A Man Walks Into a Bar…

It goes up. It goes down. It goes round and round and round.

It goes up. It goes down. It goes round and round and round.

A man walks into a bar. The bartender says "Hi, It's good to see you, I haven't seen you in ages, how long has it been, are still drinking… was it a Blue… light?" 

I reply "yes, yes it's good to see you too, I've been busy, working mostly." I pay for the beer and move away from the crowed bar to the dance floor in the back.

I am initially disoriented but very little has changed. Everything is exactly where it was. The pool tables are where they always were. Same too the piano and the bars and the TVs and, well, everything. The bartenders are the same people too. The dance floor is the same. The DJ is the same DJ. The music style too is exactly the same. It's new music but the same beat. It's the type of music that I love. I make my way through and stand in the same place that I have always stood. I relax. Everything is the same. Nothing has changed.

It's been eight years since I last stood here.

My eyes adjust to the lighting around the dance floor. I begin to notice familiar faces. They appear much older than I remember. I wonder if they've been here every Saturday that I have not. Everyone I see, that I used to see, looks very old. Weirdly old. I suddenly realize they are probably thinking the same thing about me. All of a sudden I feel out of place. I feel like I no longer belong.

I drink my first beer a little quicker now.

I have not been out to a bar, drinking by myself, in eight years. Eight years of staying at home on Saturday nights and watching movies. Eight years of drinking pots of tea. Eight years of Saturday nights at home on my sofa. I begin to wonder why it's been so long since I've been out for a drink by myself. I look around. I begin to get more uncomfortable. I begin having arguments with myself. I begin to remember why I stopped drinking. Why I stopped going out to bars. Why I stopped. My comfortableness is now gone.

I order beer number two.

I remember eight years ago it was nothing for me to drink 15 beers in a night. And still want more. I remember needing to shut my brain off. Alcohol shut my brain off. My brain was still thinking. I must drink more. Why won't my brain turn off? I must drink more to shut this thing off. Stop thinking. I feel out of place. Still not right. Still can't talk to men. Still feel unworthy. MORE BEER. Shut up. Enjoy yourself. No. Can't. Not worthy. Stupid. SHUT UP Enjoy yourself. No. Can't. … … I used to have to drink until the stronger part of my brain would shut up. That took a lot of beer. And. Eventually. That part of my brain would shut up. I could never silence it. But at least it would shut up for a moment or two so I could enjoy myself. Enjoy the music. Enjoy being.

My brain began to race.

This is only your second beer Tom. You can't handle it. This is not the end of the world. There is no way that you could drink that much again. You couldn't cope before. No way you can cope now. You are not the same person you were eight years ago. Just try to relax and enjoy the music. It will be OK. You will be fine. No you won't. What makes you think you can handle it now?

I order beer number three.

Three beers is not the end of the world. Many people drink three beers on a Saturday night. It's Saturday night. It's only three beers. I try to enjoy the music. I like the music. Why did you even come out? You don't wanna be that drunk again, do you? Just go home. Shut up brain. Listen to the music. You like this song. Listen to this song. Just shut up and listen to the fucking song. I start to sing along with the song that's playing. Hoping that this will help. It always did in the past. OK. It's helping. I continue singing. This seems to be working. Good. Everything is under control. Let's sing the song and everything will be fine.

An attractive man slowly walks by and cruises me. Strongly. Oh. Fuck. Why did he have to look at me? Just pretend I'm not here. There's hotter men over there. Don't look at me. Go over there. One thing at a time. Fuck. There goes all that calmness that I just found. My brain is panicking again. I try to go deeper into the music. It's a song I love. It's a new version for me. I know the words. I sing along. Ugh. It's not working. Why did he have to notice me? I can't deal with everything right now. Just go home. No stay. 

I order beer number four.

I start to panic about everything. I continue to sing along. The man walks by again and cruises me again. I continue to sing along.

I order beer number five.

The bar is surprisingly quiet for last call. I tell the bartender that it's been eight years since I was last here. There's a little sadness in his face. He replies, "It's been too long. Good to see you again. Don't stay away too long next time." He gives me a peck on the cheek. I walk back to the dance floor. My brain natters away to itself. I continue to sing along.

I finish my beer and leave the bar at 2:30. I walk home. My brain is running a mile a minute. Was that good? Was that bad? Did I have fun?

I finally get to sleep at 5:30. I am emotionally spent.

The following night a man walks into a bar again.

Therapy (5) Broken TVs

So I've now been going to therapy quazi-regularly for 5 months now. I say quazi becuase he does not have a regular spot for me, and I don't really want a regluar spot… it's that whole "commitment thing" that I seem to have a big problem with, but that is a story for another day.

Conversations with my therapist go like this: I sit down in the chair. We make arrangements for the next appointment. We settle in. He then looks at me funny until I say something. I've never tested him to see how long he would go without saying anything, but I'm reasonably certain that he would go the whole session without ever saying the first word. Once I start, he will ask questions, offer directions, offer observations, but it is my job to start the whole thing off. Say whatever is on my mind.

Sometimes I start by saying "I'm hungry". Sometimes I say "I'm tired". Sometimes I say "you got a haircut." Sometimes I say "I need a new TV".

"Why do you need a new TV?" he asks.

I begin to describe that my current TV is 13 years old. That it no longer shows the colour white, but an off green. That it weights over 200 lbs and that I can't actually move it. That it takes up half the living room. That I can't replace my AppleTV (which no longer shows blue) because the new models only have HDMI and my TV does not have HDMI.

"Why don't you just go out and get a new TV?" he asks.

"Well, I have the money," I reply, "I've been saving up Christmas and birthday money for the last decade, but until my TV actually breaks I don't see the point in replacing it. Waste not. Want not."

"But it doesn't show white. That sounds broken to me." 

His simple statement caught me offguard.

The conversation continues and we discuss all of the things in my life that I keep using because they are not acutally "broken." There is a lot of it.

He then asks me about men. "How many relationships do you get into or stay in because they were similarly "not broken." Time's up before we get very far into this part conversation.


The following week I talk about my looking for a new TV. I talk about not being able to find one that is just right. I babble on about technical specs and, generally-speaking, inconsequential stuff.

He waits for me to stop talking and asks, seemingly randomly, "how did you ask your first boyfriend out?"

"That's easy. i didn't," I reply.

"I don't mean the first man you dated. I mean the first person you asked out on a date. Tell me about the first man that you asked out for a first date."

"That's easy. I haven't. Ever. I have never asked a man out on a first date."

In all my years on this planet, I was never the one to ask a man out on a date. They always did. They always choose me. I never asked anyone out that I wanted to ask out. I always hoped that they would ask me. And if they didn't ask me? Well clearly, they weren't interested in me.

He looks at me, sumarrizing the notes in his head, "so when was the last time that you went for something that you really wanted?"

I pause. I think. I have difficultly remembering ANYTHING that I ever went for that I really wanted. I pause. I think some more. I smile. 


I rarely, if ever, go for that which I truly want.

I don't know the "why?" but the brain begins to focus and the journey continues.

The Reluctant Boss

Work is really getting me down lately. I used to love my work. Going in. Doing my job. Doing it better than anyone I have ever come across. Getting satisfaction from a pleased and surprised client.

Lately I've not been enjoying it. There are two separate issues going on, simultaneously, to make it not the fun place it used to be. Both of which were thrust upon me. Both of which I'd rather not deal with.

The first of which is that one of the founding partners of the company, a person that I have worked with for 20 years, rather abruptly resigned in November. She left while I was away on vacation. That has many ramifications to me. First of all there is a metric crapload of additional paperwork that is required to legally and formally separate her from the company and to decrease the size of the company by 30%. Although it is not a bitter child-custody-battle situation, the moment you get lawyers involved (and they have to be because we are a legal entity) it becomes 10 times more complicated then it really should be. Then throw on top of that the realtors required to cut up the office space (or move), and well, I'm spending an additional hour a day on "paperwork". Second, and most importantly to my mental state, with her departure I now own 50% of our small company and I have become the defacto boss. Though I was always heading in this direction, now that I'm here, I'm not sure that I like the view. Part of me longs for the days when I simply came in and did my job and left 8 hours later. Part of me knows that I would hate that as well.

The second situation that is bringing me down is that a major client is displeased with our work. Very displeased. We have worked with this client for 20 years. They were our first client. They have been very good to us and we have been very good to them. To keep them happy I'm having to spend my days, in my new found boss mode, diffusing the situation. Making our company work as a team to get the work done to the excellent standards that we do all of our work to. Making the client understand that we are doing our best work under the extreme circumstances that they have placed upon us. Getting everything done, telling them when they are wrong, telling them when our team is wrong. All together I'm spending about an extra three to four hours a day at this.

On top of that I have all of my "doing my job" work to get done. Although I have offloaded some of that work to very capable people, I miss that simple pleasure of "doing my job".

What I have finally come to realize is that it all boils down to a deeper, inner problem of mine—dealing with conflict is not something I do well. Never have. These situations are forcing me to deal with conflict. I'm not upset that I have to be the "boss", I'm upset that I have to deal with these conflicts. The situations are forcing me to grow in ways I have avoided for years. In most of my life I have avoided conflicts. I have settled for less than because it is just easier than. I can always see the other side. I can understand why someone did something, therefore I can't get mad at them, even though it hurt me, in even a small way. I've often settled.

I've learned not to settle in a personal relationship. I've, apparently, got to learn it for the rest of my interactions.

When I make it through this, and I hope that it will be soon, I will be a better person than I have ever been. I'm just having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.

Change can be hard…
Growth can be hard…
Life can be hard…
If you fight it.