July 2015 Archives

imagining therapy

10 years of working from home. 10 years of choosing who I work with. 10 years of living alone. 10 years of very seldom dealing with people with whom I do not want to deal, and if I did, you can bet I was getting paid for it. 10 years of being in almost complete control of my environment, every second of every day.

It's been wonderful. It's also crippled me.

I find myself increasingly incapable of dealing with, well, people. My patience and understanding are gone, replaced with a quick-trigger "Screw this. I'm going home." Tolerance is a muscle, it turns out, and on my body that muscle has atrophied and withered away.

And so I imagine going to therapy to build this muscle back up. I don't particularly like most people, but I also dislike being able to tolerate them for only ten minutes. But then I imagine the therapy sessions, and there's a lot of this:

Me: "I can't spend 10 minutes at the store anymore without intensely wanting to bitch-slap people."

Therapist: "Why is that, do you think?"

Me: "They're entitled jerks."

Therapist: "Why do you think that?"

Me: "Hmm. I suppose that if I had to guess, I'd say it's the average person's obscene sense of entitlement and appalling conduct toward other people."

Therapist: "No, seriously."

Me: "No, seriously."

Therapist: "We can't work on this if you're just going to blame everyone else."

Me: "Okay, then." (gets up)

Therapist: "Please sit down."

(I sit down)

Therapist: "Sigh. So what is it you want from me, John?"

Me: "Is there, like, a pill that makes you not notice that other people are dicks?"

Therapist: "No, seriously."

Me: "No, seriously."
Thus do we talk in circles and not get anywhere. And if we're both very lucky, he doesn't get bitch-slapped.

Here, this comes to mind.

Last week, Fair Dorkass and I went to a Seattle museum to see the Chuck Jones animation exhibit. If you're a fan, I highly recommend it. I'm a bona fide Chuck Jones geek, and there was still lots I'd never seen. It saddened me to know that his work is no longer viewed by children. It is instead, as Dorkass noted, in a museum now. To me, this is both uplifting and tragic.

Prior to that moment, we went to lunch at a place Dorkass promised had "great pizza." Why west-coasters feel remotely comfortable using this superlative is, to me, no small matter of immorality. Much as I don't presume to deem the pain of childbirth "not so bad," I don't want these people rating pizza.

Inevitably, as I waited at the counter for my pizza, this abomination greeted me. What might they one day put in those blank tiles? Gluten-free sprout puree? Soy-cotton peanut butter?

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my favorite hit. ever.

Someone found the Percy page by googling "geriatric forced anal."

days since the last mass shooting in america

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What easily attainable, feel-good red herring can we go after this time instead of addressing the actual problem?

Edit: He "has Nazi sympathies!" Praise be. You know what to do, airheads. That Nazi flag has got to go, or the gun violence might continue.

a night in seattle

A buddy has been inviting me to join him and his friends at a bar in Seattle. They meet every week, and he was certain I would like them. After many months of his lobbying, I relented.

Seattle Greetings were exchanged ("Hi, how are you?" and no further), and I bought appetizers for the table. It wasn't the absence of a single "thanks" that bothered me so much as their taking the appetizers to another table and eating them there.

I didn't think I could be any more done with Seattle, but I stand corrected.

Me, two days ago: "Gosh, I wish Darcy II felt comfortable enough to open up more."

Me, last night at 2am, looking at my phone with one blurry eye because the other one was stuck shut: "Is that kid still fucking texting me about boys?"

Somehow, quite unwittingly, I have become a teenage girl's bestest girlfriend. The insecurity and insanity that reside there are worse than anything I ever imagined. Help.

I'm teaching her how to build web sites, and she's crushing it. For those of you who understand such things: she went from not knowing what a p tag is to happily creating DIVs with CSS and stealing scripts within a couple hours. For those of you who don't understand such things: she is a very bright girl indeed.

Okay, so I lied. No one happily creates DIVs.

We share a folder in Dropbox, so unbeknownst to her, I watch what she's coding while she's coding it. And yesterday, she wrote the following Bio her for herself:

"I believe that challenging yourself is the best way to learn. I hope to one day to inspire others as John inspires me."

Mmmph, I choked. I wasn't expecting that. I teared up with pride.

10 minutes later, she changed the sentence to "I like computers, cats and traveling."

down, people!

I remain astonished by what you people get worked up about. I could incite violence against third-world gay farmer Jewish puppies and offend you less than in my Grand Marnier post.

Yes, I went through the "This is not ideal. Maxi pads absorb things." train of thought. I briefly considered stripping away its layers, using the thin portion near the wing, etc. before I came up with a better idea. I did not mention the better idea because it was not funny. I focused instead on where my train of thought comically bottomed out.

I don't drink coffee, so although a coffee filter occurred to me during that moment in the bathroom, it would have been a 40 minute drive, and if I'm doing that, I'm just buying a new bottle of Grand Marnier. The goal was instant gratification with parts on hand.

I'd had a horrible day of work, and at its end I craved a drink. I craved a specific drink, one requiring Grand Marnier, of which I was out. Then I remembered the "flop box" in my closet. This is booze from when I owned a second place, a flop in Redmond that had a full bar. And in that box was a half-bottle of 11 year-old Grand Marnier.

I popped the cork. Snap. It broke in the stem. So I shoved the cork into the booze below, but the ancient cork disintegrated into a thousand splinters into the precious, precious liquid. I grabbed my kitchen's finest mesh strainer, which got snagged 99.9% of the flotsam. But .1% cork in my drink is .1% too much, and I strained it again. No improvement. There were still hundreds of miniscule specks of cork. I needed an even finer filter.

And thus did I come to stand in front of my master bathroom's open cabinet, studiously examining the woebegotten maxi-pad in my hand.

Self-awarenesss kicked in. "Has it really come to this?"

I paused to reflect on my life to date. This was a warning sign, surely, but of what?

get ready to feel old

Fresh off my utter failure in mentoring Darcy, I'm taking on a new kid. I need a clean break emotionally from Darcy, so let's call the new protégé "Darcy II."

She's the 15 year old from the previous posts. Her parents are a complete disaster. The hand she's been dealt is incredibly shitty. Surely, I can't screw her life up more, right?

Like all teenagers, she wants things that she cannot afford. She asked if she could pull weeds for me to earn money. I asked what the money is for.

"For hair coloring," she replied, only she used a fancy French term I had to google.

Now, I hate artificial hair color. I especially hate colored hair on Asians, on whom nothing but black looks plausible, let alone natural. But Darcy II is on anti-psychotics and packing on weight, and school is coming, and ohmygodohmygodohmygod is she ever feeling down on herself. So I relented. I will let her earn her stupid hair coloring, but for my moral compromise I will exact something.

"Okay, I'll do it under one condition: you sign a contract that you will never get any tattoos. Ever."

She beamed. "Not a problem!" Then she wrinkled her nose. "Tattoos are a Mom thing."

honesty

I just told a friend a story from my non-love life. During this telling, I declared "Now, I'm not above a one-night stand."

After the call, the following internal monologue ensued:

"You've never had a one-night stand in your life, you old gasbag."

"Just because no one's willing doesn't mean I'm above it."

"Oh, right. You're good, then."

the pathology of toy story 3

I just re-watched Toy Story 3. This time, I didn't weep like a puss at the end. No, remembering what the ending of that movie is like, I wept right away.

My houseguests came the next day. "So, did your mom cry at the end of Toy Story 3?" I asked.

"Yes!" both kids sneered with teenage derision.

The boy continued. "I do not understand what about that movie makes adults cry."

I tried to explain. "It's about losing your childhood."

"My childhood sucks," snorted the girl. "Good riddance."

"I'm right here," said Mom, whom we ignored.

"Yeah, good point. My childhood sucked, too." I thought some more. How to explain to children who, by definition, have not yet felt this loss?

"Okay, the closest analogy I can come up with is death. As you get older and farther away from the child version of you, it's like he slowly dies. He just withers away. It's so gradual you don't even have a funeral, but one day he's gone and he's never coming back. Toy Story 3 taps into that. From your eyes, Andy's just going off to college. From an adult's eyes, Andy discovered a lump. We remember discovering ours, and we remember what came after that. The movie makes us feel things that we typically push out of our minds. So we cry because the movie is kinda making us grieve for a dead person."

The girl stared at me.

"Jeez, that's morbid," said the boy.

Mom hopped into the conversation. "I cried because Andy was giving away his toys."

"Seriously?" I said.

"Yeah. Dude, you're messed up!"

• • •

A bit later, I entertained the kids by putting on the trailer for the new Star Wars. "This damned thing taps into the same feelings. I guarantee you, my eyes will get all watery at the end."

I pressed play.

"Chewie...we're home!"

Cue the waterworks. The boy clapped as though I'd done some sort of double-jointed party trick.

A friend and her two kids stayed here for the 4th. The 12 year old boy and 15 year old girl are both taller than me already, so they're well on their way to gronkhood. Either that or I'm shrinking. Their parents are nuts. Mom is a needy, dim mess. Dad, now gone, is seriously sociopathic. I identify with these children.

The girl is somehow brilliant. I noticed it when she was 9 and we would play logic puzzles. That she could deduct at that age was notable, but I was even more impressed that when I outsmarted her, it drove her positively insane and she wanted to deconstruct how I'd done it. "You're nine," I would say. "If I couldn't outsmart you, I would kill myself." That only made her angrier. I respected her anger. Kid's got a mental motor. Today, she's an all-everything honors student. She brought homework to my house for the fourth of July. Yes, homework. She's in summer school, loading up on AP courses, because, in her words, "I've only got one shot at getting into college and getting out of here."

What do you say? She's right. She's already on her own in this world, and she knows it.

Now that I've told you how smart she is...

1892_1210276335350_500_234.jpgShe came downstairs Sunday morning marveling over what she'd just seen in the guest room: my Windows 98 book. "Mine" as in I wrote it, all by myself, without any help from Dorkass, who balanced her checkbook in her office while I did her job.

"I just saw that Windows 98 book," the kid said, wide-eyed. "It's unbelievable to me that Microsoft plans that far in advance!"

Confused, I blinked at her. Then I realized that to her, Windows 8 is the latest version, so this book is written about something 90 versions from now. I laughed and said "If you think that's impressive, you should see my Windows 2000 book."

And I saw that anger again. Just like when she was 9, she steamed over not being the smartest person in the room. This is going to take this kid far in life. I did my best Emperor imitation.

"Your hate has made you powerful."

and the horse your guilt-trip rode in on

I had dinner with Elizabeth last week, and she veered into lapsed-Catholic guilt-trip mode. "John. I mean, John! You have never met my kids!"

Hearing me tell the story the next morning, Amy knew exactly what was coming, well before my denouement.

"...and then she said 'John, you have never met my kids.'"

"Oh no. No no no no no no no no no—"

"—so I'm going over there—"

"—oh god no."

"—today."

"Does she have any idea what's about to happen?"

"No. No she does not."

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For the record, that's three water cannons, four projectile-firing guns, two Fart Blasters (for shootouts!), an accordion, a drum set, one of those massive floor piano things, a karaoke machine, two marine airhorns (for shootouts!), fireworks, and an Imperial fuckton of glitter.

plausible plausibility

Last night, I fled from a woman. I waited until her back was turned and wham, I was out the door.

What was wrong with her, you ask? Absolutely not a goddamned thing. She was utterly charming. Bright. Hot. Young and sparkly. Ebullient. Funny. A singer-songwriter. She thinks Seattle people are self-absorbed turds. And she asked me to join her for dinner.

As the evening wore on, she got better and better and I got more and more skeptical. I could not think of a single reason this person would be interested in me. No positive reason, anyway. At best, she has daddy issues. At worst, she seduces the stupid and steals their kidneys. The more I thought about it, the more I could not rationalize away one notion: it is simply not plausible that this woman would be attracted to me.

So I ditched her, and I spent the rest of my evening depressed about what a poor conclusion that was not.

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