Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Natural Born Loner

Loner. Sounds like a tall-in-the-saddle badass, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The Man with No Name, clenching a cigarillo between his teeth, and gazing upon the world with disdain. It doesn’t sound like a shy guy, who avoided every school dance, and preferred to spend his free time, wandering through the woods behind his boyhood home.

I enjoy companionship and friendship like most human beings, but I have always found it difficult to connect with others. I’ve never enjoyed getting drunk with the boys. (Besides, boys shouldn’t be getting drunk. They should be helping old ladies cross the street, and mowing their invalid neighbor’s lawn.) I’m not a sports fan or player. I’m not a hobbyist, meeting up with other stamp collectors at the local community center on weekends. I enjoy solitary activities. Yes, including that one.

I grew up in the countryside. The closest neighbors my age were down the road a piece. I was not part of a close knit family. We were (and are) embattled. Children are better seen than heard. Don’t speak until you’re spoken to. If you say that again, you’re going to get your mouth washed out with soap. According to the University of Liverpool, the idea that children shouldn't have a voice in their lives lingered well into the 20th century. I can vouch for that.

Over the years, I’ve maintained one or two good friends at a time, although I haven’t hung out with a friend since my son was in diapers. My flip-phone is not filled with numbers to call on a Friday night; Friends to watch movies with, or discuss politics. Even my own son says to me, “You don’t like crowds, right daddy?” “It depends on the crowd,” I reply. “Yeah, but you don’t like crowds, do you daddy?” It’s true. I have a hard time liking people in general and yet I spend five days a week, being nice to my customers at the bookstore. It’s my natural instinct to treat people, as I would want them to treat me if our roles were reversed. I may be a misanthrope, but I’m a friendly one.

If loners prefer their own company, then why would they get married? Well, loners need love too. When the world quiets down, it’s nice to have someone to open up to at the end of the day. I’m the strong and silent type, but once you get to know me I reveal my fragile self. Fifty-five and emotionally fragile is not a good tagline. I'm sure that the Man with No Name visited the bordello once in a while, but there must have been a tragedy in his past that kept romantic love at bay. Maybe the Man with No Name needed a dog; or a good therapist.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Variable (Man)

I am The Variable Man
A variable is a quantity that may change within the context of a problem. Mathematically, the variable is often represented by an X and in this case X is me. I am the variable and that can be looked at in two ways. First: It’s a positive aspect, meaning that I’m capable of change and adaptation. Or Second: It could mean that I’m the type of person, who has a tendency to change horses in midstream, but if that horse has been rode hard, and put up wet, maybe it’s time for a change.

As I mentioned in my last post, the house we have been renting for the last six years is going to be sold. Naturally, there is a lot of stress and frustration swirling around this impending move. My wife told me recently that I was the only variable in this decision making process. Like Goldberg, there must be at least 30 variations, including commuting, employment changes, and timing. Life is my aria and I contain multitudes. I’m full of contradictions and always looking for alternate routes. The Goldberg Variations put Glenn Gould on the musical map. My variations have put me in debt and on high blood pressure medication. Fifty-five and wondering why I’m still crazy after all these years.

They say that variety is the spice of life, so is it just one spice, or is it a mix like Mrs. Dash or Johnny’s Seasoning Salt? Variety television shows were popular when I was younger. The idea was a comedy sketch, followed by a ballad, followed by another sketch, followed by a dance number…well, you get the idea. A variety of entertainment was contained within the same show. Kind of like life itself. It’s a variety of entertainment in one lifetime that’s over too quickly and has too many commercials. There is no variety in reality shows, which do not resemble life at all.

My career path has not been a straight trajectory. I’ve been a technician, a picture-framer and a bookseller. I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. I can’t fit all of that work history on my résumé! Just the pirate stuff alone would take pages, maps, and an inventory of booty. I don’t see any new employment positions on the horizon, but who knows? Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but he can learn variations on the tricks he already knows. Even old pirates can still be crafty.

Variety is touted as a wonderful thing, but change can resemble dark clouds on the horizon. You wouldn’t say, “Hey, just for variety’s sake, let’s move all of our possessions from this location to another location across town.” As for being the Variable (Man) in the equation, I’m going with answer number one, that I’m capable of change and adaptation – Even though I still sometimes change horses in midstream and get on a blind donkey headed to nowhere.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
              --  Walt Whitman

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What We Talk About When We Talk About Moving

Moving. We’ve all done it, at least once; the first time being when we were moved from that nice warm womb into that harshly lit hospital room. I’ve moved across the country four times. Last week, we were informed by our landlord that she has decided to sell the house, where we have lived for the last six years. This house has served us well. It’s conveniently close to the bookstore, where I am employed; it’s big enough for the four of us, and it’s fairly inexpensive for the area – about a thousand dollars less than comparable houses. I don’t think we’ll be moving on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky. We’re hoping for a house with a yard, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Something affordable and within a twenty minute drive of our work, and my son’s school. Ah, hope…

Our current residence is not without its downsides. It’s located on the very busy 15th ave NE, across the street from the bus stop; emergency sirens are a nightly occurrence; and the house itself needs quite a bit of work. The convenience and price outweighed those minor negatives though. Now comes the difficult, but not impossible task of finding something similar in the area. They say it’s a seller’s market right now, and those who suffer, are the ones that were already hanging on by their fingernails, the cliff crumbling away beneath them. I know at least a half dozen people, who are in or soon to be in the same situation we are. We need the jobs here in the city, but we can no longer afford to live, where we are employed. Thanks Amazon!

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was writing about life’s little lemons, and having to move is certainly a big fat festering lemon. I need to try and see it through my son’s eyes. He’s excited about the unknown possibilities and the known possibility of having a basketball hoop at the new place. I’ve been yearning for a canine companion, so maybe this move will provide the space. It would be nice not to be so close to our neighbors that we can reach from our deck and hand them a bowl of sugar. I can hear the the toilet lid hit the porcelain tank when they raise it! That's too close!

Every transition is a source of stress, even happy events, such as weddings. Moving from one place of residence to another is a major source of stress, but according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, changing residence is not even in the top ten. Marriage is number seven. The scale is skewed towards the wealthy -- as most media is -- because under other items causing stress is selling one’s house. So, apparently the landlord will be experiencing quite a bit of stress, but the tenants will continue to roll along carefree. Survey says! You don’t count.

The sun is shining with indifference, as always. It's time to put my shoes on and walk to work.