What’s Wrong With Size?

Elevate your minds from the gutters, brethren; I’m referring to book length. I have been reading a bit on this subject and most sources seem to think that anything over 200 pages is bloated and beyond anything any reasonable person could ever be expected to read. (Yes, that's a slight exaggeration. Work with me.) Maybe it’s this first genre I’ve chosen to write in, but this seems to be all the worse with gay novels. Meanwhile, many of the books out there can be considered fluff to pass an afternoon with (and I am a very slow reader).

For instance, there is a book I found on Amazon which weighs in at a paltry 135 pages. It is touted as a novel, which after 50 pages, I suppose it is. However, this retails for $6+ in eBook format and $10+ in print. For a rather dramatic contrast, Stephen King’s IT weighs in at 1,104 pages and retails for $9, both eBook and paperback formats.

135 pages is a pamphlet. I could wash that out of my hair in a couple weeks. I downloaded a sample and was not impressed, nor was I appalled. It was okay. However, for that price and with what I read, I declined to buy the whole thing.

Granted, I have been repeatedly told that my forthcoming novel, Winter’s Trial, is long. Longer than average. Much longer than it “should be” for this genre. I thought about it, looked at it, and asked my beta readers and editor what could be cut. I cut wordiness (a crime I am guilty of), I eliminated crap, I cut out the pointless stuff, and I elaborated if needed for clarity. At least three people have been over it a total of eight times in seven months. And there are two or three more to come (final proofreader and then me, and probably my editor after that).

My astronomical total? 364 pages. 146,000 words with Times New Roman 12 font. A full space between paragraphs. Long? Meh. The vast majority of books I own are between 300 and 500 pages. Even the gay books I pulled off my shelves are about 250-300+.

I recently read online that an author was worried that his/her current project was going to go over 100,000 words and was asking for advice from other authors on if this was acceptable or not. I stayed silent. I am far too biased and too green to comment to someone who might even potentially care what I have to say on the matter. I am opinionated and new and so I shut up. Until I got here.

But I like to read books. Not pamphlets. I like robust characters I can love or hate or understand (and sometimes still hate). I want a story I will remember. Not watered down, brief snippets. I want to feel something. I tried to make my novel closer to this; I tried to write a novel, not a pamphlet. Even if I failed at all these other things, I learned a great deal through this process and I can only get better. And this is only the beginning. Pamphlet or novel, you can fit good characters and plot in almost any space. It’s about the story. We shouldn’t shun the pamphlet, the novel, or the tome based solely on length.

As the vernacular goes, it’s not the length but how you use it.

Mercury Retrograde Aftermath

For those who don’t know: Mercury Retrograde is a period of three weeks where the planet Mercury appears to be in backwards motion. This happens about three times a year. Astrologically speaking, it’s a great deal more. And it's horrible. If Mercury showed up like this, everyone might not be so pissed off.

During this time, we experience much hideousness.  Technology seems to go to hell, communications are difficult, misunderstandings are common, tempers flare, bitches from the past spring into the present, things begun tend to fail spectacularly, travels are difficult, and odd coincidences abound.

No, these things do not only happen at this time, but Mercury retrograde seems to have way more than its fair share. Cars break down, windshields get shattered, exes come around, people you haven’t seen in ages appear out of nowhere, computers crap out, that already annoying coworker seems to be on his/her raging period for three weeks, someone you start dating during this period becomes a bitch-face and the dating ends, you can’t seem to form a sentence, etc. You should never start anything during this period, sign any contracts, go anywhere, or have any communication at all with anyone in the world.

MercRetro

Sure, it’s a lot of superstition, or astrology, or Wicca, or crazy talk, or ancient fuckery, but it’s the one tenant I can’t get rid of, the one superstition I can’t shake off, the one I seem to get confirmation of every damned time, and the time I hate more than all others.

This last one, ranging from June 26th to July 20th seemed to produce all these things. From the aforementioned coworker, to huge misunderstandings with the editor, to short tempers, to a random, unknowing friendship which struck up between me and my ex-roommate’s current roommate (without either of us originally knowing the connection we had). An old friend of mine looked me  up, appeared, decided to get back with his ex-girlfriend, and thereafter decided he had to stop talking to any males he might be attracted  to (*raising my hand and waving goodbye with one finger.*), a friend’s car collapsed, my work computer crapped out on me, I ran into another old friend I hadn’t talked to in about a year, etc., etc.

Mercury retrograde bitch

Since time seems to be going backward, it’s supposedly a good period to reconcile with the past, to pick up old projects, to do all that nonsense. It’s generally good advice, and if you think the heavens are aiding you, all the better.

Think back. Have the last few weeks been a pain in the ass? Coincidence? Very likely. But what if? Yeah, this all could happen at any time…but all this and more…in three weeks? Piss off.

Though it’s far in the future, Mercury goes retrograde again from October 21st to November 10th. You've been warned.

Amen.

There's douchery afoot!

So, in addition to everything else I've been doing (which is why my posts are so infrequent), I have been trying to lose weight. About a year and a half ago I had several inches of my intestine removed. My surgeon said those inches were normal, healthy, and fine, except that they were significantly narrower than the rest of my intestines. He thought it was congenital and that it explained issues I've had all my life. Suffice it to say that I am now able to eat and *ahem* process things which would have previously been both unlikely and very time consuming in a remarkably short time. The end result was that I shoved my face with everything I had ever avoided eating. And there were no immediate adverse reactions.

Well, it took over a year, but I gained about 20 pounds. If you knew almost anyone in my family, you would only express scientific interest that it was a mere 20 pounds. I don't know how I have remained relatively svelte, unless my mother and father (some of the rare exceptions to rampant obesity in their respective families) were genetic anomalies and I inherited this from them. For instance, my aunt has been unfairly compared to Ursula the Sea Witch (unfair to poor, unfortunate Ursula, mind you) and has been known to wipe gravy off her chins with a towel at Thanksgiving dinner. Classy.

So, I was apparently blessed with a good metabolism -- until I get to be a certain size. I inherited my mother's height (or lack thereof) and so 20 pounds is considerable on me.

I have attempted to diet (as in, not eat chocolate, hamburgers, pasta, bread, etc. in immeasurable quantities). My friend had me download an app called Lose It! and, if nothing else, it makes me aware of all the bullshit I shove into my face. I lost 10 pounds in about a month.

And I wait on the Plateau of Pain.

This has forced me to the gym. Gods help me.

The things I have seen! A guy better suited to modeling than any earthly career looked at me as I was passing, said something, smiled, dropped his towel, and, still smiling, began to open his mouth to speak to me. I, of course, ran. It wasn't until later that I considered he may have wanted my gaze, or something else rather more licentious. I doubt it still, but...I suppose if someone else had that experience I would have suggested the very thing I currently laugh at -- there was some interest. I take pride in my intelligence, but it absolutely leaves a concave in my senses when someone might possibly be hitting on me.

I have seen couples with a distressing surplus of public affection. One in particular, she very hot and him merely adequate, could not bear to be separated through a set. They took turns, kissing and fondling between those sets. Given my previous experience when leaving the locker room, I thought I might have unwittingly entered Sodom and Gomorrah. Too much PDA between any couple makes me cranky. I wanted to shout, "Oy, Hansel! Gretel! You're leaving a trail of lube and nasty juices on the equipment! Dry it up!"

Another very attractive, very gay male with a muscled chest Dolly Parton would be envious of was involved in a facetime chat with someone while he did one set. Phone in his crotch, looking up at his finely chiseled features. When that ended, he took a picture of his chest -- twice -- and uploaded it onto a web site. (Our machines were fortuitously (?) situated to where I could see all this, even with my blurry vision and looking very infrequently) What I didn't see, I didn't want to. He then moved to another machine right next to me, smiled amiably, and actually proceeded to work out. His first set corresponded with my last, and I saw him take another picture of his chest as I fled. What kind of comparison was he hoping for?

I used another machine. He was on his still, unmoving, on his phone. I finished there and went upstairs to get on an elliptical machine and worked out for 30 minutes. There are mirrors all over the gym and I was still able to see him, which I did out of aghast curiosity. He stayed there for another 15 minutes doing one set. Total. He then pranced upstairs, passed me, and walked to the sit-up benches. I no longer cared to look, but I did anyway once or twice. I either had damnable timing or he did not move. Once. He walked by again and smirked, so I can imagine my glances were less than subtle. I cursed my indiscretion, if for no other reason than that he clearly thought I was interested. He was very pretty, but I believe there is only room for one other entity in his life -- his ego. It taxes my resolve to coexist in the same room with someone such as he, so even had the offer been extended, I would have had to decline. Guys like that only want clones of themselves. They are eights looking for elevens and will settle for nothing less.

Humility is sadly underrated.

I almost went face-to-chest with some wall of beef in one of those hallway which-way-are-you-going misunderstandings. I cackled, and it sounded high and crazed in the hallowed halls of Gay Church, as it was once referred to in Will and Grace.

I am apparently exceedingly awkward. I also have little control over my expressive face and my mouth. I should never be allowed in public.

There were other guys checking themselves out, bro-ing each other, slapping palms, grunting, laughing loud so all the little people stare (as P!nk once said), and generally acting with total, unabashed douchery. Where else would one expect beefed-up douchebags to hang out, if not the gym? I hated them all.

And, sadly, I would have had sex with almost every last one of them. I would hate myself in the morning, and them even more, but such is the way of a sad, apparently typical gay male.

The shame.

The Sour Chords of Heartstrings

So, as noted in my “Is it November Yet?” entry, there was a good possibility that some of my woes would be null and void in that magic month.  This, alas, did not happen. The long story shortened is that my pretentious, suddenly yogatasmic roommate, Stacey, was going to run away to another state to be a yoga instructor at a soon-to-be-built studio.  Regardless of instruction, talent, clientele, practice, and experience, he sincerely thought he was going to get in the door there.  I had my doubts about someone so green getting into an established branded studio and being a full time instructor, but as I am ignorant of the ways instructors are inducted, I said nothing.

November came and went, and it was revealed that the construction of the yoga studio wouldn’t be completed.  I told our apartment manager that I may not need a one bedroom just yet.  December came and the story was the same.  By then, there was no point trying to transfer, so I decided to stay in the two bedroom until the end of our lease in January.

In that time, the long term manager of our apartment complex left her post abruptly.  The one bedroom I was going to move into with my boyfriend was snatched out from under me because, though I turned in my 60 day notice, my roommate didn’t.  In addition to that, when my boyfriend put in an application, he had to do so without my information on there, and his income is below the desired amount.  The old apartment manager said she would handle it, but the new one had to obey the rules.

After about 5 visits, several texts, a talk, and a session where I was cussing horribly every day, I got Stacey to sign my resignation and handed it in.  By that time, apartment #1 was gone.  Great.  However, there was another one opening, so I applied for that one.  Adding horror to this, the people in apartment #1 rescinded their resignation.  The people who were going to get that one are ass out, because I have signed everything for apartment #2.  Sucks, but I have been here for several years and that loyalty won out.

The talk with Stacey didn’t go so well.  Apparently, the studio is being built with one less room, meaning half the sessions, half the instructors, and less than half the opportunity for Stacey to get in, being as new as he was.  There is another studio being built not too far away, but Stacey wants to ditch his car…in the interest of (partial) anonymity, I don’t want to reveal the to and from states, but let’s just say that the difference in climate, transportation, and seasons is insurmountable.

Stacey has never been without a car, has never been in anything considered “real” weather and is totally unfamiliar with public transportation.  I am pessimistic as to his abilities to cope.  For those who have not experienced it, try doing a weekly shopping for groceries on the bus or on a bike.  Then add rain, snow, and wind—things Stacey is NOT used to being out in.  Or even seeing.  Good luck, kupo.

Reluctantly, Stacey has decided to stay put.  But, I’m outta here at the end of January.  I’m moving into a one bedroom with my boyfriend.  Can you imagine?  A place where I can be free—where I can sit in my own front room and watch TV or play my goddamned PS3 without fear that I will hear the worst sound in the world, worse by far than the cries of a baby, nails on a chalkboard, or the sound of a live Taylor Swift song—the sound of Stacey’s key in the front-fucking-door.

That’s when the heartstrings began waking up, jangling, and tuning themselves.  I felt so bad for Stacey—his ostentatious showboating, his plans, his reaching for a new life (forgetting that the old one would follow him), his hopes…they lay in tatters around him.  Adding to that, he will have no roommate in less than two months.  He doesn’t make friends easily, and of the three he has, two are in the state he planned to go to, and the third is violently allergic to his cat, KOS-MOS (no, that’s not her name, but she was named after a video game character, so I substituted).  He looked at me with Puss in Boots eyes, and I felt bad for him.

Friends and neighbors, I am here to tell you that I actually thought, “Well, I…I mean…I guess I could…if he needed it…”  Then my mind shut that sympathetic thought right the hell down.  Shut it down like a rat-infested hooker’s cootch parading around on church grounds.  Be miserable for another year?  Not enjoy my lovely TV or PS3?  Feel uncomfortable in my own home?  For another year?!  Fuck. Off. Troglodyte.

My friends tell me simply that Stacey has gotten himself into this situation.  They remind me that Stacey has tried to ditch out on our lease three or four times in our period as roommates.  I can’t fault him for wanting to pursue his newest dream, for reaching forward to something better.  I applaud his brave gesture, his guts, and his tenacity.

However, Stacey did the things anyone from Aesop to Confucius to the dumbest person you know would have warned him against: he put all his eggs in one basket, burned his bridges, and ran full force forward.  I can’t pick him up again and again, especially when I gave him five months of warning that, regardless of his actions, I was going on my way.  I haven’t needed him as a roommate for two or three years now, probably longer, and I’m done compromising my life to help him.  I also believe that familiarity breeds contempt and I hope our friendship can strengthen when we are no longer living together.  He has no place to go yet, but I know he’s looking, and though I feel for him, I won’t continue to be his crutch.  I felt bad and considered lending my helping hand, but…

…but then he continued to soil our comradeship.  To further sour the notes of my heartstrings’ harmonizing, Stacey has been the most annoying of roommates in this past week—leaving his laundry in the washer and/or dryer and going to work, frequently bringing over some guy with the timbre and vocal resonance of an air raid siren, watching movies loudly, caterwauling into the midnight hours, leaving the kitchen a mess, sprinkling and leaving copious amounts of carpet deodorizer so that when I get home the smell rapes my nostrils, and otherwise requesting a beating every moment he is in this apartment.

Enjoy your ashy bridges, ass-hat.

The Lunacy of Corporate America

The Lunacy of Corporate America is independent of product, outcome, financial success, or individuals in Management.  I believe it is a universal lunacy, and I wish to vent and expose a little of the type I experience at work. The CEO of our segment and his boss are visiting today and people are out of their minds.  No cell phones even in the halls.  SO many e-mails have gone out that I have stopped reading them.  I just saw the admin for the Evil Vice President, a normally bubbly and shockingly sweet person (considering her boss), walk up to someone, lean over, and with a wide mouth say in a voice reminiscent of an abusive special ed teacher, “Tooooodaaaaaay?  No ceeeeeeell phones in the haaaaaaaaalls.”  I fled into the bathroom before I could witness the rest of the meltdown or cackle in their faces.

Normally she is amazing and funny and sweet.  But that scene I just witnessed?  I was scuuurred.

(a few days later)

On another note, we are approaching our busiest time of the year and this is the time where the madness increases—supervisors and managers running around with their hair on fire, ready to go down to the local Home Depot to gather the men standing outside for additional work force.  Neither merit nor theoretical company policy will stand in the way of Management’s drive to the frosty plains of Lunacy.

Speaking of Lunacy, there are always going to be those who are promoted regardless of merit, time with the company, or the rules that are set down for the peons.  However, in all my time in this segment of Corporate America (and there have been too many years at this particular company to really count), I have never seen anything like what is happening right now.

There is a guy, tall, white, young, straight (and yes, cynical though it may be, I believe these have everything to do with why he is on the upward climb)…we will call him Iolanthe (because she was a fairy queen in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta and it amuses me to dub him thusly).

Iolanthe has been with the Company a year.  One year.  Company rules state that you must be here a year in one position before being promoted.  He came in as a grunt, but apparently his deep voice and 6’4”, football player frame said, “I’m destined for HANDOUTS!”  He did the grunt work for about three months.  Then the giving campaign started.

Let me digress here.  Iolanthe is not as attractive as his stats may have suggested (because after reading that, I thought, “Dayum!  Corn-fed beast!  Gimme!”).  He is shaped like a chunky rectangle with too much wet mulch in the top half.  That is, until you get to his head, which is too small for his gargantuan body.  His buzzed head only adds to this illusion of a TV box on end with a cantaloupe perched on top.  His shoulders and upper arms do not move when he walks, giving him an oddly economical movement that is all elbows and hunched back.  His skin is not the best, but neither is it reptilian.  He is not bad looking, but there’s something ungainly and sorta unattractive about him.  All this is not to be cruel, but rather to point out that he did not get his positions by being an overwhelmingly hot tramp whose favors are for trade.  (And if they are, you may never look at mashed potatoes the same again).

So, as I said, after three months of employment, the handouts began.  I have no doubt that he is very intelligent, and that’s great.  It will help him.  He also has ambition and organizational skills.  Within three months they decided he was too good for grunt work and took him off it, infuriating the whole building.  He was dubbed an expert in a particular system based on his three months of using it.  This is not a system involving the stacking of plates in descending order.  This is a complex, infinitely flawed new computer system, and they are trying to tell us that within a bare amount of time he has become an expert in not only the business, but the system it uses.

So, a position was made for him.  Created with him in mind.  Iolanthe was officially promoted in about 5 months.  They had him doing a whole lot of work that wasn’t his job and I think they needed to reward him for it.  Now, about four months later, he has been given yet another promotion.  He is now a supervisor.

I don’t care that much about Iolanthe, and I honestly don’t attribute one iota of blame to him.  What the heck is he supposed to do?  Say, “Oh, no.  I shouldn’t be promoted!  Look at all these people who deserve it more than me.  Give it to them!” *Jesus light shining from his nether region*  If he did, it would make him a noble fool.  It’s not his fault—it is the fault of upper management who refuse to abide by their own rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m where I wanna be, I’m getting paid a fair amount, overall this is a very good company to work for, and I had no desire to be a supervisor when it was offered to me (after many years, I might add.  Why my manager thought I would be interested after expressly telling him of my lack of interest for years, I have no idea).  So, please do not think that I am jealous.  Others are, and openly so.  And I think they have a reason to be.

One of our leads, a long term employee, a woman of supreme knowledge and capability, has been passed up for a supervisor position more times than should be legal.  I think she is too strong and outspoken for Management here, personally.  I think they don’t like that all that much.  But how must she feel?  Knowing she is capable, but that she has been passed up yet again so this mulchy box can be promoted ahead of her—in complete contrast with Company rules and regulations.  Knowing, in fact, that she has tried repeatedly to get ahead, yet this guy has been given—handed without interview or knowledge and therefore without merit—what she deserves.  And she is not the only one in this position.

I’m here to say, ladies and gentlemen, I would be on the phone with HR so fast…

This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg here.  I must say that over my time here I have witnessed much, suffered more, met one of my dearest friends here, and sometimes had more fun and good times than I ever thought possible at work.  And I owe most of it to the Lunacy of Corporate America and the unfortunate denizens who suffer through it with me.  So, for now, I’ll keep it.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t complain just a wee bit.  *cackle, running off into the sunset*

Is it November yet?

Now, just writing that title hurts me to the core.  From that title one could rightly infer that I want time to jump ahead to November, thus skipping over the best of all holidays for me—Halloween.  And one would partially be right. Halloween, nay all of October, is the time where my friends and I are the closest.  We all love horror movies and dedicate just about every weekend in October to viewing them together.  We plan our Netflix queues around the month, and we make sure to get our essentials out of the way (Halloween, Trick r Treat, Hocus Pocus, etc.) and many more.  We gather in large groups and watch, cackle, jump, and savor the time.  We carve pumpkins, eat obscene amounts of candy corn, hang out, and just enjoy our time together.  Please don’t think that we’re gothic trolls—wearing too much make up, too much black, and too much shame to go out in public.  We just love Halloween.  It’s something we all look forward to all year and it has to do not only with the time, the scent of autumn, the turning away from the ghastly heat of summer, but with the closeness we have all throughout the year, which is intensified for that month.

So, for me to be leaning forward, reaching toward that time when the Halloween festivities are over and a whole year away, is not only out of character for me, it’s bordering on insanity.  But, nevertheless, that’s what I’m doing, and I’m doing it for various reasons.

First, my writing goals.  I have plans for myself and deadlines I plan to stick to.  November will be a deciding month, one way or another.  Second, because certain things at work will have passed over and the newness of my recent promotion will have worn away, as will the sharp edges of the haters who wish for the promotion I received.

But most of all, the thing which brought me here to this horrible conclusion, this wish for the hastening of time, is, unfortunately, a negative motivator.  November 1st is the absolute earliest that the troglodyte fembot that is my roommate Stacey will be the fuck out of this apartment, the state, and my life.

Stacey and I had The Talk, and it went well.  He has an opportunity to become a yoga instructor in another state where the market is neither crowded nor discerning.  Do I think he’s rushing it?  Yes.  Do I think he’s taking his newest fad and seeing it as an out for all the things he doesn’t like about his life?  Of course.  Am I afraid that he is blundering ahead without aim or thought into a potentially disastrous situation?  Yes.  Am I scared for him because he seems to be skipping along the brink of the Cliffs of Idiocy without a place to stay, an apartment to live in, or an ounce of savings to help him through the hard times?  Yes.

But the one thing in life you cannot control is the actions of others.  And that’s fine.

If you have read almost any of my previous posts, you will know that Stacey seems to be mentally in high school, locked in a desperate struggle to eke out any attention he can get, be it negative, positive, unwillingly given, or baldly reaching.  He’s up to his old antics…well, “old” would imply that he had set them aside for something good, for the smallest sliver of normalcy or tact or decorum.  He has not.   So, he’s up to his typical antics, and this time he seems to have sniffed and gotten high off the musty buttocks of Idiocy and come away high on the fumes which make up his psyche.

His only two friends have fled to another state.  Not, as one might imagine, to get away from Sailor Pretensia, but because one of them is from the state in question and so they decided to move back there.  Never terribly popular, Stacey has since latched onto any of my friends who will allow it in a clinging which would embarrass even the most wanton of giant squid.  He hangs out with one friend of mine in an incidental sort of way.  We will call him…Edwin.  Edwin is one of my best friends ever; I would trust the man with my life.  Edwin used to hang out with Stacey’s two friends who have left the state, so he is in contact with Stacey on an occasional basis.

Stacey was going to go to a concert and asked Edwin if he would go.  Edwin declined but suggested that another friend of ours go, Abel.  Now, Abel is, for his type, rather cute.  He likes younger guys.  Younger CUTE guys.  Stacey is neither young nor cute.  Stacey and Abel went to the concert together and, in typical fashion, Stacey vomited out all the tidbits of information he had ever heard about Abel—someone he likely would never have met or hung out with were it not for a random twist of fate.  So, I get a text from Abel essentially asking how the hell Stacey knew anything about him and why he had called Abel a “twink-obsessed chicken hawk”.  (A line which was said in jest by me to someone else when Stacey happened to be in the room.  It was neither clever nor witty, but it was likely better than Stacey could come up with after a month of meditation and a Google search.)

Now, any human would think, would know, that if he heard two people discussing a friend he had never met and was never intended to, that he shouldn’t puke up anything and everything he had ever heard in an attempt to sound well-informed, popular, and special.  This is called “tact” and/or “discretion”.  I think even Stacey knows this, but his need to seem popular and wonderful and part of the group overrode any sense there was racketing around in the empty cavity that is his head.  Is Abel mad at me?  Who the fuck knows or cares?  I doubt it, because I wasn’t the only one he texted.  He also sent a text to another friend of mine, Katherine.

Now, I know Stacey has heard Kat and I talking about Abel.  Like I mentioned, he just vomited that information out.  Apparently, Stacey is talking to Kat now, which I knew.  How?  Why?  He is offering both Kat and Abel free services at the spa he works at.  If you can’t make friends on your own, win them over with gifts, right?  *sigh*

In the past Stacey has tried to move away in some sudden surge of flightiness.  The first time he gave me three weeks of notice before the lease was up.  The second time he gave me five weeks.  A third time, there were still months and months left in the lease.  He didn’t go ONLY because the jobs he thought he would get fell through and the “friends” he thought he could stay with told him “hell no”.  There was no loyalty or concern for the lease or the bind this would put me in.

Every year that we have lived together he has waited until the last possible moment to sign the lease renewal.  I believe this is to try to give the appearance that he has power.  As I got more and more raises and promotions at work, Stacey started to realize that I COULD live on my own, but it would be a financial hardship.  I have had to ask him, “Are you going to sign the lease or do I have to start packing?”  He would wait a day or so and then sign the lease, but not mention it to me.

It got to the point that two of my friends (Beverly and Zhaviera) told me it was bullshit that I had to constantly wonder from day to day if I would have to pack and get out.

Now, in his chats with Kat, Stacey has informed her that he would NEVER move away without more than a few months’ notice and the lease is ALWAYS signed on time and months and months in advance, at that.  He implied that he gave up on jobs and opportunities because of me.  I heard this offal today and my mouth literally dropped open.  All I could stutter out was, “What…The…Fuck?”  Yeah, I told him off on those occasions, but if that would stop you, then you weren’t serious in the first place.

Now that he’s into yoga and a is better person *cough, FALSE, cough* he has this need to make himself seem more giving and courteous, so he’s repainting the past with the colors of delusion and outright lies.  No rose-tinted glasses here.  These glasses are smeared with shit and the sweat from so boldly lying in the presence of people who are close to me and know what I have had to deal with.

So, he’s doing his damnedest to weasel in on my friends and my space.  I don’t want to come home and look at his face, or to see his car in his parking spot.  Does he really think I want to spend my free time with him?  Well, he doesn’t care…and that’s fine, too.  It’s his life and he can talk to whomever he wants.  I can’t say, “These are MY friends, so stay away, idiot!”

I did purposefully stay away from Stacey’s friends (the two who fled the state—very nice people, indeed) for him, because he’s overly possessive of his friends and has in the past accused me of trying to steal people from him.  *stare*  Well, when you have only two, I imagine you would become rather protective of them.  And that was my decision.  I’m not saying that Stacey should divine from the heavens that I stayed away from his two friends because I didn’t want to hear his shit.  And, even if he had, it’s not his responsibility to do the same for me.  It was my choice so as not to cuss profusely and without coherence if he dared to accuse me of stealing people from him.

*Dot Warner voice*  “I can’t help it if I’m cuuuuuuuuuute!”  *cackle, gagging on my own ego*

But, Stacey is a lonely, desperate creature.  I do feel bad for him, I do.  I also am not threatened by Stacey.  My friends like him in a casual sort of way, because he usually behaves in front of them.  My friends have other friends.  This does not diminish what I have with them or our friendship, or what it is that makes us friends.  They can be friends with Stacey all they want.  I couldn’t stop this and I wouldn’t want to.

But this.  This shit.  It’s horrible—the attention grabbing, the bribing for friendship, the lies to make himself look better, the leaping forward to try getting in their graces, and then the audacity to tell me things about my friends as though I have only just met them.  “Abel is a really nice guy, though.  And he’s cute, too!  And Kat is really funny.  Edwin is really smart!”  (No, I’m not making up the inanity of these statements).

Uh, I’ve smacked Abel’s bare, white ass and had him say raunchy, terrible things to me.  I was in Kat’s wedding.  I helped quiz Edwin when he was studying for the BAR exam.  I know these things about them and more.  It amazes me that Stacey has the audacity to lie to my friends to make himself seem better than he is, to lie about me, to tell me things I already know as though I am a noob and trying to infiltrate HIS group of friends, and to be so pathetic as to offer them free services to hide what he really is—a desperate, fake, pretentious, reaching troglodyte.  If he were just lonely and in need of friends, I could feel sorry for him.  But his tactics are reprehensible, transparent, and sad.  Luckily, I have confidence in my friends to have a sense of reality and see him for what he is.

Yet, I can’t help but wish for the beginning of November, for the exodus of Stacey from my life, and for an end to the painful eye-rolling his very presence induces.  I also can’t wait until these rants here come to an end.  They tire me and very likely my few readers, yet this is the only place I can get them out.

Thank you for reading.

(Several days later)

I debated posting this, and had planned not to, in fact.  Then I heard that, because he is a nice guy, Abel decided he wanted to take Stacey out for dinner because Stacey wouldn’t accept payment for the services he offered in his spa.  Abel asked Kat to go, but she declined because she and I had plans, and important ones at that—watching movie trailers and arranging our Netflix queues for the aforementioned October bonanza of horror.  This is exciting to only Kat and I.  It’s something we look forward to and, to avoid the silent judgment of others at our geeky behavior, we do it alone.  Plus, Kat and Abel knew there was no way I was gonna willingly hang out with Stacey.

The dinner, in fact, is tonight.  Stacey cleaned the front room, did the dishes, threw out the trash, and cleared off the dining room table.  In preparation for what?  I’m frightened to imagine.  Abel is sweet and proposed this dinner to be kind and to pay Stacey back in a way he could.  But, I know Stacey, probably better than anyone.  Seventeen years of friendship where one wears his shallow mind on his sleeve has that effect.  I know all Stacey is thinking is:  Abel + dinner – anyone else = DATE!  He luuuuuuuuuuuvs me!  *swoon*

And that made me both sad and angry.  Not angry at anyone, save myself for being so harsh sometimes, but at the state which Stacey has put himself in.  He has it in him to be a nice guy, to be considerate, to be giving.  And, through that, through that genuineness of heart and of mind, that “real” Stacey, unfettered by hatred or bile or passive aggressiveness or a clinging need to be popular (and not realizing it’s a cry for love from outside, when he needs to love himself, however cliché and dramatic that sounds)…through all that, he could have friends.  He could be well liked.  He could be who he wants.  But he lashes out at those who are constant and caring, unable to accept their kindness.  He hates and festers and has no feelings or pity for anyone, because all those emotions are directed at himself.

And yet even then, Abel wouldn’t touch Stacey because, for all his good qualities, Abel is remarkably shallow when it comes to the boys he swoops in on.  So, tonight is a sad, pathetic journey for one (where more information will be tossed up like a poisoned dinner), and a mission of well-intended kindness for the other.

Why would that make me want to post this even more?  Because I rant too much.  Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it falls flat, and sometimes it’s whiny.  But it is always one-sided.  And so I wanted to show that, for all Stacey’s negative qualities, there is someone in there worth knowing, trying to claw through the mire of needy, loathsome behavior.  Whether that person will ever have the equilibrium (or equanimity) to come out, who can say?

Here’s hoping.

Wedding Angina

Over the past month I have decided that weddings are ordeals which should be avoided at all costs.  As I have only ever been to two weddings (two out of three of my mother’s weddings, both of which I was in.  Let that sink in for a bit.), I am a total rube when it comes to the customs, procedures, and hideousness of weddings. Recently, a very dear friend of mine was proposed to and the wedding planning began.  I was honored that she wants me in the wedding party and, despite all my complaining, I remain honored.  I love her to death, and even though I have only known her for about five years, I feel like it has been a lifetime.  I cannot picture my life without her in it.  Would I tell her these things?  Probably not; compliments make me feel dirty and used.  But she knows.

However, having never been in a wedding as an adult, the bevy of customs and nuances make me feel like I am attending an Aborigine ceremony about which I know nothing.  Should I pierce my nose and thread it with an asp?  Need I sleep on my head for a week of Saturdays before?  Is self-flagellation really necessary?  Will there be strippers?   Can I ride in on one?  Maybe I can ride in on a bear instead?  A pig?  A manbearpig, perhaps?

The planning, the preparation, the expense, the constant drain on my first-hand study of hermit life, the ghastly suit I have to wear (She’s getting married on the beach, and all of the bride’s men are wearing linen suits.  What the fuck?  It’s like a deleted scene from the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby), and the fact that we will be outside in suits in the summer, all combine to give me angina.  My aforementioned lack of driving has been a constant barrier, my ignorance of what is expected of me has been another, and my lack of a charitable nature has been the final obstacle.

The whole thing has seemed haphazard and strained from the beginning.  The bride hates the heat about as much as I do—why she chose anything the way she did, I will never know.  What she did not choose was the bachelorette weekend—a trip to a desert resort in late June during a heat wave.  It was 105 degrees, people.  Our very good friend planned everything and it was supposed to be a surprise (boy, was it!).  The first thing I thought when the idea was sent around was, “Are you serious?  You wanna go there in the SUMMER?  Um, drugs are bad, mmmmmkay?  You might want to get off them and rethink this.”  But, I told myself that it was not about me and it never was, and that I needed to suck it up and keep my mouth shut.  I figured that the planner knew what he was doing; I remembered that he is one of the smartest people I have ever known, and I stayed silent.  He later asked me why I hadn’t said anything.  I told him why and he just said he wished I would have, anyway.

The weekend was actually great, but there was much horror and irritation throughout, including bitter exes within the wedding party, ghastly un-tucked drag queens, a sleeping situation rife with pornographic potential (all unrealized, thank the gods), walking in the heat which made an unhappy bride-to-be, a terrifying jaunt in the wrong direction on a one-way street, and a great deal of expense.  However, there was laughter, drinking, conversation, swimming, love (of the platonic kind), lots of eating, two cuddly dogs (who were part Great Dane, part buffalo, I think), and a whole lot of fun for everyone.  I thought I would hate it, but my fears were totally unfounded.

Then there is the ceremony itself.  One of my fellow bride’s men is so narcissistic, I honestly think he can’t stand to have a whole day celebrating someone other than himself (no, not my roommate.  He’s not invited.  But there are similarities—both do what they do out of extreme insecurity).  He wanted to saunter into the ceremony with a twist, a spin, a flutter, and a shimmy, all to Xtina’s “My Girls” and have the remaining four of us (only one of whom is female) follow in his ‘mo-tastic wake.  I pray to all the gods that have ever been that that shit has been vetoed on the grounds that it is lame, that nobody wants it but him, and that his entrance on the glittery Wings of Stereotypes should not upstage the bride.  That’s a custom even I of the Aborigine confusion can understand.

The wedding is this weekend.  The remaining suffering includes the following:  the final fitting, the pickup of the suit, the dress rehearsal, the vetoing of the song, the dinner, the ceremony, the pictures (the absolute worst part for me.  Every picture I take makes me look like I have an irrepressible urge to bite my ear and roll my eyes back in my head), the showering after the sweating, and the reception.

Being so unattached and so new to this whole experience of weddings, I can’t help but wonder what all the fuss…  (damn it.  No, that “I can’t help but wonder” was NOT inspired by Sex and the City.  *going to wash*)  …anyway, it makes me wonder what the fuss is all about.  And all this, all my minor suffering, is absolutely nothing compared to what my friend is feeling and experiencing.

Regardless of your views on marriage, the core of it is supposed to be a commitment to the other person, to the life you want to live together, and to the love which brought you to that place.  I understand that a ceremony is so entrenched in cultures all over the world that it’s practically indispensable, but why is it necessary?  What’s the point?  It’s a day to show all your friends and family that you love this person and want to make a commitment to him or her.  It’s a milestone.  It’s a symbol of new beginnings, a new beginning with that person, and a new phase in life.  But, does all that have to be so public, so draining financially, so imposing on your friends, so important to display?

However, I understand that I don’t understand.  I understand that this is incredibly important to two very close and very dear friends of mine.  I understand that it’s in no way about me.  So, I suck it up, complain to myself, chastise myself for being so cantankerous, and hope that it’s one of the happiest days of my friends’ lives.

All that being said, if I ever get married, gods forbid, it will be like the final wedding in Spaceballs:

“Do you?”

“Yes.”

“Do you?”

“Yes!”

“Good!  You’re married.  Kiss her!”

The end.

Why I stay in my room

My current roommate is a friend (for lack of a better term) of something like eleventeen years.  He is also a caricature.  Were I to relay some of his tastier morsels of dramatic, profound stupidity, we would be here for some time and I would receive numerous bills from my two readers for the drugs and therapy they would have to undergo.  He’s so desperate for attention that he does not care if it is good or bad. We will call him Stacey for the sake of anonymity (and because in reality he has a girl’s name.  It suits him).  He’s never been what you would call traditionally handsome, and I personally would rather make love to a camel that has been dead for twenty four hours than gaze upon his pastry-bag arms one more time.  Some people find him attractive, of that I am sure.  Who they are and what their mental state is, I cannot say, nor can I vouch for their visual acuity.

Another thing which must be known is that he is terribly competitive.  Almost comically so, seeing as how constantly he fails.  We used to go to the gym and he would strain, push, and in fact hurt himself to lift a measly five pounds more than I, to do one more set of crunches, or to do five more minutes of cardio.  To the casual observer it would seem that he was more dedicated or stronger than I.  What the said casual observer did not see was the five subsequent days of Advil, booze, and silent weeping Stacey would do from the pain.  The casual observer would not see his inability to lift his arms above his waist for three of those days.

It’s not entirely his fault.  He’s about nine inches taller than I (he’s tall; I’m not) and he thinks that he should therefore be nine times stronger.  I have been described as freakishly strong, scrappy, and as a bull dog—small and absurdly strong.  When I go the gym, I just do what I do.  If it hurts too much or I’m abnormally sore the next day, I tone it down the next time, because I’ve obviously overdone it.  I don’t do the same or more and deal with the ensuing paralysis for no reason other than that I have the need to feel superior or to not appear that I’m weak.  I just don’t care enough.

Recently, I had unplanned, completely invasive surgery (what surgery isn’t invasive, I ask you?).  To hear my doctors talk, I almost died, the ICU nurses were afraid I wouldn’t bounce back from it, my doctor had never seen anyone get so bad, so fast, blah, blah, blah.  If I feel like it, I’ll relate that in another entry.  Point is, I was sedentary and weak and on disability for six weeks.  I sat on the couch, high on Oxycodone, watching SpongeBob SquarePants, trying not to think about the pain, hobbling occasionally to the kitchen for grape juice and whatever I could eat on the special diet I was put on.  However—and this is the crucial part—I lost fifteen pounds.

I would like to think that Stacey didn’t base any of his decisions on my condition or weight loss.  I’m desperately trying not to be so egomaniacal as to think I affected this in any way.  But I can say that suddenly Stacey started to eat better and take up yoga.  In an attempt to “get ahead” of me in the weight loss game?  Because he saw the horror I went through and wanted to take better care of himself?  Because he just decided to take better care of himself and it had nothing to do with me?  Who can say?  However, I think the timing (starting right when I came home from the hospital and not a day before) was a little suspicious.

It was the yoga that killed everything.  For those who have not done yoga, it increases flexibility, it helps calm you, it can be life affirming, and it will kick your ass.  Don’t think it’s just a bunch of stretching and bending.  Unfortunately, it can turn you into a pretentious boob, or if you are already afflicted with this personality disorder, it can be like throwing gasoline on an open flame.  Suddenly, Stacey, whose alcohol content at any point previously was enough to make Lindsey Lohan look sober and contrite, was clean, sober, working out, and completely loud about it.

You know what?  I was happy for him.  He was losing weight, he seemed to be throwing off the shackles of burgeoning alcoholism, and he seemed happier and healthier.  However, I was couch- and bed-bound.  Walking the few paltry steps from the couch to the kitchen and back was an experiment in agony.  I walked to the mail box and thought I was going to pass out, and I’m not the swooning type.  I tried to share Stacey’s enthusiasm, to take joy in his joy, but the pretense was growing inside him like the Dark Side grew in Vader and eventually consumed him.

So, too, was Stacey.

I was perfect for him—a wounded, sedentary, unwilling audience to his parade of self-congratulatory pretentiousness.  After four weeks of, “Ohmigoooooooooosh!  I’m SO sore!” and, “Ugh.  I can’t have THAT yogurt!” (said in a tone which suggested it was made of lard from the thighs of infants, fawn eyes, and baby seal meat), and other such gems, my sympathetic joy was tarnished.  Everything he did was for attention.

One particularly bad pain day, before Stacey decided to go off the booze, I heard from the kitchen, “Oh, nooooooooo!  There’s no vodka left!”

*turning up SpongeBob, waiting for it to go away*

“Ugh!  Now I can't pre-drink before the club!”

*focusing intently on the jellyfishing antics of my newly favorite sponge*

“There’s no tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!”

Even high I couldn’t handle it.  Finally I said, “Why don’t you go to Rite Aid and get some on your way to the BAR?”  (“Club”, my ass.  That shithole is a dive with atrocious drag queens.)

Stacey said, “But then I’ll be late!”

I said, “You’re not the goddamned white rabbit!  Nobody cares if you catch bubonic plague and die, much less if you’re fucking late, you troglodyte!”  Actually, that’s what I wanted to say.  What I actually said was, “I think they can handle it if you’re a whole five minutes late.”

He acted as if I had shat in his mouth.  He was so displeased at the thought of not having a devoted audience desperately waiting for his arrival that you would think he had just been told he had incurable leprosy.  He sighed and said, “Well, I gueeeeess.”  He then spun off to get ready and left me in peace.

At this point, I was just hateful.  I tried to tell myself that he was just proud of the life changes he was making, and that he had every right to be happy.  I tried to be supportive.  I tried, I promise that I did.  But I was not in the state of mind or the physical condition to give much of a shit.  I thought that maybe I was the jealous and competitive one.  I thought that maybe I wanted to be the one making the changes, to be active, to be anything other than high and watching cartoons and SyFy original movies.  Then I thought about it more and realized that wasn’t true.  I just wanted to be better.  I wanted the pain to go away.  I wanted to be able to walk without hunching over and wincing with every step.  And, as supportive as I tried to be, it just wasn’t a good time.  We were on different schedules in our lives.  Once I accepted that, I was able to weather the storms and flurries of his attention seeking.  But I spent a lot less time in the front room and more time in my bedroom.  With headphones in.

Flash forward two months after my surgery.  I was back at work and still in pain, but so much better than I was.  I decided I could go back to the gym.  Stupid, stupid thing to do.  I told myself that I could handle it.  I couldn’t.  I thought a little mild cardio would be good.  No.  Not so much.  I was cut right under my belly button and so every step stretched out this area so recently healed (or, as I would find out, in the process of healing).

I decided to hold off on the gym going until I was even better.  When I didn’t feel like I had steel gumdrops lurking under my navel skin, just waiting to pierce through me.  I decided that I would wait about four months like my surgeon’s office mentioned.  Duh.

About two or three weeks after the gym incident I was trapped in the front room by my roommate.  I wasn’t fast enough when fleeing the kitchen and he caught me while getting his moldy water bottle (because he can’t wash a dish to save his life) on his way to yoga.

I must describe this outfit.  First was the pair of basketball shorts which looked as if they were made from soiled, used tin foil.  They had a thick black stripe down each leg and were entirely too flowing and therefore revealing for my taste.  They looked shiny, like they could also serve as a personal slip and slide without the need for water or other lubricant.  Then the shirt.  Sweet, gently baby Jesus, the SHIRT!  It was the same color, I think.  I say “I think” because my brain tried to block it all out.  By recounting this incident to you, I may be forced to undergo electroshock therapy and a lobotomy.

The shirt was armless.

Now, I’m pale as hell.  My roommate, however, is mixed Latino and white.  He has no excuse for being so pale.  More than that, his arms looked like over-filled white pastry bags full of lard and poison.  At this point he had lost weight and had been going to yoga three to four times a week for three months.  One should rightfully expect to see some iota of definition.  All I saw was a pale expanse of flab, like a vomitus desert put on display for those unfortunate enough to behold its horror.  See, what I don’t understand is that he was never fat.  Ever.  There is no excuse for his arms to look like that.  I understand that yoga doesn’t make you a buff monster and that he may have a different body type than me, or a drunken hobo, or someone ridiculously attractive like Kellan Lutz, or even chunky Carnie Wilson before the surgery.  But this was less than no definition.  And I was forced to behold it and to calm both my gag reflex and my fight or flight response to visual danger.

Stacey asked me how I was doing and I said that I was getting better, that I could actually walk a little and sit up without too much pain.  What about that says, “Please show off.  I so desperately want to see it.”?  As we were talking, he said, “Sweetie, you should totally start going to yoga!  It makes me feel so good!”

Okay, first of all, you shiny bitch, I never want to hear anything like that come out of your mouth again.  Second, refer to the first part.  Third, I just fucking told you that sitting up without pain was a feat for me.  Do you think I’m ready for yoga?

But I said none of that.  I said, “You know, I thought about doing that or going back to the gym when I feel better.”

That’s when he started doing the yoga poses.  As we were talking.  He stood on one foot and slowly slid his other foot up his leg to rest just above the right side of his left knee.  He put his hands into a prayer-like gesture and stood there, preaching like some deranged priest about the wonders of yoga while trying to defy gravity like a rabid fakir.

I had enough.  I told him about my foray to the gym and that everything was stretched wrong.  I told him about the two days of pain I had after—not good workout pain, but like something was shifting inside which really should remain stationary.

He looked at me, blinked, said he was sorry to hear that…and started talking about yoga again.  He switched legs in his sideways flamingo pose.

Finally I told Stacey that if I did yoga at the moment, my innards would spill out and I would die.  Dramatic?  Absolutely.  Should I have done yoga or even touched my toes at that point?  No.  No, I shouldn’t.  I thought it was insensitive and yet another attempt of his to show off.

Time passed and I thought I was being ungenerous with him, even if I was still miffed.  Then I spoke to a mutual friend of ours and he said that Stacey did the same thing when talking to him—broke into random yoga poses without provocation or having anyone else even mention yoga.  He is a kinder person than me and said, “Yeah, Stacey talks about yoga a LOT.”  It was all he would say, but it was enough.

Then tonight.  Damn it all, tonight.  I’m better now.  I can work out, go swimming, even do yoga if I wanted to.  I was in the kitchen heating something up in the microwave.  It takes exactly 3½ minutes to cook in the microwave and yet in that time, I was visually and mentally assaulted.  Stacey came in from yoga, wearing those same goddamned shorts, but thankfully a shirt with the most blessed of inventions—sleeves.  He started chatting, and without any indication that I cared, said, “Do you wanna see what I did in yoga tonight?”  Bless his heart, he so was excited.  I still wasn’t feeling generous, so I was an ass.  I said, “Not really.”  Stacey said, “Well, I’m gonna show you anyway.”

Okay, that was funny enough to make me watch (while making potions on my phone with an old Harry Potter reminiscent app I’ve just recently become obsessed with).  I should have stuck to my potion making.  He got on the floor, laid on one side, propped his hand under him, and raised his free leg in the air.  I looked away and almost screamed.  Those shorts are a little too revealing.

Stacey sprung up and, still not looking I said, “Wow.  That was pretty cool.”  I had no freekin’ idea what to say.  He said, “Oh!  Now I have to do the other side so I won’t be unbalanced!”  I mumbled, “Doing another yoga pose won’t help you with that, but knock yourself out.”  I meant it literally.  Please, knock yourself out.  He did the other side, fell, and tried again.  He sprung up and started talking about balance and yoga and I feigned interest until he started talking about catching up on Walking Dead together, something I agreed to do, to find some quiet activity we could do together which could salvage what is left of our friendship.

But all I could see in my mind’s eye were those shorts and what I almost saw.  As the microwave went off, all I could think of is that time is relative, that 3½ minutes can seem like an eternity when your sanity is exposed and raw like a hooker’s cootch after Nickel Night, and that this, and everything preceding it, was why I stay in my room.