Friends. A dumb show from the 90’s about a bunch of New Yorker’s whose lives I couldn’t give a shit about? No. The often meaningless connections you make on social media so that you can have the opportunity to view every stupid meal they post for your viewing displeasure? No. Those few people in your life that are always there for you and remind you in your darkest hour that you’re not alone? YES. A triumphant and resounding YES.
If valued and meaningful connections were currency I would be up there on Forbes’s list of wealthiest people. I am so fortunate to be at the age, or level of maturity if you will, that I recognize the value of quality over quantity in life.
I have an amazing circle, I call it my support network. Between my Masonic brothers, many of whom are as close to me as actual brothers, to my many friends dating back to High School, some amazing connections from jobs past and social groups like mountain bikers that despite my inability to ride remain my friends, to others that have just fortunately come into my life, I always have the luxury of being supported and propped up when too tired to stand. It’s not a huge circle, but it’s a good one.
It is not a one way street, I am a loyal and dedicated friend in return.
If you find yourself devoid of joy, wallowing in the negativity of today’s climate and feeling overwhelmed with the increasing darkness, there is a cure. Grab your phone and scroll through your contacts. Find a name that brings a smile to your face and call them. In the process of making their day brighter I can almost guarantee that they will make yours as well.
But don’t just use the phone, be available in person to those around you. Cell phones make us closer to those far away, but more distant to those next to us.
Just a thought, enjoy your Sunday and may you make a new friend or reconnect with a old one today. It just may make your day.
People say things. Stupid things. All the time. If I wasn’t careful my eye rolling would cause a permanent medical condition. Fortunately I’m getting better at tuning them out. With the exception of one phrase…I hate it. “People suck.” No. They. Don’t. Please stop.
I’ve posted about this before. But I need to again.
99% of people are good. It’s the 1% that make the news and if all we watch is the news, and not Main St. America then we are not going to know the truth. The truth is found in the local tavern, told over the back fence with neighbors, the local coffee shop, at the water cooler at work. People are for the most part good at heart, they are just easily manipulated because they are, at their very heart, Human. Humans make mistakes, we’re not perfect.
I have had a person donate a vital organ to me. I have seen people with only ten dollars in their pocket donate 5 of it to a charity dear to them. I’ve known people who have toiled in a soup kitchen or food pantry every single weekend of the year without looking for so much as a thank you. I could go on. But I won’t. You get the point.
One of the most amazing thing about the internet is the connections that we make. I have made actual friendships, with the exception of the blessed few that I have met in person, that are real and meaningful. I am occasionally surprised and honored when a virtual friend or blogger notices my absence, which of late has been the rule, not the exception. It is an honor none the less when someone notices when you are not around. I have to come clean as to why my posting on social media and the blogosphere has been so infrequent.
As Bruce Banner, AKA the Incredible Hulk, famously said…”You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
I’ve been in a bad place.
I have friends that share very different politics. One in particular is a polar opposite of me politically but I read him just the same.(You know who you are). He is a beacon of reason and open-mindedness despite his world view being maddening to me. He doesn’t judge me for mine, he allows me to be me.
The problem is, being me has been difficult lately. The social and political climate is infuriating to me and I hate how people are turning on one another. The anger and resentment at watching my friends, family and country embroiled in partisan and identity politics has been consuming me. I, like my beloved community, was drifting in the wrong direction. It made me angry and hostile and I found myself caught up in it. I didn’t like the way I felt. I was tired.
Tired of politics. Tired of the arguing. Tired of people digging in. Tired of open mouths and closed minds Tired of blind hatred and senseless bigotry. Tired of senseless destruction. Tired of disinformation and agendas. Tired of all of it. Tired of being angry.
Then one day I caught myself.
I knelt down at the water’s edge and I prayed for tolerance and an abundance of reason to guide me. I further asked for the strength to be a beacon of light that others may follow before it all, everything that I love vanished before my eyes. Please God, take this anger from me. The weight is more than I can handle. Let me be the small stone that makes a ripple that slowly but persistently spreads over the turbulent waters.
I am but one person. But sometimes that is all that is required to start a revolution. Please people, let’s start a movement of restoring the basic values of dialogue, courtesy, tolerance and respect.
Believe what you believe but don’t cram it down another’s throat. When someone is speaking, listen to learn not wait your turn to speak. Converse with facts and educated opinion, not sound bites and increased volume. React with a deep breath and carefully considered words. Apply Respect as a value and a virtue, not as an option. Talk over the backyard fence instead of making the fence taller. Love each other.
If we don’t, everything we love is going to vanish before our eyes.
As I am prone to do, I triggered myself with yesterday’s post in which I spoke of my longing for the past and embracing my silly, if not immature side as a defense mechanism against the corrosive environment of today. I found that this is a subject that cannot be handled in one post.
In a famous intro to Pink Floyd’s haunting Goodbye blue sky, off their magnificent album, 1979’s The Wall, we hear the voice of a child, in all its innocence and wonder exclaim, “Look mommy, there’s an airplane up in the sky”.
The voice inevitably and necessarily throws me back to the day when the world was a place of beauty and every day was a chance to experience new things. If you were lucky enough to have your mother at your side, she would join you in marveling at the sight of the airplane, as a bonus she would help you identify clouds shaped as animals and before you knew it the sky was cluttered with joyous shapes and future memories. Ah, precious childhood. Today, the mother probably would be glued to her phone and mutter,’Ummhmmm, that’s nice honey” without even looking up.
The release of Pink Floyd’s album in 1979 is a powerful memory to me and may explain why that song, and that clip of the child, is so significant to me. It is around the time that I lost my youthful outlook and began to look at each day with dread and fear, not optimism and delight.
I was a notoriously happy child. I was an only child with a mother that worked part time with plenty of time to be home with me and a father that worked his ass off but denied himself sleep to make sure that he did all that he could for me. I played sports. I rode bikes with the neighborhood kids. We went camping in the summer, I went to ball games and went to the park. I loved hanging with my grandparents at their house. We had a big yard. When my parents were unable to occupy and amuse me (something parents feel obligated to do these days) I was able to amuse myself by playing with Matchbox cars in the dirt or voraciously reading books under my favorite tree. Sometimes I would just lie on my back looking at the clouds. I could do it for hours. As the years of my childhood passed, the toys changed but my attitude didn’t. I remained a happy kid,
The cheerful child in me went away around the time that I entered 7th grade. In my town grades K-6 were in Elementary and 7-9 were called Junior high (now known as middle school). I left 6th grade and the low-ceilinged and safe feeling Elementary school as a small statured but eager student and entered the high ceilings and almost anarchist hallways of the Junior High School as a terrified newbie. My fears were soon justified as the most formidable period of my life began, the age of being bullied.
It was horrifying. I was immediately attacked by the bigger and meaner kids. I didn’t fight back as I was slammed into lockers and sheepishly retrieved the books that were knocked out of my hands as I was walking down the halls. I became an easy target and other kids took a shot at me. I didn’t tell anyone, instead I retreated into myself. The gregarious kid eager for friends, the student eager for knowledge soon became a quiet, nonparticipating C student who sat in the back of the class doodling in his notebook. It was a horrible time of my life and I never recovered academically, socially or emotionally. I hated school, I constantly tried to call in sick and I became a sullen and mostly joyless teenager.
At the age of 55 I look back and know without dwelling on specifics how different my life would have been if I had not retreated into a turtle shell. But many years ago I learned to stop placing blame and acknowledged that there are no do-overs in life and time travel in Delorean’s is not a real option yet. I have shed the resentment for those characters that caused such heartache. I had to. It was weighing me down. I have largely forgiven them and myself. Happily, I have found and embraced the much younger version of me as a way of dealing with the current realities of my life.
The other day I was detailing a car and I was overcome by the heat. I stopped to take a break and sat on my steps with a cold glass of water, catching my breath. Exhausted, I laid on my back. I took a moment to look at the beautiful sky above me. The wispy clouds gently danced before me as they slowly made a pass over me. I reveled in their beauty. I embraced how small and ordinary the world must look from up there. I felt like a kid again, a kid without a care in the world. A kid who saw bunnies and teddy bears in the beautiful blue oasis above. Look Mommy, I see a airplane up in the sky…
One of the benefits of living in your childhood home is the memories, the connections, the triggers that bring back the memories of your youth. Both good and bad I suppose, but since I have grabbed my psyche by the metaphorical balls of late, so to speak, I have been able to focus more on the good things.
A tough realization of late is that I am a big kid at heart. I love playing with small children. I enjoy dumb comedies. I say goofy things and I like to be silly and I still think nothing is more satisfying and fun than lying on the floor playing with my dog. Charlie Brown nailed it when he said, “happiness is a warm puppy.” It sure is, not much makes me happier. Charlie Brown is my hero.
I think it has affected my social life. A funny instance occurred a few weeks ago when I was out on the boat with a female companion. We were moored in a popular spot where the water is shallow for a hundred yards or so from shore. People moor there and hang out, drink or eat and swim in the shallow water. Ducks in that locale are famously used to people and are not shy about swimming up to boats. A family of ducks approached my boat and I instantly exclaimed “look, duckies!” My companion looked at me like I had three heads. “Duckies?” I realized that she thought I was out of my mind or grossly immature. Oh well. “Yes, Duckies.” I said. “Sorry if it seems weird but I’m just a big kid at heart.” I leaned over the bow and made quacking noises at my visitors. I still don’t know if that’s why I haven’t heard from her since.
I’m tired of fighting it. With all the battles I have fought with my health and other matters, my youthful, a nice way of saying emotionally stunted I suppose, outlook has kept me going and I won’t apologize for it. It’s my way of not letting my disgust with the world I currently live in from tainting my desire to move forward.
I actually think it is what my small but loyal circle likes about me and what the core of people who look to me for inspiration (not being cocky, I actually do have some patients and readers who look to me for a lift) see in me.
It’s really quite simple. Before life kicked the everloving shit out of me I was a happy, eager and optimistic kid. Without his spirit, his happy memories and almost Pollyanna’ish approach to life, older current me would be lost.
I don’t just like to be silly and goofy. I need to be. I do not,will not and cannot allow others to bring me down if I allow that inner child to exist within me. I’m the biggest kid in the room.
“You will always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I love this quote. It transcends sports and applies to all walks of life. Life is a numbers game and the more attempts you make the better your odds of success. As it applies to my dating life, I am batting 0.0%. Admittedly, I haven’t taken many shots or swings but I have whiffed like Charlie Freakin’ Brown so far. 2 crazy chicks and one quiet one with a boyfriend. I give up. Single is fine. Single is good. Single is easy. It’s the lifestyle that best suits me. Funny, now matter how many ways I say it, it’s a lie. I hate being single.
I thought about renewing my Match profile but that was a miserable experience the first time around and I was glad to cancel it when it expired. If I liked them they didn’t like me and vice versa. The few that did like me…well I hate to be superficial but the pictures really didn’t do it for me. I’ll leave it at that. The rest, the ones that swiped and kept going, I know why they did that. The words “financially secure” were missing.
I get it, money is important. Being “secure” is important. Having your own place is a must and living with your mother is a serious turn off. Even if I got past that, my brutally honest Match profile doesn’t include the terms “dialysis patient”, which I’m sure would be a real “deal-sealer” over a first date cocktail. “Why be so honest?” one friend asked me. It’s easier. I like to get it out of the way.
Goddamn, Bella. Why did you have to fuck me up so? You made me feel things that I had forgotten how to feel. Yearning, heartache, desire, intimacy, a fire in my loins and a fire in my belly. All of those things that my loveless marriage stomped out like the remnants of a campfire. I had done so well without feeling those things for so long, I had convinced myself that I didn’t need them. Only to be awakened and painfully unrequited. As Meatloaf once lamented, I was all revved up and no place to go. Now I want those things again. Alas, I fear it is not to be.
I need to focus on my health. I need to just get a hobby. I need to spend my money on my motorcycle. I need to spend time with friends. They’re safe, I don’t feel the pain of rejection when a friend doesn’t call me for a few days, weeks or months. I need to get the idea of a relationship out of my head, it’s just not going to happen. If I keep telling myself this, eventually I’ll believe it.
Now, Universe are you listening? I am putting it out there that I don’t need or want a woman in my life. Now would you please see to it that I find it in the last place that I look at a moment when I least expect it? I think it’s called Serendipity. Yeah, I need that.
That, I think, is the only way it’s going to happen.
I don’t know how to act around women anymore. Or do I? Come to think of it I’m not sure I ever did. If I really think about it, it seems plausible that my awkward and goofy self just got lucky to find someone to marry me. I’ve always been awkward, a little goofy and insecure with people in general. I guess it worked because regardless of long term success ratio I did date a lot of women before I got hitched and some of them were out of my league in a lot of ways. Despite my perceived shortcomings.
Something changed over the years. At some point in my marriage I found that my reservations about my ability to speak to women diminished a ton. Maybe it was because I could hide behind the cloak of being married, and it needs to be said that I never flirted with the intention of cheating, I just got caught up in what I call “the Dance”. Flirtation is natural, generally harmless if both parties know the rules, and is way more common than any married man or woman wants to admit. Long story short, I became fearless. Not intentionally brazen, just completely uninhibited and I began to speak as freely with women as I did with men. It was liberating, and just a bit too successful. As it turns out, women really are attracted to married men.
I was the king of fidelity despite a very unhappy and physically ungratifying marriage. I really don’t know how many men could survive 10 sexless years (yes, your read that correctly) without seeking a mistress. But I did. It was extraordinarily difficult. To have an attractive wife that you can’t touch is torture. She rejected me entirely but I still had urges. Not just for sex, for intimacy in general. One thing people don’t know about me is that I am a mush, I love hand holding, hugs, kissing…well you get it. It was very difficult for me to be deprived of it. It was a need unfulfilled. When it became clear that my marriage wasn’t going to improve, I set my sights on the orgiastic delights that I could look forward to once eventually and inevitable divorced. With my brazen and unfettered ability to speak confidently and flirtatiously to the superior sex I was bound to meet someone, or many someone’s and get that part of my life back.
Here I am. Divorced and single. I know how to talk to them now. Unfortunately I have developed a new neuroses…second guessing myself after every encounter.
I had a really nice day on the boat with a nice, attractive and age-appropriate woman. We talked for hours. I know that we are very different. She is quiet and very composed. To be fair, she was much more outgoing that day then when I first met her. But she is VERY different from me, which can be a good thing. I ended the day feeling good about things.
Now, two days later and one unreturned text offering to hang out, I am thinking the worst. And I really have no reason to feel insecure. But here I am…
I’m sure she’ll get back to me. It’s just an example of how much I hate my neurotic and insecure side. In every other area of my life I’m confident and bold and I almost never look back at the trail of destruction in my wake. But the period between a first and second get together with a woman that I am interested in? Fucking neurotic city.
Sigh…my grandfather always joked as our family dog chased a car down the street. “What’s he going to do with it when he catches it”?
It’s been a few years since the 4th fell on a weekend. And if memory serves the last 3 years it rained on the 4th. I remember because I live in the region of vacation homes and every time it rains on Memorial Day, The 4th or Labor Day I always remark that I’d be pissed if I was a weekender and it then rained. One advantage of being here year round I suppose.
Holidays haven’t been huge for me lately. The distance from my fam and friends, the virus, living in an area where I don’t know many people all contributed to a blah attitude about holidays. But not this year. 4th of July 2020 was going to be different. I HAD PLANS.
A couple weeks before, my awesome friends Jeff and Leanne asked if they could spend the 4th with us. I jumped at it. Spending the day at the lake with friends is my idea of Paradise. A few days after that my youngest daughter told me that she and her boyfriend were coming up for the weekend. YAY! Then a few days later I learned that my youngest boy was coming up also. YAY! But his amazing girlfriend wasn’t. BOO! Then 3 days later Abby got the day off. YAY! (these yay’s are a nod to a certain blogger, you know who you are). To top it off the weather report called for a gorgeous day. The planets were aligning nicely. Now if Jeff and Leanne were to cancel I would be fugging pissed off. Not Jeff, he won’t let you down.
The day arrived. My kids got here early Saturday morning. I had already bought a metric shit ton of food and there was some setting up and cleaning to do. The boat was ready, I had reserved a table at the beach, I was scrambling around. A stressor was my mother. I love her dearly but she is a fanatic about her house and every time I opened a bag of Dorito’s she was looking for a container for it. I felt like a dog must when he’s circling to drop a deuce and the owner is following closely with a poop bag. But by the time Jeff and Leanne rolled in with Jeff’s son Johnny and Leanne’s daughter McKenzie we were good to go. Boat here we come.
I gave them a good tour of the lake. Everyone had a blast. We headed back in around 3 because the call of all of that amazing food and drink was irresistible. Jeff had promised an assortment of meats in his legendary marinade and I had a backup batch of sirloin and chicken breasts. Add to the mix Macaroni salad, a ton of snacks and a cooler full of booze…yea moor the fucking boat already.
The men hung by the grill, commenting on the meat and making guttural grunting sounds. The women congregated on the farmer’s porch and occasionally mixed. I went to find my daughter’s boyfriend and told him to come be with the guys, not hang with the Joy Luck Club. He did. He and I have a complicated relationship. He thinks I hate him. I don’t. But there wasthat time that I told him I was going to cut his balls off. Water under the bridge. He’s a nice kid, he’s good to my daughter (all a dad should care about) and he has a lousy home life with no good male role models. So I’m trying to get to know him. He joined us. It was cool, all the guys around the grill. Or maybe it was the bag of weed. Did I mention that? Yeah, I started the day with a half ounce of stinky weed and I rolled a bag of fatties in the morning. My daughter smokes once in a while, usually only with me and I knew a few others there did (no names) and I don’t really drink anymore…I decided to fly the friendly skies with anyone that cared to join me. So yeah, father of the year getting baked with my daughter and her boyfriend. What are you going to do, we all had fun. And the boyfriend loosened up a little.
After the feast was consumed and cleaned up we all ended up on lawn chairs enjoying the late afternoon sun. We talked about movies and current events. Jeff, Ryan and I talked about music, ranking musicians and bands all the while I had my bluetooth speaker on and phone in hand putting on great song after great song. Everyone was having a blast. Unfortunately, all great things come to an end and Jeff and Leanne had to pack it up. It was the end of the day for them but I still had my kids there so I could continue on. And we did.
What a day. What a weekend. I thank God for all of the blessings I have received in family and friends. This one made up for all of the lonely and uneventful holidays that I’ve had in a long long time.
My buddy and fellow blogger Steve of MSich Chronicles paid me the ultimate compliment yesterday when he linked his post to my blog. Just an aside, please check out his blog, he is a great writer and has a very cool story to tell. I found it amusing because he mentioned my blog with particular reference to a series of posts I have written about yet another failed attempt at finding a meaningful relationship. As it tends to happen, it got me to thinking.
I have been divorced for almost 3 years. For the first two I don’t even think I tried to meet anyone. I was content in being alone as I tried to deal with the most pressing matters of my life: multiple hospitalizations, starting dialysis, battling the Social Security Administration over my disability claim and adapting to life 100 miles from all of my friends and family left me worn down and very cynical. I also think it is safe to say that I didn’t like the way I looked or felt and really believed that nobody would want to be with me. With the additional variable of living in an area where most of the age appropriate single women weigh a metric ton and have a better mustache than I could ever grow, it all adds up to single.
Last year I decided to dip my toe in the dating pool so I created a MATCH profile. As in real life, it was honest and to the point. Sure, I mentioned my sense of humor and my love of movies and blah blah fuckin’ blah but I also touched upon my health issues and my financial situation. By that I mean that I live with my mother. It took me zero time to realize that most, to be fair not all, women were looking for the words “financially secure”. My profile bordered on having actual crickets. Nothing. Zippo. Jack shit. It was abysmal but very telling. I had no regrets however, my attitude was and is that I would rather be honest up front than have a awkward conversation later. Then I “met” Bella. A fellow blogger and I developed an amazingly strong bond despite many miles between us. The prospect of her pending divorce and ability to possibly relocate gave me hope and consequently I allowed myself to feel actual feelings for her. It ended badly. BUT, I don’t regret it for a second. She did me a favor, she awakened feelings in me I hadn’t had in ages. It felt good.
It took me a while to bounce back from that. I let my MATCH profile expire and decided to do some work on myself. I got back to the gym. I started a little part time business detailing cars to boost my bank account. I joined some local organizations to keep busy and be available in the event someone has a sister or cousin they could fix me up with. Then one day while playing poker at a friends house I met her. She was the best friend of my buddy’s new wife. I was enthralled by her as she walked by and it wasn’t long before we became FB friends and then in real life. We became fast friends and soon we were talking daily. I will admit it now, I read into our blooming friendship. I wanted more. We started to hang out but soon it became evident that I liked her more than she liked me. We talked about the prospect of dating. She wasn’t ready. I don’t think I listen very well because I pursued her anyway. She asked if we could just hang out as friends and see what happens. I tried, I really did. But it didn’t work. She wasn’t ready and I couldn’t operate that way. The sound in my ears of me liking her more than she liked me was deafening. We parted ways. It’s too bad. I miss her. But I have no doubt that it wasn’t going to happen no matter how long I hung on.
So here we are. My romantic woes, as it were, are so notorious that Steve felt compelled to mention it in his blog. And that’s ok. It’s a good thing. And I’m in a better place. My own assessment of my romantic viability has changed for the better. I wasn’t rejected, I simply met women that weren’t right for me. It’s not an indictment on me. One didn’t care that I was broke and both thought I was a nice guy and attractive. And as usual, I have a trick up my sleeve. I met someone a few months ago. I did some work for a very nice woman, the first attractive, age appropriate woman I have met since moving up here. She has been quietly reaching out to me through FB and text all along but I did little more than politely respond. I was kind of seeing someone and I don’t like to confuse things. Now that thing is dead, I called her.