Lost

The first year I marked it on April 1st as 1.

The second year when it came up on April 1st it was 2.

The third year I forgot to call it out because we were at the start of a pandemic and things were getting kind of crazy.

This year came, I remembered it on the first of April, but decided not to call it out.

Now anyone that is still holding on four years after a breakup is either just sad or pathetic. It’s way past time to move on. Four years later the people involved are different people. In four years time will be definitely changed people. (Part of the problem, that I’m not going to deal with in this post, is what I think of as the “Ross and Rachel situation”. Media: tv shows, movies, books, play up the angle of soulmates, that when two people are meant to be together it doesn’t matter what keeps them apart of how long; eventually they’ll get back together. But that’s part of a different post.)

Before it started, before I met her, I always knew I was destined to be alone. I knew I was going to live my life alone. I don’t say that to garner sympathy, because I didn’t feel bad about it. I was content, even happy, in my solitude. I get along with myself fairly well (that’s not meant as a joke, sometimes it can be hard to get along with yourself) and I have more than enough to keep myself occupied.

I can try to explain my anxiety over dealing with other people, but it’s hard to make people understand if they don’t suffer from it. I’ve always been described as shy and quiet. It’s easy for others to just say get over it, just talk to other people. “It’s not hard.” But it is hard.

I say this while I’m the manager of a large retail store that employs anywhere from 60 to over a hundred people at times and I have to interact and talk to them on a daily basis. I do it, but it’s never easy. When I have to hold a store meeting and face everyone at one time I will be awake nights before the meeting trying to figure out what I’m going to say and how I’m not going to make myself look like a fool while I’m saying it. Even smaller meetings, like with my managers, three people I’ve know for years and genuinely like and respect are hard. My stomach gets in knots when I have to talk. And worse if I have to deliver bad news. I don’t sleep at nights when I know I have meetings that I have to talk in. My District Manager is always on me for not talking enough when we get visits from corporate, they want you to take them on the tour of the store, talk numbers, rah rah about the company; I’ve never been good at it and I never will be. And again I’ll be up nights before I know of one of these visits trying to come to terms with having to deal with the visitors. But I do it. To some extent. I have the store meetings, I talk with everyone, I walk the corporate visitors through the store. Probably not all that well, I know it’s held me back in promotions and reviews, but I do the best I can.

I bring this up because as I talk about this some of you might point out that I do talk to strangers, to customers, to fellow associates on a daily basis. Yes, I do. Because I have to, because I have to make a living and somehow I fell in retail as my source of income. But when I tell you it’s not easy, believe me it’s not easy. I manage, but the effect on my self is traumatic. It effects my sleep, it effects my health.

I’ve been like this for as long as I know. In school I dreaded if the teacher would call on me to get in front of the class. I’ve never understood people who say school was the best time of their lives. I was never so happy to get out of school. (Besides these problems I was also the kid that got picked on, the skinny kid with glasses that was quiet and didn’t talk so others took that as a sign to push around and bully me.)

As for dating and the opposite sex, just about forget it. Talking to a girl was the most frightening thing in the world. I never dated in school, it was only later that sometimes I managed to stumble my way through a few, but no real relationships for years.

Dealing with people is just not something I’m wired for. Having to talk to strangers can make me sick.

As bad as thing sounds, it wasn’t terrible for me. At home I had a good life. I knew my weakness and decided there wasn’t anything I could do about it. At home I have my books, my comics, my tv shows, my movies, my writing. I was never sad about it at home. (I’m not saying that there weren’t times when I was sad or upset because things didn’t work out due to my inability to talk to others, but I got over them fairly quickly.)

At some point I knew I was going to live my life alone. I would have some friends, but overall I would go home to a house with no one in it. And I was satisficed with that. I never went home and sat around brooding or feeling like I was a failure. I filled my time with what I wanted. Like I said: books, comics, movies, tv shows and my writing. I felt like my life was full, I was happy.

Until I met her. Until I fell in love. She showed me what it was not being alone. What a different future could mean. She held out what I was missing and not even realizing it.

So now when I mark the years since then, I’m not marking the loss of her so much, it’s the loss of what might have been. (There is some of that “Ross and Rachel” soulmate that realizes you were meant to be together and coming back no matter what that lingers, but only some.)

Four years neither of us are the same person. She’s more than likely not a person I would even like anymore, just from knowing some of who she is with now, and I’m probably not a person she would like. We’ve both changed. I don’t expect anything. But what lingers is that maybe I didn’t have to be alone, that maybe there was someone for me.

I don’t sit around thinking about this all the time, or even that much of the time. This time of the year it hits me hardest, just because of the timing.

It’s just some of the time I feel lost. Like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore.

I know again, at least I’m on the way to knowing again, that I can be alone and be happy. I have friends. I have a life for myself, that I’ve created. A life I like. I have things that keep me happy and content. I’m getting back to where I was before, when I didn’t think about what might have been and was happy with what was.

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My Friend Mark

I guess the universe was trying to tell me something.

Yesterday I was trying to find something to watch. Lately, heck not so lately, how about for the last year, I haven’t watched many new things. I’ve been going back to old tv series, shows where I find the characters comfortable and like old friends, so I’ve binged watched so many things I was running out of stuff to see. I decided on a documentary on Steven Spielberg, mainly because I couldn’t figure out anything else and I wanted to watch something while I ate my dinner.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.; these were movies that made me think of my friend Mark. I’ve talked about Mark recently passing from COVID, but I’ve put off thinking too much about him. Mark was one of my oldest and probably one of my best friends. We hadn’t really talked a lot in more than a few years. We used to live next door to each other. I moved, he moved, he got married, I moved again. Life happens and sometimes it’s hard to stay as connected. But for twenty years at least Mark was huge part of my life.

I remember seeing these movies with Mark. I can still remember coming out of the theater after ET, it was a cool evening, I remember, and how excited we were after seeing the movie. We ended up at Shoney’s afterwards, that was our end of the night place to go, pig out at the breakfast bar and recount what we had just seen.

In those days, and for the next twenty years, it was me, Mark and Sal. Others came and went with the group, but there was always the three of us. We were always together. Years later when I went to Atlanta and saw old friends Jason and Claire and their son, who I hadn’t seen since he was probably a year old and now he was 17, he said to me that he felt like he knew me, that it was always “Sal, Mark and John” whenever his parents talked about us.

Movies were such a part of our lives than. Every weekend we’d go see at least one, sometimes more, and than discuss to death. If we didn’t go to the movies we would rent movies. This was the days of Blockbuster, we’d go rent a couple movies, go over one of our houses, mostly it was Marks, and order a pizza and spend the night eating and watching movies.

I remember one night, I think at Mark’s parents house, we spend the night playing toss across. It was the three of us and Jason. I mean we spent hours playing this game, throwing those bean bags at that huge board.

Every movie that was discussed in the documentary made me think of watching it with Mark and Sal. Then last night I went to bed and dreamed. Of course the dream was of Mark and Sal. I rarely, almost never, remember my dreams. I wake up and it’s a wisp of smoke, my dream vanishes into the ether. But this one I remember, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but then dreams don’t always. I remember though Mark and Sal were in it.

And finally coming home today, after work, I plug my phone into the car and turn on my music. What comes on, but Foghat. Fool for the City. The first real concert I ever attended was, of course, with Mark and Sal, at the Warehouse in downtown New Orleans and was Foghat.

The universe is trying to make me remember my friend. Like I could ever forget him. We spent too much time together. He meant too much to me.

We’d take vacations together. We traveled to DC together. We took a train to Montreal. We traveled Florida from Jacksonville to Key West back up again. In Florida, after leaving Disney, Mark was driving, he turned on the highway and right after getting on the road we realized we were on the wrong side, it was one of those divided highways and we hadn’t realized it. Mark pulled over right away, we were about to turn onto the right side, when on the hill ahead of us some guy in a truck stopped, why I don’t know, we weren’t coming towards him anymore. But another guy on a motorcycle came over the hill behind him, didn’t see the truck in time and ran into the back of it. Luckily no one got hurt, but Mark ended up getting a ticket because technically he was in the wrong. But if that other guy hadn’t stopped, nothing would have happened.

Or the goats attacking Mark in Bush Gardens. It was a huge petting type zoo. Mark opened the feed for the goats while walking among them and within minutes they were all over him.

I could go on and on with the stories. It’s hard to believe he’s gone and I won’t ever talk to him again. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time, but part of me always assumed that I would one day. There was no way I wasn’t going to talk to him again. It was Mark, one day we’d sit down and talk about movies, or music or something.

Mark was my friend and I miss him.

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Day 1

I keep going back and forth on it, managing to keep it up for awhile and then putting it off. I’ve been really bad for the last six months, maybe even longer. What am I talking about?

Exercise.

But today is Day 1. A new start. I just spent about an hour exercising and hoping to continue this on a regular basis now. When I bought my new home, I wanted an extra room that I could turn into an exercise room. I bought a treadmill, a bike and all in one gym so I could have no excuses. I’ve tried memberships in gyms before, but they never last. I go for a few months, slowly going less and less until I’m not going at all. So I thought having a gym in my own home would give me no excuses. The problem is that there are always excuses to be made if you want to make them.

So no more excuses. I’m putting this out there in the hopes that I’ll feel like I have to keep up with it now.

So we’ll see.

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Not A Good Week

This has been a truly terrible week.

Work has just been about as stressful as it’s ever been. I haven’t had a real, full day off in I don’t know how long. This week the mask mandate went into effect for everyone coming into a store. People are just stupid and evil, wearing a mask is not the worst thing that’s ever been asked of you.

It’s like in the last few weeks a switch has been thrown and work expects everything to be back to normal. I don’t like to talk about my job online to be honest, but let’s just say this week has me so close to the breaking point.

Personally this week has been just as bad. Money wise I ended up having to spend a lot more than I was expecting. I had the money but I wasn’t expecting to have to spend that much.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this close to just breaking before. It’s been rough.

Then today someone from the warehouse calls me and tells me the cat is hurt.

Many of you that read my page may remember that we’d adopted two cats that had no home and they lived in the boatyard. It was originally a momma cat and after she had her babies we ended up with her and her son. Someone took the momma cat recently, he wanted to give her a home, and while I miss her I couldn’t begrudge her a good home. The baby boy cat was still there.

I pay for the cat’s food and anything else that needs spending. My District Manger said I should use my company credit card to buy the food, but I don’t want to go there. I wouldn’t feel right spending the company’s money. I’m ok with buying food for him.

So I go back to the warehouse and out to the boatyard and the poor cat is laying on a book while someone pets him. He’s got a huge tear in his leg and it’s oozing.

I can’t afford a huge vet bill. With help of some people in the store I manage to track down a woman that takes care of stray cats, she runs her own private vet service for free. So we get the cat in a carrier and I drive him over there. She looks at him and says that she thinks he’ll be ok. She’s going to clean the wound, fill him with some antibiotics and monitor him for the next week or so. When he’s better she’ll call me to come pick him up.

I have to tell you that at that point, when I went back there and saw that cat and was worried that it might be worse. All I could think was that if this cat dies, after this week, I will just break, I won’t be able to take it.

So in the end, after such a terrible week, I can at least look at some good news. The cat should be fine.

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Ayla #4

Again a long time project is finally finished. The fourth issue of Ayla is printed and in my hands now. This finishes the first storyline for Ayla. Another amazing cover by Javi Laparra for the issue. Also the back cover. The inside double page spread is art by Javi and colors by Tyler Carpenter, who did an astounding job and really made the page jump.

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Lizards Trade

The Lizards trade collecting the first five issues of the comic is finally printed. I can honestly say this was years in the making. But I think it came out really good and am more than pleased with the result. The cover is amazing and by Roman Gubskii.

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Ayla

page 11

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The Getaway Driver

A tease from my next comic “The Getaway Driver.” The art is by the wonderful Roman Gubskii. This is going to be a one shot. The page count is not finalized yet as I’m still finishing up the script, but it’s going to be at least 34 pages if not longer.

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Ayla

page 10

Buy all four issues of Ayla on Gumroad. Name your price for the download.

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Something Cool Today

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