Therapy Homework: Manifestation, Pt. 2

Let the record show that I have not forsaken my therapy homework, something which I have been very prone toward, partly because some of the homework hasn’t felt that relevant to me, partly because it’s been too hard, and partly because I genuinely forgot about it.  I’m quite sure Melissa will be shocked to find that I’ve bothered.

I’ve continued to think about what she asked of me.  For a little while I thought maybe I was missing the point focussing on love and relationships and not the grander scheme of my life.  The fact is our entire conversation that day was about Alan’s disappearance from the last remaining vestige of connection we had…  (well, I had.  He’s forgotten all about me) and where I expect my so-called love life to go from here.  The last thing I expected my “homework” to be was to think about what I want to “manifest” in my life, following that conversation.

Look the fact is, I simply don’t believe in “manifesting” things in our lives.  Life happens to us.  We don’t have much control over it.  In fact, I think trying to exercise control over our lives is part of what makes most of us unhappy, and I’m as guilty as anyone of it.

Alan was everything I dreamt of.  Look where that got me.

I think the most we can hope for is simply to do our best in whatever situations we find ourselves and wait for the inevitable crushing blow that will remind us that we’re really not all that…  we’re not even the bag of chips.  The sooner it all ends, the better.  But since we apparently don’t even have much control over that, we just keep doing the best we can with what we’re given and wait for the next crushing blow.

I do not believe I will ever love again.  I do not believe I will ever find myself in another meaningful relationship again.  So, sure, I can try to picture an ideal scenario relationship and hope that somehow that will come to pass, but I don’t believe I can cause that to happen through “manifestation”.  And still, at this point that so called ideal scenario relationship is Alan, getting the help he needs, coming back to me and professing his love that he was too scared to accept and face when we were together, begging my forgiveness and willingly living up to the list of conditions that I have in place for the very unlikely event that he does come back to me.

(“Conditions” may be too strong a word.  In order for me to give him the second chance that I want so badly to give, he has to acknowledge his problem, sincerely apologize, go to therapy, prove he’s in therapy, stay in therapy, acknowledge how badly he hurt me, and accept that it s going to come up from time to time, not because I want to hold it against him but because I’m human and healing takes time.  And he doesn’t get to be angry or defensive when it comes up because it’s his fault.  He did this and he has to accept that.  He also has to agree to go to couples counseling separately from his own therapy.  For him to agree to any part of this, let alone all of it, would be a minor miracle.)

You see, I can’t conjure up an image of myself in love with anyone else.  It’s Alan or it’s no one, and since it’s clearly not going to be Alan, I guess we have our answer.

But setting that aside, for a moment, the next best scenario I can imagine, as I mentioned in a previous post, is a wealthy man, who has no compunctions about being with a very much not wealthy man and providing for my every need for the rest of my life.  He should be young, and handsome, and physically fit with a full head of hair.  He should have a great smile, and a fantastic sense of humor.  He should be filled with self-assurance without being arrogant or condescending to anyone.  Oh and he should NOT be a workaholic to accomplish and maintain said lifestyle.  And somehow in all of that should be some semblance of genuine love, though, again, I have no idea how that could happen.

I can’t get any more specific than that.  I don’t believe in going into relationships and situations with preconceived notions of what I think it should amount to and look like.  That’s a sure way to get hurt.

Since I don’t believe any of this is going to come to fruition, I started moving on, thinking about other aspects of life and what I want to “manifest” in it.  A year and a half ago, I made the decision to get out of the corporate world and go to school to learn to be a massage therapist.  I had equally altruistic and self-serving motivations for this…  Maybe not “equally”.  I have always wanted to do a job that I felt mattered, and made a difference in the lives of the people I serve.  I also wanted to stop making other people rich, stop working 60 plus hours a week, pursue other interests in my life, and make a decent living in the Bay Area.  I also wanted to stop working for and with other people and no longer have to deal with the inevitable personality conflicts and workplace frustrations that I have proven incapable of avoiding thus far.

I became a Certified Massage Therapist in January and started a massage job in February.  It’s a great opportunity that is genuinely more than I could have hoped for coming out of school.  The pay is the most I have heard for a payroll position and the location and clientele are excellent.  I work 24 hours a week for this place with no benefits, and then spend another 30-40 hours a week driving for Uber and Lyft to make ends meet in one of the most expensive economies in the country.  Not only am I not making someone else rich, I’m not making myself rich, either. I sure don’t have time to take care of myself, let alone pursue other interests.

I choose to believe that this is temporary.  I have begun working to build my own private practice and I do have a few clients, but it’s slow going and unsteady work, for now, so I keep working longer and harder hours than I ever have before to try to survive.

So what do I envision my future looking like?  What do I want to “manifest” in my life?  I want steady work, but not more than 25 hours a week.  I want reliable, consistent clients who pay my fee without batting an eye, and who when, on occasion I feel the need to raise my rates, will continue to come to me, and will pay those new rates, still without batting an eye.

I want to be able to afford my life without stressing over every little expenditure.  I want to be able to afford health insurance, and not just health insurance, but health insurance I can then afford to actually use.  I want to be able to set money aside for retirement, because I know I’m not going to be able to stay in this career until I die.  I want to be able to do my taxes each year without fear of how badly I’m going to get screwed by Uncle Sam.  I want to be able to afford to take time off a couple times a year to travel and reinvigorate myself.

Most of all, I want to be able to be happy.  But I don’t even know what happy looks like for me.  I never have been truly happy, except when I was with Alan, and even then, I wasn’t completely happy.  There was too much else going on in my life that was stressful and making me unhappy, but when I was with him, when I was in his presence…  Yeah.  I was happy.

So, no.  I do not know how to answer the question.  I do not know how to “manifest” anything in my life.  I do not know how to do anything more than wake up each morning (grudgingly) and slog my way through whatever shit I encounter until I can finally fall back into bed, drift off to sleep and wait until I have to do it all again.

Swimming in the Deep End

There were two significant events in my young life that lead to my fear of swimming.  Oddly, I only have specific memories of one, though I know the other to be true as well.

When I was in the neighborhood of three years old, my father and his wife took the three of us, my brother, sister and me, on a trip to the Northeast.  I can’t honestly say for certain now, whether we were in New York City or Atlantic City.  I feel as though we went to both places on this trip.  No matter.  I remember, surprisingly vividly, walking along the beach one evening.  It was dark, or nearly so.  We all had our shoes off and we walked in the surf, feeling the cold Atlantic waters pressing against our legs as they washed over our feet and rolled back out again.  I was small, as we tend to be at that age.  The waters came a little bit higher on me than on everyone else, and I remember feeling in equal amounts fear from the pounding pressure that knocked against me, pushing me out of my steps, and joy at the experience of being at the beach, near the ocean, wet feet squishing into the sand as we walked.  Given that I was smaller than everyone else, it was no surprise when the unexpectedly large wave came along and knocked me right to the ground.  Nor was it a surprise when the wave washed fully over me and began to drag me back out as it made its hasty retreat.  It seemed like an eternity passed to my young, scared, oxygen deprived mind.  But before I knew it, I felt a strong hand on my back followed by the force against my body as the waves continued to pull and the drenched t-shirt I was wearing became the handle by which my father pulled me back to shore, out of the water, and to safety.  Immediately, I was in tears and I was coughing and sputtering as I sobbed the words, “The ocean tried to kill me.”  (Yes, I’ve been prone to over-dramatization since I was a wee young lad.)  Of course there was some truth that claim.  As we all know, tides are unpredictable, and if my father hadn’t pulled me out of the waves when he did, I could easily have been dragged out to sea and might never have been seen alive again.

At some point probably not long after that experience, I was at my father’s apartment complex during one of our week-end visits.  Apparently, we were out by the pool in his complex (when I say “we” I’m not certain what that really means.  I do not know if my siblings were around.  I do not know if my father’s wife was around.  I do not even know why we were near the pool.), and somehow I fell into the water.  I could not have been more than four or five years old.  Once again, my father was right there, and immediately pulled me to safety.

By then the damage was done.  For many years, I was afraid of water.  Period.  I was even afraid of the water in the bathtub.  After some time, and some forced bathing requirements, my fears began to subside somewhat.  I stopped fearing the water entirely.  I came into possession of a life support vest and I spent some time in swimming pools.  Always with he life vest on.  Always staying on the shallow end.  I learned to like the water, the sensation of the liquid surrounding the body, offering some support, cooling the skin on a hot day.  But still, I always felt I was missing out on something.  Everyone else felt free to roam the pool.  They swam to the deep end.  They played games and ducked under the water.  They enjoyed themselves.  And all I could do was hang out in the shallow end, with my life vest giving me a wasted sense of security, and watch as everyone else had fun.

Over the years in my adult life, I’ve had conversations with people which have eventually lead to a revelation that I did not know how to swim.  People were always surprised and astounded that at my ripe old age of (whatever age it was at the time) I did not know how to swim.  Repeatedly, I’ve been told that I “need” to learn how to swim.  Yes, I live in California, and yes the beach is only a few miles away, but I don’t live there.  I live on dry ground.  Why did I need to learn to swim?  But they were right.

Image found here:http://www.listal.com/list/comedy-villains
Image found here:http://www.listal.com/list/comedy-villains

Last summer, I spent the Fourth of July at the house of a friend who lives in the central valley of Northern California.  The average temperature in the summer where he lives is about one meelleeon degrees (should be read in Doctor Evil’s voice with a pinky at the corner of your lips).  Pools are common back yard fixtures and welcomed!

It was while we were all hanging out in the pool, most of us sitting on the expansive steps, but a few lounging on floats, that I had a turning point.  I won’t bore you with too many unnecessary details (first time for everything) but at one point I made my way from the steps to one of the people on a float.  Just as I was reaching her location, I felt my right foot slide over the edge where the pool floor began its downward slant to the “deep end”, which I have since learned is only six feet.

I contained my anxiety and acted like everything was normal, but the truth is, as my foot slid over that edge, I felt my heart rate speed up and my chest tightened to the point of restricting my breath.  I was over come with fear at the prospect of getting into a section of the water in which I could not control my circumstances.  I finished my business and casually made my way back to the step where I stayed seated until we were ready to leave the pool and go inside.  I decided that weekend, it was time to do something about my weakness.

I couldn’t do it on my own though. I needed help.  I needed a guiding hand.  I needed someone who already knew how to swim, to help me learn to swim as well.  I perused the local community college course catalog and I found a beginning swimming class for adults.  Somewhat unexpectedly, I even recruited a friend to take the class with me.  It was nerve-wracking to be sure, but I learned to swim.  Of course the pool was only 4’6″ in the “deep end”, so it was comforting to know that anytime I was in trouble all I had to do was put my feet down and stand up…  Until the last week of the class when our instructor informed us that the pool we had been using for months was closed and we would be having class in what we all referred to as “the big pool”.  The big pool is where all the experienced swimmers swam.  The big pool is split into twelve lanes, not three.  The big pool is 6’9″ ON THE SHALLOW END.  It wasn’t easy climbing into that pool the first time, but I did it.  On the last night of class, our “final exam” was to jump from the diving board (roughly three feet from the surface of the water) into the pool, and swim to the side.  Once I was in and able to tread water and swim the length of the lane, it was not so bad.  I even jumped from the diving board…  once.  But getting into that water felt like I might as well be hurling myself off of a cliff.  For the first time in my life, I was in water I could not stand up in…  And I lived to tell the tale.

As children we have innumerable experiences that shape our lives.  We learn many lessons, both spoken and unspoken, deliberate and incidental.  In general, I feel that people do not give enough consideration to that fact, and because they don’t, children learn and internalize many things they would be better off never learning.

A while back, I wrote a post in which I admitted to a significant fear.  The fear was, in large part, due to lessons I learned as a young boy and on through my teenage years.  It’s the kind of fear that just compounds the longer it’s allowed to go unaddressed.  It’s the kind of thing which, if discussed with other people, would result in exclamations of “You’re 38 years old and you’ve never…”  “You need to…”  And I did need to.  But I lacked the skills and the resources to resolve the situation and over come the fear.  There were no courses in the community college course catalog for that particular skill.  I needed to be a bit more creative.  More recently, I wrote another, very cryptic post in which I alluded to seeking guidance and assistance in over-coming my fear.  And then I’ve been virtually silent since as I pondered my actions and deliberated the likely responses I would get in sharing those actions.  It was all I could think about, really.  What should I share?  How much should I share?  How specific should I be?  And as all those thoughts went round and round in my head over and over again, my fingers fell silent.  The blog was quiet.

For various reasons, I’ve decided not to share the details of my experience, at least not at this time.  Somethings might slip in here and there along the way.  I may come completely clean at some point in the future.  I may keep it all to myself for the rest of time.  But for now, all you need to know is that I found an instructor.  I went to class.  I over-came my fear of the water, and swam the length of the lanes.  I even jumped off the diving board and swam in the big pool…  And I lived to tell the tale.

Conquering Fears

The only way to get over fear is to face it head on.  Easier said than done, to be sure.  With determination comes strength and courage.  Often, a controlled environment makes facing one’s fears more tenable.  Controlled environments can be like a stepping stone between a position of abject fear, and facing that of which one is afraid completely head-on.  It can be a process, but one which is well worth the struggle and the discomfort one faces along the way.

Sometimes, however, determination is not enough.  A helping hand is required.  A guide.  A mentor.  Someone who has already faced the things of which one is afraid.  Someone with whom one can build trust and therefore begin to face and experience the very things one has spent so many years fearing.

The world is full of surprises.  When one makes oneself available to be surprised, amazing, unexpected things can happen and when one takes a leap and asks (God, the universe, Craig, whatever the case may be) for a helping hand, a guide, a mentor, one just might get exactly what they needed, but more than they dared hope for.

In the end, when one is open, patient, and persistent, determination, a controlled environment, and the aid of a guide will ultimately lead to success.

Upside-Down… Whatever

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today’s Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt is “upside-down”.  And as I mentioned, I could easily take any old picture and use iPhoto to turn it upside down and meet today’s objective.  But that’s too easy and would really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

But the truth is, “upside-down” is a good prompt.  It’s not a great photo prompt, but it’s a good prompt.  You see, it’s more applicable to my life.  My life is upside-down right now.

Don’t worry.  This is not a “woe is me,” “I’m so depressed” kind of post.  I’m really not, which, honestly, probably ought to worry me.  It’s more of an introspective, “wow my life is… ‘upside down'” kind of post.

You see, I’ve been “underemployed” since mid-October.  Honestly?  It’s been lovely!  I absolutely love not having to get up at 6:30 in the morning to go to work!  I love not having to listen to people snivel about the temperature in the building, because honestly?  I’m hard pressed to give a damn that you’re cold, while you’re wearing Capri pants, sandals, and a silk, sleeveless shirt during winter and you’re the only person around who’s cold.  You expect me to turn up the heat?  Why don’t you try putting on a fucking sweater!  And don’t give me a song and dance about it being too cold and that’s why you need an illegal space heater, which you just happened to think was best placed on top of a bunch of cardboard boxes!!!

Yeah.  It’s been a while since I had a full-time job.  From a financial perspective, that’s not a good thing.  I’m living on fumes.  I just put in a request to liquidate my very meager retirement account just so I’ll have money to live on for the next six months or so.   Of course I want to spend as little of that money as possible but the fact remains that unless I want to move back to a red state suburbia, I must find a way to support myself, even if I have to find a way to make myself comfortable in a less…  comfortable lifestyle than that to which I am currently accustomed.

I still need to look for a full-time job in my chosen profession of Facility Management which will hopefully sustain my life and provide an opportunity for advancement that will result in more money and more of a comfortable lifestyle.

In the meantime I have to bring in some money, and so today I went to two separate restaurants, in two very separate parts of the bay area to apply for bar tending jobs.  I happened across two posts yesterday on Craigslist for bartenders at specific locations of chain restaurants.  One is seven miles from my house in the midst of a fairly business, but slightly residential area that might provide me with a decent opportunity to make money in tips and gain some convenient restaurant experience.  The other is 30 miles from my house and is in the midst of an almost entirely business district.  Naturally, at the close restaurant the hiring manager is on vacation until Monday.  The hostess recommended that I call in the morning on Monday and then plan to come by around 2:30 in the afternoon to see the hiring manager for a potential interview.  She even told me, “I think he’ll like you.  You look a lot alike.

“Oh?” I said, smiling.

“Yeah,” she said, “he wears glasses.  Has a shaved head…”   I hoped she’d make a comment about how he was a snappy dresser, or maybe how I was exactly his type romantically…  but whatever.  I’ll call on Monday morning and hope I can interview with him on Monday afternoon.  The problem is, restaurants tend to prefer to promote from within, for bar tenders and they like to hire servers with the potential hope of getting promoted to bar tenders.  I’m not interested in serving.  In fact, I really suck at it.  I want to be a bar tender.  That’s what I took a class to learn, and that’s why I respond to ads that say they’re hiring bar tenders, not “servers who might eventually become bar tenders.”

From there, I went to the second restaurant.  It was 32 miles from the restaurant I had visited first, and at that time of day, 2:45 pm, it was supposed to take me 32 minutes to get there.  That was about right.  In keeping with the idea that my life is upside down right now, they seemed interested in hiring me.  They really pushed the fact that it is “a long drive” from my house.  And it is.  It’s about 25 miles, which legitimately may be too far for me to drive for a shift that isn’t going to garner me nearly as much money as I had hoped for, but at least it gets my foot in the door for the industry.  Hopefully by having a little restaurant experience under my belt I will be more attractive to places that I can expect to make better tip money, closer to home. They also made a big point of telling me that because they’re in a business district, their biggest days are end of the work week and not so much week-ends (as is the case in most restaurants) and they pushed the fact that they like to promote from within and are really looking for servers (even though their ad said, bartenders).

I spoke with the general manager today and she suggested that they could hire me as a “cocktail server” to work in the bar during happy hours and that depending on how quickly I learned and picked up on the “important details of their menu” I could move on to bar tender from there.  I played along as though I understood that serving would be a necessary part of the job (and I really did, though I don’t like it) and the end result was that I will go back for a “final” interview on Thursday before a final decision was made, but based on the conversations with the two people I did talk with, they seemed interested, if I was.  They just put a lot of emphasis on the desire for longevity.  I told them I believe in keeping my commitments and so if something came up with one of my other employers when I was already scheduled with this restaurant, I would not ditch the restaurant for the job.  I also told them I was looking for a full-time job in my “chosen career,” as the manager kept putting it, and so, of course, my availability would change depending on where and when I found full-time employment.

Meanwhile, the best prospect I’ve had, since before I got “released during probation” from my last full-time job, is offering me about three shifts a week, not behind a bar, at approximately $100 (or less) per shift in tips, and I’ll have to drive 25-30 miles each way, in my 18 miles to the gallon, gas guzzling, albeit sexy as hell, automobile to get there.

On the one hand, I’m excited at the prospect of being wanted for a job, anywhere at all.  On the other hand, this job can’t possibly sustain me and I must keep looking.  The question suddenly becomes, is it enough to put me off unemployment insurance, and is there anything to be gained by accepting a job that will reduce my available time to search for a job, while not making enough to eliminate the free money that is unemployment insurance…

What to do…  What to do?

Anyway, just for the hell of it…  Here.  Mostly just ’cause I think it’s funny.  A Cosmopolitan I made at home the other night, using Hanger One Mandarine Blossom Vodka, #upside-down.

An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka.  Notice how it doesn't spill. ;)
An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka. Notice how it doesn’t spill. 😉

In Which I Share TMI and Try To Draw an Analogy With Facing One’s Fears (And Try Really Hard Not To Mention The Guy — Oops!)

In planning this post I thought about a recounting of all the holes in my body…  Well, the holes God did not give me, anyway.

Do you care that I passed out cold when I got my left ear pierced in 1993?  Or that I was so nervous that it would happen again that when I got my right ear pierced in 2001, I sat on the piercing stool for at least five minutes after the job was done while Heather went to pay?  (It was her idea.  She said I needed to be “balanced out”, so she paid for it.)  I did not pass out, FYI.  Do you care that when I finally made up my mind to get my upper ear pierced, something I had wanted to do for years but had been too afraid, both of the pain and of my mother, that it didn’t actually happen until just four years ago, after going to Tulsa to take care of my mother, post surgery, and coming face to face with her disdain (which wasn’t as bad as I expected) for my then three tattoos (I now have four and have an appointment for my fifth on Tuesday), I was still anxious.  I felt liberated and able to do whatever I wanted so I went for it, but I was still nervous.  And, well, you Probably don’t want Any of the details of my fourth and most recent piercing; one very few people will ever see.

Then I thought about a post discussing the number of men not named “Riggledo” who have touched my favorite appendage (hint, the answer is three– no make that four.  I have to assume my father changed a diaper or two…  No… actually, that’s five – I just remembered a trip to the doctor…)  Anywhoo…  Only one of those five men was neither related to me, nor was he being Paid, And oh look we’re talking about The Guy and I’ve failed, again.  There’s no need at this stage of things to go into that story.  It was risky and stupid, and in the end, quite possibly the least pleasant of all the experiences, and that’s including the man who, just two days ago, touched it TO POKE A HOLE THROUGH IT….

So much for vague allusions…

But the simple truth is, all of these things do directly lead back to the idea of facing one’s fears.  You see, I was afraid to do any of these things, or write any of these posts.  In the end, I decided not to write the story of my most recent Piercing, And I decided not to write the story of the “special massage” I got a week ago, before which I was quite nervous though simultaneously tremendously excited.

(It was actually a really incredible experience which I can’t wait to repeat and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before – so much more… better.. than I imagined.  So incredible, in fact, that I had no inclination to try to recreate the experience on my own before going to the body piercing shop on Monday…  Something which, judging by the aching in my dangly bits, I should probably have planned out better…)

Even the simple act of writing this post, in place of the other two, was something I was afraid to do.  I’ve put it off for two days because I feared who might see it and how they might react.  But the simple fact is, we have to do what’s right for ourselves.  I’ve just finished a six week class I’ll probably write more about later.  It’s an “anger management” class, though most people who are acquainted with me and hear that, can’t imagine why I would take such a class.  The truth is, I felt very out of place, but I needed to be there and I did learn some things from the class, the most relevant of which, at this moment, is the importance of taking care of one’s self first and foremost.

The fact is, there are people who will read this who will wish they hadn’t.  (Some of those people are unwelcome here and should have stopped reading, should  have “unsubscribed” from the e-mails, as soon as they read Reclamation.  They lack either self respect, or a shred of human decency, or a combination of the two, and therefore, continue to receive and read these posts in their e-mails.  I can’t be bothered to concern myself with such people and their reactions.)  The fear which I had to face was the idea of someone who matters thinking less of me for what I’ve had to say.  The act of writing this post is me over-coming that fear.  It’s a step in the right direction.

And it’s a step that feels pretty good.

…and Other’s Require More Effort!

I hadn’t really intended to resume writing at this site just to disappear for a month, but the last several weeks have been tremendously, and unexpectedly busy.

My new job keeps me very occupied, which means that, unlike my last job, I have not had any time for messing around at work,  (well…  I say I haven’t had any time for messing around at work…  I have managed to find a few minutes here and there for some “messing around”…  But that’s another story for another time, or maybe not…).  I certainly have not had time for writing blog posts!  On top of that, my evenings and week-ends have been pretty hectic as well.  Making time to write blog posts has been nearly impossible!  When I’m not working, which has been mostly on Saturday’s I’m hanging out with Lil’B, or other friends, or shopping, or whatever…  And when none of that is going on, I’m often engaged in the ongoing text-a-palooza with “A Guy” that has been, in equal parts, ripping my heart out, and showing me a world of possibilities I never believed existed for me.  He is less so “a guy” now, and more so “the guy”, though it’s still really complicated and not without its share of frustration…  But I’m getting ahead of my self and it’s much too late to get very far into that tonight.  Besides, I’m still processing and not sure what or how much to say.  So apparently I’m just a big tease…  But then again so is he…  Er, what was I saying?

There are a lot of things to write about and I really must make the time to get it in, but for now, there’s this…

In the early middle of June, I went one Saturday afternoon to K’s house in Berkeley, for her son’s graduation party/barbecue.  At the end of the party, I was in the kitchen packing up the things I had brought along, when K’s father, in from Arizona for the event, said, “Kevin?  Is that your car out front here?”  I confirmed that it was and he said, “cause this guy just smacked your car!”  Now my car was parked at the curb, at the edge of K’s driveway, with at least 20 feet of open curb between my rear bumper and the corner.  Remember that.  It’ll be important in a second.

K and I ran out to the street to see what had happened as the late-model Honda Accord drove away from the scene.  he drove halfway down the block, turned around in a driveway and then parked his car at the curb.  Seeing K and me standing there, he strolled slowly, and with empty hands, back to where I was standing, behind my car and examining the damage.  The first words out of this guy’s mouth were, “Oh, sorry.  I thought I had enough room to park there.”

I turned around and looked at the expanse of curb behind me and said, “Um, I think you had plenty of room to park there”

We surveyed the damage to my car and it was minimal.  I told the young man, “It doesn’t look to bad.  I’m sure it won’t be too complicated to fix, but I should go ahead and get your information.  Do you know he actually rolled his eyes at me, and then sauntered back down the street to his car to get his insurance information?!?

My Honda Insight, Damaged Bumper, Taken outside K’s house, Berkeley, CA

A week later, I had dropped my car off at a body shop to get the damage repaired, and I was on my way to the Hertz Local Edition lot to pick up my rental car.  When the driver pulled into the lot, I saw it right away.  The car of my dreams…  all most.  They had one white, Convertible Mustang on the lot (I don’t care for white cars, but otherwise it was great!) just waiting for someone to pick it out and drive away.   I was meant to be that someone.  My whole life a Mustang has been my dream car, though I never really thought I would be a Convertible guy.  Since it was an insurance replacement (my insurance policy covered $25.00 a day), they were offering discounted rates.  I don’t know what the Mustang would normally cost, but with the insurance company discount, it cost only $40.00 a day including Taxes.  My portion was only about $15.00 a/day.  When the lady at the counter told me that, I had only one response:  “Why not!  It’s time to kill the dream, anyway!  Let’s go for it.”  I thought the likelihood of it living up to my expectation was pretty low, so once I had driven one, I wouldn’t be so excited any longer.

I picked the car up on Friday morning, and I already had plans to go on a photo expedition on Saturday, with K.  (In April, just before starting my new job, I went to Albany, NY to visit my sister and her family, finally getting to meet, not only the new baby baby, but also, the nearly three-year old I hadn’t gotten to meet at that point.  Before going on that trip, I bought a fancy pants new digital 35 millimeter camera and I’m itching to learn all of its secrets.)  Naturally, while we were out, I had to have some pictures of the Mustang.

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The Mustang which did nothing to destroy my dream!

I had that car for a week five days, three of which were rainy, which I thought was completely unfair of Mother Nature.  The rain tapered off on the third day, but it was still a bit cold.  I didn’t care.  I had a Mustang for only a few days.  I was not about to lose a single precious moment in that car!

Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity.  It was about 60 degrees, but I didn't care!
Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity. It was about 60 degrees, but I didn’t care!

At the end of the week, I did not want to give it back which meant…  There was only one thing to be done:

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SOME dreams do come true.

Metal Mouth (No More)

It’s a pretty momentous day here in the Riggledome.  And by “momentous”, I mean something that matters a whole helluva lot more to me, than it does to you…

In a conversation last night with “The guy” (and yes, there’s a “the guy”… after a fashion at least – there’ll be more on that later…  sometime… probably) we were talking about fitness and exercise.  When he’s not learning and developing people (there’s a cryptic detail about him), he works part-time at a local gym teaching boot camp and spin classes.  We were discussing my personal ideal fitness goals and he said, “If you want a different body, think about WHY should your body change.  If you never run up and down stadium stairs, why should it not look like an office worker’s?”  My response was “Because I’m a shallow gay man in the Bay Area and I want to look like it?”

All of that is to say that, like most everyone, I have a fair amount of vanity, and insecurities about my appearance.  I know!  It’s hard to believe!  I had always hated my smile, and didn’t like the way my teeth looked.  For whatever reason I have a slight and barely perceptible misalignment of my jaw which resulted in some crooked and prominent canine teeth.  I always felt like I had fangs and didn’t want people to see them.  I never smiled with showing teeth in pictures…  When I allowed pictures to be taken… at all.  Once I got a job that paid decently and some good health insurance options, I subjected myself to the process and began Invisalign treatment.  It seemed like a great thing, especially for a vain person.  No bulky, ugly, metal teeth.  Straightening what’s crooked.  What could be wrong?!?

It didn’t work out so well.  It requires a lot of commitment and dedication and in the end (3 years later) I had run through the whole process, hadn’t achieved what I wanted to and couldn’t go any further with Invisalign.  I had the choice to either be happy with what had been achieved, or go to an orthodontist and get real braces…  I bet you can guess which one I chose.

I got my braces off nearly a year ago and have, for the last year, been wearing retainers the vast majority of the day.  That, in itself was pretty momentous, but now, after so many years of this process, I am officially free!

Sure, I’ll have to continue to wear my retainers at night.  Everybody who has ever had braces has had that instruction (a lot of people don’t do it), but wearing them at night is a far cry from wearing them all day every day!

I’m free!  I’m free!  I’m free!  (Can you tell I’m happy?)

Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!
Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!