Monday, October 30, 2006

My Maturity Progress Report--Uh, Still A Long Way To Go

My girlfriend and I were e-mailing back and forth about our relationship and how relatively fast we are moving. This is what she wrote this morning:

"You are right about the red flag of your past relationships. Whenever I read the archives in your blog (which I did in the wee hours of this morning), it always sobers me and makes me realize that this thing could end any minute now. I would never force you to give me one good reason to stick around because I don't know if there is anything you can say to really change the way I feel sometimes. Only time will really change that. The longer that we are together and the more I get to observe you, the more confident I will become of your feelings for me. Until then, I stick around because I have made a choice to do so, a choice to trust that the way you say you feel is real. I stick around because I want to give us the best possible chance of succeeding."

She's not the only one who wonders whether I'm real. I am very very scared of the fact that I felt over-the-moon in love with the trash that I dated before. I am scared that I wouldn't know how to fall in love with a good woman because I fell in love with any women who showed me some attention. Hell, I'm scared that I could give in to some random trash who came on to me just because I'm so used to trash. I'm scared that sluts with no morals or standards are my true element and that dating a woman who waited for the right man and hasn't slept around is aiming a bit too high. Maybe all of that means that a part of me or most of me isn't ready to be in a real relationship. I honestly don't know. But a big part of why it's worked so far with me and my girlfriend is that we can discuss things like this in the open with no boundaries. I'm so far from perfect it's not even funny. But she's been accepting thus far. It would kill me to hurt her as a reward for her patience. And maybe that's the true sign that this is real--I can't stand the thought of doing something to hurt her after all the faith she's invested in me. Fuck my desires and fears, I can't hurt her. I won't hurt her. She doesn't deserve it. And honestly, I don't deserve her.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Beggars Who Are Better Off Than Me

I remember a report some years ago that said a beggar in the right area on an eight-hour shift can make as good a salary as any other minimum-wage worker, if not better. It makes sense when you think about it. Add up all the loose change, throw in the key $1 or $2 tip from a very giving or very guilty rich guy or girl, and that can easily get up to $5 or $6 per hour. There was a tall black guy everyone called Slim who stalked outside CBOE for the entire ten years I worked there. He briefly sold Streetwise newspapers for a while, but mostly he's always just lurked and begged. In a hurry to, what else, get lunch, I nearly ran him over one day not long after I started there, to which he replied, "Excuse the hell out of me!" I just glared at him. Guess who's still down there, and guess who's not? So maybe begging is the way to go. After all, I'm sure Slim's received more money from Bill Brodsky and the other jackass tightwads down there than me and many others who actually worked for CBOE.

There's always interesting observations about beggars in Chicago, especially working downtown as I do. But a couple of incidents made me wonder if they're not better off than some of us believe they are.

Two weeks ago, a guy was standing at an intersection with a paper cup in his hand looking for change from people coming out of a Walgreens. Not an unusual sight, except he was rocking a leather jacket with a Kung Fu-looking insignia on the back. Even I don't own a leather jacket. It was nice too, black and blue and in better condition than you'd expect. I guarantee the retail value on that sucker when it first sold was at least $200. I'm sure it's damn near worthless now, but still, if you have to beg for change, I'd think you'd sell the leather jacket to some goodwill shop or something and find another coat. That same goodwill shop would probably give you a different coat for nothing, and selling that leather number would certainly pay for several meals.

Then, a week ago, I'm standing outside the train station and waiting for the bus to take me home, the last leg of my commute. A tall kid, no more than 17 but three inches higher than me, has to tap me on the shoulder in order to beg because I have my trusty headphones on, which have probably shielded me from an estimated 650 other chances for someone to beg me for something. He apologizes for bothering me, then asks if I can swipe my bus pass through the train turnstile so that he can get on the train. He's dressed like a typical teenager, i.e., his clothes are worth more than my wardrobe. He's also holding a canned pop. Um, maybe if you hadn't bought the pop, son, you could have afforded to go home or wherever you were trying to go. After I turn him down, I notice him wander back over to a posse of about three other young males, and I would wager my house that at least one of them had a working cell phone on them and could call someone to come pick them up. But it's easier to just beg strangers to pick up the slack for you. I'd also bet that people have been giving him things all his life because he's tall, black, and male, and he looks like a potential hoops star. I would make a joke about his Hummer being in the shop, but maybe he's not good enough to make an AAU coach or wannabe agent buy a vehicle for him. Keep working at it, kid, there's countless numbers of people willing to give you a ride anywhere you want if only you can consistently stick that turnaround jumper.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Making The World Safer, One Full House At A Time

A bill was recently passed in Congress that had something to do with potential terrorist cells passing money back and forth through international bank accounts, and a rider was attached that restricted what business offshore gambling accounts can do with American citizens. What all of that means is that when I tried to play online poker last night, I was informed that some people in a handful of states, due to legislation in said state, were being barred from playing for money now, and the rest of America should be barred in another month or so. Illinois was one of those states with ongoing legislation. Boy, am I glad I won over $300 the last time I played so that I have a sizable amount to withdraw. But this is bullshit. This Chicken Little sky-is-falling administration doesn't have a fucking shred of proof that some group in Aruba running an online poker site is funnelling cash to terrorists through poker, but they'll try to shut it down, just in case. Those who really want to play will find illegitimate sites that are much less safe, they'll win and never see their money because a lot of those underground sites are crooked, and how exactly does that help shut down terrorism? I bet I can hook up with Mark Foley and find some teenage pussy all night long online, but I can't play poker for money. This nation is so bass-ackwards sometimes that it's really pitiful.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And The Beat Goes On

My small little worries and anxieties kept drumming along the last couple of weeks while the world kept a-spinnin'. After three days in Memphis with my girlfriend that frankly couldn't have gone much better, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind after I returned was, Wow, all this happiness and feeling good and feeling confident about myself and thanking my lucky stars that I have this woman in my life--I went through all these same feelings with "Karen" after our first few dates. This was after I felt very depressed for the three days leading up to labor Day weekend and couldn't figure out why, then I realized that I responded to Karen's personal ad on Labor Day three years ago. But all is well. I could have gone into a tailspin and started ruminating about everything that happened again, but I refused. This is what time and having a supportive person in my life has done--instead of brooding and stewing, I've developed the ability to breathe, find something to do that takes my mind off things, and if that's not enough, I can call my girlfriend because she actually likes talking on the phone with me and doesn't mind helping me through my episodes. The last episode I had was maybe a couple of months ago, when I was already having a shitty morning and I heard one of those songs that remind me of Karen, and instead of turning it off, I figured I was already in a foul mood, so why not go down the well and see how deep it measures. Still pretty fucking deep, as it turns out. But when I got home that evening, I talked things out with my girlfriend, and we had a great conversation about everything we both were feeling. She didn't just pooh-pooh me and say it will all be okay. She actually conversed with me and helped me work through things. It's really awesome how open and honest our relationship is, not just because she's not a lying whore but also because I'm not a lying whore, either. This is how I always wanted a relationship to be like. And in a way, the best part is, I can realize that it may not work out for various reasons, like the long distance between us or one of us being unhappy with the pace, but whatever the reason, it's not going to crush my soul. I'm truly giving it my best honest effort and if it doesn't work, then it wasn't meant to be. But there's no hiding anything, there's no game-playing, and I'm not going to go insane if she and I can't make it. I will snap if I find her secret website, however. :)

The three days in Memphis started six hours later than it should have because I have a very nasty procrastination habit, which is to say that I missed my fucking flight again. That same toiletry ban that I railed against in my last post got me. When I got to the area where they scan my body, I only had about 15 minutes to make my flight, but they told me that those toiletries would be allowed in my walk-on luggage if they were 3 ounces or less each, so I tried to go through because I thought everything I had was 3 ounces or less. I forgot about my big can of aerosol deodorant. So that was five minutes wasted scanning myself because I had to turn right back around and take my luggage to be checked. By the time I did that, it was 10:48A, and the flight took off at 11A. So the woman at the counter wouldn't even let me throw the toiletries away and check my bag as a walk-on because she said that due to the location of my terminal, I could never make it before they closed the doors to the plane ten minutes before take-off. The news only got worse: The next flight was for 4:55P. It really hurt me to call my girlfriend and tell her this, and it was extremely painful to hear her voice when I told her. She sounded so disappointed. But after snapping at my waitress at a restaurant because she was trying to serve me while I told my girlfriend the news, I realized that I needed to calm the fuck down and cope because I was going to be at O'Hare Airport for the next six hours and it was nobody's fault but mine. So after walking for a few minutes, I came across a bookstore, I called my girlfriend and got a recommendation for a book, and I passed the time reading a frightening memoir that made my childhood look totally normal, Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. ( I also got her an Oral Sex for Dummies book, so that she's not completely in the dark when we do it for the first time.) Before I knew it, it was time to fly, and I was hugging my girlfriend and eating at Applebee's and checking into a Drury's hotel that had a long black hair under one of its pillows and a bed so soft in the middle that I thought I was going to fall through.

My girlfriend left a couple of gifts sitting on my hotel bed for my arrival. She kept hearing me talk about how much I was looking forward to the week off so that I could just soak in a bubble bath and relax, so she bought me a bottle of bubble bath, and a box of chocolates to enjoy while I soaked. She also got me a card that said in part: "If I sounded disappointed this morning its because I savor every minute I spend with you! Here's to a hundred delicious moments." I sent her a text message when I saw the gifts and the card and told her how awesome she was. But she wasn't the only one with a surprise. I mailed her an early Sweetest Day card because I knew I wouldn't see her when Sweetest Day came around at the end of October, and it was sitting in her mailbox the day after I arrived in Memphis. Talk about timing. That same evening, we had dinner with two of her friends, so now they don't think that she made me up or something. The next day we tried to have a romantic walk along the Mississippi, where I wanted to lay my first kiss on her, but the wind was cutting us in half and making my eyes water. So that evening we had a great dinner at Texas de Brazil, which had the exact same endless-cuts-of-meat concept as Pogo de Chao here in Chicago, and after that, she decided to scratch me under the chin on my neckbeard because "I just wanted to do that," and I decided that there couldn't be a clearer signal for me to move forward than that, so we had our first kiss that night on her couch. The next day, my flight departed in the evening, so we had time to have pizza at her favorite pizza place, watch a movie, and discover more joys of kissing. We could have made out for another half-hour, as it turned out; my flight was delayed 28 minutes.

As if to give me something to laugh about for the whole trip, the morning after I arrived in Memphis, the news of Terrell Owens's "attempted suicide" was all over. All I could say was, this is so T.O. No one had been talking about him for a while, he just got dumped by his fiancee, and the trick publicist he's banging probably wasn't giving him enough attention, so he staged a scene where she got home and he had pills hanging out of his mouth. Pathetic. And all she can say in her press conference a couple of days later, after she had been the one who called the cops saying Owens was trying to commit suicide, was that he had 25 million reasons why he wouldn't kill himself, referring to his contract. Real quality ladies you're choosing there, buddy. But hey, if she wasn't a drama queen, she wouldn't be attracted to T.O. in the first place.

Like I said, the world just keeps turning...