I promised a (new) friend

I don’t write much these days, which is no revelation, but I promised a friend that I would start again, a little every day.

She’s actually a new friend. I met her online. That’s right on an online dating site and we are actually friends.

Question: Does this conflict with my rule that I do not write about any woman I have dated until I’m certain there is no longer a chance of any romantic involvement?

We are just friends after all. Yes, we did meet via an online dating site. And yes, we did go out a couple of times, but neither time was what one would classify as a date. When I suggested a real date is when she – we’ll call her Casey – told me that there was another guy that she’d met only just before meeting me and that while I was interesting and attractive to her and definitely someone she would consider dating she felt compelled to pursue this other relationship. But, she did enjoy meeting me and talking with me and hoped that we could possibly pursue a friendship.

Yeah, right. Sure. Whatever. That’s what I thought at the time. This sort of thing has happened before. It’s a standard brush off, because people don’t mean it when they say they want to try to be friends. That is what I have experienced, and as such I usually just move on. But that was not the case this time. It took some time to figure it out but Casey was/is genuine. And we are now friends. And I’m quite pleased with the friendship – it strikes me to have potential to be one of the more significant relationships in my life, at least for now but I sense there is a future there as well, whatever that might be.

But here is the rub —  no not that kind of rub; get your mind out of the freaking gutter – the guy she “brushed me off” for is now out of the picture, or so it would seem. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that he’s currently exiting the picture, but not quite gone. So what does this mean?

Question a la When Harry Met Sally: Can a man and woman really be friends?

I don’t know. I don’t know that anyone knows. I’m not even so sure that it really matters.

I find that I have adjusted my perspective when it comes to “meeting people” now. In this way; before I had expectations, too many – I’d find myself futurizing (is that even a word?) about a relationship before it even had a chance to really begin. And that was always bad. Or it turned out badly in any case. So now, I try – as much as is possible – to simply be open to experiencing a relationship with a new person, and simply letting it be whatever it is going to be – friendship, romantic, etc. At least this way you can be sure that whatever it turns into it is genuine, or as close to it as possible, rather than something that one or the other or both people orchestrated, which seems so… phony, and ultimately sad.

Anyhoo…I promised Casey I would write. And there, I did.

The woman in the discount section of the B&B

I had an interesting experience this weekend at the Barnes and Noble bookstore, and it wasn’t the date I had via eHarmony. That was a dud. The woman wasn’t. She was nice and smart and funny and accomplished but we didn’t click, not even a little. I hate when that happens but more often than not it does.

No. That was Saturday. I’m talking about today, Sunday, in a different Barnes and Noble bookstore (sigh — I miss Borders…anyhoo….), the one closer to my house. I went there because, while waiting for my date at the other B&, I started reading this book entitled Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is very cool but that is not what this post is about. It is only the catalyst. Because I don’t  usually buy books anymore: I get them from the library, but I didn’t want to wait. That’s why I was at the bookstore today.

And while I was there I saw this woman and for some reason I was instantly intrigued by her, drawn to her. She had long, straight, blonde hair, but not like bimbo bleach blonde, like natural blonde, you know. And she was waring a flowery sundress, at least I think it was flowery. She wore sandals. And had glasses, that were very interesting, kind of retro 50s but still contemporary, you know. She had a tattoo on her right shoulder I’m pretty sure; it looked like something with wings. I didn’t want to stare too intently for fear that she would be creeped out by me. Also, she had this sort of old/vintage -looking white purse, like something my mom would have carried in the 70s. I dunno. It was cool. She was cool. And she had on this fragrance — it was intoxicating. Trust me, I know how cornball that sounds but it is true.

She stuck strictly to the discount books. I found myself watching her but at first didn’t think much of it. She was pretty, so I noticed her. I was there to get my book, which I did. I even scoped some other books. But I kept checking for her. She was still over there in the discount section so I returned. I purposely passed her again, and put myself in a position to walk by her, hoping to catch her attention, but she was so focused on perusing the books. Maybe the fact that she didn’t seem to notice me is what hooked me. I don’t know.

All I know is that I wanted very badly to talk to her. And I did, once. I said, “Excuse me” as I passed by her. She returned the comment. I looked for a sign that I could maybe talk to her but saw nothing. I did not want to creep her out. Or get maced or kicked in the balls or anything. I mean, honestly, do strangers just walk up to each other in public places anymore and introduce themselves? It does not seem possible.

Eventually, I got the feeling that she sensed I was watching her, even following her, and that was why she did not explore anymore of the store other than the discount section. She paid for her books and I walked over by the Nook display because I knew she’d have to pass me on her way out. I thought maybe….

But instead she asked for the restroom and went to the back of the store. So of course I took up a position where she would see me when she came out of the bathroom but not so close as to seem as if I was stalking her. I stood by the Lego’s of the the White House and Space Needle etc. She did not seem to notice me.

I watched her go. I though to follow her out, but couldn’t do it. Too late did I go to the window of the store to check the parking lot to see her drive off. And just like that she was gone. I thought, oh well, like anything was going to happen, right.

But here’s the thing. I can’t stop thinking about her. And I don’t know why. I can’t remember the last time something like that happened to me. Maybe it’s a sign of how desperate I’ve become. I don’t know. But I can’t help thinking, Could I find her? Would it be possible? Could I utilize facebook somehow, and perhaps other social media, to find her, to find someone I don’t know and have never met, someone I only know a few scant details about? Is it even worth. Is it advised? Would she think I’m crazy or even dangerous? Yikes!

What do you think? Please advise, opine, and debate. Thanks.

The Return of Gigi

This may prove to be an ill-advised post. But aren’t those the best kind?

Gigi has returned. If you’re recall she was the one that gave me the let’s just be friends speech — actually, it was a text, but no matter, you get the point. Some time after that we had a text blow out, based on the fact that she had promised to allow me to contact her if I felt comfortable doing so and then proceeded to contact me anyway. When I pressed her on her intentions she shut down and eventually ended the conversation which led to us basically ending any contact at all. I predicted that she might return. And I was right. She did.

She sent me an email, apologizing, which I did not see until after she texted me, which I did not immediately answer because I was attending a memorial for a friend who had lost her baby.

Gigi and I talked (texted actually) and what came out of it was that we are in fact dating again now, but not exclusively (I know — why?) We both have concerns, which we have not spoken about because we have not had a chance to talk on the phone or in person and these things are far too complicated to discuss via text, but I have been doing the single dad thing all weekend and week while the X is jet-setting around the country for her job apparently, or perhaps not. I’m not sure. Don’t care. (I know, I know. You’re going to say if I didn’t care why mention it? Because it is the truth. Go evaluate someone else’s emotional stability in regards to their ex and leave me alone….mmmmmkay).

Thing is, I’m not sure this is entirely a good thing. I dig Gigi. I do. But I can’t help worrying that I am acting as a placeholder. You know, until she finds someone she really wants. She has said that this is not the case. But honestly if it was would she say so? Also, I’ve found that some people (and by people I mean women because I don’t date dudes, but I’m sure they do it too) do this sort of thing without even realizing it, or at least admitting it to themselves. That way when they do dump you, after they’ve gotten enough use out of  you, they can say, “I didn’t mean for this to happen.” It’s like those people who say offensive things and then follow it up with, “No offense.” Yeah, the thing is, there is offense, and you need to take responsibility for it. That is almost as annoying as “Just saying,” another way of saying something that stirs the pot without taking responsibility for the repercussions.

So where was I going with this…? Oh yeah, this kind of goes against my code of NOT blogging about relationships that have potential to go somewhere, but since this one seemed to already be on the trash heap I’m making an exception. Also, I can always delete delete delete if necessary. But somehow I don’t think that is going to be the case.

We’ll see…

Damn right we will.

That’s what I said.

I know.

Okay then.

Okay.

:-p

Same to you buddy. Same to you.

Now what…?

I started this post last night but I was sipping Johnny Walker Red and things kind of spiraled out of control  weeeeeee…… So why don’t we try this again, shall we….

I realize that I have been derelict in my blogging duties, mildly disappointing at least 3 or even 4 semi-faithful readers on a random basis, but what can I tell you… I have a job dammit, that’s what.

I was going to blog about my new job, which is pretty interesting actually. I work with some cool people. Plus, we get free slushies and popcorn. Grape is my favorite. However, despite these fascinating facet I haven’t managed to muster the enthusiasm to post much about it. Perhaps it is just work after all.

But then this weekend I wondered if it might possibly be worthwhile to blog about my recent online dating experiences. No one has ever done that before, right. It’ll be gold, I tell you. Gold! Or at least Gabby Hayes big.

Anyhoo….

Of course, like most people who don’t have their head up their butt, I was familiar with the concept of online dating but also I suppose like many people I was reluctant to try it, never mind that I know of at least three people who met their current spouses online and are quite happy. Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that in the wake of my divorce I was still pretty raw and simply not ready to date at all. I needed time.

Flash forward: a little more than a year after my divorce was official. I didn’t even put that much though into it. I just happened to be kicking around online and I was feeling pretty good — I had a new job after being unemployed only two months, quit an accomplishment I thought in this economy and job market, especially here in Michigan, and since I’d moved back in with my parents in order to help them out (they are in their 80s) as well afford me the opportunity to save some money so that I might buy my own house one day (ex got that in the divorce), which is the best way for me to get back more equal time with my daughter — and I thought why not check it out.

So I did.

But there are so many sites to choose from.

eHarmony

Match.com

AdultFriendFinder.com – Yikes!

POF (Plenty of Fish)

Are you interesed (via facebook)

Which to choose?

It was quite a dilemma.

How did I resolve it?

Tune in next episode and find out.

Don’t you fucking hate cliffhangers?

Stay Awake: stories

I haven’t written anything in awhile.  I had planned to write about my new job, working in an office that is an interesting mix of Gen X and Millennials, with a few Boomers thrown for good (or not…) measure, but that hasn’t really happened, now has it.

Yesterday, though, on my way home from work, I had to stop at the bookstore — Barnes and Noble because there are no more Borders (B-o-o H-o-o) — to by a copy of “Stay Awake,” a new collection of short stories by Dan Chaon.

I have been waiting for this book to come out ever since I first learned of it’s existence, which was some time ago, although how long exactly I can’t quite recall. No matter. It is here.

I have been following Mr. Chaon since his very first collection of short stories, “Fitting Ends,” was published in 1995 by Triquarterly Books.

I  was still a graduated student in the MFA program at Western Michigan University, hoping to be a writer of short stories myself some day. I must have come across this book at John Rollins bookstore in Portage, MI, right up Westnedge from Kalamazoo, where WMU is located. That was a great independent bookstore. But I’m not sure it exists anymore. A google search does not turn it up. <sigh>

Anyhoo…. I recall being so taken by the stories in “Fitting Ends” that I wrote to the publisher in hopes of contacting the author, Mr. Chaon. This was before it was so easy to track someone down via the internet. To my surprise, the publisher passed on my letter to Dan and he eventually wrote to me. For a time we exchanged letters and emails, which was a fresh technology at the time. Eventually, though, the correspondences ended and life moved on.

I remember I was in the Borders on Woodward in Birmingham, I’m pretty sure, when, scanning the shelves for something to read, I came across Dan’s second collection of short stories, “Among the Missing.”

I remember sitting and reading it but ultimately not buying, perhaps because it was in hardcover and I was a new father and concerned about money and therefore didn’t feel right about dropping that kind of cash on a book (huh, if only my ex had felt the same sense of fiscal responsibility when it came to her hair or clothes). But later I did buy it in paperback.

A few years later, not long after I started my job at the Baldwin Public Library, one of the hot fiction books at the time was Dan Chaon’s first novel, “You Remind Me of Me.”

I spent my early lunch hours absorbed in this exceptional novel.

And of course I was super duper excited when, years later, still working at the library, I saw that Dan’s new novel, “Await You Reply,” was to be released. I counted down the days until the book was available. And immediately devoured it once it was. Of course, because I was the main copy cataloger at the library I was the first one to get my hot little hands on this novel. I had the first hold.

In fact, I believe I wrote a blog spot about it.  Ah, yes. Here it is. In it I identify Dan Chaon as a GenX write, a label he agreed with, you’ll see in his reply to my post. Of course, I was tickled that he’d managed to find my meager little post on my meager little blog.

I remember being exceptionally fascinated with the premise of this novel, at least in part because it was about characters who “just walk away” from their life. I made a comparison to the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” because it deals with the same sort of thing with John Cusack’s character, who had walked away from his life abruptly one day. I can’t help wondering now if that interested me so much because at the time I secretly wanted to walk away from the life I was living — the oppressively soul-crushing marriage to a narcissist part NOT the being the father to the sweetest little girl in the world part.

Anyhoo…. this brings us back to Mr. Chaon’s new collection of short stories, “Stay Awake,” which, after reading the first two stories, I am sure is going to be exceptional from beginning to end, and which is going to be on of my favored collections for years to come, if not eternity. Well, my eternity anyway. I wonder. What will my daughter do with all my books when I am gone? Will she just donate them? Toss them? Keep perhaps a few? I should probably discuss this matter with her at some point. But probably I should concentrate on getting her through middle school and adolescence and all of that first, hug.

These stories, so far, are hard stories. Harsh. In fact, there almost seem like horror stories in a way. Very grim. Unsettling. But I love them for that very quality. Unlike the  reviewer on amazon who didn’t like the collection because people suffer in it, because it troubled him. This is an attitude, frankly, that I don’t get. What do people want? Short stories are not TV shows; they are not meant to make you feel good so that you’ll be in a receptive mood for whatever advertising comes between portions of the show. But…everyone is entitled to his/her opinion….for good or ill.

What really struck me about the first two stories in the collection  — The Bees and Patrick Lane, Flabbergasted — was how for each main character there is this confusion between what is really happening and what is just a trick of the mind or perhaps a dream or even something else, something unexplainable, and how these worlds, real and imagined and otherwise, mash and mix together. It’s the kind of thing that I like to experiment with in my own writing from time to time, particularly in a longer piece (novella length) that I have been working on.

Having said all that, perhaps far too much at this point, I am eager to get back to the book now.

Last Friday

Today is my last Friday at my job. Next week I work Monday and Tuesday and then I am a free bird…and this bird you cannot change…..fly–iiiiiiii freeee bird! 

Anyhoo… they had a party for me yesterday. I’ve blogged about t his previously, about how initially I wasn’t that hot on the idea but in the end I decided to acquiesce and allow it. It wasn’t so bad. There was pink punch and a card and a gift basket. There was a cake too. It had the Space Shuttle on it, because the party theme was that they were “launching” me off into the next phase of my life. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I did find it a tad ironic, however, considering that the government recently decided to cancel the space shuttle program. I pointed this out to much laughter, and of course it lead to a discussion of the two space shuttle explosions. Apparently, recently parts from the second space shuttle disaster were found in a lake in Texas. The lake’s water level had receded considerably, revealing the shuttle parts. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. It’s just what happened.

Well, I should probably clean out my files and pack up my photographs and personal items today, so I don’t have that sad task to perform on my last day here.

Border’s Liquidation Sale

Went over to the Borders over on Woodward in Birmingham today to check out the sales earlier today, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I’d been hearing that books were discounted up to 40%, but the only thing I saw discounted at 40% was the greeting cards. Most of the books were only discounted by 10 %, which was cool for the majority of the fiction, the genre I’m most interested in, because usually most of the fiction is NOT discounted at all. However, pre-liquidation, new books were often discounted at much 30% but not now. Seemed a bit of a jip, I guess.

Despite my disappointment, I did buy a book,  a novel by Douglas Coupland entitled Player One: What is to Become of Us. This novel was pubbed in 2010 but seeing it in the bookstore today was the first I’d heard of it. And there was only one copy so I guess I count myself somewhat lucky. Otherwise I might never have learned of it.

It was kind of depressing. I couldn’t help wondering how this was going to effect the publishing industry — opportunities for writers, especially new, as yet unpublished writers, of which I am one. I suppose that even though I don’t do much writing (of fiction that is) these days I still hold this hope that one day I’ll get my shit together and put together publishable book. For some reason, the closing of Borders seems to make that less likely than ever, although why precisely I couldn’t say.

Of course, even if the likelihood of getting a book published has diminished, that doesn’t mean one can’t continue to write. That’s what I found myself thinking today while wandering the store. It made me think that maybe it’s time to start just throwing up my fiction here on my blog. Why not? So that’s what I’m considering.

In the past, I never wanted to do that. For some reason I thought it would hinder my chances of getting a story a bit of novel pubbed, that  publications weren’t going to want to pub a story that had already been thrown up on the web, although I’ve no hard evidence that this is true. Is it? I don’t know.

So I’m thinking that that’ll be  goal for this week, to try and get a story up here on my blog. See what happens. Probably nothing. But I don’t see how it could hurt. Do you?

 

 

Dry run

Today was kind of a dry run for when my job ends. I stayed home from work (in part because I was so wiped from playing back-to-back kickball games last night at 8 and 9pm and then hanging at the bar until almost midnight) and figured it would give me a good idea of what it is going to be like to have no job to go to.

It was not encouraging.

I was up at 6 am but then snoozed on the couch until about 9:30am, which was fine. Once up and showered I sat down at the computer to get to work.

First, I checked my email, automatic deliveries of job-posting based on specific criteria. Not one job that I could apply for. So I filled some time by writing a blog post and replying to some emails and troll facebook and the rest of the internet a little. Then I did some searching on careerbuilder and other job-post sites. Nothing.

I did register for a class at the community college, Photoshop — trying to bolster my computer skills — but I’m kind of dreading it. The class is 4 credit hours but 6 contact hours, which means every Saturday from August 27th until December 17th I’ll be spending the majority of my Saturdays sitting in a classroom. Tuition cost me $714. Can’t help wondering what the books will run me. And will I need software of any kind? I’d considered taking a different class, one in health care records management, because that seems like it could be a growing industry in the years to come, but the degree requires some 70 credit hours. That just seems so daunting. I guess I’ve figured I’ve done my time in school, and I’m not all that hip on going back. But it seems to be necessary. So if I’m going to go I should build on my existing skills not start over. Maybe I’m just being a chicken.

I did watch multiple episodes of The Waltons and Roseanne. During commercials and in between episodes I did some more searching. Still nothing.

I guess I had too much time to think today. I should have gotten out of the apartment. I could have cleaned my car, vacuumed and run it through the car wash. It needs an oil change too. Keeping busy is going to be the key, I can see that now.

Japecake

What’s a Japecake you ask? Excellent question inquiring reader. Japecake is a new blog by a friend of mine. And as it’s subtitle indicates it’s focus is: HUMOR & POP CULTURE & DESIGN & AMPERSANDS

You read right — & Ampersands (doesn’t that just sounds like a trendy college band populated by a bunch of snobby, contemptuous English majors). Japecake is now your official source for all things ampersand. It’s about time someone filled that niche.

Anyhoo…check it out. Now dammit!

I haven’t posted in awhile

Why?

Well, turns out that getting divorced has proven to be more difficult than I could have ever imagined. It’s sapped me of my of a lot of my enthusiasm. Not all. But most. And the longer I went without posting the harder it was to sit down and do it. I don’t know.

So is this my come back? I have not a fucking clue. May be that I’m just super bored tonight and needed something to break the tedium, to occupy myself while I sit here alone in my half-empty one-bedroom apartment. Or, maybe I’m finally emerging from my hibernation or whatever you want to call it, and I’ll be blasting out posts pretty regularly from now on. Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

There’s something about this time of year, just as it’s getting cold and the first snowfall of the year occurs. It reminds me of my more optimistic days, when I was a student at Eastern, sitting in my dorm, reading a paperback, and still firm in my belief that I would be a writer some day, a real writer, a novelist or short story writer, the Hemingway of my generation.

I guess that’s why I recently picked up my copy of “Bright Lights, Big City” read it again. It was the book that really made me want to be a writer. It was my permission book, the one that showed me that I could write about the experiences that I thought were relevant because they were my experiences.

It’s funny, you know. Bright Lights isn’t a very thick  novel. It’s not very complex either. But each time I read it — and I’ve read it a number of times, so many that I’ve lost count — I seem to find something new in it, see it in a different way. When I first read it it was the partying and bar-hopping and drug use that really struck me, because it reflected experience that I was familiar with. I graduated in 1986 and spent my early twenties in the late 80s. But this time it was the character’s heartbreak that really impressed me, that I connected with. I never really understood it before. But I do now. I really understand it. Unfortunately…

And like the last line of the novel reads, I, like the narrator, feel as if I need to learn everything all over again.