How to be Okay

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Set the story in the winter of 2015, in Portland. You will have just been broken up with by a dude you were bonkers in love with, in a way that rattled you to your core. Go grocery shopping, feel it coming on, leave the grocery store before you burst into tears on the way home. Think to yourself, Can we all agree that grocery stores should not play slow, sad Christmas songs any fucking more, please? Or at least have a trigger warning beforehand? Imagine it like that, fully: a red and green-striped rotating light descends from the grocery store ceiling, spins silently. Shoppers look up: some keep shopping but others abandon their carts, drop their baskets. Eggs shatter, a ball of iceberg lettuce rolls down the aisle as they leave the store in a row: the lonely old cat lady in her housecoat, the gutter punk in the pleather jacket, the middle aged bearded gay man wiping back his tears. Behind them, the beginning strains of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” start playing in Safeway. Continue reading How to be Okay

On the Pulse of Mourning

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You wake up the next morning, Wednesday morning, and you hope it has been a nightmare. The rain falls outside in the black Oregon morning like tears and you realize it was not a dream. You log into social media and see the grief, the fear, and occasional glib comments, the jokes about moving to Canada. There is little uglier than the gloating of uneducated white people when their side wins.

How did we get here? you think to yourself. I thought this was locked down. But that’s it, isn’t it? You had been living in an insulated bubble for so long with like-minded friends whose values were the same. You lived in Los Angeles for 12 years before Portland, and now having been in Portland for 3 1/2 years; it has been easy to think that the rest of the country could see through the charlatan peddling snake oil. Hell, it appeared sometimes like even he was incredulous about his odds, that he was there just to symbolically show everyone how ridiculous the system was. On election day, you went to work with confidence bordering on hubris. That evening, as you headed to a bar to meet friends to watch the results, you stared at your phone with a creeping dread and disbelief. Continue reading On the Pulse of Mourning

When Three’s Not a Crowd

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You bike home from the coffee shop in the crisp early fall drizzle, your legs pumping the pedals as fast as they will go, which is not very fast. You have a rainjacket on but you also know that you’ll be soaked by the time you get home. This was not a Good Date. It started inauspiciously anyway, when he told you that he just came from another date. Having a date tell you he just came from another date is like watching someone coming out of a bathroom stall chewing on food. Continue reading When Three’s Not a Crowd

A Very Long Engagement

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I’ve been in Portland three years. I love the summers here; they seem like they go on forever and then disappear in the blink of an eye. They say summer is a great season to fall in love. It’s been a while since I fell in love. I’m not on the dating apps: they alternately bore and frustrate me. But once in a while, someone catches my eye in real life and I give it a go. This is one of those stories, this is a story of my worst date, if not ever, then certainly this month. This is the story of my date with Mike Schneider. Continue reading A Very Long Engagement

How to Break Up

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Damnit. It’s over. I know it in my heart, I can feel it every time he and I touch: the magic is gone. What do I do when our love has reached its expiration date? How do I tell someone who trusts me completely and might still be crazy in love with me that I don’t feel the same way? 

Okay, hold on a sec. Is it actually over? The more empathetic you are, the earlier you’ll be able to tell when the feelings are fading for you. If you catch it early enough, you can talk it out with your partner and see if the fading feelings are mutual, or if it’s something just one of you feels, and the two of you agree to try to rekindle the feelings.

Uh but the feelings are fading, dude.

Um, did you just call me “dude”? Anyway, don’t confuse fading love with just being in that comfortable, “boring” stage: Continue reading How to Break Up

Pride

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You do this: you ride the bumpiest, smallest plane on the planet from San Francisco to Albuquerque. You have white knuckles and the Xanax is taking the edge off the anxiety you feel, but just barely. You wonder if the plane falls out of the sky will it spin or tumble. Maybe it will just dive down nosefirst, and for a beautiful minute everyone will be weightless in the freefall inside the cabin. You decide that if that happens, you will unbuckle your seatbelt, you will enjoy the last few moments of your life like an astronaut. Continue reading Pride

Digital Witless

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It’s usually like this: you catch his eye, usually it’s online, maybe it’s in person, you get his attention. He sees past your currently questionable facial hair choices to the real you. Maybe he is good at texting back, though more often than not he’s not: “Sorry I’m bad at reminding you I’m interested in you wait why am I still single?” You flirt back and forth and you’re excited for when the two of you spend time together, which is frustratingly seldom because your work schedules are opposite. You’re eager to explore this because this one is local, for once you’re not FaceTiming or coordinating time zones or coming up with clever photo ideas to send him selfies. A few hours before a dinner date with him he texts you his apology and promises to stay connected. “I didn’t feel the chemistry but let’s still be friends” is nice to hear, but it’s also the sound of never hearing from someone again for the rest of your life.

Continue reading Digital Witless

This ends badly.