Moving day!

Five-and-a-half months after my roommate moved his girlfriend in with us and turned my homelife into a train wreck, I'm finally moving the hell out of here on Friday the 16th.

My new place is only about four miles from here, just over the Manchester town line in Vernon. I'll be living in a 200-year-old house with a 41-year-old divorcee and her 15-year-old son (not to mention one awesome doggie!). My closet is big enough to sleep in and, for the first time since 2004, I'll have my own private bathroom. No more waiting in line to pee! And best of all, no more living in Pee Wee's Playhouse with Dumb & Dumber.

Now, I wonder how long it'll take the deep-seated anger and resentment they've aroused in me to finally abate?

Ode to one of my oldest and dearest friends

Philip Stearns was my English teacher in my final semester of high school. He was far and away the best schoolteacher I ever had! I was so taken with the man's teaching style, that I remained in touch with him for fifteen years after I graduated.

Phil read everything I ever wrote and offered insightful critiques that often – in fact, usually – improved my work. He introduced me to literature and foreign films. We took road trips to New York City, Ithaca, Niagara Falls, Vermont and Cape Cod (among other places). And I spent hundreds of hours at his West Hartford condo, talking about whatever came to mind. (We were both only-children and lifelong bachelors who had grown up with mentally ill mothers, so we had plenty of conversational fodder.)

Unfortunately, we lost contact in 1999. It was not a conscious decision on my part, nor do I believe it was Phil's intent. These things can just happen, even among the closest of friends.

Recently, I started thinking about the man a lot and attempted to get his phone number, but I came up empty-handed. So the other night, I typed his name into Google and found a five-year-old link on the Hartford Courant's website.

It was from the Obituary page:

Phil once told me, “I plan to live another thirty years after I retire from teaching.” He lived three; and I don't even want to think about how much of that time he spent in mortal agony with the goddamned cancer that invaded his system.

In the same conversation, Phil said, “They'll have to drag me kicking and screaming out of this life.” Here was a man who clearly yearned to live to a ripe old age, as his parents had both done. Tragically, it was not meant to be.

Phil was only allowed 62 years on this earth; but they were 62 wonderful years, during which the man's passion for his work and his love of humanity (even those who viciously opposed his views) touched many thousands of lives. Cliched as it might sound, I don't believe that Phil had an angry or hateful bone in his body. He was the kind of person that I dream of someday becoming. (Unfortunately, with my foul mouth, explosive temper and anger-management issues, I don't see it happening any time soon.)

I only wish I had known about Phil's condition in 2007 so I could have seen the man one last time. Unfortunately, I had no idea that one of the kindest, most warm-hearted humanitarians I had ever met was sick and dying. But now that I do know, my heart is broken. The world is truly a poorer place with Phil no longer in it.

Just what I needed: one more regret.

Forget that TV show: I'm now LIVING with the biggest loser!

At the beginning of June, my roommate's girlfriend moved in with us.

I was surprised when they asked me, as the two of them had only been going together for a couple of months. However, they explained that the woman was in a living situation in which she feared for her safety. (I'll spare you the details). So when they asked me if she could move in with us, I replied, "If she can pay one-third of the rent and the electricity, I don't see a problem."

Three days after she moved in, I began to see problems. It turns out, there were (are) certain things about the woman that neither she nor my roommate brought to my attention. To wit:

- She's a client of an agency that bills itself as providing, "Services for people with special needs."

- She has a case worker who is apparently free to come knocking on our door to check up on the girlfriend whenever she wants - including when my 3rd-shift-working ass is sound asleep. (Yes, I've been woken up a couple of times.)

- She has a drunken, violent ex-boyfriend who's trying to find her and who might someday turn up on our doorstep, looking for blood.

- She has a child in foster care, with whom she's forbidden to make contact.

- She neither drives nor works. (Her sole source of income is Social Security Disability, and there's nothing physically wrong with her. Draw your own conclusions.)

As if that weren't enough, she has the personality of a tree. The only time I don't hear her speak in monosyllables is when she's asking me the same questions over and over again - much like one of the residents at the group home where I work. Living with this woman makes me feel like I never get a night off from my job!

She's also completely clueless about how to be an adult - except possibly in the sex department, which would explain why my roommate is drawn to her. I certainly can't think of any other explanation, except that she makes him look like the epitome of intellect. (My roommate has a learning disability. His idea of hilarity is to walk around the apartment belching. He also thought it was funny to hang a "No Parking" sign above the toilet.)

To give you but one example of her cluelessness: when the two of them spent a weekend together in upstate New York, the girlfriend bought some items with checks. She did not, however, understand that before you can write a check, you need to have enough money in your account to cover it; her checks all bounced. It was only due to some fast talking by her social worker that the girlfriend does not currently occupy a jail cell! (I rather wish the social worker had stayed out of it.)

On top of everything else, she and my roommate have announced their engagement! They plan to get married in October 2013. Talk about the blind leading the blind....

At one time, when I felt pissed off or upset, I could come home and cool out. But now, going home is what makes me upset! The simple fact is: now that I know the truth about that woman, I don't want her living in my house. Unfortunately, she's here now; I'm stuck with her; and I resent the living shit out of it! Thank you so much, roommate and girlfriend, for so thoroughly screwing up my home life!

Alone again (naturally)

Beth and I just broke up.

The first couple of months were great, but then the spark just died out. I had been thinking about ending the relationship for the past several weeks, but was afraid of hurting her.

However, I had nothing to worry about. It turns out, Beth was feeling the same way about me! So a half-hour ago, we decided to call it off.

It got to a point where there were long, uncomfortable lulls in our conversations and we were both struggling for some stupid little thing to say. And it was really weird when we kissed. It was pleasant enough, but I felt little more. Often when we were together, I couldn't wait to part company with her.

The simple fact is, Beth is a terrific person, but we have little in common. We're both disappointed that it didn't work out, but at least it's not the devastating experience for me that my encounter with Lisa was last winter. I had high hopes for Lisa, but sadly not for Beth. I'm glad she brought it up, too, for who knows otherwise how much longer we would have gone on pretending?

Unfortunately, I'm now back so square one in the romance department. *sigh*
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A mixed bag at Christmas

In recent years, I've managed to soften my previously hostile attitude toward the Christmas season - the reasons for which are many; I won't go into them now.

Unfortunately, this year it was tough for me to get into the holiday spirit - mainly because I caught pneumonia on December 2nd, and am only now about 95% over it. For the better part of three weeks, I was so damned sick that even getting out of bed to pee took monumental effort. I muddled through my roommate's December 17th Christmas party, though the last thing I needed at that point was a houseful of people in an upbeat, festive mood.

Thankfully, by the holiday itself, I was functional again. Due to my 3rd-shift work and sleep schedule, I didn't get together with my new girlfriend until 5:00 p.m. We spent some time driving around, looking at the various residential Christmas displays, after which we retired to my apartment to exchange gifts. At this point, Beth is well aware that she's dating a geek. And I gotta say, she really nailed my gift: a 3-DVD collection of 1,000 vintage TV ads from the '50s - '80s. I watched about an hour of that stuff last night and just reveled in it!

Beth and I parted company at around 2:00 in the morning, wrapping up what turned out to be a peaceful, relaxing, and utterly delightful Christmas night. Thank you, Beth! I'm a lucky man for having you in my life.

Cold? Flu? Surely you jest!

Turns out, the illness that has afflicted me for the past week is full-out pneumonia! Well, at least I know now.

The doctor prescribed an industrial-strength antibiotic and a nuclear-fueled cough medicine. With any luck, I'll finally be over this debilitating parasite in the next 3-4 days.

Wish me luck!

I can't believe this high-school idiocy!

On two separate occasions, another member at the gym calls you a "faggot" as you walk by him. What do you do?

The first time, you might wonder if you imagined it as it happened so quickly and you've never seen the guy before. So you let it slide.

But the second time, you realize it's the same guy and that you obviously did not imagine the first incident. So you report his Neanderthal ass to the management - who, it turns out, takes this sort of thing very seriously. The assistant manager assures you that such conduct is "completely unacceptable and can lead to membership termination."

Stay tuned for further developments.

My first LJ post in quite some time

Nine months ago, an experience with a fickle woman caused me to post here under the title, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?"  Three months later - just as I was beginning to get Lisa out of my system - my landlord advised me that because her son was financially strapped and needed a place to live, I would have to vacate my apartment in 90 days. For a while there, it felt like every time I turned around, somebody was kicking me in the ass!

Thankfully, 2011 is looking to end for me on a much higher note than it began. On July 1st, I moved from Willimantic - a town I couldn't stand - to Manchester, which I find much more tolerable. I'm sharing a very nice (not to mention affordable) apartment with a guy I've been friends with for the last three years. So far, it's working out well!

My job is still in Willimantic, but I find that hellhole much easier to take now that I live 20 miles away from it. And so far, my 12-year-old Daewoo has proven magnificently reliable - especially when I had to drive to work in the middle of Storm Alfred!

In mid-September, I started dating a woman named Beth. We live just two miles apart, which makes getting together nice and convenient! (Sixty miles had separated me from Lisa.) We've been taking it nice and slowly, and I'm OK with that. I've been in far too many relationships that became intense early on, only to crash and burn quickly and painfully. With Beth, I feel like I'm in my first grown-up relationship. Only took me 45 years!

A couple of months ago, I invested $30 in the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook and have experimented with several recipes. To my delight, they've all come out wonderfully!

Among the dishes I've made so far:

- Chicken parmigiana
- Tuna noodle casserole
- Chicken with black beans and rice
- Lasagna
- Chicken cacciatore
- A fish recipe whose name eludes me right now

I had always resisted cooking because I considered it an onerous task. But thanks to my cookbook, I've come to realize that making your own meals really isn't difficult at all. If you can read, you can cook! Who knew?

I also continue to work out at the gym regularly. At my heaviest, I weighed 308 pounds. Right now, I'm at 220. My eventual aim is to get my weight down to below 200 for the first time in twenty or so years. Unfortunately, that final 25 pounds has been stubborn as hell. But I'll be damned if I'm giving up now!

Suffice it to say, 2011 has been a roller coaster of a year for me. But it looks like I may just ride it out at the top of the tracks!
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