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.

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.

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. 😉

I’m Cheating and It Happens Every Day

Okay, so the title isn’t entirely a statement of fact, and it is definitely a play on words, but it helps accomplish two goals for today.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-a-Day prompt for today is “Happens Everyday”.  As I tried to think of something to photograph that fits this description I realized that, while I could think of dozens of things that happen everyday, brushing teeth, taking a shower, using the toilet, preparing and eating meals, getting out of bed, getting into bed, playing on Facebook, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic– Oh…  not that one, not if I can help it…  I realized, that there wasn’t anything particularly exciting, and more importantly, not maybe just a little inappropriate to share on this forum, to photograph and share with the world.  Then it hit me.  There is something that I do everyday, something that I could share with the world, but more importantly something that leads into a story I’m supposed to tell and have not yet done.  Every day I put lotion on my tattoos, particularly the newest one, to moisturize the skin where they have been implanted and to bring out the color that is otherwise masked by the paleness of dried out skin.  While in the strictest of terms, I’m not sharing any photographs that were taken today, what I am sharing is all original photography, either taken by me, or taken of me, and with my camera.  That will make sense in a minute, but suffice it to say that it would’ve been really difficult for me to have taken all of the pictures that will be shared here.  With that said, here is the not so long-awaited story, as promised, of my fourth tattoo; the one with the sentimentality to surpass all others (on my body at least).

In October of 2012, I went one Sunday afternoon to pick up Lil’B from his house for our regular outing.  Lil’B and I had been matched for a little over three years at that point.  We had grown close.  The days of yesteryear, with the long silences and the uncertainty of our connection were past and I was confident, indeed certain of our closeness.  On this particular Sunday afternoon in early October, Lil’B presented me with a drawing that he had done for me.  Lil’B has always been a good artist and it’s something he enjoys.  In fact, our very first get together, I came over and we hung out in his bedroom as he showed me his toys and games and got to know what hanging out with me would be like in the relative comfort and safety of his own home, with his mother in the next room.  After showing me his toys and games and playing with them for a little while, he pulled out his art supplies and we began to draw pictures.  His pictures were much better than mine.  As I said, he’s always been a good artist.  Me?  Not so much.  I still have the drawings he did for me that day hanging on my refrigerator.  Unfortunately, in the present state of financial lack the state of California has been experiencing, arts classes of all kinds have been the first to go in the curriculum, in the interest of saving money.  It’s a tragedy in my mind that the powers that be, don’t see the value in exercising that part of a child’s mind and in fact the detriment that such deprivation inflicts on a child’s education.  Nonetheless, art classes are a thing of the past in Lil’B’s schools and the fact that he drew this picture for me was particularly special and moving for me, because he was not prompted by anyone to do it.  It was entirely of his own volition and on his own time that he drew this picture that so clearly, at least to me, depicts the meaning our relationship holds for him, but just as importantly illustrates that he is paying attention when we interact and he knows me and what I like (at least as much as is reasonable for a then 10-year-old to know.)

Lil’B drew this picture for me, purely because he was thinking of me, and he wanted to do it.

Drawing from Lil'B, Depicting Some Super Things
Drawing from Lil’B, Depicting Some Super Things

For the sake of his privacy I have covered up our names on the drawing, but you can see in the top right corner, he drew himself and me.  He also drew a picture of Superman and a Superman logo.  Then, though his spelling is wrong, he drew a “Supermisha logo” and a picture of Supermischa, a grey cat in Superman costume.  I thought it was adorable, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

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

Purely by chance, Lil’B gave me this drawing approximately two weeks before my little buddy, Mischa fell too seriously ill to go on and I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.  Mischa wandered into my life when he was just about ten weeks old and with the exception of a few months here and there when I lived in places he couldn’t, he was with me for his entire life, which in the end, was a few months longer than 20 years.  He had a long and good life, being well protected and taken care of and when his time came, he went peacefully, in my arms, and knowing that he was loved to the very end.  It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life.  I still miss him terribly.

Anyway, with Mischa gone, Lil’B’s picture became that much more special to me.  As these things go, I began to formulate an idea.  As with tattoo number 5, the idea morphed and grew and began to take shape.  In June of 2013, after several months of contemplation and communication with my tattoo artist, I finally had a plan and an appointment.

While the idea for the tattoo was, in no small part directly inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, it was still a ten-year-old’s art work.  As special as Lil’B is, and as important as he is to me, I did not want the artwork of a ten-year-old permanently affixed to my body.  I made it clear to Lil’B that he had inspired the design and that it was special to me for that reason.  I don’t think he really got it until he saw the finished product, but he seemed to really like it once he saw it and he understood the significance of the components.

There are three components that make up the significance of this tattoo, the obvious component is the part that memorializes Mischa’s life and his place in my heart.  This component is inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, though it is significantly cleaned up and made into something I would be happy to have as a permanent part of my body.

Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.
Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.

The next component Is actually the Superman logo as used in the 1993 television series, Lois and Clark:  The New Adventures of Superman. While I had seen and enjoyed the Christopher Reeve Superman movies when I was a kid, it really wasn’t until Lois and Clark came along that I became a big fan of Superman.  It may or may not have had something to do with my attraction to Asian men and the fact that Dean Cain is half Japanese.  Regardless, I became a fan of the character and what he stands for while enjoying that series.

Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

The third component of the tattoo is the logo from the 2006 movie Superman Returns.  Lil’B was born in 2001 but the last movie before Superman Returns came out in 1987.  The image here is distorted due to location and the angle of the original, unedited photograph.

Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.
Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.

Admittedly, this is a tiny bit of a stretch in terms of matching up dates, but the idea is that component number one represents Mischa, component number two represents me, component number three represents Lil’B.  When put together to form the completed tattoo, it both memorializes Mischa and commemorates my relationship with Lil’B, both by representing him with the newer logo and by incorporating the artwork he inspired into the piece.  He thinks it’s pretty cool.

It’s a subtle detail, but the components are arranged in the finished tattoo, in birth order with my logo at the top, Mischa in the middle, and Lil’B’s logo at the bottom.

Here we see a selection of “in progress” photos taken by my good friend and tattoo guru, K (with my camera), to show the progress of the tattoo from beginning to end.

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By the way, you might have noticed the “6/13” at the bottom of Lil’B’s logo.  This was my fourth tattoo.  On countless occasions, I have had people ask, of the first three, “How long have you had that?” and I never knew the answer.  As I was preparing to have this tattoo done, I looked back through various records (*cough* paper journals *cough*) and found out the month and year that I had each of the previous three tattoos done and as part of the process for tattoo number four, I had dates added to each of my tattoos so that when people asked me how long I’ve had them, I could refer to the date on the artwork and answer the question.  If you refer back to the pictures of tattoo number five, you’ll see that there is a date added to that tattoo as well.  This will be something I will keep up with going forward as I continue to get more tattoos…  And I will be getting more tattoos.

So there you have it.  Two birds, one stone.  It happens everyday that I put lotion on my tattoos including tattoo number four, the previously untold tattoo…  heh!

By the way, tomorrow’s photo-a-day prompt is “upside down”.  I’m not the least bit sure how I’m going to manage a picture for that, that is not just using editing tools to turn a right side up picture, upside down.  The recommendation on Fat Mum Slim’s list is, if nothing else, “turn your phone upside down” to take a picture.  Apparently Chantelle doesn’t have an iPhone, or she’d know that turning the phone upside down does no good.  The accelerometer in the phone just turns the picture right side up for you…  I suppose that’s not any less cheating than using editing tools to turn something upside down.  We’ll have to see what I can come up with.

Getting On With It

Once again, I’ve been sitting on a “post” that I wrote weeks ago and e-mailed to myself  but never posted.  And once again, I feel like I can’t move forward until it’s been posted.  Some of what’s here is no longer relevant.  That will be explained eventually.  Meanwhile, I must get this posted so that I can move forward…  somehow.

This was originally written on October 2, 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The noise and the supply of bullshit seem to be unending.  It’s abundantly clear, now, that The Guy doesn’t care about me in the least.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I shouldn’t even be hurt by it.  But I am.  He fed me this bullshit song and dance about talking to people about the disruption, but he remains just as guilty as the rest, and just as guilty as he’s always been.  Seems like utter hypocrisy to me.  He, the one person I’ve spoken to at length about this problem, doesn’t care to be cognizant of his contribution.  So why would he believe anyone else would.

He just walked by my desk and said good morning.  Why?  What’s the point?  He doesn’t talk to me at all, except to say hi and bye.  Sure it’s polite, but we are past polite.  I can’t stand the sound of his voice.  The sound of his laugh.  I hate seeing him.  I wish I could get out of here and NEVER COME BACK.  I can’t wait for that day.

Only it has to be under my own steam.  There’s no way I can survive being unemployed again now.  It’s just not possible.  Yet, my boss is threatening to fire me, when you boil it down, because I’m depressed.  She says I’m being unkind to people, but she can’t give me an example of it.  All she says is that it’s “a tone”, it’s “intangible”, but “it has to stop.”  I really do not know what she’s talking about, as I have made a concerted effort to be as neutral as I can manage with people.  I’m not happy and I don’t have the power within me to pretend to be.  Of course it’s not OK to be rude to people and it’s not my intent to be, but if I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know it, thus, the reason I need specific examples.  (Meanwhile, I’ve actually received several complements from my customers recently, telling me what a great job I’m doing and how invaluable I am to the organization.)

A big part, maybe the biggest part, of why I’m unhappy, depressed now, is because of him.  He is directly responsible for breaking me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any responsibility for my circumstances, of course I do, but he was reckless and irresponsible and he toyed with me and my emotions.  He created this situation and I’m the one left to deal with the aftermath.  I’m trying to do just that, I’m trying to deal with my issues.  I’m doing the best I can.  But these things take time and my boss is not interested.  And now she wants to extend my probation, like that helps anything.  We’re never going to see eye to eye.  We’re never going to agree on how things should work.  We’re never going to agree on what “this industry” is like, or what “good customer service” looks like.

It’s just hopeless.

I NEED TO GET OUT!

~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, October 18, 2013, five and one half months into my six months probation, I was informed that I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”, (that’s an actual quote), and that I was being “released during probation”, which pretty much means they can terminate my employment without notice, without warning, and, apparently, without any documentation of a problem.

The meeting with my boss and the HR representative (someone I had spoken to multiple times about the issues I was having with my boss and my concerns for my well-being, and who never once offered any sort of supportive or encouraging advice) took place at 3:30 that Friday afternoon.  Just half an hour before everyone was to meet up at a local brewery for happy hour to celebrate The Guy’s birthday.  Two separate calendar invitations were sent out about the happy hour and two separate calendar invitations were declined by me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect me to attend, but I can’t help but imagine that some people were surprised I wasn’t there and must’ve asked about me.  Either way, I know that my boss sent out a terse e-mail the following Monday morning informing the entire staff that I was not longer working there and to come to her with any outstanding or new requests.

I’ve never seen or  heard from The Guy since that day.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I can’t imagine what his response was to the news.  Probably relief, though he’d act like he was sad for anyone who’s paying attention.  I can’t imagine he acknowledges any sort of responsibility on the subject, even though he does hold some.  It’s just as well really.  I don’t know what I would have said or done if he had contact me.  I need to wash my hands of him, and this is the only way to do it, but it still makes me a bit angry.

(Ironically, as a direct result of conversations that took place around the difficulties at work, I’m taking an “anger management” class right now.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll discuss it further later, but one of the concepts in this class is that “anger isn’t real”.  They suggest that anger is just a mask for pain whether it’s physical or emotional.  That said, I wonder why I would be hurt that someone I don’t want to have anything further to do with wouldn’t bother to check on me after finding out I had been let go?)

Regardless, I am out of that situation, away from him, never have to see or speak to him again.  I can start to “wash that man right out of my hai–”  oh.  Well, you get the idea.  (I wonder if anyone will understand that reference without clicking the link.)  I no longer have to deal with the stress of a job that was never right for me in the first place.  I don’t have to deal with a boss who is chaotic and disorganized and disrespectful, and sexist.  I don’t have to deal with the film of grit and filth that was a permanent fixture on my beautiful new car, from the asphalt plant or sand factory, both of which were on the other side of the fence from the parking lot.

All of these are good things.  Nevertheless, I am still unemployed, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, with a brand new car (and payment, gas and insurance to go with it) and not nearly the resources I had the last time this happened.  If I don’t figure something out pretty damn quickly, I’m going to have to make some drastic and very unpleasant changes, I’m just not sure I can face.

Anyway, my first priority these days is earning money and finding a new full time job, but I think about this space often.  Maybe now that I’ve gotten the last of these written-elsewhere-and-emailed-for-later-posting posts posted, I can come back here more frequently, even if it’s just to post short updates on the current goings on in my life…  like this:

First day with full-time glasses.
First day with full-time glasses.

Are You Happy Now?

I’ve always liked this song, but I guess I never really paid close enough attention to the lyrics before.  It played on my iPhone the other day and I’ve been listening to it on a loop off and on since then.  I’m not sure if it makes me feel better or worse, or if it reminds me of what I lost, or that I didn’t lose anything.  Maybe I’m even lucky….  after a fashion… not to have ended up entangled with such an emotional cripple.

I really don’t know what to believe.  I do not want to believe that he was playing me the entire time.  I don’t want to think he could be that cruel.  And maybe he wasn’t being cruel.  Maybe he really is just that oblivious to how things work in the real world.  Maybe I am.  I don’t know.  I just know that he told me so many conflicting things that I can’t trust anything he says anymore.  I just know that he told me enough of the right things to think we were nearly on the same page, and in truth he wasn’t even reading the book.  I just know that I went from falling in love, to being incredibly angry and feeling just a bit of hatred toward him.

And then this song came along, and I thought….  “Yeah!  That!”

“Are You Happy Now?”
by. Michelle Branch

Now, don’t just walk away
Pretending everything’s ok
And you don’t care about me
And I know it’s just no use
When all your lies become your truths and I don’t care… yeah, yeah, yeah

Could you look me in the eye
And tell me that you’re happy now, ohhh, ohhh
Would you tell it to my face or have I been erased,
Are you happy now?
Are you happy now?

You took all there was to take,
And left me with an empty plate
And you don’t care about it, yeah.
And I am givin’ up this game
I’m leaving you with all the blame cause I don’t care, yeah, yeah yeah,

Could you look me in the eye?
And tell me that you’re happy now, oohh oohhh
Would you tell it to my face or have I been erased,
Are you happy now? Ohhh, ohhhh
Are you happy now?
Are you happy now? yeah, yeah, yeah.

Do you really have everything you want?
You can’t ever give somethin’ you ain’t got
You can’t run away from yourself

Could you look me in the eye?
and tell me that you’re happy now, yeah, yeah
come on, tell it to my face or have i been replaced,
are you happy now? Ohhh, ohhhh
are you happy now?

Would you look me in the eye?
Could you look me in the eye?
I’ve had all that I can take
I’m not about to break
Cause I’m happy now, ohhh, ohhh
Are you happy now?

 

Those two lines are struck through because they don’t ring true.  I am broken and I’m not happy.  I really don’t think I’ll ever be happy again.  I’m sorry.  Not again.  I’ve never really been happy.  I thought I was getting there for a minute, but as it turns out, I was completely wrong and only deluding myself.  But the things I’ve learned about myself, and about my disease, and about life, these last few months…  I really don’t think I’ll ever be happy.  It’s chemically, biologically impossible.

Anyway, I know it’s been a while since I posted anything here, so in case you were worried, don’t be, I’m not dead…  not yet.