Ten years ago:

I didn't really want to deal with other people anymore. I was tired and angry of what happened when I talked to them, or invested in ideas with them, or emotionally invested in them. I had been disappointed too many times in the recent past, and I wanted nothing more than to just be alone. But I also knew what happened to me when I let myself succumb to those sentiments. I was conflicted, but still able to pick out the truth laying there in the facts.

In an effort to keep myself to sitting in my apartment and dwelling on my own stupid selfish bullshit, I started forcing myself to go out and get breakfast at the Windmill on 8th Street whenever I had the day off. The Windmill wasn't exactly a place to get great food, and I can't imagine that the place has improved in any measurable way in the last decade. It is simply a diner like so many others, and I figured it would be a good stepping stone toward getting myself out of the house.

I was self-conscious about it at first, sitting at the counter with a cup of coffee and looking at the newspaper. I was hyper-aware of how I felt I was standing out compared to the rest of the clientele. I'd have an omelette or some pile of potatoes or something, sit and have two or three cups of coffee with as many cigarettes, and tip five on a ten dollar check and run away. I would scurry back to my apartment and spend the rest of the day sitting in front of the machine playing Civ II until it was very late, wallowing in my own isolation.

I didn't like doing it. I didn't like feeling uncomfortable and guarded, and longed for my little shell every single time. But I also didn't like feeling crazy and isolated and afraid, and I had to do something, anything, to get out of that shell. After a few trips, I did start feeling more externalized and part of the flow. I started to relax, letting go of the silly fears of being there.

 


 

It was in these moments at the counter with the newspaper that I discovered that I was being underpaid at my job. The Meijer on 16th Street was hiring base cashiers at an hourly rate that was very competitive with my pay as the Assistant Manager of Babbage's. I found this discrepancy puzzling, as I certainly had many more goals and responsibilities than simply standing at a check out stand scanning people's products. Additionally, I was sure that my career potential would not be so blatantly limited by my lack of personal transportation. I called over to Meijer to be sure that the numbers I had read in the paper were actually accurate.

The next day I went into work and demanded a raise. This is the only time I have ever done this. I told my boss that I didn't want to change jobs, but given my current financial situation I was forced to consider the possibility. I reminded him of an earlier conversation he had with the district manager, in which he thought it weird that I was trying to support myself off of the salary I was currently earning. My boss did understand where I was coming from, and went in the back and called the district manager.

He came back out a minute later. "You have your raise."

It wasn't as much as I had asked for, but it never works that way. It was slightly more than I would have made at those other positions, so I was satisfied for the moment. More importantly, I felt that I had a legitimate complaint, and it had been heard and responded to by those around me. It did help heal some of the damage that had been done previously.

It was strange to notice myself dealing with interpersonal communication better when I was in a position to be pissed off at people. My brain seemed geared toward being angry, and not having that feeling to build off of sent me into a flight of anxiety. Even though I saw this in myself, I didn't know what it meant or what should be done. Part of me was happy that I had somehow discovered this magical overdrive inside my brain, and looked to use it more often.

 


 

I caught up with the Cortland kids, letting them know what was happening with me. I told them about how alone and purposeless I felt, and how angry I was about my job. I just set it all out there for them, hoping that they might have some insight that I was somehow missing.

I used the postal service, writing out letters on a typewriter at the library and posting them back home. One of the kids thought it would be very Kerouac of us to use typewriters, and I followed along although I didn't really see the charm involved.

Slowing things down and intentionally putting each word on the page made me pause and think about what it was I actually wanted to say. Words that could never have been formed in electronic media surfaced, and I found myself with a seemingly more accurate portrayal of myself. I actually talked about many of the issues I felt had popped up: sex and mental stability and purpose and direction. The act of writing those things out forced me to recognize what they were. Telling someone about all of this made it more real.

And there were some small answers in response. The kids responded that I sounded like I was having a hard time isolating my feelings because they seemed constantly in flux. It was hard to pin down truth and communicate it with any consistency in that environment. They asked about staying up late at night trying to evaluate everything at once, drinking from a fire hose of thoughts.

They all but asked me if I felt I was manic. I had seen manic before. I had lived in a house that was ruled by mood swings. I didn't feel manic, but I also knew that was part of the trick of mental instability. I answered them honestly: I wasn't really sure of anything anymore.

Talking with them made me homesick. And being homesick made me think about moving back to New York.

I suppose the idea had always been there, floating in the background. As much as I interacted with other people, or tried to adopt the place as a home for myself, or tried to build a career I could be happy with, there was a part of me holding back from truly committing. I think that part of me exists even still, after more than eight years of putting a life together in Chicago. It wants me to get back to the world that makes sense, and is populated by friends I have already made. That part wants to go "home".

New York was also confusing and weird at the time, with my relationship with Amy in this weird flux of confusion, and owing the Cortland kids a bunch of money from the previous summer. I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to go back there with things the way they were. But the idea of going back was alluring, and I allowed myself to live in it for quite a while.

 

Notes on a life in exile: A retrospective
Previous: April 13, 2010 <|> Next: May 3, 2010

So it's been over 3 weeks since I've written a log. That was right before I went out to meet the Woman Who Cried when Carlin Died (not sure if the rime makes that name worse or better). For those who don't know, let's just say our phone conversation went better than meeting in person.

It was also pointed out to me that for any of who who read these logs but don't ever really talk to me, I didn't really explain how I met this woman. She "winked" at me on Okcupid I wrote back and she gave me her phone number and I think we basically know the rest. Well, we don't know exactly, but I don't want to really go into it. Unless you yourself plan on trying to date people from Okcupid and want to swap stories. I'm always down for story swapping. Or swapping in general.

Don't be disgusting, I wasn't talking about come swapping...I mean I am up for that, pretty much I'm up for anything that involves someone having an orgasm, but I meant swapping like I fuck your wife and you...well at this point all I can let you do is masturbate and pretend you are me.

And if any of you women want me to fuck your husbands while you masturbate and pretend you are me, I'm up for that too. Please just let me remind you that tips are always appreciated.

Which is where we leave the oh-so-enjoyable world of sex and segue into the world of money. For those who aren't my facebook friends, let me say that I have an audition to become a temporary poker dealer. That audition is on May 5th. Cinco de Mayo. Which is probably why I was thinking of my ex-girlfriend recently.

For those that haven't read every little detail of my life that I've shared too much of, last year on Cinco de Mayo I was schedule to work as a busman (it's like a busboy, only much, much more depressing) at a fancy Mexican restaurant. I did not work. Instead I was on a bus to Grand Junction.

Yeah, I don't want to tell this story again, check old day logs if you care.

You'd think I'd be super excited about my opportunity to become a poker dealer. I think this is my in. I think I'll be a great poker dealer. I think I'll be able to support myself easily just dealing poker some day.

Maybe I really am a negative person. Really, I think it's just that I've never looked very far into the future.

Let's go back to 3 weeks ago. I had this date. I was rejected. It sucked. But then I had another date with a different woman. And that was pretty cool as far as I'm concerned. Even though she may not want to see me again, I enjoyed my time with her. And she may actually read this, so I don't want to say anything too explicit about our time together. I have no idea if she'd care, but erring on the side of caution isn't the worst idea.

Then something else great happened. I worked 4 nights at my restaurant job and it was very low stress and good money. I was happy. Then the night manager I worked with, the one who seems to actually respect me disappeared and it was back to the stress of working with people who don't really like you.

So I worry. I feel guilty. See in the service industry you have a lot of control over how much you work, and I don't want to work these days. Maybe I'm feeling guilty because I don't think I'll pay my mortgage in May. But to be fair to myself I'm not the jerk that came up with a rule that to qualify for this new help program you have to have missed two months payments. It's like the credit card companies all over again. Reward the people who you worry won't give you money, punish those that do.

A man can only take so much punishment.

Also, I should mention Kongai. Kongai is this game on Kongregate that I've really gotten into. I'm really digging the psychology of a rock, paper, scissors game with unequal payouts. Analyzing my own, and other players tendencies is really cool too. I actually remember some things about some of the people I play.

I've also watched a couple of the Game Theory classes that Yale filmed and put online. It's good to have new jargon to talk about the things you love, in addition to learning concepts you hadn't thought out very well. Sure, I've heard of the Prisoner's Dilemma, but it only took me to get to the second class to learn about Common Knowledge.

Sex and games, oh how I love them. What about comedy?

I like it when my girlfriend moans, it's the bitching that bothers me.

How do you like them apples?

I like writing jokes. I've had some people ask me to write more about games. I want to do that for them. When you write me or talk to me or tap Morse Code on to the head of my cock...when you communicate in any way that you want something...I want to reward you. I do so love all the feedback. I do so love talking to people. But only if you get something out of me. When people want me to fuck off, I fuck off.

So games. I was telling a story about playing this guy Kongai and as soon as it got to the point I really felt I had the game wrapped up, my opponent starts stalling. It's pretty amazing when you deal with someone who games a system. AI is still terrible last I checked, and it would be REALLY hard for Kongai to tell when a player has a tough decision, even if we assumed that isn't subjective. So instead it gives you about 40 seconds to do EVERY move you need to make. Sometimes there really is no choice, but you get your 40 seconds anyway. And this guy I was playing started using his whole 40 seconds for EVERY move.

It's always interesting when you deal with people who care more about winning than the game. This is obviously common in professional sports. No one cares if their team won on a bad call. The rules are what the ref says goes, those are the rules.

If *I* were a different person I'd have quit that game and let my opponent win (you can forfeit in Kongai) and gone over to my friend's house. But that isn't me. I'm the guy who wants to reward you for your feedback, and who doesn't want to reward some guy trying to exploit a game feature for a cheap win.

But I learned in "my" Game Theory class that sometimes rational play can lead to bad outcomes. I was always a big believer in the idea that if you are doing something that if EVERYONE did it would obviously be horrible, you shouldn't do it. But that is exactly what the Prisoner's Dilemma is all about.

I had fun talking at the guy, not that he responded. But as soon as I finally beat him he wrote "gg"

What a jerk. I'd like me Kongai ranking to reflect how well I play Kongai, not my patience, thank you very much.

I realize too that I play Comfort Games. Much in the way people eat Comfort Food. I have Comfort Sex too.

Thanks again, I'm going to go play games.

And so my clinic, Quimper Family Medicine, is opening on April 30th, 2010. We are having an open house from 3-7 pm and food. In theory I'll be seeing patients Monday May 3rd, but it rather doesn't seem real. Also, I have a rather large amount of work to get done between now and then. I may fall over with fatigue.

Yesterday we got the letter, all mail merged and folded, with envelopes ready to stuff. A one year old list of my former patients, given to me by the hospital. The main snafu was that they were supposed to print my signature on it and they didn't. I signed them all. We had ordered the list by address, trying not to send 4 letters to a family of four. Before that, there were over 800 names. After we'd attempted to fix that, the printing place found that they'd printed 666. Yes, 666. We still found some duplicates and probably missed some, so I think we are sending out 650. We are also sending an invitation postcard to the physicians, providers and medical related groups in town as well as businesses that have been involved, and friends. If everyone were to show up, about the first 30 could park. I'm assuming they won't.

So I signed 650ish letters yesterday. My receptionist helped stuff and stamp. We hope the right names are in the right envelopes and that we caught most of the duplicates. I also tried really hard not to send a letter to anyone who has died in the last year. I called my old clinic twice, checking on names. "Is JM dead?" I hear my former receptionist poll the front desk. "JM is still alive, right?" "Yeah, he was in here last week."

We still have to do our own HIPAA form and I've written a rough draft of the billing policy and we need a pamphlet about how stuff works in the clinic: refills, hours, addresses, emergencies, what to do if you are hospitalized, etc. And, and, and....it's mostly a lot of fun and occasionally a bit frantic.

Off to Portland, OR later today for a two day synchronized swim meet. The Introverted Thinker is in her fifth year. When I picked her up from practice last night, she told me how they'd corrected the illegal move in her duet. My brain kept saying: "What?" Sorry, spacey mom. Pasta sauce from jar and frozen baby lima beans sort of night, but at least we had good bread.

Lists, lists, lists. Remember liquid nitrogen. I need a ring forceps. We had a lesson in the phone system yesterday. Call Dr. L.

Wheeeee!

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