Ultimate Tinder Best Friend Experience

At our increasingly semi regular meeting, I floated the idea of taking over my beautiful friend Grant’s tinder profile for a month if he let me buy his beer. He refused, which is obviously bullshit, but it got me to thinking; why? Why wouldn’t he want one of his best friends who only wants his never ending happiness to manage his love life? No one knows what’s better for him than Sean(who would obviously help) and myself, so why would he refuse?

It’s pretty obvious, let me count the ways:

  1. Grant is afraid of being happy
  2. He doesn’t want to find forever love in this lifetime
  3. He’s rightly suspicious he’ll die of a sex overdose

My commitments conservatively, on what he’ll get out of this:

  1. 3 first dates in this month
  2. 2 second dates
  3. The greatest trust fall experience he’ll ever have

So what does the world get out of this?

I’ll blog every interaction of this experiment. The world will watch Grant meet the dozens of women of his dreams by way of the clever wit and prose provided by his partners in blogging and he will of course have a beautiful life experience that he can write about, of course from the bed of his new soulmate that he’ll meet probably just hours after letting us use his account.

Now I don’t think he’ll be super interested in this, so i started this petition on change.org. Let’s just assume he can’t say no if we get 100 signatures. Hell, I think 10 would be more than enough.

Come on Grant! Do it for love!

 

 

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On the Way to Becoming a Pile of Glass

I bike to and from work one of two ways. The decision to go one way or the other is made by the simple act of taking a turn or not. A binary option of avenues. No detectable forethought goes into this turn or lack thereof. I just do or do not turn.

My idea of the life and the universe is that everything is happening as a result of momentum from a giant explosion at the beginning of time. Our actions are decided just as the jar that fell is already broken. Absent deus ex machina, we are watching ourselves take actions that we have decided to take responsibility for but which were already decided. We’re at the theater yelling at the character to not open that door but we know she’s going to open that door and she’s already dead. That’s OK.

I bike to and from work one of two ways (which is really a total of four ways) and I like to imagine that the decision I make not to ride the way that I did the day before, to make that split second decision to turn instead of not, will change the direction of my life, however minutely. Even within one of those four ways to or from work there are slight alterations to the route.

Take a right at 65th then an immediate left on 7th one time and I might make eye contact with a stranger on their porch taking tea or a beer, which might make me feel invigorated and awkward leading me to think about the interaction for the remainder of the ride home. This memory could stay with me for many years and I may see them on the bus a few weeks or months on, seeming familiar but out of context, stare at them too long or ask them a question or forget about them after unsuccessfully trying to pin them down in my list of casual eye contact people.

If I slip up a different street, the one that passes the grocery coop, maybe I think to grab a sixer and some radishes (to clean at the sink, salt at the sink, and eat at the sink). My life changes, if just a little.

I like to think these things as a challenge to my idea that the jar is already broken and the girl is already dead. It’s just as possible that my route rearrangements are just the movements of a scripted character unchangeably walking toward certain doom (presumably an analogue less gruesome than death by the inevitable chainsaw or butcher knife or ax). We are all walking toward certain doom (if the idea of inescapable death at some unknown juncture is your definition of doom as well).

I am not hoping to escape said doom but to express the hope that at least some of my actions are movements outside the written narrative (while still within the general direction). On the way to my certain doom, a level of personal autonomy is appreciated. Whether or not I am truly exercising this autonomy is outside of my knowledge, necessarily. The act of writing about it does no more to solve the query than does the act of turning. But, by the act of turning (or not), I may by multiple iterations try to initiate changes against the life I would have lived locked into the same route.

The Art of Becoming a Homeowner

These days it can be difficult to pry our attentions away from the world stage, whereon so much melodrama and absurdity are being performed. A mixture of comedy and fear ripples throughout the globe as a manbaby plays at the controls of the biggest machine. Each day brings another mad headline, clicked and shared at a rapid pace before the next thing drops to our collective gasp (getting less gasp-y with each new thing).

But, despite the uptick in global happenings, local happenings still proceed forward (albeit at a much more manageable pace). So is the case for us. We bought a home.

Following four offers and four refusals, numbed to the excitement of the process, we stumbled into a spot we figured we couldn’t possibly get. Then we did. At this point, we’d really just go to open houses to see the places we’d likely never get. Lost was the gusto of the initial experiences when our lingo was adorably untrained. We now knew to ask about HOA dues, reserves, rental caps, the perceived level of interest. We knew to expect 10-20% escalations, and then to somehow expect even more than that. We’d still imagine our lives there, the commutes, the local bars and restaurants, the parks. We’d stare out the windows like we might if we slept there and all our furniture was just behind us. But the expectancy had slightly shriveled.

Then a place we’ve loved for years, old and iconic and next to the park, our park, had an open house. Redfin’s estimate had it outside of possibility, even with minor escalation, but the open house was Sunday and what else are we doing? Twenty minutes before the open house closed, we went by and checked it out. Nice hardwood floors, tall ceilings, radiant heat and tile counters. There was nothing remotely charmless about it. But we shuffled around it like it wasn’t ours, couldn’t be ours. Nice tile, she’d say. Yeah, nice tile, I’d volley. It was nice tile floor, but it was distant from us, beyond a money mountain we couldn’t travail.

We checked out the laundry situation, chatted up the agent, and were on the way out. Oh yeah, by the way, the HOA dues include property tax. Now, this would have been a terribly boring sentence to me just four months ago. But at this point, it meant that this progressed from the most unattainable spot we’d flirted with to the most just in the matter of one simple and boring sentence. We confirmed this new attainability with the Redfin app on our way out, then stood awkwardly at the corner like, holy shit, we can do this.

Personal letter, appropriate escalation clause, an agent on top of her shit. Our offer was accepted. We had become homeowners, sort of.

But, not really. Not yet. And still not yet. The excitement of the offer acceptance began a long month of money-related documents we would proceed to sign in our lifeblood for the next few weeks (and still). Further, our acceptance was additionally contingent on the board formally approving our neighborly existence with them. To the joy of our own estimations of ourselves, we were approved for that (though not before much homework about policies and meeting minutes and volunteer committees).

All this signing and money-pushing did not come before we had again looked at the place in person. Before we went on to 30-year contracts, we walked the interiors of our possible new home, imagining how our lives looked inside. The second bedroom window opened out to a rosemary bush. Sage below the kitchen’s. There was a bonus room, whose future was constantly mutable, from dressing room to project space. The old galley kitchen with ubiquitous cabinets and potential for renovation. No yard or balcony, but outside the front door was the park we’ve loved for all our years here, the biggest yard we could hope for and without the botanical grooming.

Beyond the unit itself, the building was a cooperative, wherein community is key and most maintenance is the responsibility of the residents. This in a city of few neighbors, a city of momentary glances and eye aversions. Whole apartment buildings who’d barely recognize each other. We were choosing a community over the chilliness of some former residences.

Of all the future homes that we have cyclically imagined for ourselves, we finally found the one for which we most loved the invented futures.

 

For Runty

My wife and I got chickens recently.

It’s been interesting. I didn’t really care to own them. I wanted the eggs, and my wife committed to all of the cleaning and care. I just had to build all the stuff and I love that shit so we got chickens.

We got 6 chickens. It’s because they say you should expect to lose 20% and 1 in 9 might be sexed wrong and we wanted 4 or  5, so we got 6. The weird urban farm store owner(the store is weird, not the owner; he’s really nice) confirmed this. So we brought 6 tiny chirping things home. We have committed to not naming them until they are survived, and it’s not like i could tell them apart at all anyways.

There was one though. She was smaller. She was weaker. She couldn’t jump on the little wooden obstacle i made for them to learn to roost. We always knew her. She was tiny and she even looked weird. Something was even wrong with that little thing on her head(it’s called a comb). I didn’t really have any attachment to the birds. They just occupied space in my garage and basement which was a little frustrating to me and they smelled and they kick up like a shit ton of dust all the time. I liked Runty though.

1 week in and there’s a crisis. At 4 in the morning the birds are all making a ton of noise. It’s weird how their calls change according to their mood. It’s like they’re yelling and panicking. I go in to the laundry room and the red heat lamp is out. When you get baby chicks you’re supposed to keep them at 90+ degrees for a few weeks and they were suddenly sitting at about 65 in my basement. They were all bouncing around freaking out. All except for one who’s laying there, collapsed forward and looking like shit. My wife and I don’t know what to do, but I’m certain there’s nothing I can’t fix so i pick her up and start cupping her in my hands and blowing as much heat on her as I could. My wife gets a tiny syringe and starts force feeding her water and she starts to perk up. She opens her eyes and she’s chirping every once in awhile. I find another flood light bulb and screw it in to get the heat up and I go to home depot when it opens at 6am and buy the special bulb and then I build a weird little stand and everything’s back to normal before I go to work at 715. Runty was weird for the rest of the day but she was back.

Well weeks go by and the chickens are getting bigger but Runty is still different.. she stands really weird. Instead of chirping she has a weird kind of honk, like a stupid goose. I finish building the coop and we’re getting ready to move the birds outside and I can’t wait to get them out of my fucking house and my wife is taking them out once in awhile to acclimate them so they’re walking around the yard. When Runty is out, we immediately notice something. She walks really weird.  One leg crosses the other and goes backwards. She is not graceful or nimble in the least. She looks awful.

My wife has been reading about chicken ownership for the last decade so she is ready for the brutal situations and she starts to talk about how we’re going to have to put her down and I’m really upset about this. Why can’t we just let her live out her existence? My wife says she’s probably in a lot of pain. I insist that she calls the shop and this and that. Of course we’re not going to take her to the vet because she cost $2.99 but I’m looking for anything we can do.

I make Sarah return her to her brood box so she can’t move as much and she can maybe rest it for a couple of days. Doesn’t help. I google all kinds of shit and find that some people have fixed an ailment called splayed leg that looks really familiar. There’s nothing I can’t fix so I follow the instructions and make a weird kind of chicken splint. It’s like a tiny pair of bird handcuffs. She can’t handle it and it’s not helping.

We return her to the coop and run because if she’s going to go, I want her to have a healthy few days with her friends. It’s sunny and she’s out and she can feed herself and get water just fine. I’m starting to think we just leave her. Everything we read said that if the injury is serious the bird won’t be able to feed herself and they pass that way and that’s not going to happen. Again, my wife the chicken student tells me that the others will pick on her and kill her if they recognize her as injured. Well that’s not happening so I am thinking we’re good.

As soon as I can think that sentence, we start to see it. Every time we look and another chicken is going after her. We talked to a friend and he confirmed that we should kill her and that we shouldn’t let the chickens do it because it’s nasty and it will be way worse and take a long time and be painful. He also gave us some tips for how to do it.

Sarah and I let this go for a few days because we’re really busy and i’m really upset about this bird. And i wasn’t going to take care of these chickens!? and now i have to kill one!? and who is going to do what?! ….and I couldn’t fix it…

So we killed a chicken tonight.

Stupid fucking bird.

I hope she gets to come back as somebody’s dog.

On entropy

I went for drinks with my brilliant startup programmer friend the other week. It’s something I do from time to time and it makes me feel full of life (nothing like my dreary writers group!) and we talk about great things and we drink too much. Despite making his life as a programmer, his background is in physics and while discussing the current state of our union, he mentioned that it’s just the universe increasing in entropy.

Now I also loved physics as a high school and college student and while I didn’t major in it, I certainly got my fill as an engineer and I too know that the saying is ‘the entropy of a system always increases.’ I was mistaken however when I repeated my understanding of it(as I think many understand it) as the disorder in a system increasing (which also made sense given our current political atmosphere).

He corrected me by describing entropy as the release of energy, or restated it as a system will always find a lower energy state.

Now we were pretty drunk at this point but I tried to hold fast to my ‘but isn’t that still chaos?’ idea.

Your car wants to break down, it wants to stop working, right? That’s an increase in chaos.

No. You might experience chaos personally as it sputters and dies, but it, or its individual parts, are releasing energy and are then finding a lower energy state by not working anymore.

Ok, ok, so how is our current political system not going towards chaos?

It’s just a lower energy state. People don’t have to understand anything anymore, so they don’t. Less trying, less effort, less energy. They just latch onto a narrative. People stop voting, or they vote with the least amount of information possible, despite more being available. It would take more energy for everyone to engage and to get good people in place to fix the things. The low energy path is putting in more of the same, or encouraging the same system down its current path, until it inevitably breaks, you put an ego maniac in place whose proud of not reading and your pistons finally seizing and the car stops.

And then chaos! Right?

Well maybe, what is the next path to the next lower energy state? Is it riot and revolution and rebuilding, or is it a shuffling of the cards where only good people get through the door because that’s an easier system? I don’t know. I wish I could project but things only really happen if the system makes it easy and we’ve built a system for corruption. What does it look like when that system chokes itself out?

Enter the lake wobegon or dunning kruger effect: Dumb people tend to think everyone else is dumb and we’ve made it ok to be dumb, or at least validated the dumb persons idea that dumb is just as good as smart (a lower energy state, surely) when it comes to discourse. How is this increasingly relevant idea going to play out? Intellectual civil war? Books vs guns?

I wish I was Robert Reich here and could logically identify the historical trends that are about to reemerge but I can’t. I can say thought that you should go have beers with your friends. You’ll talk about some crazy things for awhile and you’ll feel better about the world because there’s someone out there who likes talking about the same things as you and you can reinforce all of your cognitive biases because that’s the easiest path.

Sorry.

All My Future Homes

I had imagined living amongst Somali refugees, the hijabed children playing in the central playground. Imagined wandering down to the duck pond, maybe sneaking a joint out when nobody was looking, staring out in turns at the distant downtown and the immediate blanket of pond. Walking to the main street for a drink or a bite, biking to the beach or the grocery store. Out there across the bridge from the city, detached, in a residential mixed-income community, my immaculate condo with nine-foot ceilings and two soaking tubs. But a two-bus, hour-plus commute and the feeling of suburban isolation burnt the dream into ash, to be revived in another space, another intersection, another selection of pubs and restaurants.

Before that was the campy condo village in Northgate. There were various futures contained in the sunny window seat, a window that pushed out of the building allowing for sun or rain to more encompass the body that laid within its glassy bosom. The balcony festooned with plant life, enclosing two chairs and a small table from which vantage the chair-sitters could converse and drink or stay silent and drink, coffee or tea or beer or cocktail or wine, while the sun shot down in between the dun buildings and enlivened the landscaping or while the rain showed no end and the feeling of being protected and warm was accentuated and life-affirming. The ensuite bathroom, a luxury understood by any child of ubiquitous siblings, the solace of solitude in all toilet, sink and bathtub matters. The extra room for the extra human yet to be. Laundry with no lines, no coins.

Then a place not 10 blocks away. Southwestern windows, small plant balcony looking out over a pool and the highway and the future airspace of the above-ground light rail line. Open floor plan in a building from the ’70s, new hardwood, and storage galore. The dining table would sit next to the tiny balcony and fake fireplace, looking out through the veil of terrace plant life. A living room space near the front door, darker and cozier, a sweet little Netflix cove. Somewhere a small desk to write at, a little postcard picture of Ginsburg tacked up at seated eye-level. Outside, a future baby being bobbed up and down in the slightly cool water of the pool, wincing and laughing at the new stimulations, their little fresh face slathered in too much sunscreen.

Another one, Maple Leaf neighborhood by way of Lake City Way. Would need some work, but good enough light. Rip up the carpet and install hardwood throughout. Replace the hollow doors with something more substantial. New trim. New vanities. Truly adult shopping exercises. We could make something nice out of it, and that trailer park viewable from the balcony would soon be replaced. The Wild West car lot across the way, while not ideal, adds some grimy charm. We could make it ours. We could make it work. Bus lines and nearby parks. A beer palace down the street. Proximity. City life. Sometimes you have to give a little in order to gain. Then again, sometimes it all just ends the same anyway.

Freshest wound in the form of another two-bed two-bath (ok, 1.75 technically). Not far from the first two. Lovely open kitchen with a gas range and plenty of counter space, a conversation kitchen which could speak out to the bright living room and even out to the covered balcony. Yes, another balcony. Said balcony already fixed with hooks for all the plants with all their verdant draping parts, and room enough for a grill and an intimate seating situation. Another ensuite bathroom, newly updated. Quiet rooms with storage enough for all the various baubles and thingies and wearables we keep around. And covered parking to boot.

All our future homes. Temporarily ours and only in the mind. Despite all legalese and officially signed documentation, the offers were just a flash in the pan, considered for a couple hours at most and then recycled. My imagined realities, our imagined home lives, dissolve away in the incinerator of useless memories or get boxed and mothballed to be dredged up at the most appropriately vulnerable time.

Stoicism serves us well in this life. Giving too much power to the dominant flux that life can present allows for tumultuous internal strife. Realizing instead that these are just little simulations, little fantasies that can sometimes come to fruition, allows that no particular outcome can affect your essential disposition.

So you forge on into the great dark gray of the future, that future you can’t fully imagine, waiting for the next flux, the next flash of fantasy, to present itself. Consistently, it will.

The Redfin app never stops with the notifications anyway.