List/Challenge (diary of an unemployed dude [rough draft])

When, you have no income, it’s not just about finding a career. You also have to avoid spending money and find the little ways to get by without a paycheck. Here are some creative ideas I did and you can too!!!

  1. Suggest a Mexican restaurant, then tell your friends “I’m not really hungry, I had a huge lunch” when it’s time to order. Proceed to annihilate three basket of chips with salsa before smoking the “short” from your friend’s cigarette.
  2. Tell your friend that you miss them and would love to cook them dinner and catch up. Ask if they have ingredients for a pasta dish, which everyone does, and proceed to cook them and your self a filling carb fest that will fuel your non-working-ass lifestyle for days.
  3. Go to the library! Not only do they have tons of good books for smart people, they’ve got plenty of dross for the rest of us, too! My last three library items were MAGIC Mike XXL, Pitch Perfect, and origami for dummies. Go rent Orange is the New Black–just cause you don’t have food doesn’t mean you can’t binge on “The Kitchen”.
  4. When out at a bar with friends, tell everyone that you’re “very picky about beer” and taste everyone’s beer until you catch a buzz, then say, “I guess I’m just not feelin’ their selection”. When your friend responds, but you always drink PBR–It’s your favorite beer.”, just say, “Meh, I guess I just grew out of it. I’m developing a more refined palate.” When your friend points out that you just ate three packets of ketchup, just say you have a phosphorus deficiency.
  5. Take a few sugar packets from McDonald’s and a few crackers from Wendy’s, and shake them up with some creamer from Starbucks for a well balanced breakfast shake. I think that’s what Ensure is made of anyway.
  6. Move to Chicago. World class museums, music festivals, mega library, yoga in the park–All free!! Just don’t move in December, if you want to survive. Winter’s Coming!
  7. Get on a bus and tell the bus driver, “I forgot my wallet”. The bus driver will kick you off at the next stop. When she does, get on the next bus and repeat step one. You will eventually get to your destination, one stop at a time, with the side benefit of meeting a bunch of interesting, cool bus drivers!
  8. Be Awesome! I find that most people don’t much mind hanging out with a bum, if said bum is awesome.
  9. Go to events with suggested-donation entrance fees. They’re just suggestions…
  10. Use the money you made donating plasma to buy a six-pack of beer—you can return the bottles for nickels! That’s money in your pocket!
  11. Don’t self medicate with shopping! It’s so easy to buy delicious food or a tasty craft beer, just cause you’re bored, not hungry. Maybe you like to buy beautiful new clothes when you’re sad or a cup of joe from Starbucks when you get writer’s block. There are myriad stores I would frequent, in person or online, to distract myself from the excruciating pain of existence. I self medicated myself into bankruptcy going out every night for dinner and drinks, buying vinyl and books I never read, fashionable suits and shoes. I never knew what I truly couldn’t live without until I had no choice but to choose. When I was making $50,000 a year I was living paycheck to paycheck and felt more broke than I do now, unemployed, no savings account, making and spending about $20-$40 a week, depending on which little jobs I pick up. I am very blessed to have an amazing, loving family who I am living with and eating with, so you can factor those expenses in however you want, but I haven’t bought anything other than food in the past four months, a third of a year—no clothes, no books or movies (The Chicago public library has literally every book and movie and music I’ve ever looked for). The inability to buy alcohol, take woman on dates, shop for relief, distraction, has forced me to sit with my demons face to face, no escaping, and I honestly don’t know if I’d still be alive if I hadn’t. Some of the most beautiful sights in the world are in your imagination. Some of the most moving and heartbreaking dramas unfold solely in your mind. It isn’t easy to just be—sit in a park without entertainment or distraction. No food, no magazine, no phone– with nowhere to go but inward. But if you can, and you survive, I promise you will be stronger, wiser, and happier, for the highest, most treacherous mountain in the world is that of your own mind. I challenge you to go three days without buying anything—eat every last can of beans in your cupboard, ride your bike to work, live without caffeine. What is the hardest thing to not spend money on? How easy or hard is it? Can you keep going for a full week? Keep your wallet at home and see what it’s like to rely on the kindness of strangers and friends, how it feels to ask for help. It’s not just about saving money, but saving intention.

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CHALLENGE: Don’t buy ANYTHING for three days

Comment below: Was going even 1 day harder than you imagined? Were you able to complete the three days? how did it feel?

#Love First

I asked a good friend on his deathbed, if there was anything I could do for him? He said. “Yes, let yourself love, unconditionally, without fear, as deeply as you can bare it. I wasted my whole life chasing money, and fun, and status, and if I could give all of that up right now to have one more day, to love my family properly, love (my wife) Sara without qualification or condition, to remember my neighbor’s name and care what his kids are up to, I would in a second. I was a shitty person—and not cause I was violent, or mean, or a jerk—but because I thought the people in my life were disposable, and I only used them when I saw benefit in it. I didn’t wake up every morning thanking God that I may have one more time to see a friend, look them in the eye, and genuinely open myself fully for their sake. Nothing I ever won, or bought, or took gives me any solace in this moment. The only things that provide me comfort now are the tiny memories of when I truly gave of myself all I could for others, and when I received such love—and since those moments were so brief and few, I have little of that comfort now.”
Death is scary, not just for me, knowing I’ll never see my friend again, but he was clearly scared—that he was leaving behind unfinished business, that he hadn’t given those he cared for most, all that he should have. I assured him that we would be alright, and hat he should not feel guilty for leaving. I wasn’t there at the moment of death, but I only hope that it was on as good of terms as a permanent goodbye can be.
I imagined how devastating a breakup can be—saying goodbye to someone you loved so much, no matter what the reason. And then imagined having to break up with every person in the world at the same time—your mother, and father, and children, and husband or wife, and every friend, every person you wanted to say sorry to, but didn’t have the time, everyone you meant to tell how proud you were of them, but forgot to. It must be a heartbreak I can’t come close to imagining. But if all that heartbreak was upon him and he only wished for one thing—to give even more of his heart, to be even more vulnerable, and risk even more of his love—then I have to believe him that selfless, unconditional love is the only thing we can bring with us everywhere we go, even death. And not lustful love, or romantic excitement of a new relationship. Not the half-assed love of a family member we know little about or only call during Christmas. Not the easy love, or fun love, but the love that lets the people you care about know—they are never alone, no matter how dismal things may be. We are all fighting painful wars in our lives, each and every one of us. The person you passed on the street this morning just found out her daughter died of a heroin overdose. Your coworker is in the middle of a violent divorce. Your friend just got cancer but hasn’t told anyone yet cause they are still in denial. Your partner can’t figure out how to open to you fully cause of deep-seated fears and pain and shame that have nothing to do with you. But when we muster the courage to let the vast rush of love swallow us whole and flow through us, we can touch those we care for in ways that touch back and light both souls up with the undeniable light of God. And when we lay in our own last bed, we will not regret the difficult times we labored to give another our love when they needed it, nor will we wish we had saved our love in a jar for later, nor will we leave behind an unfinished legacy we had begun with yearning—but a beautiful story that we told with love and ended with peace.
yuka yamaguchi

Endings.

Often, when things come to an end, we see them as failures—especially a marriage, a job, a friendship, college if we don’t graduate. But all things change, which means all things end, at least as we know them. And while those endings may carry the stench of sulfur and the weight of death, we can only loose the beauty of those brief adventures if we choose to. Maybe your marriage is ending because your spouse helped you become the person you always wanted to be, and now you are ready to move in a more specific direction—not better or worse. Maybe you got laid-off because it’s time for you to start a hardwood flooring business of your own, be your own boss. Maybe you couldn’t afford to finish college, but you learned what your true calling was while exploring yourself. Of course, not every ending leaves you with so much, but they rarely leave you with nothing, either. We don’t hate a great movie or book because it ends. Nor should we think we have failed, simply because we’ve completed a story in our lives.
For everyone reading this, whether an old college friend or an ex lover— though I may not see you, or speak with you, or sing with you like we used to, doesn’t mean the time wasn’t invaluable and cherished. I will always love you. That’s one thing that will not end.

#IveBeenThatGuy (after #metoo )

 [please share/reblog/#/etc]

In light of the current #meToo movement (and previously #yesallwomen), many amazing friends and survivors have reminded me that, while pointing out how shamefully prevalent sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are, is terribly important, maybe survivors shouldn’t feel obligated to relive their trauma? Shouldn’t us men feel MORE obligated to take responsibility? The fact is, as both the beneficiaries of privilege and the vast, vast majority of the time—the perpetrators of rape culture—MEN MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. We must bear the burden of the work if the problem will ever be fixed. Helping those heal who have been hurt is terribly important—the only thing that would be even better is if we stop patriarchy, sexual harassment, and sexual assault from happening in the first place—and that can only happen when those of us who are most responsible challenge ourselves to take responsibility.
So I would genuinely Love it if any and everyone who feels comfortable admitting that they have EVER been “that guy”, would share #iveBeenThatGuy
It doesn’t mean you are a predator and it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you haven’t grown and changed since the last time you were “that guy”. It doesn’t even mean you acted out of malice or bad intentions—we live in an all pervasive culture that seeps into our minds and habits, which often makes us support systems of injustice, even when we don’t intend to. And that is really the point: patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, etc., are not problems because a few bad apples hate all women and think rape is their right—rape culture is still a problem because it’s so pervasive, so insidious, so ingrained that it’s a part of ALL of our lives. Men who work in domestic violence shelters have objectified women, including myself. The best, most kind, woke men in the world have used misogynistic and homophobic language at some point in their lives. Men with strong values have sexually assaulted because they did not know what sexual assault really is, cause our culture teaches that many forms of sexual assault are just “boys being boys”.
The problem is not that women/trans/queer folk are assaulted. The problem is that Men keep assaulting. Of course anybody can be a perpetrator and anyone can be a survivor/victim. But the point of this post and hashtag is to address the specific problem of problematic masculinity that uses privilege and power to make cis-straight-men, not only feel entitled, but Obligated to take advantage of that power and privilege to dominate anyone who is not a heterosexual cis-male. If your friend, brother, boyfriend, father etc. may not be super down with this entire article, maybe copy and paste the middle. Because, while some may get defensive (and understandably so—after all the men I’d like to jump on board are not the monsters who we already know are shit, but all those good guys who have at some point been caught up in the momentum of culture), I think any any honest man can admit that they have at least 1 time in their life, treated a women in a way they wouldn’t want a stranger to treat their daughter.
And let’s not forget that ending problematic masculinity helps us men too; While the overwhelming majority of violence and dehumanization of women is perpetrated by men, the vast majority of violence and dehumanization of Men is also perpetrated by other men.
Let’s also pair our honesty with action:
Step 1: share #ivebeenthatguy
step 2: Share a specific instance of when you have been guilty. Perhaps the time you most regret, if you feel safe and comfortable doing so publicly.
step 3:When you see your friend post #ivebeenthatguy and STILL act/talk disrespectfully,  call them out and point out that pretending to be woke for the Facebook likes, and not backing it up with real world change, is lying and wont be ignored.
 step 4: Encourage the men in your life to share; it doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means that, unfortunately, if we are honest, at some point in our lives (maybe years ago) we have ALL treated a women in a way we wouldn’t want a stranger to treat our daughters.
 Let’s stop treating Only symptoms. Lets treat the actual cause. Let’s start by admitting that just as pervasive as survivors of rape-culture, are us perpetrators, who, even if we are not aware or didn’t intend to, have participated, and therefore it is OUR responsibility to raise awareness of our own part in the problem.

#ivebeenthatguy

Donating Plasma: Diary of an unemployed dude [true story]

Here’s another “Diary of an Unemployed Dude” story–Very Rough! just a sketch right now

“Donating”

The blood sample will determine how hydrated you are, so I always drink two pints of water before donating plasma so I’m not turned away for insufficient water funds. The six mile bike ride to the clinic is hot, sweaty, so I drink extra for those droplets I’ll sweat out. I also eat chorizo and eggs with bacon and ham because eating a high protein breakfast is claimed to help replenish your plasma–though I’m not positive that isn’t just the pork lobby’s position.

The first time you donate, there is a lengthy screening process, 3-4 hours, to ensure that your blood isn’t rotten and you aren’t a heroin gulping gigolo who sucks dick for bus money. Luckily, I only suck dick for Uber money, so I’m good.

I give them three vials and one straw sample of my blood. The first time I gave the straw sample, the same little prick as a TB test, I unfortunately did it on my left hand so I couldn’t play guitar for a week without tearing open the tiny hole. After the vampires confirm its tastiness, I proceed to a counselor’ s office for an interview: “Do you have AIDS.”

Oh shit, I know this one…”Ummmm, no! No I don’t.”

“Are you sure? You hesitated there a bit.”

“Uhhhh, pretty sure, yeah. I’m mean I’m not dead or anything. That’s gotta be a no-go on the AIDS then, right?”

“You wouldn’t necessarily experience symptoms in the first few months. Have you been recently tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections?”

“Not really. I don’t like to get tested cause it just reminds me of how long it’s been since I got laid. But last year my regular doctor ran some blood-work and everything came back clean. I don’t think I’ve sexed anyone up since then. But don’t tell anybody.”

“Well if you haven’t had sex in the last six months, our tests would pick it up.”

I whispered, “Yeah, it’s definitely been at least six months since I had some sex. Don’t tell anyone, though”

I continue to explain that I haven’t been to Africa, injected crack, worked on a farm, or had sex with an animal in at least two weeks. The counselor checks my arms and legs and feet for track marks, then I put my clothes back on. There is an organic side benefit to giving plasma: Anyone who’s poor enough to donate plasma for $20 cannot afford to see a doctor, but this screening of my body and health is far more thorough than any I’ve even gotten from my doc.

To ensure that I haven’t been tattooed in the past year, the counselor catalogs the location and design of each of my tattoos. Left inner forearm–The Giving Tree; Right leg–book and vine with words, “To live, is to be slowly born”; inside of bottom lip–travel toothbrush (so I can tell my dentist I brush my teeth everyday). She gets to my left bicep and asks, “what is that?”

I answer, “It’s a skateboarder. ”

She disagrees, “No it’s not. What is it?”

I volley back, “Yes. It is. It’s from a book by Austin-based artist Michael Seban. Growing up, before it became normal and cool, skateboarding made you an outcast, a nerd. While everyone was chasing girls and going to parties, we’d skate in the parking lot all night, so he drew the skateboarder real ugly to represent how us skateboarders didn’t fit in.”

“Ok, but I can’t put all that on this short line. You do understand that if someone does your next intake and finds anything even remotely different about any of your tattoos than what I write here, you will be banned for life from this clinic.”

“It’s a zombie.”

“Thank you.”

I sit in the waiting room for my name to be called. I have to pee, but the bathroom is behind the locked door and you aren’t allowed to leave the building once you start the intake process, less you shoot up or get a tattoo while you’re out.

Finally, I am allowed to enter the production line. I walk into the room and see a heard of humans laying in chair-beds with tubes in there arms sucking their blood. It looks like a scene from the Matrix. They only pay you $20-30 per donation, depending on your weight, but they charge hospitals hundreds. Radiolab did a great episode, Blood, which talked about the industry of blood and plasma—It’s a racket. Don’t believe those red cross people if they tell you you’re saving lives. You’re making money, for them.

The technician hands me a piece of foam to squeeze and keep the blood flowing in my arm. She sticks the needle into my arm, which hurts, but not much. The blood flows from me into there machine where the plasma, a water based solution with corpuscles and fat globules, is separated for sale on the biomarket. Once the pint glass is full, the machine returns the plasmaless blood to your vein. As the blood flows through the stainless steel needle it must pick up some of its essence because I can taste metal on my tongue and teeth.

The more blood that reenters my body, the more pain I feel until I can’t take it anymore, so I call for a nurse. She examines my arm and tells me I’ve been “Infiltrated”. This means that during the initial injection, the employee pushed the needle too far, past the back wall of the vein, so that the machine was pumping the blood, not into my vein where it belongs, but aimlessly into my flesh. It is quite painful.

After resticking me, now on my left arm, I sit watching the awful Fox News on the TV in front of me for the next hour. This is very boring, but it’s easy and the only money I can count on, selling my body, permanently, as little as the money may be. They call it Donating plasma, but I’m getting paid and so are they, so that’s a pretty far stretch if you ask me. I think, technically, they are “Donating” money to your bank account for your Time, not your plasma.

For whatever reason, everyone who works here is Slavic, though this isn’t a Slavic neighborhood. Wasn’t Dracula Slavic—I could never place his accent.

They pay you on a credit card, which sucks because, unlike the cash that they used to pay when I was in college, I get charged a usage fee each time I use the card or go to the ATM, so I’m not even getting the full $25!

Oh well, I got a little mullah in pocket, so I’m no longer a bum, no—I’m a hot twenty dollars away. Off to my Heroin Dealer! (jk mom) 😉

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to “Donate” plasma? What did I forget to mention? Any questions?

Diary of an Unemployed Dude: Freelance Mason [true story]

I am currently writing a book on the odd jobs and various things I’ve done for coffee money. Here is a ROUGH DRAFT of one of those stories:

A Day in the Life of a Mason

Being someone that will do anything for twenty bucks and someone who can read directions well, I have recently developed quite the reputation for being handy–solely with my grandmother. In an effort to help me scrape together enough money for my coffee addiction, Grandma tells everyone she spends time with about my legendary ability to follow instructions, apropos housework. A month later, this brilliant marketing scheme finally pays off and a little old lady named Cruella requested my services. I gave her a ring. A fast talking stutter answered as if she was hiding from the Gestapo. “Huh Huh Hello who is this hu hu who are you lu lu looking for who are you?”

“Hi, this is Phil. I’m Toni’s grandson. She said you might need some help around the house.”

“Oh?”

I give her a second because I assume she’s old, if she’s been hanging with G-ma—maybe she has to sit down for this. Once politeness turns to awkwardness, I proceed. “Sooooooo, do you need help with anything?”

“Yes?”

“Ok. Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Well I really don’t have much money I told your m m mom I don’t have much money?”

“Actually Toni’s my grandmother and that’s fine if you don’t have much money, just pay me whatever you think is fair. I mainly want experience as much as anything else.”

Cruella responded, “Ok, but it’s supposed to ruh ruh rain this week I need to concrete the cracks in my sidewalk and it cant be raining do you have experience with masonry your grandma said you were handy?”

“I have done little things with cement and caulk. I’m not a professional. But I can read the instructions and follow them”, I repond caustiously and already worried about having to deal with this woman.

“Ok well I’ll call my son and ask him when its gonna rain or not and ill call your mom uh uh uh ok?” Her voice is a constant vibrato like she’s scared of using her words and everything she says sounds like a question, even when it obviously isn’t. I let her go and wait for a clear day to start my career in masonry.

After several calls on several different days—all ending in rejection, I am ultimately able to convince Cruella that it isn’t going to rain and today would be a good day for me to come over and look at the job, so I could at least have an idea of what it will entail. I ride my bike twelve miles to what happens to be one of the nicest neighborhoods in the third biggest US city, across the street from a certain zoo, which will all remain nameless for anonymity and liability purposes.

Luckily, it is only 90 degrees, so I will be sweating profusely, but I wont pass out. I arrive, knock on the medieval lion’s head door-knocker, turquoise paint-chips fall off the door to the crack-striped, wooden porch, and a frantic mouse yells from the basement, “I’m down here the stuff is down here I don’t use the front door?”

I walk down to the sunken basement level and take a look at the broken foundation. “Is this the wall you want me to work on?”

“Yeah I can only pay you $100 though I don’t have much money I have to pay property taxes they’re almost $30,000 I can only pay you $100?”

“That’s fine. I wasn’t even expecting that much. I mostly want the experience. Just pay me at the end whatever you think is fair. I trust you.” The fact that she is apologizing for paying me more than I wanted, made me think that this was going to be more than a minor repair. “Remember, I’m not a mason. I’m not a professional. I am smart though, and hard working, and anything with directions I can figure out, though it may not be pretty.”

“That’s fine I just need this wall sealed up the rain’s getting in and this whole wall is caving in You’re mom said you are handy have you done this before?”

“Toni is my Grandmother, not my mother, and like I said, I’m not a professional. I can seal this up for you, though.”

I explain a few more times that $100 is more than enough and a few more times than that that I am still, in fact, not a professional and Toni is still not my mother. She already has the cement and caulk in her living room. I read the directions and begin to mix the cement to fill the major gaps. I am a little nervous because cement is a pretty permanent thing and what this wall really needs is to be torn down and rebuilt; It is so warped that that the wooden porch is about two feet to the right of where the wall meets the ground. There is no way to fix it, but if I can seal the cracks, hopefully I can prevent further damage.

The cement is fun to mix. I put on my hot pink dishwashing gloves because I’m not sure what deadly effects the cement might have on my skin. I fill a plastic tub with a few scoops of dry cement dust, about two pounds, and add one half cup of water. It only takes the slightest hint of water to turn this dust into rock. The droplets trickle down, bubbling, transforming instantly to what will soon be the new foundation of Cruella’s home.

The cement is very hard to work with. I try to meticulously fill the cracks with a small clean clump of clay, but half of it sticks to my trowel, the other half hangs from the wall like a melting Hershey’s kiss. I can’t seem to swipe an even, flat patch.

Now I take a large glob of putty and slather it on like barbecue sauce on brisket. This excess cement allows me to leave a smooth surface despite the extra sticking to the trowel, but the small bucket Cruella supplied will not come close to solving her problem at this rate. I ask Cruella for more cement or money to get some, to which she responds, “Just pick some up from Home Depot. I’ll add the cost to your bill later.” The 1.6 miles ride to Home Depot is easy, but carrying a bucket of cement on a bike during Chicago rush hour is not. I do make it back—barely, and continue the job.

Every few minutes, Cruella comes out to critique my work and ask for help with another chore. First, I was using too much water in the cement, it was soupy. Then I wasn’t using enough, it was clumpy. I wasn’t spreading it thin enough. It was too thin. She brought out a take-out menu with chicken scratch written on the back. It was her resume, which I edited for her; Surprisingly, there were very few mistakes and it seemed well thought out. Back to masonry. Then her door won’t close, so I removed and replaced the dead-bolt. Back to masonry. Then she asks me to clean her blinds. She doesn’t have any running water and the water bottle isn’t big enough for the cement and the blinds–also, she has no electricity, so seeing the blinds, or anything else inside for that matter, are too difficult to see. I take the blinds down the block, to the park, and wash them in the kiddy water-playground. Back to masonry.

The under belly of the staircase needs to be sealed as well, but the cement isn’t sticky enough to keep from falling down. I use the tacky caulk to build a lip on the wall that the moist concrete can rest on until it dries. It’s not pretty, but it will keep the rain out.

She comes out again to ask me to take a look at her garden. I’d rather get this over with and move on with my day, but I acquiesce to her request. There isn’t actually much to see but weeds and knee-high grass, but whatever. Back to masonry. She follows me back to the front where, after seven hours of back cracking work, she gasps and jumps into a panic attack. “Oh my god! This is Awful! It looks Awful! I thought you said you were a professional?!”IMG_0574

“I know it doesn’t look great, but it will keep the rain out and I told you it wouldn’t be perfect. What you really need is a whole new wall. This is a major project.”

“No no no this is all wrong! I can’t sell my house like this! You said you could fix it.”

“I told you, I’m not a mason. And Toni isn’t my mom either–she’s my grandma. Just pay me whatever you think it is worth—$20. I don’t care.”

“I don’t have any money and this is all wrong. Oh my god, this is so bad. I don’t have any money, but I will get you $50 of food stamps if you want.”

“Ok. Fine. Can I at least get the money for the extra cement I bought?”

“I don’t have any money. And that’s not even the cement I like? Don’t worry. I’ll talk to Toni. Your mom and I’ll work something out.”

“Fine. Let’s just go to the store.”

“Not now, I have to mail something.”

“Ok. I’ll help you mail it”

“No, that’s fine. The mailman is going to pick it up.”

“Ok. Let’s go to the store then.”

“You don’t have a car?”

“I have my bike. And my backpack. I just picked up the cement on my bike.”

“No. You can’t carry groceries without a car.”

“$50 doesn’t get you as much food as it used to. Besides, that’s for me to worry about—what I do with my groceries.”

“No, that’s a lot of food. You can’t carry all that plus I don’t have any food stamps right now. I’ll talk to Toni I’ll talk to your mom We’ll work something out?”

I’m sick of chasing her arguments in circles, so I agree to let her and my G R A N D mother work it out. After a few different brokered deals, Grandma and Cruella agree that next month we will all take a field trip to Aldi’s, with a car, to get some groceries.

I love learning and I love trying new things, so I didn’t mind doing the hard work, for hours, in the heat. I didn’t mind carrying a bucket of concrete on my bike across town. I didn’t even mind that, despite being unemployed, not only did I not make any money on this job, but I spent half of the cash I had from donating plasma on her cement; I actually paid her for the hours of hard work! And that’s just fine with me—It’s a learning experience. What really pissed me off is that she was outside every five minutes, watching me work, observing the process, and waited until I was done to freak out and bail. I don’t like being deceived and I don’t like being dicked around. Just tell me you need help. Don’t bait and switch my good will.

As of the writing of this book, I haven’t seen a dime, or an apple. Though I did go back the next morning to collect the $10 I spent on cement, which she was gracious enough to reimburse. I understand that she is too old to work much and probably has to finagle her way out of a lot of expenses on her fixed income—I mean, she doesn’t even have running water. I don’t harbor any negative feelings about her or the day I spent working there–though I did draw a huge cock in the cement on my way out.

Lawsuit [true story]

 

Diary of an Unemployed Dude (a true story of one of the many things I did for money when I was unemployed)

Because of the Temporary Restraining Order, my friend wasn’t allowed to continue meeting with clients so I agreed to help out—for a small fee. We drove a few hours to an undisclosed location. I began handing out info and talking to various potential customers, as if I knew anything at all about the product. People talked to me and treated me like a professionl, though I have no idea why. Since the restraining order was not on me, I could legally engage with these people.

The lawsuit—a frivolous one really, but a lawsuit nonetheless—meant that my friend would have to stay clear of the task at hand, lest she be seen “Doing her job”. As I approach a random office, ready to solicit, a woman is at the closed door writing notes. She asks me what the flyers in my hand are for and I begin to give her my elevator pitch. She is extraordinarily interested and wants to know everything there is to know about the company and myself. Being on a covert mission I decide to answer her query with a spy name, “Doug. My name’s Doug.”

“Nice to meet you Doug. And your last name?”

“I don’t have a last name. I mean…I don’t give out my last name to strangers” I fart from my mouth, sounding like I’m five years old.

She writes “Doug” on her pad and asks me my supervisor’s name: “I don’t really work for the company, I just answered a Craigslist add to hand out flyers.” My story is becoming less believable by the second. I have to get out of there ASAP, but I’m afraid leaving mid sentence will be just as incriminating.

She hands me her business card which, of course, is from the company suing my friend’s company. Meanwhile, my friend is down the hall, jumping up and down and waving her hands so frantically that now I have to create a story, maintain a conversation, suppress my anxiety and stop myself from laughing, all at the same time. Thankfully, my friend ducks behind a wall like an out of shape ninja, so at least that’s one less distraction.

The enemy extends her hand and says “It was a pleasure to meet you. I’m Jane”

My reflex response, “Phil” exposes me. I wanted to keep my story straight—Doug, Doug, Doug! Damn it! It just popped out. I was caught! She crossed out “Doug” from her notes and wrote “Phil” while repeating my (Real) name. I rebounded, “No, Bill”, I said. At least it rhymed. It was a little more believable. She scratched out Phil and wrote Bill, thank god!

Ok. Now I HAD to get out of there. She asked for my last name again and I continued to explain why I don’t give people a last name—even though I’m trying to do business with them. She is quite beautiful and I’m wondering if I can find a way to ask her out before I leave. I might end up blowing my cover, but a fling with the enemy sounds sexy.

Instead I decide to begin a very labored sentence that is long enough for me to walk away and trail off with her fading in the background. I reunite with my friend, who won’t look or talk to me and we walk, sort of together, back to the parking lot. She walks not on the sidewalk, but on the grass under the shadows from the trees about 10 feet in front of me—as if that’s less suspicious.

Definitely not as smooth as we would have hoped, but we should be out of the clear now. I get my money for the few minutes of work and we decide to call it a day early for fear of being further exposed. We grab lunch at a favorite restaurant, where we are very much enjoying our burgers, until the enemy walks into the bar. Luckily, my friend and I are sitting at the bar, so we aren’t necessarily together and my friend and the enemy have never seen each other before. We very calmly finish our lunch without speaking a single word to each other. I go to the restroom and text the escape plan to my friend. We pay in cash so we don’t have to talk to the bartender about the check at all. My friend leaves and waits in the car. I walk past the bar and open the door when the bartender yells, “Hey mister, your friend forgot her flyers!”

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First Date [poem]

I admired you through a telescope for 18 years.
Somehow, this shooting star fell into my backyard.
I asked, with bated breathe,
“Will you go to an improv show with me?”
My stars were aligned and thank heavens, you agreed.
Car-less, you picked me up in your Xterra
I said hi with a hug–
touched your freshly-lotioned, muscular shoulder,
inhaled the lavender cascading down your hair.
The music was thoughtfully turned down, so we could talk.
you regaled me with your trip from the stars down to earth.
I tried to impress you with any story I was proud of–pushing the limits of truth,
cause I wanted you to like me so badly.
you smiled and giggled, like a Geisha without fear.
a smile like kryptonite to my doubts and inhibitions.
your giggle–a kiddie-roller-coaster,
gently moving me in spirals,
up and down.
Though I hadn’t seen this white-dwarf
since she flew in a different constellation
light-years away, eons ago,
we collided so naturally–generating our own black-hole,
where nothing we let into each other that night, would ever leave either of us
not even the light gleaming from your eyes.
We sat with excitement, to see the performers–
none more than the performer sitting next to us,

to see if each other was as talented
as we dreamed we could be.

Improv is not for everyone,
but she was smart enough to get it
quick enough to follow the tangled storylines
funny enough to laugh without pretense
and fun enough to laugh when the jokes made no sense.
Our first adventure was so synced
what we both needed,
what we had yearned for.
The whole world was magic,
every molecule appreciated,
the possibilities were on fire.
Our hearts skipped a beat
but then danced to catch up.
the air was so intoxicating
we asked for autographs from the volunteer performers
on the stubs of our free tickets.

We walked to the truck
hand in hand,
with the organic ease
of an old couple walking down the beach they were married on
50 years past.
Of course I took your hand–it fit so perfectly in mine.
Off course I took your hand–you were so
open and sweet
like a perfectly ripe peach
ready to eat.
like you loved me all along,
my hand just followed your lead.
There was no question at all,
that this night was pure bliss
and we both wanted to end it
the way it began
on fire–
though we had no plan,
we both knew just where to land.
I stopped you before
you could fork toward
the driver’s side door.

I let you get closer, slower–no need to rush.
We both knew we wanted to touch more
than we’d ever before.
I looked at you plainly–
no sexy smirk, no tricks, no questions or smiles,
just peaceful eyes–
smiling as they do,
touching just to say ‘hi’ the way eyes do,
to say “it’s time, let’s savor the moment, as you let free your lips”.
We floated deliberately to meet with a kiss.
a kiss so sure.
a kiss so brave–you let me touch your most vulnerable private part–your lips.
and I held them with mine
to show you you’re safe.
I held your face in my hands
so you wouldn’t escape
till I painted my love for you
with my lips on your face.
We both knew immediately–it was love at first bite.
It seemed foolish to say out loud,
but we both knew this was true love.
The star I had wished on
had fallen from heaven to let me orbit her, and worship her,
bask in her life-giving light.
As she’s basked in mine
since that very first night.

Transracial Identity: what are the limits to Identity?

Though this fake-ad from Salvo Magazine has an agenda, the philosophical, ethical, and potentially-political fiat is relevant:

Whereas, Gender and Race are socially constructed concepts on a spectrum, which may diverge from biological norms, and

Whereas, Gender is understood as mobile, controllable,  and protected as a human right,

Race must also be understood and protected as such.

Caveat: Recent scientific research generally agrees that there is no object scientific thing as race. Biologically, two “White” people may have less in common genetically than either has with a “Black” person, who may in turn have more in common with a Chinese person than someone from their own country of origin.

As transgenderism and non-cisgenderism become more widely excepted and celebrated, the inevitable question arises: which aspects of our selves can be or should be protected and where do we draw the line, if we choose to draw one at all.

In a vacuum, the recent populous view that gender should be open to choice by each individual, would transcribe to an individual’s right to choose their race, from social transactions to racial-reassignment surgery. Though sympathizing and supporting sex-reassignment may be an easy act of love for many progressives and queer activists, Racial reassignment likely leaves an undefinable sourness on your tongue. This may be due to the historic context in which one’s “Race” has been used as an excuse to enslave, murder and rape, as well as subversive movements such as the “Black is Beautiful” and “Red-Pride” slogans designed to promote self-love in spite of social pressures to conform and assimilate.

But non-males/ non-hetero males have been similarly raped, murdered, and enslaved–There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history and the vast, absolutely overwhelming majority are women. Women were granted the right to vote in this country after former slaves and people of color. With this in mind, though Female-to-Male (less privileged to more) Reassignment is more prevalent, MTF accounts for about 25% of sex reassignment surgeries (SRS) in the US (Gender Center). Would Racial reassignment be similarly distributed, more balanced, or racing to one race? Many studies have found that when someone identifies as both a marginalized gender/sexuality and a marginalized race, racial identity tends to trump sexual/gender identity (Violence against WomenRacial Identity, Masculinity and Homosexuality in the Lives of Young Black Men).

Tangential questions that elective-surgery prompt: what constitutes the self? Which, if any, parts of the body constitute one’s self? and What are the limits of identity?  Many “Wannabes” around the world have an immutable urge to have elective amputations, feeling that they won’t be whole until their body is divided (Wannabe), while those with Phantom Limbs (Ted Talk) still feel parts of their body that are no longer there. Sergio Canavero (head transplant) plans to conduct the first human head transplant–Dogs have already had head transplants, but only lived for up to 7 days (still pretty impressive/scary). Would this really be a body-transplant? If so, would the body have different rights than the head? For example, if the body had raped and murdered someone, would the resulting human pastiche have the right to vote? In our brain-centric culture/paradigm, the answer may seem obviously yes, but heart-transplants have been observed to have much influence on a person’s tastes and personality; How much influence would the presence of an entire body, the result of decades of architecture and experience, have?

How important are physical characteristics to our psychological well-being? Amputees (who don’t happen to be Wannabes), survivors of severe burns, and others with drastic, sudden physical changes often suffer from severe depression and reported loss of identity, but how different are the effects when that physical change is sought after and planned for, and what are the limits? Where do I stop being a better looking version of Phil and become a stranger with a fragmented identity of self?

These questions may seem sensational and lacking relevance to some, but so did many questions around non-cis gender/sexuality, sexual reassignment surgery, and the limits of individuality/identity, before movements around the world opened our eyes to how many millions of people face these questions everyday. Moreover, with the fields of genetic manipulation and ever more complex surgeries becoming commonplace, these are questions we will no doubt have to answer as citizens, policy-makers, and most importantly, as sentient Humans.

Identity is more than a name or a social security number. It is an essential foundation to our happiness, decision making process, and ability to navigate the social and physical worlds in which we live. Like never before, we will have to fight for our rights to identity and choose which we will celebrate and which we will not.

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Depression Vs Viagra

Rule #1: Don’t get too drunk to fuck.

As the proverb goes–You’ve got to get it up. Now, not getting overly drunk while being a stone cold alcoholic can be a dick tricky…whoops–I mean, a bit tricky. Severe depression doesn’t exactly spur the sexual demons to life either, so intimacy can be difficult while my depression is acting up.

Getting naked with people I know is fun. I’m not shy–Doctors, gym showers, skinny-dipping, lets get skinned-up! Sometimes, however, perhaps a first date or other awkward social occasion, imbibing alcohol heavily and often just seems like the right thing to do, you know?

————>

So I’m swiping through Tinder, mostly to the left, when someone appears like a cloud of diamond dust, swirling until gently settling in the image of a beautiful woman. This human may just have potential as a source of gender based fun? let’s see what she is into: Social Justice–ooh now I’m really turned on. Song writer–nice, I could use someone to sing me to sleep. After reading a list of books that was longer than necessary–which I very much appreciated –it was clear that this human was sexily intelligent, fun, cultured, generally pretty rad. So I sent a message, something like, “I’m a Socialist in the streets, but an anarchist in the sheets 😉 Wink”. Did I emoji a wink and also type the letter-based word? Yes. Yes, I did. Because everyone has different phones and tablets and computers and now watches(!) so I’m always afraid my software’s emojis won’t translate and I’ll accidentally send someone a death threat (👉😎💣{you the bomb})

As awful as that introductory pick-up line was, I assume she looked at my profile and saw that I’m not totally useless. To protect her identity, we’ll call her…you know what? fuck it. There are 25 million Sarahs in the country, you’re not gonna have any idea which one I’m referring to. SARAH! responded and we began chatting. Soon we decide to voyage on the ever painful, never skippable right of passage referred to as the “First Date”. It actually wasn’t that bad since neither of us were really looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, nor were we looking to get laid. We just had a lot in common and were genuinely connecting and having a great conversation; Neither asked each other, “what was it like growing up…blah blah, blu blah” or “So what kind of music do you like (said while simultaneously puking out the other side of mouth)”. This was actual good conversation–no pressure–no sexual tension–no expectations, just verbal chess over coffee. Of course the irony is, when you have a great casual conversation between two people who aren’t trying to have sex with each other, it makes you really want to have sex with each other. There’s nothing more sexy than an intelligent, passionate conversation that flows with ease. So our evening proceeded as our boundaries dropped in infinite regress and hopping around town felt consummately comfortable, like hanging with an old friend, not someone I had met that afternoon.

The inevitability of a kiss was so obvious that it just slipped into the conversation without pomp or circumstance. There was no big moment with requisite stare into each other’s eyes, and yada yada yada.  Just some kissin then back to the conversation.

We ended up back at her place, getting even closer still. I was getting more self aware. This was going swimmingly and I didn’t want to mess it up.  Are we moving too fast? Am I being a gentlemen? Is that giant pimple still on my ass or did I remember to pop it? I had been so depressed and isolated for so long I’m not even sure I’d remember what to do if we went any further. We switched back to kissing, which led to grabbing various appendages, which led to the big reveal–take those clothes off! Just as we are about to commence the big finale, my conductor dropped his baton and an early decrescendo was followed by a gasp from the audience.

This magical evening was anticlimactic on a whole new level and though I don’t think a good date necessitates sex, “wanna watch some Game of Thrones?” Isn’t the strongest closer. Between the past 8 hours of drinks and eats and walking around town, my energy reserves were on empty. The added blanket of depression and anxiety wasn’t helping lift me up, figuratively or nonfiguratively. Other than the embarrassment I felt, I was more worried Sarah would think I wasn’t attracted to her or some other such arbitrary paranoia. We parted ways and I decided to plan.

The next day I went to the doctor and explained my intimacy anxieties, which I never had before, but the pressure of being quite smitten with this girl amplified my anxiety. Plus, this was the first person I had met since my major depressive episode and I wasn’t feeling fully human or alive yet. The doctor recommended Viagra to get “over the hump” (no shit. Those were the Doc’s own words”), until I felt comfortable being intimate again.

Yes, please!

I armed myself and regrouped for date two. It was too soon to say for sure if this relationship would last, but if it was going to end, I resolved that it wouldn’t be because of my nervous depression-penis; It would at least be because of my emotional inaccessibility or my bad decisions or hey, maybe she could take a turn at ruining things–I’ve had my share.

So we met up a few days later to see a shitty local band. It was free and the drinks were cheap and they couldn’t beat me today. She wasn’t ready when I arrived to pick her up, so I went upstairs and watched TV as I waited. She poured some wine and we joked and chatted as she unnecessarily got dressed–my “enthusiasm” was overflowing and we fell into an anti-tornado of clothing that ended with us on the kitchen floor. Now is the time. Who will win? In this corner, the defending champion, Deeeeeeeeeepression!!! And in the other corner, the challenger–young, UP and cumer, new on the scene, Viiiiiiiiaaaaaaaagggrrraaaaaa! We exchanged blows for several rounds. The battle was hard fought. In the end, sweating, exhausted, the new challenger was Victorious! He had slain that abominable foe! The day had been saved and all the village people rejoiced in the spectacle.

When you’re depressed and don’t feel truly alive, the stone staleness of ennui can creep it’s meddling claws into many unexpected corners of your pseudo-life, but this night, we won. A few days later I found out Sarah was a big time drug dealer on the lam from the law, which is why she was on Tinder–she could meet someone in whichever city she was in that week, quick and easy.  I never saw her again or texted or talked. But that didn’t matter. In addition to sleep meds, yoga, church, and writing, I had another tool in my belt to face anything depression could throw at me. I was a little more human again. A little more in control of my life. And it was nice to get laid.

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