Last Words

Well, it’s really over.

I mean, it’s really been over for a year, but it’s really, really over.  On Friday, November 15th, I received a blank text message from Alan.  Literally, just an empty bubble.  I was out driving so it took a minute for me to process what had happened, to realize that this was a message from the man I love who had ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped all over it with glee.  (Clearly there is something very wrong with me.)

I believe I am a, mostly, sane and rational person, so if I had somehow managed to send an accidental blank text to someone I had had zero interaction with for 7 months, I would have followed that text message up with something along the lines of, “That was an accident.  Sorry to disturb you.”  So I waited.  I waited to see if he would send some sort of explanation.  No explanation came.  For five days.

Look, I will freely admit that I have not handled every part of this experience in the healthiest of ways.  I’ve spent the last year of my life stuck in a terrible place, holding on to a sliver of hope that somehow he would be the exception to the norm.  Somehow, he would be one of the few that actually achieves self-realization, faces who they have become, and seeks help to heal.  Because of this delusion, I have kept an eye on his on-line activities, not to monitor him, but to have an idea of what’s going on in his life and where he might be in this process.  I knew that he had not used his Grindr profile in about three to four months.  I knew the he had logged off of Scruff the day after Labor Day and with the exception of three times that I could tell, 1) to delete his profile picture, 2) to block me from his account, and 3) to unblock me a few days later, he had not been actively using Scruff either.

Suddenly, he was back on both apps.  He had updated his profile picture on Grindr, and added one to Scruff, both the same picture, (one that was taken when he and I first started dating, which he had sent to me via text when he was off on a nature adventure with his friends.  Could be a coincidence, but as this drama unfolds, it becomes harder and harder to believe anything he does is by accident).  He was back on the apps, pretty constantly, as he was when he first dumped me – as he does when he is “single”.

This information, coupled with his “accidental” blank text, gave me a pretty clear picture of what’s happening, but I wanted to give him a chance, the benefit of the doubt, as it were (though that is a loaded statement and not something I give him any longer).  So after five days and no further contact from him, I sent a simple message:

“Was there something that you wanted to say?”

Two hours and five minutes later her replied, “My phone screen’s acting up lately.. sorry.”

“mmmm.  okay.” I replied, knowing that his answer was completely implausible.  I can think of no feasible way that he accidentally sent me a blank text message after seven months of silence due to his phone screen acting up, unless he has had zero text communication with anyone since the last time we interacted.

“How are things?” he asked me, as if there was no tumultuousness in our history and my disbelief was not clear in my response.

The last time we interacted, he was cold, aloof, and indifferent to me.  Theoretically willing to try to be “friends”, but not anything more.  I knew then that I couldn’t do the friendship thing and, painfully, I let the communication drop.  This time, I knew he wanted something, but I didn’t expect him to be nice.  Regardless, I was not going to let my guard down.  I was not going to feed him, and give him any information to use against me.

“Better question is how are things with you?”  With every message I sent I expected hostility, for the façade to drop and for things to go awry.

“Same old same old, I guess. I’m moving (again). Lol”

“I figured you would,” I replied.  “I would ask to where, but I’m sure you won’t tell me.”  Last year when he moved, while we were theoretically still in each other’s lives, he wouldn’t tell me where he was moving to.  He would invite me over “when he was ready.”

“To Fremont,” he answered to my surprise.  Fremont is a big town with a lot of apartments, but its still more than I expected.

While still dating, we had a conversation once about where we would live if we were to move in together at some point.  He works for the fruit phone and his office is in Sunnyvale, California, my life is in Oakland.  Obviously, we would need to find some place in the middle, except he was unwilling to do so because his commute across highway 237 would suck (to be fair, he is right).  But now suddenly, after we are no longer together, he is moving farther north and east and farther away from work.  (Also, he works and worked from home most of the time so the location wasn’t especially relevant since he doesn’t actually make the commute very often.)

“Intersting,” I replied.  “So much for your commute you were so protective of.”

“It’s a good deal,” was all he said.  His current roommate was moving out and his lease is about to expire.  “I think it’s time for me not have room mates.”

I reminded him that I had told him when we were first getting serious that he should have the experience of living alone at some point before settling down “with someone” (meaning me, of course).  He said, “Haha you did.  Still single so..🤷🏽‍♂️”  An innocent enough comment on it’s own, but loaded with subtext under the circumstances.

He asked about me again, but I evaded the question, saying simply, “As you said, same ole same ole.”  He said he wouldn’t pry any longer, and that he hoped I was well.

I asked, as I needed to know from the beginning, “Don’t guess anything has changed since our last conversation.  Still not interested in going to therapy?  Still solving all your problems with the gym?”

He confirmed that he is not going to therapy but stated that he’s been more open with his friends which he suggested has been helpful.

“For what it’s worth,” I said, “I try to keep texting to a minimum these days.  I’ve learned that it leads to misunderstandings and problems.  I’m open to real conversations via telephone or face to face, but minimal texting…”  he acknowledged this and I went on to say, “Also, when I say ‘real’ conversations, I mean conversations about real things, not small talk and not bs’ing.”

“Noted,” he replied.

I had all I needed to know.  Of course, I can never know for certain, but from all that I have experienced with him, all the research I have done since he dumped me and everything that has happened since, I was able to draw a pretty clear picture of the situation.

SIDEBAR:  There is a website called quora best described as Yahoo Answers, on steroids, upon which I stumbled by accident in the early days, and now I get regular “digests” from them in my email.  It is disheartening, to be honest, how many people have questions and answers about dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and what that implies about how rampant this evil actually is, but I am also grateful for the site and the people on it, from whom I have learned so much about this situation.  On Quora, and I’m sure in many other arenas, the victims of narcissists, and NPD abuse are referred to as “supply”, because that’s how the Narcissist sees us, not as human beings, but as a “supply” of the adoration and admiration they believe they so richly deserve.

Typically, a narcissist cannot be without supply.  They are usually looking for the next supply, even while they are in the devaluation phase of the narcissistic cycle with their current supply.  One post in the forum referred to narcissistic supply as being like air.  You can hold your breath for a few seconds and its no big deal, but pretty soon things start to look pretty grim without air.  For a narcissist, being without supply is the same.

I already know, by his own admission, that Alan “cheated” on me once while we were together. I put quotes around cheated because since we had never discussed and agreed on exclusivity, he didn’t actually cheat, but since he did it behind my back and waited four months to tell me when it would have the most hurtful impact, we’re going to go with “cheated”.  He admitted to doing it once.  I wouldn’t doubt it was much more than that.

I digress.  Here’s what I believe happened and lead to his “accidental” blank text.

Alan met a new supply on Grindr sometime around late July or early August.  Alan stopped using Grindr so that New Supply would believe that Alan was all in.  Clearly, Alan thought that New Supply didn’t use Scruff so that was safe.  For two months, Alan would still get on Scruff pretty regularly, but not as often as he had done before.  Due to the afore mentioned unhealthy behavior on my part, I saw in my favorites, that Alan was within seven miles of my house all of Labor Day weekend (I live 31 miles from his apartment in Milpitas).  On Labor Day, Alan returned to his apartment and logged off of Scruff.  Other than three instances mentioned above, he had not been on it again.  One guess is that he got caught by New Supply so he stopped using Scruff as well.  Again, I’ll never really know.

Regardless, the week before last, New Supply wised up.  Clearly he is smarter than I.  New Supply kicked Alan to the curb and Alan was caught unprepared and without a new New Supply lined up.  Alan logged back in to both apps, updated profiles and pictures and started actively hunting for the next supply, only, as we have seen, a narcissist cannot be without a supply for long so Alan thought, “Hmmm…  maybe I can lure Kevin back in to fill the void.  It won’t last, but he loves me and I was able to dupe him before, I’m sure I can drag him back in for a bit.”  And lo, the “accidental” blank text message was born.

He didn’t count on me having wised up, too.

I made up my mind.  I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to tip my hand prematurely.  On Wednesday, I sent Alan a text message.

“Is there any way we could get together tomorrow for a cup of coffee or a walk or something?  I feel like there’s more to our conversation from yesterday and as I said, I prefer in person these days.  My schedule is wide open.”

He responded with, “tomorrow would be a bit busy for me in the evening.. tonight, I have dinner plans with some friends, but I’ll be done by 8:30.. that wold be nice though”. (A narcissist always has to control the situation.)

“I have to work tonight,” I said.  “Right now actually.  And it’s Dreamforce. I made a bunch of money in a short period of time last night.  It would be dumb for me not to drive after work.”  (I am an Uber and Lyft driver as well as a Massage Therapist)

“Nice! Ok, we can play it by ear tomorrow then.”

First of all, “play it by ear” with Alan, is always a no, it’s just a no that is designed to string you along and keep you waiting on him for hours before he lets you down.  I didn’t hold my breath, and on Thursday when I had heard nothing from him, I went on out and drove some more.  Around 7:00 I looked at his profile on Scruff and he was 112 miles away.  (So…  he knew he was going out of town on Thursday, but he wanted to play Thursday night by ear?)

I reached out and he confirmed that he was out of town, “But we can still talk if you want,” he told me.

“I’d rather meet in person,” I said.  “I’d like to schedule a get together for when you get back.  I’m out driving right now.”  I did not expect a response.

Scruff told me, on Saturday, that Alan was on his way back.  Yesterday morning, he was 16 miles away, so I reached out again. “I’m available after 6 tonight or anytime tomorrow.”

His response: “Let’s play it by ear tonight.  I’m spending time with the fam today and have other things on my plate.”

“‘Play it by ear’,” I said, “is always ‘no’.  When can you get together, or do you really not want to?”

Over an hour later he answered with “Reaching back to you is a wrong move on my part.  take care and wish you the best.”  and then he blocked my phone number so I couldn’t reply to him.  But he couldn’t so easily block me on scruff.

“God you’re such a childish coward, shooting of your rude message and then blocking me so you don’t have to deal with the aftermath.  But at least you’re predictable.

“You’re absolutely correct.  Reaching out was a mistake on your part.

“I really wanted to get tougher so you could hear my voice, see my face and not be able to project your own anger and hostility onto my words, as I know you will now do.  I wanted you to know that I am not angry.  I am sad and I pity you, but I am not angry.  I also wanted to give you a chance to say your peace like a grownup and maybe we could walk away from each other with little shared dignity and respect.  I guess you’re not really capable of that.

“I can’t stay on this roller coaster with you.  I know you don’t believe it, but if you are not a narcissist, you absolutely have many narcissistic tendencies and serious emotional issues that need to be addressed.  I believe you are a full blown narcissist and you have proven it over and over.  This exact situation helps prove it again.  Do yourself a favor and research it, in depth!

“Therefore, as much as I still do love you, I do not ever want to hear from you again, unless you are in therapy and taking it seriously.  That is what I wanted to talk to you about in person.

“I’m not going to block you and if fate makes us cross each other’s paths again, so be it, but your message last week was nothing but a fishing expedition and I saw through it from the start.  You can’t keep doing that to me.

“The next time you contact me, if you ever do, the first thing you have to say had better be, ‘I have been in therapy…’

“I’m sorry it has to come to this.  I really hoped for more for you and I really hoped we could find a way to be in each other’s lives, but you have proven yourself to be a good person who does horrible things.  I love the good person, but I can’t watch and I can’t be a victim of the horrible anymore.

“I hope some day you find the peace you need and find a way to be mentally and emotionally healthy.  If that ever happens I’ll be happy to hear from you.  Until then, do not contact me again.”

Of course, I expected a response.  I expected cold, callous, unfeeling disdain.  I got disdain, but…

“Is that all you have to say?  Have you not said enough?  I actually thought that we actually can meet and have an adult conversation.” (That’s why you refused to commit and then blew me off?) “But apparently, you already have a projected image of my ‘full blown narcissistic’ tendencies.  That’s your opinion and everybody’s entitled to that.  I’m sorry if my behavior has caused you so much pain.” (Not actually an apology.) “If this is your way of projecting yourself, and to actually find closure, so be it.

“As far as I’m concerned, my relationships with my friends and family were never toxic, nor did I even try to play with theirs nor any body else’s.”  (Of course as far as you’re concerned.  A narcissist would never see it any other way.  Also, the grammatical incorrectness and missing words are verbatim.  I used to attribute this to English being his second language, albeit one he speaks fluently, but again, I question whether it’s deliberate vagueness.). “That was never my intention and I believe you have already said your peace over and over again – may it have been unsolicited or not.  If you never found peace sending me an unlabeled mail, stalking me on LinkedIn, and now assuming immediately that I am trying to avoid hearing what you have to say in person, then you will never be at peace.  Ever.” (I sent him a letter after the last time he blocked me before I could respond to him and I deliberately left the return address off to increase the odds that he would actually bother to read it – he did.  I have no idea what stalking him on LinkedIn is supposed to mean.  How could I not assume you are trying to avoid hearing what I have to say in person when you blocked my phone number?) “I feel bad for you.  I actually thought you were sane.  Your life choices reflect a lot about how you think.  I see it over and over again.  You were a mistake.  Everyone around me who has met you were right. (Four people with very limited interaction and no knowledge of who I am or what I’m about.  Two were his roommates who were almost never home when I came over, and two were people who he told me at the time, said they “approved”, but whatever.) “The fact that you cannot even hold a decent relationship with your own family is true testimony to your projections.” (My family is abusive and hurtful.  Self preservation is not the same as “cannot hold a relationship”, but he never bothered to familiarize himself with these facts.) “I cannot be a part of that, nor comply to your unsolicited assumptions and/projects of who I am.  Keep telling yourself I need professional mental help.  If that helps you sleep at night and move on.”  (It does, because it’s clearly true.)

This is an example of a narcissist who has been rejected and how they become unhinged in response.  His only objective here is to hurt me as deeply as he can muster as a final assault.  Despite how it may sound to some, he did not hurt me.  The commentary above is to put into perspective for those who do not actually know either of us just how insane his rant really is.

Nevertheless, there was one error on my part.  I genuinely wanted to keep the dialogue focussed on behaviors and not on people.  So I sent one final message.

“I will offer you one apology in that I should not have said you are a childish coward.  I should have said it was a childish and cowardly act.

“I won’t bother to respond to your message as there’s no point.  I think we can both just count our blessing that this is over and move on.”

Four hours later, he responded with, “Please do”

It was all I could do not to send one last message.  “Last word!”

The Innocent

A few years ago, after several years of consistent writing (and a fair amount of therapeutic results), I had to stop writing on this site.  You see, my brother had stumbled upon it unexpectedly. I never wanted my family to know about it because I wasn’t ready for my family to really know me.  My brother was the worst possible member of my family to be the one to find this blog because he does not have the first clue about respecting people, let alone boundaries.

After finding the blog he spent an entire weekend reading through the entire thing, and apparently, making notes about every single thing that he felt painted him in an ugly light, was, in his mind, inaccurate, or in some other way pissed him off.  He sent me a lengthy, angry email about all of this and told me I had no right to write, and say, the things I did.  He then refused to unsubscribe to the blog because, he said, I needed to be held accountable for the “slanderous” things I had and might say about him.  “Slanderous”, of course, equals wrong.

I tried to maintain control of my circumstances.  I moved my blog to another platform, but he hunted it down.  That platform, unlike WordPress at that time, allowed me the option to block his IP address, and email address so that he wouldn’t be able to see the blog, but he knows a lot more about computers than I, and he utilized some technological wizardry to force his way in.  I tried setting up a whole new blog, but ultimately, it just didn’t feel right.  This is my blogging home.  So I gave up and I lost something that had meant so much more to me than just a place to exercise my writing ability.

As if all the harm he had done to me over the course of my childhood hadn’t been enough, he had taken away the one thing that, at that time, offered me some hope for healing and achieving peace and happiness for myself.

Some time later, I found this on-line:

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I’ve posted this here before, but it is relevant today.  You see, part of the work I’m doing now is to figure out who I am. Not who I need to be to make other people happy or like me.  Not how to live up to the expectations that others place on me to make me acceptable in their eyes.  But who I am.  For me.  Today.  And always.

My life is mine.  My stories are mine.  What has lead me to this moment, to this point in my life, I own that, and I can do with it as I please.

I no longer wish to hide from anyone.  I no longer wish to live up to anyone else’s expectations.  I no longer wish to seek approval or blessing from anyone.

Going forward, in these pages, there will be no name changes “to protect the innocent”.

THERE ARE NO INNOCENT.

If people want me to write warmly about them, they should behave better.

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.

A Turn of the Tides

Today is the last day of my first week on my new job.

I.  Am.  Exhausted.

My commute ranges anywhere from 50 to 100 minutes, each way, depending on the day, the traffic and the route I take.  I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m tremendously grateful.  It’s a good job, with a lot of opportunity for growth and advancement and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’m just really tired.

I have less than one month’s expenses left in my savings account and I was moments away from making the dreaded call to my sister to find out if it was still an option for me to move to New York to live with her and her husband, four kids (a fifth on the way), their cat and miniature pony, when I got the call for this job.  It’s the job I referred to in my recent post.  The one I didn’t get.  It seems their first candidate, for whatever reason, didn’t pan out.

Last week, I went shopping to buy appropriate work clothes.  I plan to get promoted sooner rather than later so I’m implementing the “dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got” philosophy.  And since I didn’t have to wear dress clothes in my last job, it’s been well over a year since I’ve dressed for work (other than the white-dress-shirt-and-black-slacks penguin suit I wear when I’m bartending).

I haven’t gotten up this early on a consistent basis, in a very long time, and tomorrow I have to get up early again, though a little less early.  I’ll probably get to “sleep in” until 7:00. I’m bartending (and lead/sign-in person) tomorrow morning at the Cal football game and I have to be there at 9:00 in the morning.  Tomorrow night I have a date.  That’s a whole different post for another time.  And then Sunday I have an outing with Lil’B.

Who needs rest anyway?

Ol Blue Eyes

I’ve essentially been unemployed since last October.  I work two very part-time jobs bartending with catering companies, but I never earn a lot with those jobs.  It’s never enough to off set the unemployment money I’ve been collecting, it just makes that money stretch a little farther than it otherwise would.

Sleeping Beauty. Mischa Asleep on my lap… Just where he believed he belonged.

My last cat, Mischa, died in October 2012.  It was really hard on me and it took a long time for me to even be interested in animals.  When I went to visit my sister and her family in April, 2013, I never once touched their very sweet and tolerant cat.  This fact occurred to me only as I was on the plane flying home from my week-long visit.  It was not like me not to want to touch and pet the cat as she passed by.

At some point during the year or so that followed, my pain at the loss of my best friend of over twenty years lessened and I began to consider having a new animal in my life.  I was somewhat torn, however.  I’ve always been a cat person.  I really like them and I find them to be quite enjoyable.  I feel that anyone who says that cats are assholes (and I’ve heard lots of people say that), simply do not understand cats personalities.  Mischa was a fairly good mix of independent and loving.  Like all cats, he groomed himself.  I didn’t need to bathe him.  When he was hungry he helped himself to his food bowl.  When he was thirsty he got himself a drink.  When it was time to potty, he took care of his own business with no assistance from me.  My only responsibilities were to replenish his food and water bowls every morning and keep the litter box sifted.

But I like dogs too.  Call me a cliché if you like, but I like Chihuahuas.  I have a small apartment, so if I was going to have a dog, I was going to have to have a small one.  Chihuahuas fit nicely in a lap while watching TV, they don’t try to bowl you over the minute you walk in the door, and they’re easy to pick up and carry around when the situation warrants it.

The problem is, Dogs require a lot of attention and work.  They need to be bathed periodically.  They need to be walked several times daily and often at inconvenient times.  And they must be entertained, all. the. time.  I liked the idea of having a dog.  We had a family dog when I was a teenager.  Well, I say she was a family dog.  She was supposed to be a family dog.  She ended up being my sister’s dog.  Dogs are like that.  They pick one person and the rest of the family can hang for all they care.  (Really all animals are like that, but whatever.)  Life with this dog was much simpler.  Since my sister was her person, my sister “got” to do all the baths.  Feeding and watering was a quick twice-daily activity once before school and once at dinner time.  We lived in a suburban area, in a house with a back yard.  When it was time for the dog to take care of her business, we just let her out the back door and that was that.

But see, I live in a more urban environment without a fenced-in yard to just let a critter run around in.  Walking a dog, for me, would involve roaming the neighborhood side walks, carrying a plastic baggy to retrieve said business.  I’m not a morning person, and when I’m working full-time, I’m often rushing to get out the door and get to work “on time”.  I’m also a night owl who has a bad habit of staying up too late to “just finish one more show in my DVR backlog” and then wanting to go right to bed.  Much of the time I have to really force myself just to brush my teeth and put in my retainers.  Having a dog would mean having to go for a walk before I leave for work, no matter how late I’m running.  It would mean having to go for a walk before I can go to bed, no matter how late I’ve stayed up, or how tired I am.  So I was on the fence.

The only things I knew for sure were that I was not going to have another male animal, and I was not going to get another pet until I had a full-time job.

On Sunday, June 1st, at 9:40 am I received a text from my downstairs neighbor.

Found a stray kitten in the back yard.  Can’t keep him.  Interested in checking him out?

HIM.

I had no intention of taking in a new pet.  I still don’t have a full-time job.  I don’t need the expense of getting a new kitten all up to date with medical stuff.  I was in the process of saying as much in a reply text when this came through.

Frankie's First Portrait

My neighbor is evil.

I went down to talk to her.  I wanted to know more about the situation.  I had actually heard kitten meows from my bathroom window and I really thought there were a couple of them out there.  It turned out what I was hearing was this poor little guy in their bathroom where they had closed him up to keep him away from their other two cats.  But here’s the thing, while I was in my neighbors bathroom with her and the kitten and talking about the situation, she kept calling him “Blue Eyes” for obvious reasons.  Every time she called him that, I thought of Frank Sinatra and his nick name “Ol Blue Eyes”.  Then I thought “Frank Sinatra would be a cute name for him.”

Here’s a little pro tip for you.  If you have no intention of adopting an animal, DON’T NAME IT.

Frank Sinatra Riggs

 

This is “Frank Sinatra”, but his friends call him “Frankie”.  Frankie is currently about ten weeks old, which according to most conversion charts is the equivalent of about three to three and a half years old.  In other words, he’s a bit of a holy terror right about now.  But he’s a pretty darn cute holy terror.

Short and Sweet

Bwahahahaha!  Yeah, right!  If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know “short and sweet” isn’t really my thing.  But I’ll try.  I don’t have a whole lot of time for this.  (You like how I waste precious moments of my time, explaining how I don’t have much time?)  Anywhoo…

I’ve been so busy, and there are so many things to catch up on that I hardly knew/know where to begin, and with limited time for writing, I’ve been unsure of what to say to convey my current circumstances with brevity.  Things are pretty stressful right now and I’ve needed to spend just about every available computer time minute looking for and applying to jobs.  I’m still not working full-time, nine months since I was unceremoniously “released” from my previous full-time job.  I can’t say that the nine months haven’t been nice, ’cause they have!  I’ve loved having so much free time to do whatever I wanted.  I’ve loved being able to go about my day free from pressure to keep a certain schedule, or satisfy someone else’s demands.  I’m starting to see why self employment might be so attractive to so many people, though, in many ways self-employed people work a lot harder than the rest of the employed population. But the fact is, my money is running out and if something doesn’t come together pretty damn quickly, I’m going to be forced into some really difficult choices, none of which are pleasant.  By the end of August, if I don’t have a new full-time job, I’m going to have no choice but to move out of my apartment.  On September 1, I will have lived here for seven years.  I’m ready for a change and I do actually want to move, but I want to move someplace of my own choosing, under my own steam and without pressure.

If I’m not gainfully employed by the end of August, I’ll have no choice but to either move in with a friend (my options are extremely limited) or move out-of-state and live with a family member.  And again, my options are limited and very unattractive.  Moving away from my current life is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me right now (or very nearly – God forbid I should be accused of exaggeration…).  I have a lot to lose right now, if I have to move away.

Next month will mark the fifth anniversary of my match/friendship with L’il B.  He is 12 years old now and things are getting really interesting.  We had a conversation earlier this week in which he learned that Big Brothers and Big Sisters only serves kids from 6 to 16 years old.  He asked me, “So when I’m 16 you won’t be my Big Brother any more?”  I said, “I told you a long time ago, I will be your Big Brother for as long as you will let me.  But no, we won’t be supported by the program any more.  We’ll just be friends.”  It was just a little “throwaway” question from him, but it was clear that our relationship means a lot to him and he was bothered by the thought of losing it.  This is one of the reasons that I do not want to move away right now. I made a commitment to this kid and I want, no, I NEED to see it through.  Yes, moving away because of financial ruin, is a far cry from just dropping him from my life, but it still matters to me.

 

I’ve met a really great guy.  We’ve been dating for about seven weeks now, and while it’s still new and I don’t know what’s happening, or going to happen, we’ve been having a really nice time getting to know each other and spending time together.  He seems to be really sweet and kind.  He’s very intelligent and independent.  He has strong morals and isn’t afraid to share and stand by them.  Oh, and he’s really attractive.  🙂

Realistically speaking, it has only been seven weeks.  If our relationship were to end now, it would not be devastating.  I would survive and move on with my life.  BUT, I really like him a lot.  He seems to like me as well.  I have no sense of dishonesty in him.  Whether this relationship will turn to love remains to be seen, and it very well may not.  I could write a whole separate, rambling post about what love is, what it means to be in love, and how one knows when they are experiencing love.  I might sometime.  But for now, it’s enough to acknowledge that we are not in love, we just like each other, and are attracted to each other, and we’re each interested enough to continue to see each other and find out where that takes us.  The point, though, is that I’m interested enough, and like him enough, that I really do not want to have to move away and end this relationship right now.

 

I have been interacting with a representative from a local staffing agency which I have worked with before and I am hopeful that sometime next week I’ll hear from that representative to either send me on some interviews, or set me up with an assignment (preferably long-term, temp-to-hire, or even direct hire) to do some customer service work.  It’s not exactly in my wheelhouse, and probably won’t pay as well as I’ve been hoping, but it is more than nothing, and more than unemployment which is pretty much all I have going on right now.  Things will be tight, but at least it would keep me afloat, and at this moment, that’s what’s most important.

What else?  What else?

Oh yeah!  There’s also this guy!

IMG_0054

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.