Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ten Years Ago, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver

It's odd to think about now, but ten years ago (maybe eleven) I was hit by a drunk driver on my way home from night shift at Burger King. I was stopped at the intersection of Votaw and Meridian in Portland when the guy plowed into me and left the scene with his horn blaring. I make it sound like I was on foot, but I was in a car, though there wasn't much usable car left after this. The back end was under the vehicle and I definitely found my previously AWOL spare tire, because it came up through my backseat into the cab. His name was Landon Fluekiger, and he exists to this day on social media. He ditched his car in the Marsh parking lot and the police caught him. I thought it was odd how much our cars looked alike when I saw his being hauled away on a wrecker. I was in a green Topaz and he was in a green Thunderbird.

The crazy nut doing night shift at VP was convinced that my car was going to blow up. I'd managed to steer it into the shell parking lot with no power steering or brakes and got it to stop, but he wanted me to move it away from the gas. Conspiracy theories and all that. The illuminati and stuff. Whatever.

It's a funny story to tell now, but I still look behind me when I'm sitting at stop lights. I still get panicked and shaky when a car approaches from behind, because I think they aren't going to stop. This guy hit me at about highway speed when I was stopped at a red light.

There are a lot of stupid people in this world who take unnecessary risks on the road: speeding up toward cars that are slowing down, tailgating, not moving over when traffic is entering the freeway. Listen, I get it. It's human nature to be angry at other drivers, but you cannot risk the lives of other people. You just can't. I still think of this guy as a monster, and to tell you the truth, his Facebook page does little to dispel that idea. I never met the guy, unless you count the two seconds his engine was in my backseat. We might have been close enough to say hello. I mean who goes highway speed down a city street? I'll tell you who. That guy. Not only was he drunk, the official records said the police found drugs in his car as well.

I remember very clearly the call to his insurance (at least he had that much sense). They were like "we haven't heard from our client yet" and I chuckled and said, "Well, that's because he's in jail." I found that bit pretty amusing at the time, because I was sad and hurt and millennial. The world revolved around me. But let's be honest, at the time I was still a new driver and had been in the middle of my fair share of near misses. Some of them would have been rear-endings. But you know what? At least I would have stuck around.

I'd like to know how a Village Pantry parking lot full of cars and people can suddenly be empty after I got hit. All the witnesses took off. That's Portland for you; everyone probably had a warrant for their arrest, so to hell with me, right?

Oh, memories. Tl;dr: it's winter, slow down and leave earlier. Calm that lead foot and be sympathetic of those of us who are kind of scared to drive in the snow. We don’t all have four wheel drive and balls of steel. If you're one of those people who accept car accidents and eventual and inevitable, totally unavoidable and part of the normal driving experience, you probably caused most of them. It's a harsh reality that someone needs to say, so I'll say it. They were probably all your poor judgment.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Bunch of Nonsense (No Refunds, I'll Be Here All Night)

It's been a while since I've written a blog, and that's unfortunate. I'm still alive. I'm still writing off and on, working on new material. Sometimes, I'm able to convince myself that no one cares and no one reads my writing, despite the numbers Smashwords shows me. That's its own emo blog full of tears and self-pity and I just don't have the energy to write it, so let's focus on good things. I'm too old for the kind of intense negativity that fills me with angst at the worst times and drives people away. What a mouthful of words. Luckily, this is typa-typa land.

I left OkCupid behind, probably for good. I've realized that being on there for friendship is like going on Grindr for relationships. People do it, but let's face it, even people who do that have in the back of their mind that they might just want to meet and fuck. Otherwise, why would they have chosen Grindr? There are plenty of respectable dating sites that aren't hookup sites.

I suppose that's how I approached OkCupid. I convinced myself for a long time that I was only looking for friendship because every time I thought I met someone on there and finally told someone, anyone, about it, it was over and I had to go right back and say "just kidding, guys." Sometimes there are greener pastures to graze in, and mine is brown from urine. Sometimes, my crazy is just more than my profile let on (which amazes me, since I kind of bled into the about me box to make it as crazy as possible. It's funny what people take as a joke). I don't change for people anymore. No one should have to. If you're a horrible person, it's no one's place to decide you ought not be horrible. Maybe that's me. Maybe I'm actually a really horrible person. But you know, I'm actually kind of okay with that, because I have no idea how to change it.

As a boyfriend, I've found myself to be someone I would never date. I've found myself to be clingy and yet aggressively avoidant. I've found myself to be intensely shaming and quick to lie and mostly able to keep up a glossy if obnoxiously apologetic sheen over the fact that most of the time I feel very small emotions unless provoked. It's a selfish state of being that no one else ought to be subjected to, but it works well for me. I'm done apologizing, though. At least for things I can't change. I have no capacity to be a cork for someone else's leaking, flooding soul. I'm useless in that respect. I am terminally alone, and it's an easier disease to live with than anything else I suffer from.

I once met a guy in Cincinnati, and he knows who he is. I like to tell myself I wasn't looking for a relationship when I met him in Metamora for Canal Days, but the initial distance I was able to keep up via text melted away in person. He was and is a nice guy, and I hate to think that I'm just an impulsive mistake he probably wishes he could redo as something less intense if at all. I don't know what it is about the emptiness of being human that makes people seek one another so desperately and yet so choosily. You'd better look just like your profile pictures, be fit, have some kind of solid direction in life and love who you are or trust me, someone else will, and those qualities are a lot more attractive than a sad man-boy riddled with crippling self-doubt and low self-esteem, a sock of a person with no muscle tone and no real plan for the next five years, which is exactly what I am. People, gay men in particular, believe that they are entitled to a hard-bodied, masculine, intelligent, self-confident-but-no-the-cheating-type Adonis who smiles at their every word and tells them they're amazing. I don't know what to tell them. Those types are in short supply outside of romantic comedies. There's plenty more guys like me out there to disappoint them, I guess. I hope he finds what he's looking for among the rubble. I have a bad habit of turning people into weapons and using them to hurt myself. Sometimes I realize I'm doing it and sometimes I'm a gaping mess before I realize where all the blood is coming from. It's a very teenage way to approach a relationship, and I've not been a teenager for over eleven years. I'm not surprised anymore when the other person turns out to be just as damaged as me. What surprises me is that they deny it.

I'm not actually bitter. I know it sounds like I am, but maybe bitter is the wrong word for it. In today's world of delusional hippie happiness and new age unwashed organic bullshit, a little healthy self-loathing counts against you. It's pretty unfortunate. I don't hate myself. I just know I'm not what everyone's looking for, even though just looking at some of my profile pictures you'd think I was. Those pictures are the product of simple photo enhancing apps where I smooth my pores and brighten my eyes and make them pop. The reality is just as grainy as reality has every right to be.

I realized quite recently, like in the last few months, that I deserve to be comfortable, single or not. I deserve to be able to have my own apartment and explore the freeways of this nation with my sheet metal companion, Angela T. Vanmobile. I deserve to be able to enter into voluntary aspects of this fucked up life on my own terms, relationships being the biggest and most important of these aspects. If I don't want one, I need to spend my time alone enjoying it, and if that means playing video games and working in a call center, then so be it. It's not thrilling, but it's familiar.

Sometimes I wonder if my mom would be proud of the person I've become. I know she would have said she was. My dad says he is when he decides to comment on it, but I don't see much for a parent to be proud of, especially compared to my older and more successful older brother Eric. The guy started a chain of hugely successful fine dining establishments. I write dark little stories about the end of the world and occasionally read my poetry aloud to strangers. If we're judging purely by that comparison, I am pretty miniscule. All parents say they're proud of their kids at some point, but in a lot of ways it's the same as any other relationship. The human reality is that I am flawed, and I don't need anyone to be proud of me unless I'm proud of myself. Even then, it's optional. What's important is that I'm proud of myself, and I'm getting there.

I guess if you asked me to describe myself in one word a month ago, it would have been sad. Two weeks ago, it would have been disappointed. I've had a lot of cool things happening, including a trip to Chicago and a career change, and I suppose now the word would be okay. I'm okay right now. I'm having fun in my life, and I have no expectations of anyone, only of myself.

This year, I expect to be able to go from okay to happy without relying on anyone else to do it. That's called co-dependency, and I'm not about that life. I have never been someone who's afraid to be alone. I was alone for years and I was happier than I'd ever been.

I don't know how to end this blog. I guess the moral here is that I'm making resolutions this year, and I'm forgiving all the guys I disappointed, because I was just a much to blame. I'm not saying I plan to change, but I'm saying I get it. Some I'm still friends with, some I haven't talked to in years. If there were ever a damaged individual needing a warning label, it's me. I don't know, maybe it's not as bad as it sounds. Maybe it's like the explicit content stickers they used to put on CDs. Maybe it's a little embarrassing, or maybe it commands respect. Either way, I wear it, even if people over the years have failed to read it. In my opinion, that's better than being a fucked up mess in secret and exploding into an emo, twisted mess after the claws are already in.

I'm not in this world to be a ready-made suburban partner for someone. It's an appealing idea, but I'm much too unstable. I'm not an idealist anymore. I'd rather sit in an apartment and know that in the confines of my own space I am accepted than invade someone else's and know that my profile pictures have more self-esteem than I do. People tell me I'm hard on myself, but I like to think of it as cautious optimism with a healthy dose of the kind of reality millennials rarely have. I refuse to one of those people, confident and stupid and empty, riding along on a sea of selfies toward a headstone in the distance, too busy keep everyone informed of my life to actually live it.

I forgive the universe also for making me this way. I can't say the same for the people who have to interact with me, but I'd like to think they like me the way I am. Most importantly, I forgive myself for not being good enough for myself or my exes or my parents or anyone else, because I wasn't put here to be good enough. I was put here to do something with my life, and that's what I intend to do.