this year, with no other distractions, this should have been a slam dunk, right?

Not so fast.

I’d guess my average blog entry easily falls between 1500-2000 words. In order to “win” NaNoWriMo, you need to write an average of ~1600 words per day. I usually toss out 10 blog posts per month, so I had to psych myself up for about a 150% increase in effort from my usual 20000 words per month to meet the goal.

On top of that, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that my laptop went tits up a few months ago, so I’ve been surviving on my phone. I might write a couple blogs a week on my phone, but averaging 12500 words per week on my phone was a hard no.

After wringing my hand for a week or so, I decided to shop around for a used MacBook. Preferably a Pro. I found some refurbs on Groupon in the $400-500 range, but honestly, that’s just not in my broken income budget. I hit Craigslist, I think I actually said, “Craigslist don’t fail me now!” when I opened the For Sale section.

Bada-boom, bada-bing! T’weren’t nothing but a thing…one very used 13″ Pro – that was only a year younger than my old one – $200. Totally stripped down, but it could get online, so it’s off to the races.

That’s how, on November 12th, I started NaNoWriMo.

Surprising myself, I was easily able to crack out 3000-5000 words per day. I factored in a few days off for my Thanksgiving visit with the family and was still able to reach the 50000 word goal by November 24th.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I’ve got a few loose ends to tie together before I go into full proof/edit mode and start hitting up my published writer friends for advice on next steps.

Even if nothing happens, I did it. That’s enough for me. Plus, maybe I’ll buy the winner tee shirt. So, there’s that.

NaNoWriMo ‘18

Peer Recognition

I wouldn’t even be mad if this was called wreckognition in my case, it’s a delight for me when a fellow blogger likes my content enough to think of me when their work is acknowledged by their blogging buddies. And that’s just what happened this last week. Not once, but twice.

So, big thanks to Roger at ReNudePride and Ben over on MyCasualTrainwreckLife for the kudos.

I’ve followed Roger’s blog for about – geez, I dunno…a little under a year now? (Feel free to fact check that!) As you may guess from the name, ReNudePride has some NSFW content. What I like about it, though, is that it’s art, not porn. It’s a collection of pictures that celebrate the beauty of the male body and I think that’s an important reminder, especially within gay culture, which is hyper-sexualized and full of selfie-porn these days. It’s nice to enjoy the body as an artistic marvel versus the more commonly occurring use it gets today as self-validation.

I’ve only just discovered Ben and MyCasualTrainwreckLife, but it’s been a really fun experience for me. His writing feels comfortable, if you can’t tell by the similar cheekiness of our blog names, I feel his writing voice. It’s also nice because his experiences are familiar. Reading about someone else’s life and their perspective on similar experiences provides me with takeaways that broaden my own behaviors.

In case you can’t tell, I really admire what both of these men do. I kinda have a writer’s crush on them. So, it does mean a lot to me to be wreckognized by them.

Ok, so these Blogging Awards have a couple of strings.

They are three-fold, first to get to know the writer a little bit and get some insight into their blogging philosophy. So, for that I am asked to talk a little about what prompted my blog and then to share two tips for other bloggers.

This is a blogger recognition vehicle, after all.

The second criteria is to nominate another blogger or two or three for this award, because – y’know…it’s kinda like a chain letter that way. But in a good way, I don’t have to send a dollar to anyone in the mail. These nominations are inspiring to recipients (see my awkward gushing above) and passing the award along keeps it going and might help my readers discover a new blog they’ll appreciate.

Was that enough ado for you? I have more, but feel like I should probably get this show on the road, eh?

I’ve been writing this blog for a little over three years now. It started as a Facebook dare by a couple of friends who thought I possessed the talent and wit to write a book. This was the compromise after my insistence that I was only as funny as they were right about my talent.

Yeah, a dare.

My beginnings aren’t so humble as much as they are self-effacing.

My $.02×2:

First, there’s a lot of writers that tell you to establish a routine. Pretty much every writer but me. It’s not that I don’t agree, but only insomuch as a routine is a good discipline if you struggle there. I don’t so much, I publish 2-3 times per week and that’s pretty good…compared to my sex life.

The other argument for establishing a routine is that it trains your audience when to check in or expect new posts. According to the admittedly glitchy (What? I admit it’s glitchy, that counts!) WordPress metrics, 10% of my views happen Saturday night at 11 o’clock. So, basically 1/10 of my views happen during this 1/168 of the week…

Honey, I got bad news for my readers…10% of you are wallflowers and nerds with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. Or I’m a good lead in to SNL.

In place of a routine that commits me to publishing on specific days, I’ve opted for themes to helpfully nudge my writing toward consistency and keep content flowing.

Find which incarnation of routine works for you.

Second, reward yourself for blogging. I didn’t really start seeking out other bloggers until about the one year mark. I viewed other blogs as competitors with a little bit of jealousy. I envied their followers and views and likes and whatnots.

Well, that was stupid of me.

Reading other blogs does several things for me as a writer:

It keeps me checking into WordPress, even when I don’t feel like writing.

I’ve made friends in far reaches of the planet, Australia, Britain and Canada as well as other glorious nooks of the empire and also on the other side of my own country. The pleasure of following their exploits or sharing in their thoughts is great. Chatting with them in the middle of their day while I’m not sleeping at night was another unexpected perk.

I gain motivation and inspiration from these other writers. I’ve got one that nudges me closer and closer to pulling the trigger on that initial Facebook dare and writing a book. Still waiting on a new laptop for that – hint, hint.

Anyone?

No?

FINE!

There are others who will tell a story that reminds me of a similar instance or time in my life. Since some of my fellow bloggers are 10-20 years younger while others have 10-20 (ok, 15) years on me, the stories are often different in voice and tone if not even completely different because of situational norms that have evolved in the interim. It’s really great for my worldview. Not to get your hopes up, but it’s also made me a little more relaxed to have that perspective…maybe I won’t be such a grumpy old man after all.

Nah.

Now, the hard part:

Nominating someone else for this award. Or someone else(s)…or would it be someones else, like attorneys general?

This is tough because of s couple of reasons. First, some bloggers scoff at the recognition, it’s not why they write. Second, bloggers come and go. One of the last people I nominated stumbled into a relationship and hasn’t been seen or heard from in months. What a curse!

I think perhaps I’d like to pass this on to a writer that I’ve only recently discovered. Kaylena writes a blog called far kingdoms about books. Amongst the rewards I get from blogging, she gets credit for refueling my fire to read. I read a half dozen books last year. I’ve read two in the month that I’ve been following her blog.

If you are an avid or even lapsed or aspirational reader, head over to her blog and check out what she’s doing. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Oh, my bad:

I should formally thank both Ben and Roger for nominating me. I winked at a thank you up above. But, sincerely…thank you both!

PS: another super rewarding acknowledgement I enjoy as part of my writing hobby is when a blog I write is shared by or referenced on another site. Generally, I take that as a form of positive reinforcement, so by all means…

“PS” is Latin for “shameless hint”, right?

Peer Recognition

Too Soon?

Is it too early for me to be experiencing the Dog Days of Summer?

Regardless, it’s been a lazy day here at Chez Galby. So far, I’ve accomplished two things today:

First) Fed and watered the plants, which are angry about the recent Portland sun…curling leaves and droopy blossoms. Quite a protest happening on my balcony.

My plants are so passive-aggressively Portland.

Second) I made my way to Powell’s. I’d been intending to go tomorrow after the weekend crowds died off, but I read about The Samurai’s Garden on a blog I follow and was motivated to go sooner. Even though their inventory thought they had three in stock, none were locatable.

I rewarded myself with the original reason for my trip, so the swarms of people were semi-worth it.

Oh, and the menses (Chrisism) that were there.

Woof, I say.

Isn’t that picture just an OCD nightmare?

Somewhere in there, I managed to feed myself.

Chipotle.

I think I’m done eating for the remainder of my life.

I went into the weekend pretty excited and motivated. I’d been alternating walks/hikes and rides all week and was looking forward to maintaining that through the weekend. Friday was a 10 mile hike and Saturday I completed a 20 mile ride before having drinks in the afternoon with a new friend.

I went to bed excited about seeing Major Barbara tonight with a group of friends. While I was out and about today, we were able to finalize our pre-show meet up.

Show-nanigans, if you will.

Still, a fairly low key day so far when compared to what my intent was for the day. My original list included:

– Completing a mini-workout at home this morning.

– Afternoon hike.

– Dishes.

– Filing my unemployment claim.

– Perusing open jobs.

– Writing.

I got word from the Oregon Unemployment Division last week that my claim was rejected, which I expected from my employer. I wasn’t expecting it from the state itself, though, but am not surprised based on the lemon of a state employee I got to explain my situation to a couple weeks back. Nonetheless, I’ve put in my appeal and am backpedaling on some future financial plans I had been making…it’s just put me in an ambivalent funk about the whole work thing. It bothers me when inept people have jobs and I don’t.

Sadly, the lottery was no help last night.

There’s a pre-draft-notion I’m mentally kicking around about my departure from my last job. I think I’m not quite ready emotionally yet, so if you’re curious about that…just wait longer.

My laptop has also chosen this moment in time to go tits up, making the job search more challenging since I’m doing it from my phone. Writing is fine on my phone – blogging, I should clarify. I’d just started a new folder on my laptop fleshing out a book idea. I don’t think I could successfully scribble out a novel on my phone, so that’s on hold, dropping $800-1300 on a new laptop definitely is not in my immediate financial future.

I feel like I owe myself more of a blog post for the day than this in order to really consider that last point checked off my To Do for the day. I’ve been kinda burned out on writing lately, I’m up to 20 drafts again and that always erodes my motivation. But then I got some really encouraging praise in a comment on my BikeTown post and my motivation began to stir.

Maybe after this lil missive, I’ll listen to some music to recharge my mojo, knock off the few dishes, do my unemployment claim and take a peek at open jobs while my phone charges and then head out on an extended walk around the Esplanade before meeting up with Little Buddy and the gang.

Wish me luck!

Oh, gawd…the Chipotle is starting to kick.

Better really wish me luck now!

Too Soon?

Hey Look, I Got A Liebster Award!

liebster-award-title-photo1

So, this happened.

I was busy being slowly crushed by the daily onslaught of bullcrap at work over the last few weeks and not even Living Gay Brisbane could snap me out of my funk with his nomination for the Liebster Award.

I really appreciate the timing and am sorry that it took me so long to get around to doing my part and publishing my post and passing on the torch.  His is one of my favorite blogs and he has recently taken it off WordPress to his own platform called Millennial Gay, check it out.

Ok, here are the questions that were put to me:

1) Why did you start your blog? and where do you see it in the future?

I started this blog because of a Facebook dare, basically.  A couple of my friends suggested that I should write a book.  Flattering, and I’m not going to lie…I’m fairly susceptible to that.  If I want to be.

Anyway, a book seemed like a tall order, one that was fairly far off.  I started this blog to help me find my writer’s voice.  Three years have passed, and I think I’ve settled into a comfortable style, but I’m still not sure my stream of consciousness tendencies lend themselves to a novel.

As I begin year four, I think I’m looking forward to at least two more years here.  My goals for this year are to reformat my blog and to actually participate in NaNoWriMo in November and then next year, perhaps look into ways to introduce ads to my blog.

2) What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be more patient and don’t sell yourself short.  

I was impatient to get my adult life launched as a means of escape from school life traumas.  When I was offered advancement in my retail job, I took that instead of pursuing my original interest in a law career.

3) Who in your circle did you first show your blog to?

I tethered my blog to my Facebook page, so when I publish something, everyone can see it.  It was Facebook’s fault this happened, anyway, so they had it coming.

The first person I presented it to was The Silver Fox.  He’s a Facebook Curmudgeon and refuses to participate, so I had to go out of my way to show my best friend what I was up to.

4) Love, Sex or Money? Which one would you choose?

Love.

The question didn’t ask for an elaboration, but that’s not my style.

I’ve had money, sex and love all at some point in my life.  Sometimes, I even thought I had it all.  

Well, here I am.  And I’d be crazy to answer love and not acknowledge how damned lucky I am to have the people in my life that call me friend.  They are my chosen family and – just like my biological family – I love them dearly.

That said, I still wonder if there’s an enduring mate for me out there somewhere.  I have money and sex both when I need them.  Love is a little trickier.  I have the love required to maintain my happiness and well-being, generously supplied by my friends and family.

For me, that enduring love that has eluded me thus far in life would enhance that baseline happiness and tie it all together into one tidy partner.  Er, package.

But, what the hell do I know?

5) What is your idea of the Perfect first date?

I like event/activity dates for a first date.  It takes the focus off of small talk and allows me to get to know someone while also figuring out how we play together.

Gimme a hike on a lovely day.  Blowing a few bucks on video games at Ground Kontrol.  Or bowling!  That’s fun stuff and we can take those activities at our own pace as we talk and learn about one another.

Then again, my old friend DP asserted once that long-term relationships are just one night stands that never ended, so I guess I should be open to a perfect first date ending with a bang, too.  

6) What are your non-negotiables when it comes to a relationship?

I have to be with someone I can talk to.  If we can’t talk, and I mean really talk, then our first fight will probably end us.

On top of that, there has to be respect.  If we truly respect one another, then that first fight and any subsequent fights are nonexistent because they are just conversations.

And then my last non-negotiable would be that we have to be able to play together.  Sure, including sex.  But moreso even just having shared interests outside the bedroom.  Relationships take a little work to maintain – I guess, I’m the single guy, remember? – and if you’re gonna put in the work, the reward should be playing together.

7) First time you realised you were in love?

It was just hormones.

I thought I was going to let that stand alone,  but I keep coming back to it.  Man, when I was a young buck, my friends teased me that I fell in love every time I turned my head.  

It was kinda true then and it’s kinda still true today.  I think many men are beautiful.  I’m attracted to a wide range of types…was it love?  No, that is and was really just hormones.

But the rush is still a thrill to experience, even if it only lasts for as long as it takes to order coffee.

8) Celebrity Crush?

Tom Holland.  Fer realz.

Ok, maybe not…that’s more of an old man’s fantasy.  I’m just attracted to his youthful spirit and physique.  But this old man would not mind slinging a web or two with him.  Maybe if he was ten years older, I could call it a legit crush.

But a celebrity that I do have more of a cerebral crush versus a physical attraction to is RDJ.

I think he’d be a good fit for me personality-wise.  Assuming what you see on interviews is genuine and not just branding.

Obviously, I need to stop watching Avengers movies late at night.

Ok, so now it’s my turn to nominate my own Liebster Award winners.  Since this is a tough choice for me, I’ll stall by saying that if they choose to participate, I want them to answer the same questions I did.  

The reason it’s tough is because 

A) Living Gay Brisbane is one of my faves and he nominated me, so that’s kind of off the table.  He’s one of the bloggers I interact with most on WordPress, too, which is partly why I enjoy his blog so much.

B) I think that some of the bloggers I follow might not be into it, and that’s part of why I love their blogs.  They have more serious content, but at the same time, we trade comments that are both light and fun as well as constructive and supportive.

Ok…enough stalling.

MeRaw, you’re up!  I love your daily entries.  It’s heavy themed stuff, but the love that your daily posts demonstrates is a beacon to me.

Topher Gen…you, too!  There are four or five young, gay bloggers that I follow and your posts are really great work.  I appreciate them but I don’t know too much about you, so…will you have some fun with me here?

Thanks for reading this far, if you stuck with me all the way through, no gold star for you!  But I hope you’ll take a look at the blogs that I nominated as well as Millennial Gay to get a better insight into who I spend my free time reading!

Love and Pizza!

RULES:

Display your nomination on your blog and thank the person who nominated you.
Nominate other bloggers for this award and let them know about it.
Form questions for them.

Hey Look, I Got A Liebster Award!

TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right

A few months ago, I ran into a former employee of mine from the airport.

At.

The.

Airport.

What was initially awkward about it was that she had quit me with no notice because her doctor told her her legs couldn’t handle it.  She told me she’d really only worked sit down style jobs before.

“You were a bartender!”, I had corrected her at the time, incredulously.  

“Yeah, but that was only part time.  And at The Elks”, she had replied, like The Elks was a stand-alone explanation.

I’d written it off as relative at the time.  I really liked Kim, she reminded me simultaneously not to judge a book by its cover and that stereotypes exist for a reason.  That was Kim.

Mrs. Magoo glasses.

Bowl style haircut.

She was a middle aged transplant to Portland from Spokane.

SpoVegas.

SpoCompton.

Spokanistan.

Take your pick.

She moved away from Spokane for her internet fiancé.  Fuck my life…should this boost my romantic optimism?

Anyway, I run into her in the roadway under the airport at about 5 am.  She was just getting off work, I was just starting.

Innocently, I ask how she’s doing and express my surprise at seeing her.  Instead of the conversational default response one expects to off the cuff, reflexive social niceties, Kim gives me a longform response.

I guess that I – particularly – had that coming.

She was back to work, ground crew for one of the airlines.  Nights, it was hard, but it worked with her and her fiancés parenting schedule.

“Wait, your doctor wouldn’t let you work in a newsstand but now you’re working ground crew?”

I had both knees replaced!

“Wait, wait, wait.  Parenting?!?  Knees replaced?!?  It’s only been 6 months!”

She and her also middle aged fiancé had adopted or were in the process of adopting a 6 year old relative of his.  They had also moved out of his parents house.  I mean, mid-50s is probably the right time to venture out of the nest, if ever there was one.

She was going on about how she was looking forward to getting onto the day shift, but not until school started and she was going to have either her hips or ankles done.

I get distracted by imagining her as Jaime Sommers.

…and tune back in as she says, “but now my doctor wants me to wait to do that until after they take out the brain tumor” like it’s y’know, somehow an elective surgery.

I had to get away from this surreal conversation.

I walked away thinking, “How does she not put a gun in her mouth?!?”  It was really inspiring to think on.  Kim took over as my workday inspiration.

Shitty joints.

Late in life love and parenting.

Entry-entry level physical grunt work.

Oh, and a brain tumor.

If she can do it, I can do it!

Bad news for my former inspiration/mantra:

For the moment, “If Britney can make it through 2007, I can make it through today” took a backseat to my new battlecry of “Tim Kimke!” which was a mash up of her actual name.

It was really kind of the motivational push that I needed.  Britney’s breakdown was only getting me so far.  I was also reaching back to when I worked with a peer that was a real B-word in my mid 20s-30s.  

I was stubborn.

That stubbornness was manifesting itself in longevity in a job that didn’t deserve my efforts.  But I was learning a lot, while simultaneously refusing to walk away from a bad company where I had a boss I liked.

But he was weak and didn’t reign in my counterpart.

Ooh, foreshadowing.

Nonetheless, I stayed, refusing to leave before she did because to me it sent the message that she won.  

It was kinda fucked up.

My payback was that I was learning how to really manage.  Succeeding through my people, versus calling what I could accomplish with my own two hands success.  That kept me motivated whenever I crossed paths with my backstabbing peer.

But, I was recruited away by a former peer and I took a leap.  It’s actually where I met my current boss, even though we only worked together tangentially at the time.

Flash forward 15 or so years.

I’m doing good work, feeling like I make an impact everyday…of course, there’s a but coming.  

My boss is weak, but I like him.  But that’s not enough.  He’s afraid of being the bad guy.

Since last summer, I’ve been stringing up carrots to get me through the bullshit that weakness has manifested:

Make it to your year anniversary.

Make it to bonus payout.

Make it to review time.

Well, the other day, I found myself thinking, “Only 11 more months til bonus payout” and that was a wake up call.

 I’d doubled my tenure since work got shitty, I’d spent as much time dreading my job as I’d spent loving it.  The writing was on the wall, too.  Things weren’t going to change…just like my boss’ poor people management skills created the dysfunctional environment I was spending my time in, his boss was further enabling it by refusing to take action when measureable company policies were broken or violated.

You just need to learn to get along…maybe I heard that one too many times.

Looking back, once turned out to be too many.  The writing was on the wall, but I had to hear that damn phrase a few more times before I saw it.

Then I turned in my notice and basically fired my employer.

Time to reset.

Me time.

Heal wounds.

Because I stuck with it as long as I did, I’ve got the foreseeable future covered in cash:

Forgoing vacations allowed me to bank some PTO to ice the bonus cake I’d waited out.  Believe me, I’m gonna make every penny scream.  If you wanna enjoy my therapeutic free time with me, of course, you can treat!

I’m gonna write again.  No more of these weeks without content or publishing.  That bullshit ends.

Starting here.

And tomorrow, I’m going to brunch and then a hike like a normal Portlander does on a weekend.

TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right