the bro code

The gas company gave some employees free tickets to the Cleveland Guardians baseball game yesterday. The seats were waaaayyy up there, and I had a nice Goodyear-blimp-like view of the game. There was a metal and plexiglas guardrail directly in front of my seat, and the architect designed it so I could not see home plate without leaning into my neighbor or painfully craning my neck. The “chicken strips” were just big nuggets of mechanically-separated goo. But the worst part was that it was a night out with the bros.

I’m not a social person; I like meeting new people about as much as I like the New York Yankees. The problem is that my friend at work (AJ, from a previous post) asked if he could have my extra tickets for his friends. That’s fine, no one else I know wanted to go with me, but then again I don’t have any other friends. AJ, however, has lots of friends, primarily other middle-aged white guys who try to be as ironic and witty as possible to cover for the fact they don’t discuss personal or serious topics.

Instead of going to the game alone, I allowed myself to get roped into joining the gaggle of guys for the game. They were mostly well behaved, but they occasionally made inappropriate comments and were unusually loud a few times – typical for a bunch of older dudes with alcohol. I like to sit quietly and watch the game, but they kept involving me in the conversation. As the game wore on, I wished I had not gone at all, but I survived. I did get a nice sunset picture from the upper deck, so it wasn’t all bad.

I have always enjoyed the company of females or mixed groups rather than just a bunch of guys. I don’t know what to talk about with other guys – sports, grilled meats, booze, tools, strippers? Those topics were pretty much all that was discussed, with the typical amount of one-upmanship and embellishment. I mostly sat back and let the conversation flow around me. As usual, I felt alone in the crowd, although AJ did his best to make me feel like part of the group (which I appreciated).

saving christmas

Everyone seems more sentimental or reflective during the holidays. Many people have warm, fuzzy memories of Christmases full of snow and fun and family time. Of course too many people have bad memories, or just sadness; maybe that just proves that most families are more messed up than people want to admit. I’ve always thought it is strange to put such an emphasis on family and giving and feasting during this time, when the rest of the year should be equally important.

I’ve always had mixed emotions during this season. When I was little, my Christmases seemed pretty good. I got lots of presents, not knowing or caring at the time how much of a financial strain it was for A-Mom. As I got older and realized how much she sacrificed to save up the money to buy me things, it became a lot less fun. That, and the Old Bitch screaming insults and telling us how everything we did was shit, and dodging the 20-year-old stacks of newspapers that couldn’t be moved or thrown away.

The biggest thing missing for me was the fact I had no brothers or sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, and especially a father to share Christmas with. All we had was our dysfunctional fighting unit: me, A-Mom, and the Old Bitch (no one wanted her, especially her family). Later on when “the foster kid” lived with us, it brought jealousy and competition to the holiday. I wanted to have a house filled with warmth and love and lots of family, not bitterness and hate and anxiety.

My best friend saved Christmas for me when I was 16. Lisa invited me to come over to her house on Christmas Eve, and A-Mom let me go (because she liked Lisa too). It was like something out of a dream for me: a warm fire, lots of family in the house, music, games, happiness, love, no anger or yelling or fighting. They made me feel like part of their family for the evening.

I was almost overwhelmed, and a little emotional. Lisa took me to her room to talk about it, and I tried to explain how it was just what I had wanted for so long, and it all seemed so perfect. “Perfect,” she laughed, “you think this is perfect?” She told me both grandparents and her mom were already drunk off their ass as usual, her dad had broken something in anger in the garage, and her brother was pissed off at dad and spending the night at someone else’s house. I didn’t care, I said, and it was true.

[recycled from 2011, but refreshed and edited for your pleasure]

connections

I want to write a short note to my oldest friend Lisa. We haven’t talked or written in several years, most likely due to my mental health and the realization that I was using her as a therapist rather than a friend. I miss being friends with her, and I want to tell her so.

I’m doing this for the right reasons. I have dealt with whatever feelings I had about her in the past. I’m in a much better place now, and secure enough emotionally that I can have an appropriate old-friend relationship. I can communicate with her without oversharing or unloading everything that is on my mind. [That’s what this blog is for.]

What do I hope to get from this? I have no expectations, and I certainly don’t want to make a mess of things again. I just want to talk with her and share a few good memories.

I’m hesitant though, because she might not be interested in what I have to say. She might tell me to go to hell, or even worse, just ignore me. However, she might say that she has missed me too, and that I shouldn’t worry so much. I think she will be gracious and understanding, no matter what she says.

It’s a risk, but I think I want to take the chance. Do you think this is a good idea?

the politics of fakebook

It seems like most of the people I went to high school with have become a raging alt-right conservative. For some people this doesn’t surprise me, but in a few instances I never thought they would swing that way. I grew up in a small town in California where the political climate is more like the southern states than elsewhere in the state. Most everyone I see on Fakebook is all “guns, Jesus, and Trump”, not necessarily in that order. I’m sure some of my former friends supported the mob at the Capitol.

I’ve heard that people naturally grow more conservative as they get older, but it certainly did not work out that way for me. When I was a kid I grew up around and went to church with mostly-conservative older people. During college I started expanding my attitudes a little bit, and studied what conservatism was all about (at that seemingly innocent time). I didn’t like the right-leaning philosophy very much, and started moving away from that way of thinking throughout my late 20s. Since that time, and especially since my diagnosis with bipolar 15 years ago, I have become increasingly liberal while the conservatives have become increasingly radicalized. I have reached the point where I would rather vote for dead people than for a Republican.

As far as my high school friends, they can take their “god, guns, and country” posts and stick ‘em. I don’t go to Fakebook anymore because I got tired of looking at those posts. There aren’t enough cats there to make me go back.

girl of my dreams

Lisa visited me again last night. Of all the people I’ve ever met, she is the one who appears in my dreams most often. Sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a lover, sometimes as someone else’s lover, but always with that brilliant, genuine smile that lights up the room and makes you feel like you are the most important person in her world.

During our friendship she saved me from my dark places, she saved Christmas for me, and on one occasion maybe saved me from hurting myself (though she never knew it). She was the most emotionally well-adjusted person I knew, but she had her problems too, and I was there for her to cry on my shoulder. She was the first person I ever truly loved, but we never officially became a couple because she said it would ruin the relationship. She was probably right, but at the time I would have followed her anywhere had she wanted me to.

We remained in contact for several years after I got married, and we even visited each other a couple of times. Then my bipolar started raging again, and my e-mails and messages got increasingly neurotic. It scared her away, and she said she couldn’t continue down that path. We drifted apart, like so many friendships do. It would be difficult to be friends again without saying or doing something stupid that would make her uncomfortable.

Out of all the people I’ve discarded and relationships I’ve let slip away, this is the one that hurts. I remember what we had in 1989, but I can’t seem to let that go. I couldn’t go to her wedding, and I can’t go to reunions because I would see her there. I’m afraid to write to her because I don’t know if she would be interested in what I have to say anymore.

We are friends on Fakebook, but we don’t interact with each other. How sad is that? I would have spent a lifetime with her, and now we have the ability to catch up on things but never do. I don’t know what her thinking is, but maybe she believes that I would just cause chaos that she doesn’t want. She’s probably right, as usual.

goodbye max

We said good bye to Max today. He had been getting progressively sicker for the past few weeks, and we decided it was time to let him go. He went to rest in Nicole’s arms at the vet. We brought him home and buried him in the woods behind the house.

DSCN3166

Max loved his people, and we loved him in return. He and the kids grew up together, so they have many special memories of him. We were all sad, but we will remember all the good times we had with him.

Jake stuff on my cat 009

Max survived a lot during his nearly 15 years, including the move from California, the cricket swarm, the white cat next door, and several injuries. He lived a full life, and I am honored to have shared it with him.

Good bye, Max.

jake attacks football