I had high hopes for 2012. 2011 was such an unbearable year, I thought that it could only get better. Briefly, it did. And then it all went to hell, for me and mine.
The death toll of 2012 rivaled the first five minutes of a Michael Bay movie. Loved ones and loved ones of loved ones were lost to accident, suicide, illness, and just shitty, shitty luck. When I wasn’t powerless with regard to my grief, I was powerless in the face of grief suffered by people I love deeply and dearly.
My attempts at finding love or even a halfway interested lover failed repeatedly, and early 2012 brought me a very badly broken heart and an utter loss of hope, not to mention a great deal of frustration and confusion. Many of my friends were unlucky in love and went through relationship strife as well.
There were a number of friendship upheavals about which I remain unsure, and I believe 2013 will involve some restructuring.
Things began to turn around for me toward the end of the year. Slowly, like the Titanic attempting to avoid the iceberg.
- I finally got a full time job at an amazing organization, working with phenomenal people and the best office dog in the world. I love my job. And it almost pays me enough to live on.
- As part of a last-ditch attempt to find somebody I might want to date, I showed up to a bar one evening with a book and a thirst for Scotch, and hoped that the woman I’d messaged on OKC wasn’t going to be a complete waste of time. Since I was pretty much over dating by this point, I wore the same unwashed jeans I’d been wearing for the past several days and a shirt I never checked for stains, and I didn’t bother to wait to start in on the whisky. I’ll go ahead and skip to the end of this one: She’s wonderful, hysterical, loving, caring, and has the prettiest, smiliest eyes. We just finished moving the rest of my possessions to her apartment in SF. She likes my cooking. (ETA: She has corrected this statement to make sure I know to call it OUR apartment.)
- My cat Thumper is in good health and happy in our new apartment, which is much smaller than our house in Oakland, but cozier and has many soft and warm things for him to sleep on. He even has his own chair, from which he can observe his neighbor cat girlfriend, Foxy. He and my lady absolutely adore each other.
- I opened up about a very serious topic in a very public forum and was rewarded by a show of love, support, and trust from individuals known and unknown to me.
2012 still sank, but I and many of my friends ended up on life rafts, paddling toward 2013.
I don’t think anybody expects 2013 to be amazing. But I am hoping that we all have the space to recover from losses, strengthen new and old foundations, and remind each other that we love and care for each other, that we are there for each other, and that we may occasionally want to give up on everything, but that we won’t give up on each other.
I can’t help but be a little optimistic; I’m in the best place I’ve been since maybe 2008. I’ve found love and employment, I have a roof over my head, and my cat has the most adorable mitteny paws in the world. Things are not easy; I don’t know if they ever will be. But it isn’t all difficult, and for the first time in a long time I really feel like it’s worth it to keep working, keep fighting, and keep pushing through. I am not in a place where I can say, “Bring it, 2013, I can take whatever you have to throw at me.” I am, however, in a place to say, let’s do this.
So. 2013. Let’s do this.
Twitter is, among other things, a forum for people who think that they have the ultimate definition of life, love, and friendship. Most of those tweets make me sigh and shake my head. Every once in a while, one resonates.
This tweet, which somebody RT’d, is one of them: “The best way to see who your real friends are? Lose your job, lose your BF, lose yourself[...]and see who’s left standing beside you.” — @Ms_Moneypenny_.
In 2010 I lost my job. I lost my girlfriend. And over the course of the next two years I lost myself. And you know who stood by me? My friends. ALL of them.
For two years of unemployment and being constantly on the edge of losing everything, my friends showed me consistent and unfailing generosity with not so much as a hint that they expected anything in return. Loans (of not insignificant amounts) were forgiven, dinners and drinks purchased, groceries subsidized, shifts at clubs found and arranged for me, computers, Scotch, and other necessities and luxuries crowdsourced. My best friend has covered my rent more than once. The very computer on which I am writing this post, and which I use at work, was purchased with money donated by my friends. I posted a link on FB to a guitar I desperately wanted and couldn’t afford, so my cousin made me one.
For two years of decreasing belief in my ability to find gainful employment and eventually get my shit together, my friends have sent me leads, passed on my resume, and expressed repeatedly their belief that I would find a good job, one that I deserve. Even when I wanted to give up, they wouldn’t let me. And their faith made it impossible to give up.
For two years of anxiety, stress, depression, and decreasing buffers from my anger and frustration at my situation, my friends have provided advice, love, patience and comfort. They’ve endured my increasing negativity and what I am sure amounted to quite a bit of self-involvement. They’ve helped me work through various issues with regard to relationships, work stress, money stress and just generally trying to make it through.
For two years of failing to find a healthy, steady relationship (of any sort) with a woman who cares for and respects me, my friends have been encouraging, supportive, and satisfyingly outraged and confused whenever a woman decides not to keep me around.
For two years, I have been at my worst and not a single friend of mine has given up on me. On the contrary, their love, support, and faith in me has been nothing less than stunning and humbling.
For two years my friends helped carry me in so many ways without once showing fatigue, frustration, or a desire to drop me and have done.
I know who my friends are. And you know what? My friends are fucking magnificent.
In case you missed The Misadventures of Ed and Bob, here’s a tiny bit of context.
So, C. has been on her way home from Oregon in a minivan she is not driving. This apparently has meant that she has become intimately familiar with all of the on- and off-ramps from Oregon to California. She may even have named a few. I didn’t ask. Seems kinda personal.
So I thought I would mention that sometimes you just gotta take the wheel.
Hoof to the pedal, Bob. Hoof to the pedal.
I am robbing the cradle.
There is no question about it. No leeway. There is no math that turns it into a socially acceptable age difference (she’s old enough to drink, I swear I am not a pedophile). I have a hard time even saying it out loud, sometimes, but that’s mostly because of the reactions I get.
Turns out it’s annoying as hell to tell people about your dating life only to feel judged and receive completely unnecessary lectures.
Turns out, it’s annoying as hell that people forget that you are a ridiculously intelligent and mature adult the moment you explain that the person you are all twitterpated about is some absurd number of years younger than you are.
And while a handful of my friends are quietly letting me make my own mistakes or even being supportive (thank you, either way), a larger number of people have taken it upon themselves to inform me of all the bad things that come with dating younger people. Within this group there are:
- The people who continue lecturing me about it even after I’ve made it clear that I am aware of the potential issues (because apparently the fact that I don’t jump up to dump her when their wisdom has been shared is a sure sign that I am blind to the danger no matter what I say).
- The people who are passively suggesting I preemptively dump her.
- The people who are actively suggesting that I preemptively dump her.
- The people who feel the need to tell me, “she’s going to break your heart.”
Many of these people haven’t even met her, yet. Many of these people forget that my last girlfriend was nearly twice her age (and had half the maturity and discipline of the woman I am dating now, no joke). All of these people have forgotten that the odds of my getting hurt or fucked over by somebody closer to my own age aren’t lower. As it happens, people will fuck you over at any age.
So friends (Romans, country…folk)? I get that you are trying to be loving and protective, but seriously: Stop it. Just. Fucking. Stop it.
If you can’t be happy or supportive about the fact that I’ve found somebody I get to be excited about, even if it ends tomorrow (which it won’t, because I promised her BBQ on Sunday), then at the very least, keep this negative bullshit to yourselves. She may very well break my heart. So could anybody I decide to date. I don’t fucking need you to tell me it could happen when I am trying to share something good with you. Something I am guardedly happy about. Something I am enjoying. I was well aware of the danger when I asked her out, and I didn’t stop being aware when I realized I was more serious about her than initially intended.
But I also know that if I don’t give it a try, I’ll never know what might have been. I know that everything I have seen of her thus far is worth the risk. I’ve never been about playing it safe when it comes to relationships, and I am not going to start, now. And if I get hurt, y’all can say “I told you, so,” but hopefully you will be more concerned with the fact that I am hurt than with the fact that you were right. I guess we will see.
Here endeth the rant.
Nice! Simple, uncomplicated, not in the least bit stressful. But that never lasts, does it?
However, lately things are looking like this:
I have tried to write this post several times, now, and always given up. It shouldn’t be so difficult to write, and yet the number of drafts I must go back and delete after I (theoretically) publish this one is absurd. But I’ve become increasingly aware of the difference in the quality of life between the people I know who are happy with their friends and the people I know who are not.
I just got back home from a birthday party for somebody I adore, a friend of mine who, just by being who she is, makes me want to be a better person. That sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s not that kind of vaguely inspirational-Disney-movie feeling that the world isn’t ready for me. It’s more specific than that. She reminds me how much integrity matters, how important it is to own your own bullshit, how much awfulness a single human being can handle with grace, humor, and tact (I have one of the three). I have nothing but respect and love for her, who she is, and how she moves through the world and her life. I am honored that she calls me her friend.
She is but one of my many amazing, brilliant, kind, generous, supportive and loving friends.
If y’all recall, I’m shy (I refer back to that post a great deal, don’t I?). It took me a long time to learn how to make friends, and one of the things I vowed to do was to be a friend. I was not going to pay lip service to friendship. I was not going to fuck around with two-faced bullshit, I was not going to play games, I did not care to waste time playing roles for people or myself. I was going to earn every friend I made.
To this end I work hard to maintain my friendships. I provide a shoulder and an ear when they are needed (also, whiskey and food). I keep the secrets I’m meant to keep. I offer time when I have it, and do my best to make time when I don’t. I make it a point to try to text/email/chat/FB to tell my friends that I love them, miss them, think they are rad on a regular basis. Given the number of friends I have, this tends to be limited to my closest, which is in some ways a shame, because they are not the only people I love and appreciate. And if I am failing to maintain my friendships, odds are, something is going down in my life that is preventing me from doing so.
I believe it is because of this, the fact that I am a decent cook, and the fact that I’m hilarious, that I have the friends I have.
Making new friends is interesting, because I have enough. Yeah, yeah—I’ve heard it before: “you can never have enough friends.” Meh. That’s true in terms of networking and for the purpose of throwing loud, obnoxious parties. But in terms of real, in-depth, trusting relationships, it’s all about quality over quantity. I am at a point in my life where, if I go out of my way to seek out your company in any way? It’s because I see something in you that means something to me. It could be your intelligence, your sincerity, whatever—it’s something that is, to me, worth exploring.
I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be in such a position. To be surrounded by so many amazing, wonderful friends that I can handpick yet more amazing, wonderful friends. Hello, luxury.
And I am not saying that all of my friends are perfect. None of them are. I mean, except for you… Hi.
But I can look around at the people I love, and who love me, and be proud of them, and proud that I’m with them. If you can do the same, *high five*. If not, time to reevaluate. Life is too short to play in the bullshit.
For Science: The first part of the post was written after margaritas, a pint of Jameson and ginger, and some number of old fashioned—what the hell is the plural for “old fashioned”? “Old Fashioneds”? I mean, when you are sober. When you are drunk, the plural is something like, “Ol’fashenz”.
Okay, Whiskeypants, let’s reel it back in. For science:
Almost nothing in the title is relevant to this post. But that’s the title I came up with on my midnight walk home from BART, and I’m stickin’ to it. Mostly because I have had too much whiskey not to.
Wait, that’s not true. The crush part is relevant. And the separation part. And the Part III part. But not the church and state thing, ‘cept maybe metaphorically. And the crush bit is not 100% relevant, since this post is mostly about desire—but crushes apply, too.
On the plus side, I just found a glass of cranberry juice I left here Monday morning. It tastes fine. So here’s to hydration.
One of the social skills I have repeatedly refined over the years is the ability to be 100% cool with being friends with women I desire. It’s a more or less invisible social skill that, in my drunker moments, I think is totally underappreciated. I think it is a skill more people ought to develop, honestly. It brings perspective in to the relationships I cultivate because I want, allowing me to realize that I can cultivate them much better because what I want is merely a facet of somebody much more interesting and complex.
That does not, of course, make it easier to deal with actively and determinedly being friends with women I’d like to throw against the wall and kiss until one or both of us just can’t breathe anymore (especially if I already have and can remember what it feels like to do so). It just makes it possible and, in most cases, preferable. When you take a look at the hotness of the women around me [From here on, writing sober:] (and it’s really rather remarkable), the need to separate desire from friendship and to box that desire up becomes apparent. So does the difficulty of doing so. But I don’t think I could be friends with these women if I couldn’t do it. Not and be a real friend.
Which is, I suppose, the long way ’round of saying: I don’t think it’s possible to be a true friend to somebody you also happen to want to fuck if you lead with your dick (real or metaphorical) and not your head and your heart.
So then it becomes a matter of priorities—are you hanging around because you hope he or she will eventually open up to you, or are you sticking around because you hope he or she will eventually ,,open up,, to you? And how honest are you being with yourself about that? And how honest with her or him?
And now the real question:
I just fled from a wake for a friend of mine.
I do not like these somber affairs where people talk amongst themselves and then maybe, just maybe, get up the gumption to tell stories of the deceased.
Where they drink caffeinated beverages and look at photographs and wonder if they took the deceased for granted, wonder if things would have been different if they had called when they meant to, if they had visited more often, if they had done something, anything differently.
Fuck. That. Noise.
When I die, let there be a party. Let the whiskey flow freely, let the stories be filled with more dirty details than you would have ever included in my lifetime. Talk shit about me, laugh at my mistakes, enjoy how impossibly, remarkably human I was. Enjoy the ways I made you laugh, lament the ways I made you furious, remember the adventures we had. Drink more whiskey. Dance, sing, do the fuckin’ can-can.
If you don’t leave the wake for Whiskeypants laughing, if you aren’t drunk (or actually on the wagon), if you didn’t have a fantastic time…? Well, fuckin’ do it again until you get it right.
When I die, remember this. Because I will come back to haunt your ass and make you miserable if you don’t.
It’s important to remember that, when everything has gone horribly wrong, and your night has gone to shit, and all the communication about all the things has failed, and you are frustrated in every goal you may have had—
It’s totally fucking okay to stay up until the wee hours of morning eating ice cream, drinking whiskey, watching tv, and fervently hoping that, after you do finally fall asleep, everything will be better, fixable, or possibly nonexistent when you wake up again.
(If it isn’t okay, I’m in trouble.)
In the last week, I received news of the deaths of no fewer than three people I know. One of those was somebody with whom I went to high school. Two of them were friends. Two of the three were suicides.
I have been flailing emotionally. I didn’t realize it until today. In the process of this flailing I managed to be extra irritable, totally failed to communicate properly, and I appear to have alienated somebody I really like. This was a major failure on my part—normally I am much more in touch with how I am feeling, and why. Additionally, some of this might have been avoided had I managed to mention any of this to anybody.
I. Death death death—afternoon tea…
I think this is first due to the magnitude of the news: the untimely death of one friend has enough of an effect on a person. The untimely death of three in rapid succession is just overwhelming, like a personal version of Eddie Izzard’s murder standards: Well done! Three of your friends died recently, two by their own hand? They must get up very early in the morning.
II. Family Traditions
Then there’s the suicide bit. The people in my family tend to kill themselves, either quickly or slowly (or in the case of my grandmother, both). Suicide and attempted suicide run rampant in my family. So there’s that. Additionally, I haven’t figured out where I come down on the issue, myself. I have heard suicide characterized as rude, selfish, tragic. I believe strongly in the idea that we should have complete power over our own lives—not just how we live and die, but whether we live and die (to the extent that we have that choice to make).
I also believe strongly that the day I give up and take my own life, I have failed, utterly. But that’s not to say I don’t believe that despair cannot be so all encompassing that death seems like the better option, and that’s not to say I haven’t experienced that level of despair.
Grief is probably the biggest emotion I just swallow and deal with. When I have multiple levels of headfuckery going on around the grief, I choke on it—without, apparently, realizing that I am choking.
But then there’s the standard issues—the questions, the guilt, the realization that now I get to miss these people forever, that there will never be another chat conversation, another movie, another night of Jameson shots and bad bar food. There’s wondering about who they left behind: their families, their lovers, their pets. There’s the inevitable: would my being there more have changed anything at all?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t talk about any of this stuff because I don’t even know where to begin. I prefer not to waste words, and to avoid statements of the obvious like, “This makes me feel sad.” I tend to only say such things to people who are grieving with me over the same people—as more of an acknowledgement of what they are feeling than anything else.
While avoiding statements of the obvious, and chewing on the complicated, I fail to communicate anything at all.
Obviously that has to change. I just haven’t the faintest idea of how to change it.
In the mean time, I am going to watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in honor of one of them. I am going to raise a glass of Jameson to all three of them. And if I have enough Jameson, I will likely pull out my guitar to sing a song I learned for yet another dead friend.
Three people I know are dead. This makes me sad.
(Click to Biggify)
I turned 34 today.
It’s not a very exciting age, is it? It doesn’t have the shock of 30 or 40, and it isn’t any kind of official middle. It’s just 34—twice 17, which wasn’t a particularly good age for me, either.
But it does carry the usual post-30 stigma.
We live in an awkward time, you see. We grew up with the fantasy that we would find a career and stay with it our entire lives. This was a fantasy that belonged to a different generation—a generation that was only just getting used to the idea that we did not necessarily have to follow in our fathers’ footsteps. If you are unfamiliar with this transition, watch The Graduate. The soundtrack should be familiar to you; the feeling of being lost in a world in which you are expected to know your path implicitly may also be familiar.
When I was a kid, all you needed was a college education to get you somewhere. A decent education could get you anywhere. There was a premium placed on all of this—without it, what the hell did you think you could be? The picture in my head was always of me as some kind of blue-collar worker in New Jersey. Sorry, New Jersey fans, but it’s true—in my young brain, being uneducated and unsuccessful meant ending up in New Jersey. I guess that’s what happens when one’s formative years occur in Manhattan.
We have only recently realized, I think, that our expectations of what our lives ought to be are fairly (and recently) antiquated. And so we still judge ourselves according to these old rules. By 30, we are supposed to be successful. By 30, we are supposed to have husbands, wives, children, careers. We are supposed to know both who and what we are—in fact, who and what we are ought to have melded by now. Even the 90s and the grunge movement didn’t dislodge this assumption. In fact, one might argue that they only highlighted it.
As of 3 hours ago, I am 4 years past 30, and I have neither career, nor child, nor spouse. I have had this nagging feeling that I am running out of time. I don’t know what I am, and I have only the vaguest grasp of who I am. I have an excess of education—collegiate, graduate, and professional. I am charming, funny, brilliant, and in the right light I am not so bad to look at. And yet I am single and unemployed. I have nowhere to be, nobody wondering where I am, and not one person on this planet is waiting for me to punch a clock. I’m still intimidated by barre chords on the guitar, and I really have to focus when tying my shoes.
According to the old rules, I am nothing, a wastrel. I am The Dude, only with some theoretical potential. According to the new rules, what am I? A sort of elite disenfranchised? Your standard bum, just waiting for my turn that never came? Or just your average mid-30s post-Bubble Bay Area citizen who is too educated not to interview, but too inexperienced to hire?
Honestly, I don’t know anymore. I am acutely aware of what I can be and similarly aware of what I am not. I realize that the dream is not the same as it used to be. That doesn’t make the old dream less attractive. And the part of me that loves routine and security would love to be settled by now, with a wife and kids and a golden retriever and house slippers and fuzzy bathrobes and all of that comfortable-sounding stuff—but I am realizing that, while all of those things sound neat, the fact that they have not already happened doesn’t mean that they won’t. It also doesn’t mean that they have to. Nor does it mean that I have failed in any way if they don’t happen.
So, I’m 34. Despite the feeling that I am running out of time, I think I am okay. It’s not an exciting age, but I survived 2010 to make it here, so that’s something. Also, failure is relative. In 34 years, I might not have found a career or started a family, but I have (inpo):
- Watched the rain fall on the ocean from the window of cathedral ruins in Ireland
- Fallen in love
- Been on stage with Hole
- Learned Latin
- Spent an afternoon with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
- Watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least thrice
- Hung out with Walter Murch
- Seen a woman ride a motorcycle on stage and then perform opera on the trapeze
- Cuddled an Oscar for Apocalypse Now
- Been too afraid to officially meet Tommy Tune (I was, like, 5 years old.)
- Made some of the most incredible friends a person could ever hope to have
- Met Bella Abzug
- Gotten a BA in Medieval Studies, an MA in History, and a law degree.
- Tasted the second-peatiest Scotch ever distilled (ew)
- Hung out with the two best siblings a person could have
- Written some godawful poetry
- Invented a treat so good my friends call it crack as an understatement
- Slept with some seriously hot women
- Tasted extraordinarily rare whiskies and wines
- Gone to the rescue of random people on the street
- Woken up to Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
- Never moved to New Jersey
So I guess I’m cool with being 34.
My birthday is a week from today, and I cleverly created a wishlist on Facebook of things I really really want.
We’ve had some movement on my requests for whiskey: I am now in possession of some amazingly delicious highland malts (that’s a hint, a loving hint. Possibly an anvil). I have also had some success with my requests for shopping sprees and even the request for piles of money.
But to the best of my knowledge, nobody has moved forward with my request for 1+night(s) with Olivia Wilde.
Didn’t I have a truly godawful 2010? Don’t you love me? Don’t you care about my happiness? And honestly, don’t you think I deserve 1+ night(s) with Olivia Wilde? I do. I really really do.
It’s not like we have nothing in common. I mean, look: She’s beautiful, talented, smart, well-off, and she has all of her teeth. And I’m smart. It would be a dream match even in the worst of circumstances.
Also, she’s married.
Think about it, folks. Take a moment right now and think about it.
…Yeah. That’s right.
(As an alternative to Olivia Wilde, I will also accept gainful employment.)
One of the things I swore to myself upon coming out of an awful relationship (that capped almost a decade of serial dating/relationship experiences) was that I would remain single until at least the end of the year.
This is one of those things you swear, like when you decide you are gonna cut down on sugar, fatty foods, and whiskey, like when you decide you are gonna exercise more. Like when you decide to do anything you know you should do but are not 100% convinced you really want to do.
- Being unemployed doesn’t matter. Not being able to pay for dates or take a woman places doesn’t matter when you don’t have a woman to take out.
- I never have to clean my room.
- I have the opportunity to get my life together outside of the dating dynamic.
- I am not working my ass off to prove myself to somebody who doesn’t appreciate me anyway.
Wait, was that emotional baggage? Oops. Right, this isn’t about the women I have already been with.
- No girl to crawl into bed with. I am not just talking about sex. I am talking about that feeling when I walk into a room and know a woman I adore is in the bed I am about to fall into. I miss that feeling of wrapping myself around a sleepy girl, of enjoying the way she feels, the way she smells before I drift off to sleep.
- No sex. Just because it wasn’t necessarily an element of the above doesn’t mean it’s not an element. My mouth and my hands miss skin. My ears miss sounds. I am not going to tell you what my tongue misses, but you can guess.
- No license to stare. I don’t know about you, but I love looking at the women I am with. If I could I would just rest my chin on my hand and look. They put up with that better if they are sleeping with me.
- No license to tell her how hot I think she is. Generally, I don’t get to tell the devastatingly hot women around me how lovely I think they are (apart from those friends who think —tragically—that I am harmless). When I am dating I get to do that. Regularly.
- I miss having somebody I can wrap myself around, or grab by her belt loop and pull toward me. I miss finding dark corners for smooches and looking across the room to see that she is just as distracted as I am at the idea of those smooches. I miss that level of intimacy.
But where was I? Oh yeah, remaining single until the end of the year.
How am I supposed to do that when I find myself so totally enchanted? Some rules were made to be broken. Those rules include reducing: sugar, butter, bacon, whiskey, and women.
Crushes: simultaneously wonderful and awful, powerful and weak, illuminating and shortsighted. They are entities that have a symbiotic relationship with love, that often camouflage themselves as love, that have the potential to open the door to it—but most often do not. Sometimes they hurt like white fire.
That is to say, occasionally they are unicorns that lead you to romantic comedy-like bliss, but most of them are puppies you don’t get to keep. And they’ve shit on your floor.
I have been trying to figure out why I enjoy them so much. I must be a romantic. A sarcastic, scarred, cynical, bitter, and pessimistic romantic, but a romantic all the same.
Crushes used to be crushing for me. They used to involve long days and nights of wishing fiercely, desperately. They used to involve hours, days of making mix tapes (actual tapes, folks), writing godawful poetry, obsessing. But then pragmatism set in. The realization that I am always going to be surrounded by beautiful, crushworthy people could have led to a certain amount of despair. Instead, I decided to enjoy them (and to learn to make mixes for friends).
I love noticing the inconsequential details that crushes bring to light. The way she moves the hair out of her eyes, the way she cocks her head when she thinks, mutters to herself when looking at recipes. I enjoy the way my eyes want to rest on her for longer than is socially necessary or acceptable. I enjoy those moments when I can make her laugh or smile, make her eyes light up. I enjoy knowing that, while all of these details remain—as will my appreciation for them—, the feeling they create in me is temporary. And that if I play my cards right, she may never be a lover but she could always be a friend.
In the end, I get to play with the puppy. So what if it isn’t housetrained?
Riding home on the Muni 5, especially near midnight, is bound to have some interesting results. It’s a long route, and a long ride home—and lots of people take this particular bus. In short, the crazies abound.
It’s technically Friday, now. But just a few minutes ago it was Thursday. More specifically, it was Thanksgiving. So I was uncharacteristically full of food, good cheer, and a general sense of well-being—mostly due to turkey and whiskey.
Two stops after I got on the bus, a woman with three bags full of stuff joined us. One of the bags appeared to be a purse. Two of the bags were filled to—and over—the top with clothing. She was muttering to herself, almost as if she were arguing with somebody not actually there. Her face was attractive, tired, deeply lined. Her eyes were simultaneously fierce and concerned. Deciding where to sit on this mostly empty bus was apparently difficult, but she eventually sat down. She dropped her cigs and her lighter. She muttered about that, too.
I watched her, guarded but curious. I’ve lived in cities most of my life—I know better than to engage. It’s uncharitable, but it’s a common survival method. Watching her fold and re-fold those clothes, watching her repack her bags, watching her buff the worn Doc Martens that kept falling out of one of those bags, I couldn’t help but wonder what her story was. Is.
Her clothes were worn and stained, but clean. Her shoes did not fit. The jackets in her lap were far nicer than anything she was wearing. She looked many square meals short of an ideal weight. Her bearing was not that of somebody who had made all of the wrong choices, but that of somebody who was never given that many to begin with—but that’s just conjecture, of course. Regardless, this is a woman who was clearly in need of…something.
I began to write her story in my mind, and then realizing that this was probably just pretentious bullshit, I stopped. And I began to think about my own situation.
It has been difficult, being unemployed. I have never before felt so without purpose, so lost. I have failed—all this education, all this intelligence, and nothing to show for it. I am about to lose my house, lose all sense of stability and place. There are so many things I want to be able to do, make, give—all of which cost money I do not have. I am in incredible amounts of debt, and I owe money to friends that I don’t know when or if I will be able to pay back. Some days I feel like I am drowning in my own failure.
In some ways I have felt like I am in whatever part of Purgatory is closest to Hell.
Some part of this must have been on my face, because the woman on the bus stopped muttering to herself, stopped folding her clothes, stopped buffing her shoes and said, “Are you okay?”
Pulling myself out of my self-flagellating Trent Reznor-inspired downward spiral, I said, “Yeah. I’m okay. How are you?”
It was an automatic response, the kind I give before I think about how I really am. But then it hit me that I was, in fact, telling the truth. That for just this moment I was okay. I was filled with turkey and whiskey, I had just been surrounded by friends I adore, and I was on my way home to two adorable cats.
Our conversation did not last long. She muttered to me about the clothes in her bags and how she needed to keep them nice so she could sell them, and then she went back to muttering softly enough I could not hear her.
She got off the bus not long after that, wishing everybody a happy holiday. I glared daggers at the couple who laughed at her and the difficulty she had getting her bags up and off the bus (help unwelcome), but they didn’t care. I did. She had managed to get out of her head long enough to be concerned about me, which was more than I had done for her.
I spent the rest of the bus ride reminding myself—not that I could be her, nothing as trite and holiday-Lifetime-after-school-feel-good movie as that—but that I really am okay.
The big bad wolf may very well be about to huff and puff and blow my house down. But I have friends looking after me. I have the keys to six houses (beside mine) on my key chain, and not one of the residents of those houses would begrudge me the use of them if I needed it. A dear friend of mine has been helping me get asthma meds—it ain’t a great solution, but we are all doing what we can.
My concerns are ultimately 1st world concerns. And even when the 1st world is sucking, even when the economy won’t let me in, even when things feel like they are getting flushed down a dirty toilet in a 1970s slasher film highway gas station—I am actually okay. I have to remember that when I start down that downward spiral, or I won’t be coming back up again.
The thing to remember when one has been rejected by a unicorn or Angelina Jolie—they don’t exist. Okay, I haven’t been rejected by Angie recently, so her existence doesn’t really matter one way or the other. I just had to include her out of revenge for the fact that I recently watched Salt.
Now, I recognize that being rejected by an imaginary creature is a double-edged sword:
- On the one hand, Fuck you, unicorn! You can’t reject me, you don’t even exist!
- On the other hand, being rejected by a creature that doesn’t exist is damning in its own special way.
- On the third hand—and I don’t know where the hell that hand came from, or why I have it—I am sitting here looking at the pluses and minuses of being rejected by an imaginary horse-thing. Also, I just made this a triple-edged sword.
Dungeons and Dragons aside, rejection sucks. Especially with regard to a job that not only would have put me in the middle of an organization for which I have wanted to work for years, but also would have allowed me to do things like pay rent and purchase whiskey.
You know, if I had an actual third hand, I could play guitar and drink whiskey without having to put anything important down. I could keep my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and never once sacrifice safety to road rage while flipping off other drivers. I could hug and grope simultaneously.
If you are wondering how I am really coping with this particular rejection, well…I don’t have a third arm with which to drink it, but there’s whiskey just down the street and the two arms I do have are quite capable. Cheers.
My Favorite Times of Day:
- Beer O’Clock
- Scotch O’Clock
- Whiskey O’Clock
- Nap O’Clock
- Bacon O’Clock
- Massage O’Clock
- Vicodin O’Clock
- Kitten O’Clock
My Least Favorite Times of Day:
- Excedrin O’Clock
- Litterbox O’Clock
- Taser O’Clock
- Ex O’Clock
- 7:00 AM
Times of Day About Which I Am Ambivalent:
- Caffeine O’Clock
- Wasabi O’Clock
- Other O’Clocks