Of Mice and Men and Cigarettes

For the most part, New York is a pretty safe place.

Unless you happen to be smoking in public. Not because of laws or no smoking areas, but because when some people see you with a cigarette, they assume, sometimes correctly, that there are more where that came from and approach you with any number of rehearsed stories and pleas in hopes of talking you out of a smokey treat.

One of the more interesting of these incidents occurred the other day after I left work.

I was walking a bit out of the way to run an errand and a guy, probably mid-twenties, shouted, “brother!” and approached me with a crumpled up dollar bill in his hand.

Now, I’ve seen this many times before and is always an attempt at trying to buy a cigarette. My reaction to these attempts varies depending on several factors including, but not limited to, my mood at the time, how many I have with me, how much of a hurry I’m in, whether or not Mercury is in retrograde, etc. This guy’s first mistake was leading with, “brother!” I tend to dismiss those outside of pro wrestling or the Catholic priesthood who overuse brother to refer to strangers.

Lest I digress further, I’ll continue with the story before this turns into a stream of consciousness vomitorium of the written word.

Brotherman approached me, crinkled dollar in hand, and started in on some rehearsed rant about “people in this fucking neighborhood” and all he was trying to do was buy a smoke! I paused for a moment and was basically waiting for my turn to talk. He was very passionate about this topic and had clearly spent some time rehearsing what he was going to say to anyone who gave him a chance. When he had concluded (or at least stopped talking for a minute), I reached for my pocket and was just going to give him one – mostly because when someone offers to buy one and has cash in hand, their intentions are usually pure. Usually.

As I reached for my pocket, a friend, let’s call him Lenny, appeared behind Brotherman and started asking questions, “did it work? didja get ‘em? what kind? how many didja get?”
I looked up at the pair, said “sorry”, and turned to continue on my way.

My response did not set well with Brotherman and he tore into Lenny about remembering how to act, etc. I felt bad for Lenny. Sort of.

I continued on my way to whatever adventure I had planned for that night and made a note to write about the incident later. I have notebooks of outlines and prompts with the intention of writing about all of them someday. We’ll see if that happens.

NaNoWriMo is coming and who knows what will happen…

The Best Laid Plans

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and definitely have some catching up to do as far as writing about my adventures and some of the changes that have happened in the last couple months. For one, I’m a New Yorker now – still a die-hard Cubs fan – but a New Yorker. For anyone who wasn’t aware of what had been happening the last couple years, I was essentially run out of Portland by the now Former Spouse and had moved back to my childhood home. You know, the sort of thing one is forced to do when their ex-wife funnels off money from the joint savings, hides her own income, and shames you into not taking any jobs or interviews leaving you with nothing.

It was not my first choice by a long shot but it was the only option I had other than living in the shantytown under the Fremont Bridge. No, really.

The only benefit to my circumstance was that I won every game of “Pity Poker.”
Any time someone started in with their list of woes, I would simply reply, “oh yeah? I’m 38, divorced, and living in my childhood room. What else ya got?” They would graciously accept defeat and move on.

In the last few months, my fortunes changed dramatically. I was in a wonderful relationship with an amazing woman and was making plans to move to New York. I already felt like a part time resident since I had been traveling to the Big City approximately every 2-3 weeks for months.

Long story short, I applied for, interviewed for, and was offered a job much quicker than I expected and would be moving east in a couple weeks.

I started the packing process and began my farewell tour of Chicago friends, places, restaurants, stores, old haunts, etc.

Here’s where it takes a turn for the absurd.

In what was my last weekend in Chicago, a family member that I lived with (and lived with growing up) had what can best be described as a meltdown for an hour over whether or not a ceiling fan was being used. Her meltdown was not unlike what the Former Spouse did when I had to leave Portland. Only – and major – difference this time is that I had the resources to do something about it. I was not about to risk another MS flareup to assuage someone’s feelings. I booked a hotel for my last week, extended the car rental I had, and essentially threw my stuff in boxes and hauled what remained of my earthly possessions to an Office Depot that had hours late enough on a Sunday for me to ship that day.

I stayed in a hotel by the airport, went to work, didn’t get to say goodbye to the house I had grown up in, or many of my Belmont friends.

The last four weeks – my first month as a New Yorker – have been fantastic and saved me on airfare. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

No matter how well we think we plan for something or how we want something to go, we ultimately have no control over what happens around us that can directly impact even our best laid plans.

10 Weeks Later

A lot has happened since the last post and approximately 99% of it has been good.

Really good.

I can honestly say that I am the happiest and healthiest I have been in years and I’m in a fantastic place overall.

Why does it seem more difficult for me to find the time to write when things are amazing and so many awesome things are happening that are much more fun to write (and I’m sure, read) about than the bummer fest that was most of 2014?

I’ll gladly trade posting something every 8 to 10 weeks if it’s because so many awesome things are happening.

The karma loop has definitely been doing its thing…

No complaints here.

Capture the Flag

I used to have a flag of the town I lived in for a while.

Used to.

To the best of my knowledge, it is still in the possession of the Art School Stoner. The Former Spouse had given it to her for some comedy bit she was going to do a couple weeks before The Incident in which I had 4 1/2 hours to pack and leave. I left a lot of stuff behind. I didn’t and I still don’t want to thing about some of what I gave up just to get out of there.

But I digress…

Once I was back in Chicago and somewhat settled, one of the two times I actually spoke to the Former Spouse before all communication was done by text for the sake of filing the divorce papers, I asked her about the flag. She said that the Art School Stoner probably had it and she would ask about it. I don’t believe she ever did. Why would I have reason to believe anything she ever said again after she had lied about so much for so long.

Accepting the fact that the Former Spouse had no interest in returning anything I left behind to me, I reached out to the Art School Stoner directly. No response.

I was angry. I wanted my flag if for no other reason than I thought it would do something to relieve that feeling of complete helplessness and lack of control.

The flag was a gift from a friend, the same friend who was (and still is) living in my house. (I say my house because technically I still own half the house unless she pulled some Carol Taylor level shadiness, which is entirely possible.) I had had the flag for years and it had traveled the country with me. I really had no reason to want it other than, as stated above, I thought it would give me some minor sense of control and victory in an otherwise entirely shi**y situation.

With no response from the Former Spouse or Art School Stoner, I thought I would try one last thing that might make me feel better. I contacted The Cheater who also currently lives in my house to see if she would send me a painting that was left behind on the move to Portland. Up to this point, The Cheater and I had kept in touch and maintained our friendship since I had known The Cheater and The Lush for 20 years or more since our days at The Institute.

I texted The Cheater to ask her to send me the painting; she did not respond right away. At that moment I knew that she had texted Former Spouse to tell her what I was trying to do. When The Cheater did finally respond, she said she couldn’t do that and I asked if she had texted Former Spouse before texting me. The Cheater went on some text rant about how it was none of my business, blah, blah, blah. I had my answer, realized that cheaters stick together and left it at that.

Now I was reeeeeally angry.

I had been done wrong. Not only by Former Spouse and Art School Stoner, but now by The Cheater too.

I was 0 for 3.

I had remained calm, or as calm as possible thus far and finally snapped. I was going to go nuclear and I had the plan to do it. It was an evil, diabolical plan that would have been legen, wait for it, dary. Really it was mostly just orneriness.

I took a breath and didn’t do it. I had been so focused on being positive and putting good energy and good vibes out in the universe that these people were not worth risking any sort of karmic justice for a temporary feeling of justification.

In the months since taking a step back and not following through on the nuclear option, I have heard through friends and family that what the universe and karma has visited upon them is more substantial than and makes my alleged diabolical plan pale in comparison.

Sometimes letting go and watching what happens is tough because it feels like natural justice takes too long and then there are times it surprises you in ways you couldn’t have imagined and you’re grateful you let the universe correct itself.

So, to sum it all up, Former Spouse and Art School Stoner still have my flag somewhere in the Portland area but I have peace, peace of mind, my sanity, and a better life now than I could have imagined 18 months ago.


The Year That Was

Any number of expletives could be – and have been – used to describe the first half of 2014 as far as my personal life was concerned. Since that has all been well documented here, here, and here, there is no need to rehash all that.

2014 came to a merciful end and 2015 started off with a clean slate and unlimited potential and did not disappoint.

2015 was the best year I’ve had in a long time – perhaps even my best year ever – and was a sharp contrast to the previous year in every imaginable way.

I traveled.
I had adventures.
I went to concerts – a lot of concerts.
I made new friends.
I saw old friends.
I met Frank Black.
I got a selfie with Isa Chandra (my vegan celebrity crush).
I met Colin Hay (you know, the guy who sings I Come From a Land Down Under).

I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. All The. Time.

At the end of every year, a dear friend produces an annual report of her travels, adventures, and concerts and for the first time, I actually had done enough to produce a report of my own. I fully intended to create charts and graphs and whatnot but the first 3 weeks of 2016 has already been pretty fantastic and fast and I never finished that part so I figured it would be easier to write about it before it gets to be June and I’m just getting around to writing about 2015.

2015 By the Numbers without Charts and Graphs

I made it to 51 shows this year. I bought tickets for several more that I didn’t make it to, but hey, lesson learned. Saw about 120 bands including opening acts and Farm Aid. Went to 11 states and flew almost 10,000 miles.

I took redeye flights back from adventures on little to no sleep in time for work on Mondays.

I flew to Nebraska just to go to a restaurant

I went to rock shows on school nights.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself.
My old self.
My new self.

I am happier and healthier than I’ve been in years.

The future, starting right now, is looking pretty fantastic and full of unlimited potential.

Thank you to those who regularly read my ramblings!