Ten years ago:

A post-work routine spontaneously sprouted out of the dirt. I would usually work the closing shift that the mall, which was the same as Allie's usual shift at the candy store. She would come over and rattle the gate when she was ready to go. Even though I knew it was coming, that shaking metal noise would scare the crap out of me any time. She would stand there tapping her foot while I frantically finished counting out my drawer. We would run over to the bank and drop our night deposits and then we would head to her house, where Isis would be up and heading for work in a few hours. We would maybe watch a movie or something, and then I would fall asleep on their couch. Isis would drop me off at home on her way to work, and I would sleep until almost noon and start the cycle all over again.

When Isis and I would both have time off we would go around and run errands together. We would get lunch, usually at the Salad Bowl on Lincoln or up on 8th Street somewhere, and then split up for the afternoon. We would regroup around dinner time and run through our usual routine before I would head home.

Sometimes Allie would go into her room and call her boyfriend, and Isis and I would sit around the dining room table. We would play a round of gin rummy, or play with the cats, or just chat. Usually we kept things light, but every once in a while the conversation would suddenly cut into someone more meaningful as we felt each other out. I talked about my long-held decision to not have any children of my own. She told me how she didn't like anything about cigarettes. We played chicken, inching close to talking about religion before swerving away at the last minute. We outlined the border of ourselves playing these games, and it was both exhilarating and saddening. But we had become very good at doublethinking our way out of these uncomfortable places, and things were light and happy otherwise.

It seems strange to think that it only took us about a week to create this paradigm for our time together, but it seemed so natural at the time. I felt connected to them; that I contributed to their lives as they contributed to mine. Clearly I was desperate for these connections at the time, which was why I fell into it without any hesitation. Even knowing what I know now, I don't feel bad for any of this. I was relaxed and happy and I felt like I belonged to something larger that just myself.



Isis gave me her cold. I woke up on my day off with a bit of a sore throat, and a scratch in my sinuses. I didn't think much of it at first, but it persisted as the day went on. I knew that this was merely the beginning, and that I had about twenty-four hours before I became really miserable.

I called her to both scold her for making me ill, and ask her to take me to the grocery store so I could get tea and cough drops. A small part of me was afraid that I was coming down with my annual one week bout of the flu, so I filled the cart high while she laughed at me. I skipped traditional cold medicines, believing that I was better off sweating the fever out than dwelling in the sickness. As I grabbed my bags to head out, a teenage employee insisted that he help us out to the car. Despite being so forceful with his need to carry my things, he was surprisingly distant on the walk through the parking lot. For some reason, it made me think of all of the shitty jobs I had worked in high school, and how I was pretty distant for most of them as well.

We drove around in the car for a while, pondering our lunch choices and trying to laugh the illness out of my system. During a commercial break, the radio pumped out a commercial for Menards, a local hardware store. The commercials feature (even today) banjo music in the background, which I found offensive to my sensibilities. I mentioned to Isis my decision to never shop at their stores while their commercials attempted to appeal to me through the use of banjo music. She smiled, and then turned the car around.

Isis had worked at Menards for two years, and pushed me through the front doors with an enthusiasm that I was uncomfortable with. She took me to every department in the store, introduced me to the employee working in that area, and told them about the conversation we had in the car. We stood at the key duplication counter for twenty minutes while she shamed me in front of several of her former coworkers. She then picked up a bunch of remaindered lumber and made me pay the $.46 cents at the checkout.

"There, now have you learned your lesson? Everyone here is very nice, right?"
"I still don't approve of their insulting marketing technique."
"I don't care if you approve. I'm glad I got to rub your face in it."

She drove us back to my house, where we unloaded the car full of cough drops and lumber. For the first time, Isis came upstairs into my apartment. While I put the kettle on, she built a little Menards shrine on top of my television. We had some tea and sat on the couch for a while before we decided we needed to go get some food. That shrine sat on top of my television for the rest of the time I was in Michigan.



I didn't really get sick. I ended up with a sniffle that lasted a few days, and then I was right back to normal. I tried to get more rest than I normally would have, and went home right after work for a few days. I didn't get a chance to see Isis again until the following Thursday. We both had the day off, and we went to the Salad Bowl for lunch. We sat in a booth by the window, and the cold air was pouring off of it like a waterfall.

"What are you up to on Saturday? Do you want to go out?" I asked.
"Actually, I'm heading out of town tomorrow."
"Oh, that's cool. Where are you going?"
"Up to Alpena."
"Alpena? What's up there?"
"My boyfriend's parents have a cabin there."

I was mid-swig in my coffee, and I had to put forth a lot of effort not to choke on it. This was the first time she had mentioned him since that first night at the bar. I had never mentioned a thing about it, figuring it was outside of the realm of topics that were in play. Casually raising the topic over lunch the day before she left seemed like a brushback pitch.

I murmured some polite response and went back to drinking my cooling coffee under that window. But I think I might have done a poor job of covering my emotions in that moment. In the same way I saw that look in her eyes when we were in the car a week before, maybe she saw something in me in those brief moments. Maybe she had set up that statement in order to see what clues I would drop in the moments immediately after. I have no idea what the truth is here, but that moment was when our little pattern we had built finally evaporated.

It wasn't until I was back in my apartment that the other shoe dropped. It suddenly dawned on me that it was practically Valentine's Day weekend. While it held no meaning for me, I suddenly knew why everything was in play. While it didn't do anything to settle out my thoughts, at least I had a bit more understanding. I spent Friday night sitting on my couch, trying to cover the wound that had suddenly appeared.

Isis went to Alpena that weekend. She never called me again.



To add fuel to the fire, I had an unsettling conversation with my mother that weekend. My grandfather was back in the hospital, and they were weighing the possibility of calling in hospice. She said that I should probably start putting some money aside in case I needed to come home in a hurry. I understood what she was saying, but I was switched into panic mode and I didn't quite have a response to her words. To fill in the awkward silence in our conversation, she mentioned that they had talked to my Aunt and decided to sell the homestead once they got it into shape.

I had disagreed with my mother before. I had spent some years not talking to my mother before. But before that moment I had never been enraged by my mother. I wanted to be understanding about their position: the house was not in good shape, and it would take the work of a much younger group of people to restore things. It was inconvenient for them to have to maintain the property and make sure that bills and taxes were paid. I really did try to grasp the hard conversation they must have had to reach such a conclusion. But all of that would have required me to apply logic to a fundamentally emotional problem, and I wasn't able to make it over the wall.

I curtly informed her that I did not agree with the current course of action, and she did not try to talk me out of it. I'm sure she knew that I would react this way before she even picked up the phone to call me. This wasn't a consultation, it was a debriefing. Since her objective was accomplished, she politely said goodbye and hung up the phone.

Between Isis and the situation with my grandfather, I was angry and frustrated and I didn't know what to do besides stew in the feeling. I tried to call my brother, but he was out with his wife celebrating his 30th birthday. I didn't feel like I could call the kids in New York over these issues, as I wasn't sure I could convey the magnitude of the problem. So I grabbed the things that I knew would at least get me through the moment: cigarettes and cider. I knew that it wasn't the best idea, but I had to get the thoughts out of my head one way or another.

I was looking at a very dark well, knowing that I was about to tumble down.


Notes on a life in exile: A retrospective
Previous: February 8, 2010 <|> Next: February 20, 2010

If driving here is wrong, I don't want to keep right.

Would be the title of this daylog if I made node titles and did my writeups there. No desire to risk an E2 god deleting my writeup though. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you are in luck, I'm moving on now.

Happy President's Day, first of all. I bought some new work shoes today. There was nothing wrong with my old work shoes. No one had made any disparaging comments about them. For those of you that know me, I'm hoping your curious.

"Brian, why would you buy new work shoes?"

It's unrequited's fault. Chatted with him before going to work today. He sent me more games in the mail, and asked if I got them. Since I only check snail mail every 3 or 4 days (tops) I had to go check.

I can't remember now what all I thought about as I drove to IHOP today. It takes me half an hour to get to work, and I've taken to not listening to music in the car. I just think and try not to kill anyone.

I bruised underneath the fingernail of my right index finger. I have no clue how. I hurt my hands a lot at IHOP. I must have done it Sunday, possibly Saturday, I worked a lot this weekend.

"Brian, can you get back to the shoes? I was really curious and I'm dying to know."

I just wanted to explain that I type mostly with four fingers and it kind of hurts to use my right index finger...so any pain in delaying the story is probably more mine than yours...

"The shoes. Please?"

It's pretty awesome writing in the voice of your friends and then just making shit up they'd never say. Anyway, I park outside of IHOP and start walking in. I look down.

Oh shit.

I'm wearing my comfortable sneakers I put on this morning to go check the snail mail.

Have you been to IHOP? Can you imagine the blue apron, the black slacks...and can you imagine my ratty, white, fucking sneakers?

I apologize for my lack of knowledge of pinyin...

Wa sha shaza!

To understand why I put on those sneakers you really need to get a feel for what a tired old man I've become, desperate for the most basic of comforts. That kind of sounded like I was going to go into a big explanation. Sorry to jerk you around.

Back to the shoes. (The Shoes would be it's own entertaining node and title, but I still think the driving line is the best material I've come up with since I logged last) So I wouldn't be surprised if I stood there outside of IHOP for like a minute. That's a really long time to just stand there wondering what the fuck you are supposed to do now. Finally I decided I had to go in and at least let my GM know I would have been on time if I wasn't such a retard. I was so embarrassed I went in the back door.

I buzzed at the back door and poor Queen of the Prep Cooks let me in. I go in to hear GM yelling at her.

"Hey, we don't let servers in the back, they need to come in the front."

"GM, look at my shoes."

He looks at my face not knowing what the hell I'm talking about, one of the trainers was standing there with him, I'm guessing I interrupted some conversation.


They do and they all bust out laughing.

"Yeah, so I'm retarded and I put these shoes on this morning to go get my mail and I forgot what I was wearing. Now I don't know what to do."

GM: "Well, you can't wear those."

(trainer just laughing)

"Right, but I live half an hour away, so it will be an hour before I can work if I go change them."

At which point he suggests I just buy new shoes from the Wall-Mart a little ways away and that's what I do.

Being a retard and being laughed at do not bother me at all. What bothers me is the mental collapse I can keep track of. Like days I had to work the office job AND IHOP were brutal for me. It seemed like so many things I had to remember. I forgot my office job badge one day that led to a $20 parking ticket. One day I forgot my belt. I fucking forgot to comb my hair one day.

Now let me cut off those of you welling up with empathy. Poor Brian, he's so heartbroke blah blah blah. I think I'm actually a much less likable character than all that. I think it's just a matter of what a spoiled life, and more specifically spoiled life I have lived in Vegas more than anything else. I just don't think my brain is used to having to think about all this shit it doesn't want to. I just want to play more Dragon Age! I want to know if anyone has played Rogue and if it's worth playing, or if Nethack is just better.

But people had a good laugh, and I hope you did too.


So yesterday was Valentine's Day and it was a pretty special one for me. You see, as of yesterday, I've been fucking for as many years as I didn't fuck.

There was no fucking this year, though, I had to work (because, you know, I'm just fucking all day on my days off...oh wait, that isn't me) and within the first hour of waiting tables that day I think I completely understand what women want. They just want their man to not worry about money for one day. Do not worry about what the cheapest way to order something is, do not worry about how much the extra toast costs, just at least say that money is no object, even if we both know it is.

We were really busy that morning. I got to stay late so I worked like 7.5 hours. That is a beating for an old man like me.

But back to V-Day, when I was finally getting off work Bulgarian Girl asked me what I was doing that night. I told her going home and doing laundry. She just laughed at me. People laugh at me a lot. It's a gift.

It got me thinking, though. Do women really think single guys care about not doing anything on Valentine's Day? We sure don't. Near as I can figure, V-Day is about men spending money on women. I don't even feel I can take myself out to dinner, why the hell would I think of taking a girl out on Valentine's Day? Okay, I have thought of actually using the gift cards my parents sent me to like Red Lobster and Outback and doing just that. But I've also thought of selling them.

So that was my last couple days. I'm going to jump back to right after my last daylog. This may end up being really random, but I've been jotting down notes whenever I think of something at all amusing or interesting to me.

One of my friends on Face Book sometimes writes updates in the form "Dear (whatever)." Like: Dear Sun, please stop forsaking Las Vegas, some of us look better with a tan."

I'd like to borrow that format for a moment.

Dear Japanese Girls in Porn,

I am tired of your 70's bush, I am tired of the sounds you make, and I am tired of watching pixelated penises rape you. If you could please convince your Porn Overlords that the best way to make money off you is on specialty sites where the average porn browser will never come across you, I'd appreciate it.

I'm tired, and I can't afford to be. This was a thought I had on Friday when I did not get to stay late at IHOP and GM told me I looked tired. If he ever says, "Where is your sense of urgency?" all I hear is "Bust your ass harder, old man!"

Saturday I was at IHOP at 5:45am. I got up a little after 4am that day. I was cut off the floor around 1pm. We had a non-mandatory meeting at 3pm. Since I live so fucking far away I decided to dick around...including scraping a sticker off my car which I'll get to in a minute...until the meeting. After the meeting Black Guy invited me to "go get a drink" with Bulgarian Girl and him at a bar near by.

I learned Black Guy has the exact same birthday...he is the exact same age as my ex-girlfriend. Coincidence is fun.

I got home after 7pm that night only to remember I needed to go shopping again. Let's see, I have peanut butter and ramen. Sigh.

Yes I only ate two packages of ramen that day and some of OCD Girl's french fries when I went BACK to IHOP to return this coat that I had Bulgarian Girl steal for me.


Didn't you read about my mental collapse? Try to keep up.

So I'm at the bar with Black Guy and I realize it was much hotter in the afternoon than it was at 5:45am and I forgot my damn coat at IHOP. Luckily Bulgarian Girl calls to find out where this bar is and she's still at IHOP. So I have Black Guy tell her to grab my coat. I end up describing where it is and kind of what it looks like.

So she brings this other coat. Fucking hell. So I take the coat back myself. As soon as I get to my car though I realize I HAD gotten my coat after my shift, and thrown it in my car and then gone back for the meeting. Go Brain! At least I got some IHOP fries out of the deal. Remember those scrambled eggs? Yeah, I was so happy OCD Girl indulged my fry lust. But I held myself back and only ate a few. So those fries and 2 things of ramen. My apologies to Mr. Positive. I'm trying to take care of myself, I promise.

Ok so back to the sticker. A security guard at my condo complex put this huge sticker on my window telling me when my car will be towed. I have a carport space assigned to me, but it's basically around the back of my condo. I talked to the home owners association and they found that this spot I've been parking in (right in front of my place) belongs to someone who they don't think is there and they'll make a note and it should be ok. So I thought this was a break down of communication, or the people who's spot it really was came back or something.

Then I read the fricking thing...it's marked that I parked in a handicap spot. What? Unless that space BECAME a handicap spot, there is no way.

That night I found out that is exactly what had happened. New handicap paint on the space. Now might be a good time for you to look up and watch Penn and Teller's Bullshit! episode on handicapped regulations.

There was a cat making this-cat-is-pissed-off noises outside my place a few nights ago. I wonder, just how many ways ARE there to skin a cat? I mean I know there is more than one, but just how many?

Suicide is the one decision you'll never regret.

You know PB and J is good because it has the letters BJ right in there.

How the hell do you decide when to just throw the jar of jelly away rather than to get more out of there? I just realized I've been domesticated by poverty.

I tried to get my laundry out of the dryer (btw if anyone knows a good way to get blue ink out of cloths, I'm a retarded bachelor and could use tips) the other night and I never made it. Ended up making myself a turkey and mayonnaise sandwich instead. Who designs a condo so you have to go through the kitchen to get to the laundry? At least I'm not my Friend with no Girlfriend, he has to go outside to get to his dryer.

Just once I'd like to see Face Book suggest I never become friends with someone. Or even suggest I unfriend someone.

I had someone tell me I had to have faith, and without faith people are miserable. I'm not even going to go off now. Really, anger is a gift and all, but I'd rather talk about strippers.

See on Monday (one week ago) I couldn't sleep. I made a bunch of little mistakes at my office job that day. There is plenty of time to correct mistakes at the office. I'm glad I wasn't waiting tables. All you have to do is forget to write down one ingredient on someone's Build Your Own Omelet and you may make a cook redo it.

Anyway Monday was a funny day. I think I probably slept 6 hours the night before, maybe a little less. It's certainly a stretch to call that sleep deprivation. I have said that I am sad to see the Manic-Depression classification go away. Bi-polar is just not as cool sounding. I was thinking though that Manic + Sleep Deprivation = Feral.

I felt feral on Monday.

I wrote a daylog that day, and it ended with the line "I need to find some girls." I wonder if it was that thought that led me to Treasures after work on Monday. It HAD been a while since I took full advantage of their free buffet.

I went and I paid $1 for my water and I tipped $1 and I ate their free buffet. It was pretty great, really. They had good potato salad, and I liked the bite sized, egg shaped corn dogs. The sausage was ok. The pussy was better.

Easy joke.

Even on days I've been in Treasures for their free buffet when there were a handful of girls around, it doesn't really seem like I'm doing anything bad to them. It's not like they look at a guy chowing down on the free buffet and get their hopes up.

This particular day it was REALLY dead. No girls on stage, some guy at the cash register was on his cell phone and just waved me in. But eventually a stripper came and talked to me. She was eating the buffet too.

Somehow I ended up talking about being an atheist and how I can't come to the logical conclusion that anything is good or evil. There is no right or wrong.

I was thinking about Doctor Positive (Mr. Positive's wife) and how she was asking where optimism comes from for an atheist. I think optimism and right and wrong and good and evil all come from feelings. I mean I can say that murder is wrong for our society. But why should our society be the standard? I feel there is something wrong with having sex with a child, but if you ask me if child molestation is wrong I just think, wrong for who? Before you say, "Everyone!" keep in mind Chris Rock's routine about the Kindergarten teacher that got naked with her kids and they all climbed all over each other. Where was she when I was in Kindergarten??

I agree with Mr. Rock completely. Where was she, indeed.

We can certainly feel a lot of things are wrong, and I have no problem with that. If we come to a logical conclusion about what is wrong, however, it seems relative to something. The only difference between me and atheists like (I would imagine) Richard Dawkins is that he uses mankind as the standard. What is good for mankind? I'm just not convinced that needs to be the standard. And maybe that is what leads to nihilism, not the atheism itself.

I think I'm just going to stop now, if you made it to the end this time, thank you, and pat yourself on the genitals, you did good.

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