cracking knuckles

"Maybe you need to try meeting people other than bartenders," sniffed Allie haughtily but not incorrectly. Indeed, I received two invitations to Thanksgiving from new friends last year. They both did so while pouring me drinks.

It is time.

I'm going to try one of those "co-working" places, where you pay a monthly fee to use a shared office space. The idea is that perhaps I can meet actual professional somethings, anythings there. In practice, I expect to find nothing but whiny millennials pretending they're captains of industry and whispering about my sweatpants.

When that fails, I'll explore volunteerism. A quick check of my options shows that most efforts are hopelessly intertwined with rollickin' religious types, so I'm really hoping to quickly develop a tolerance for millennial whining.

auld lang syne

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I visited my alma mater today and returned to find a parking citation flapping under my windshield wiper. Why, it's like I never left.

love bug

My previous worst first "I love you" was romantic in nature, with Sarah. I was arriving at her home, and I greeted her with a whispered "Hello, you," as we embraced.

"I love you, too," she replied.

I would describe the ensuing awkwardness, but nothing could be better than the stammering, excruciating conversation you're imagining. Life tip: if the woman with whom you're actually in love mishears you saying you love her, just go with it.

I think I've beaten this, this time with a new friend. She told me she loved me the second time we ever saw one another. I would have thought this awkward, except that I'd already seen her say it to friends, co-workers, random kids, and a potted plant. She's simply fast and loose with the I love yous. I, however, am not. Her half-dozen or so casual I love yous were met with equally casual deflections.

"Yes, I know you think you do."

We have since become close, and when life recently kicked her ass, I pitched in. Shortly before Christmas, she gave me a present, a home-made video she edited together. She apologized for being broke and thus not able to buy me some dumpster-destined plastic thing that would have meant nothing in comparison. Someone actually put considerable time and thought into making me something? Wow. I couldn't think of anyone ever having done that before. I choked up as she gave me a hug.

"I love you, John," she said. "Merry Christmas."

"I love you, too," I said, and I meant it. "And I don't say that casually," I inexplicably added.

I'd never picked a fight during an embrace before. The violent, angry recoil was a whole-body experience.


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For the last week, I've been both carless and homeless. I walked to Walmart in a freezing rain so that I could buy a poncho so that I could more comfortably walk in freezing rains.

Yep, it's quite the life I've carved out for myself.

I am now with car again, and when the Jeep is towed away today, life will begin to return to normal—meaning mere homelessness. Getting the replacement vehicle meant dealing with car salesmen, no one's favorite demographic. It's amazing how they so consistently begin every conversation with "Say John, what do you do for a living?" Such a curious, caring people.

I looked at a sedan about which I was pretty meh, all the more so when I learned that it was not all-wheel drive. Undeterred, my salesman, Cooter P. McNugget, dismissed my desire for AWD as silly. When I would not be dissuaded, he argued for literally every AWD on his lot. I said I wanted to get some breakfast and do some research. "Where ya going?" he said, and I stupidly told him. Sure enough, he showed up at the restaurant and plopped at my table, filibustering to inhibit my research.

I glared at him. "I need you to fuck off."

"Okay, okay, heh heh heh, I'll just sit over here. There's no need to be like that, heh heh heh!"

"There is apparently every need," I said, gathering my laptop and leaving. I could feel the rage veins in my forehead pulsating. Does this guy ever make a sale?

The best part of having since purchased a car is no longer having to shop for cars.

• • •

Here's an endorsement of the CarMax buying experience. They're consistently priced under the traditional dealerships, and the price is the price. No negotiations. It's an amazing difference. It was a polite, professional transaction very much like buying a pair of shoes.


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Having survived a boulder destroying my car but not laying so much as a scratch or ache on me, I ended my week in the only appropriate fashion. I slipped on a restaurant's wet floor, fell hard, and royally screwed up my knee.

Being me is exhausting.

I was telling Allie how lucky I feel. If that boulder had been a foot higher, Fredo would have been killed. If I had been a quarter second later, the boulder would have hopped into my windshield and killed us both. I didn't hit the oncoming school bus, and I didn't end up in a lake. All things considered, this is an implausibly fortunate outcome.

"It wasn't God sparing you, you know," she observed. "It was God missing."

He always was a crap shot.

She thought some more. "Say, do you think God says 'goddammit' when he misses?"

the sequel

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Thank god I was able to stop that boulder before it could fuck up someone's vehicle.



120 seconds of terror

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For two minutes yesterday, I thought my wallet had fallen out my pocket somewhere on a five mile trail I'd walked. This would have been my third credit card replacement in three months. There was about $600 in cash inside. Were these my primary concerns? No. No, they were not.

"Tell me I don't have to walk another 10 bloody miles!" I railed at the heavens.

bring it

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This week, I dropped a client of seven years. That I spent my entire weekend mitigating their incompetence is not a coincidence. Why, I sent my contract-termination email during that very weekend.

Example exchange from the increasingly panicked phone calls:

"Despite all that effort," I grumbled, "We can't fix something fundamentally incompetent."

"I don't agree that it's incompetent."

"You don't need to. I don't want my company exposed to that sort of liability."

"What if we pay you more money?"

"No. That would just be more liability."

And thus my vilification has begun. They haven't actually used the word "particular," but I can feel it coming.

now that's mentoring

Text exchange with my redheaded former student Darcy:

Me: "I was driving through campus and saw a dorky redheaded student carrying a huge stack of books and wearing a poseur turtleneck and beret and nerd glasses. It made me all nostalgic. I tried to hit her with my door, but she was too fast."

Darcy: "And I thought of you yesterday when I thought I'd stepped in something but it turned out to be nothing."