Paul/Hawaii

I changed a bunch of names in this entry.  This is a piece from my relationships manuscript that’s in first draft form.  It’s rough and somewhat long in parts.  It’s the longest piece I’ve published in a while: 21 pages.  Enjoy

Paul

I met Paul at Portabello, the fancy vegan restaurant, on Division and 12th. I had ridden my bike down from my house in Montavilla. I was going to be early so I stopped in at New Seasons to get a few things. I locked my bike up, put on my moccasins and walked into New Seasons. It was mid-February and unseasonably warm. I got two granola bars and aminos for my vegetables. I had recently started cooking vegetables in my black iron pan. It had rained that day so I brought rain gear and an extra pair of bike gloves just in case I needed it. I walked 8 blocks to Portabello. I had made a reservation because the restaurant was tiny and you had to wait 45 minutes on average for a table.

I got to Portabello right on time. There was a little seating area with benches and I waited nervously for Paul. Portabello was a long, skinny dining room with uneven 2 x 4 wood stacked on top of one another. A lot of Portland restaurants had started using fancy recovered wood. It made it look hipstery and cool. Based on my exchanges with Paul on OkCupid I thought he was vegetarian. It turned out he was gluten free like me. When he got to the restaurant at 7:05 I saw him walk up to the door outside. He looked nervous. I might have been projecting.

Paul and I had a mutual friend, my ex-boyfriend, Joel. I had dated Joel on and off from 1998 to 2000. Joel and I had driven across country together from Portland to upstate New York before my senior year at Wells. Joel had borrowed his friend Tad’s Honda CRX for the trip. Tad and Joel worked at a company called 800 Support, a technical support company. Paul worked there too at around the same time but I never met Paul.

I had sworn off people that were in IT after Joel. Joel talked so much about computers that I often felt left out of the conversation. We would go out to coffee or to a bar with his friends and the entire conversation centered around Java this or C++ that. I didn’t really have any of my own friends around. I had graduated from college and all of my friends mostly lived in upstate NY or NYC.

“Hi Kelly,” Paul walked in the door. He was 5’9, wearing a grey hat, greenish fleece and jeans. He had blue eyes and right away I wasn’t sure if I liked him.

“Hey how’s it going? I think the waitress has a table ready for us,” I clutched my bike bag close to my stomach.

“Good. Do you think we can sit down?” He eyed the table.

“I don’t know. I think we should wait for our server,” I took a deep breath.

We talked about Joel for a minute. I pretended that Paul was just a friend and someone I wasn’t romantically interested in. After we sat down at the table Paul told me he had gone to Lewis and Clark college, a small liberal arts college with 1800 students in Portland. I had applied to Lewis and Clark when I was in high school but had no intention of going. It didn’t matter. I was rejected. I wanted out of Portland after high school. We sat at a corner table.

“I have to tell you this funny story about Joel. We drove across country together and on the way back he made it in 46 hours. He did 85 the entire way, slept 6 hours and got a speeding ticket in Montana, of all places.”

“That sounds like something Joel would do,” Paul put his napkin in his lap.

“I haven’t seen him since 2002 or 2003. I think I’m friends with him on Facebook,” I said.

“I like Joel a lot. He’s married and doing the kid thing now.”

“I liked Joel but sometimes he would spend so much time talking about computers I would just be left out of the conversation.”

“The funny thing about me is even though I work with computers I don’t like talking about them outside of work,” he eyed the menu.

He scored a few points with that sentence. I vowed to never date anyone in IT again. Even going on a date with Paul was breaking my own rule. He was a music major at Lewis and Clark. He had other hobbies though: he played bass guitar in a jazz/funk band.

The seating was cafeteria style but the people next to us were quiet. I was glad we didn’t get sat next to overly chatty/loud people. We looked at the menu. I decided on a portabello burger and fries. Paul ordered scallops. I didn’t really care for scallops all that much. After our waitress took our order we talked about work. We moved beyond Joel and the safety of that topic.

I looked at Paul’s glasses. They were this cool greyish wood color that I had never seen before. My nervousness went away and I think I started to like him. I looked beyond the goofy hat that was cover up thinning blond hair on top of his head. I liked that he seemed to be able to carry on a conversation beyond computers.   We split an appetizer: some type of olive oil and sun dried tomato concoction that we spread on gluten free bread. Our entrees came out and I ate mostly fries and the portabello “steak.” There was too much bread.

“Did you like it?” Paul looked at my plate.

“It was great but I think I should have ordered the portabello steak. That was a lot of bread,” I picked up a cold fry and dipped it in ketchup.

“How about dessert?” Paul said.

“Ok,” I was trying not to eat so much. I had gained 10 pounds during December and had mostly lost it over 8 weeks through increasing my exercise and tracking calories. I really wanted to lose 20 pounds but knew I would look sickly if I lost 10.

We ordered two scoops of gelato: salted caramel and chocolate.

“Do you wanna see a movie?” he dipped his spoon into the salted caramel.

“Sure, what’s playing?’ I pulled my phone out of my bike bag.

“Let’s have a race and see who can find out what’s playing first,” Paul jokingly said.

“Fisher King is playing at Laurelhurst in 11 minutes,” he said.

“Ok, we should go then. My bike is at New Seasons. Will it fit in your car?”

“It should fit as long as the front wheel comes off,”

Paul paid for dinner. I knew the date was going well when he paid and asked me if I wanted to see a movie. We walked two blocks to his car: a 2000 Honda Civic. For a second my heart sunk: “Oh great: another person that’s broke.” He worked at the same company in IT for eight years and had a 3 bedroom townhouse. I knew he must have been doing something right.

We drove over to Laurelhurst theater. We were within 5 blocks of The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend’s house.   I was starting to think less of The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend the more dates I went on. I still kept my eyes open: for his Bianchi bike, the Vanagon or the tan Carharts he wore consistently. We parked the car and walked to the theater. No sign of The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend. The Laurelhurst theater was really six small theatersin an old building. The “Laurelhurst” sign outside was glowing neon. You could see it from ten blocks away.

“Let me get the tickets,” I told Paul.

“Ok,” he said as we walked up to the ticket window.

The theater was mostly full and we sat in the back. The close up shots of Jeff Bridges, Robert Williams and Mercedes Ruehl, the female character were a little disorienting at first but I liked the overall early 1990’s feel of the movie. We didn’t hold hands

“What did you think about the movie?” he said.

“It was good. I loved all the 80’s lights and music,” I adjusted my bike bag and touched my phone that was in the inside pocket.

“That was a good movie. Very sweet and romantic,” he said. “Do you want a ride home?”

“It’s a nice night for a ride,” he said as we walked up to the 2000 Civic. He got my bike out of the car and put the front wheel. Paul put the front wheel on for me.

“Here you go,” Paul held my bike out.

“We should hang out again,” I said in an obligatory way that felt halfhearted. Sometimes I just said “We should see each other again,” because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Paul leaned in to kiss me. It was a short kiss.

“Have a safe ride,” Paul said.

“I will,” I said as I raced off toward home.

##

Two days later Paul and I made plans to meet up again at Biwa, a Japanese Ramen noodle house in the SE Industrial area. We biked separately and talked about going to play ping pong after dinner. On the way down I biked past a bumper sticker on a 1998 Buick Regal that said: “This was my Grandma’s car” with a picture of a Gramma like woman next to it and took a picture. We weren’t firm in where we would play ping pong. Paul had a table in his garage and I was hoping we would eat dinner, go to his house and play ping pong and then mess around.

Before Paul and I met up I had spent the day cleaning my house, doing laundry and packing for Hawaii. I was leaving on a five day trip to Lihue with my family in two days. I was on the fence about Paul but decided that going on a second date with him would help me get clear about what I wanted.

When I got to Biwa I was running late. Paul already had a table. Biwa was two levels: when you walked in there was a staircase you walked down to reach the basement level where there was a sushi bar and tables surrounding it in a horseshoe shape. It was a nice, mild day out: partly cloudy and in the high 40’s with the sun setting.

“It’s cold out there. I ordered us some green tea,” he was really smiley. He motioned toward a small teapot on the table.

“It’s actually kind of warm out, believe it or not. 10 degrees makes a big difference. I might hold off a minute,” I touched the teapot and mimicked his smile. It was super hot. I was nervous and my head was a little cloudy.

“What looks good?” he asked. He was wearing that grey hat again. I wondered if he was trying to hide something.

“Hmmm….” I glanced at the menu.

“Seaweed salad and kimchi for appetizers?” He said.

“Sure,” I said automically.

“Maybe bibimbap,” I was on a bibimbap kick ever since I got back from Korea four months earlier.

“Is that enough food?” he said.

“Hmm….maybe something else?” I looked at the menu but didn’t really look at the menu.

“Ochezuka?” he sad.

“Sure.”

We had been texting about ochezuka, a Japanese soup in broth with rice balls and albacore tuna. I had googled it. We had originally been talking about making it at his house and playing ping pong. I wasn’t a big fan of cooking together. I wasn’t opposed to it I just preferred eating out. The only boyfriend I cooked with was “B”. He was my boyfriend from 2002-2003 and on and off from 2004 to 2007. “B” actually did the cooking. I might have sliced an onion or some carrots but he cooked rice and stir fry with chicken. I did the dishes.

“Are you ready to order?” Our waitress asked Paul and I.

“Yeah,” Paul ordered for both of us.

“So what did you do today?” I asked.

“Sent some emails and cleaned my house,” he smiled and seemed a little less nervous.

Or maybe I was less nervous. I could feel my edge softening.

“What about you?” he asked.

“I cleaned my house, packed, did some billing and met a friend for coffee in Northwest,” I said.

The waitress walked up and set down the seaweed salad and kimchi. We finished off the seaweed salad and kimchi relatively quickly. I was recording my food in an online app called “MyFitnessPal.” The ochezuku came out and so did the bibimbap. I told myself I was full.   Paul could definitely put it away.

“Are you still hungry?” he asked.

“I’m pretty full,” I said.

“I’m still hungry. Do you want to get something else?’

“Umm..sure,” I said.

“Do you want to get some more kimchi or some sashimi?”

“Let’s get some sashimi.”

I had already biked 2.5 hours that day. We ordered the sashimi and I rationalized I would be doing at least another 30-45 minutes worth of biking that day depending on when the date ended. We ate up the sashimi and decided to bike over to the Blitz bar where there were ping pong tables. Blitz bar was only 10 minutes away on bike. When we got there all of the tables were taken and we decided to stick around and wait. The Blitz bar was a sports bar and there was a MMA fight going on in on several large screens in the next room. We set our bags down at a table near the ping pong table. Paul went to get us a couple waters.

“What do you think?” he walked up with the waters.

“I don’t know. We could go back to your house,” I wanted to test the waters and see if I was attracted to him.

“Ok,” he didn’t put up a front.

We went outside to our bikes, unlocked them, biked 50 minutes to Paul’s house down the Esplanade, past the Rose Garden where the Blazers played, and down North Vancouver to St. Paul’s in the very northern part of Portland. Paul was a bike rider, I could tell. He had the yellow reflective rain/bike jacket and the same silver, giant bike bag I had bought in 2007 when I was dating “K”, the hardcore cyclist. He was on a bike team called “The Lovers,” a play on how “gay” biking was: spandex, spandex. The mascot for “The Lovers” was a unicorn and their uniforms were white, red and pink. Even though I had already biked 2.5 hours I could go the distance. That’s how I was: go, go, go. The hardest thing about biking was the saddle time I told myself.

“I need to bike more,” he said as we biked past the bluffs on Willamette Boulevard. Overlooking the bluffs was Swan Island, the industrial area where trucking companies kept their warehouses. It’s where UPS and Fedex trucks picked up their packages.

“It’s been a good winter for biking,” I pedaled faster. “Very little rain.”

“Yeah,” he said.

I felt a little tougher than him. I was just tough period. I biked in cold and nasty weather. We biked up to his house and I was tired and ready for a break. The 3.5 hours of biking had finally caught up with me. It was about 10 pm when we rolled up. We put the bikes in the back yard and lined them up against the side of the house. We went into his house through the back door. I have a roommate he had told me earlier but I never see him. He works at Portland State and so does his girlfriend. She has a condo downtown and he spends most of his time there. He comes home to do laundry mostly.

We walked in through the backdoor to his kitchen. There was a small Ikea table in the kitchen. We took our coats off and set our bags down. The kitchen opened up into the living room. I liked his house. He had a Dania sofa that looked like my sisters and a giant myrtle wood coffee table. There was a turntable and speakers and a gas fireplace that had an on/off switch.

“Brr…let me turn the heat on,” he said as he walked into a long hallway that probably led to the front door. “It might take a minute to kick in. Do you want some tea?”

“Sure, can I use your restroom?”

“Sure,” he walked me down the long hall way part way and showed me to a half bath.

We made tea and sat on the blue Dania number a few inches away from each other. I felt my legs starting to relax. I was finally tired. The heat kicked on and started to warm me up. Something was changing. I was starting to like Paul. It was starting to feel like a potential dating situation. Not a hook up. He put music on the turn table and we sat and chatted. It was comfortable.

“Do you want to play ping pong?” He asked after we drank our tea.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m not that good but we can play a few games.”

We went into the garage and played a few rounds. He was in a ping pong league and had his own paddles. I wasn’t horrible.

“Where did you get such good hand/eye coordination?”

“I always scored really high on those tests in elementary school that measured things like hand/eye coordination.”

“Kelly you could be really good at ping pong,” he hit the ball toward me.

That sealed it for me. He was nice. He complimented me. I wanted to mess around. We went back inside.

“I’m hungry again,” he smiled. “I don’t have much of anything to eat but I have some coconut dream ice cream. Do you want some?”

“Sure,” I plopped down on the Dania sofa again. There was a ping pong catalog called “Paddle Palace” on the myrtlewood coffee table.

“Do you really have a ping pong catalog?”

He was at the counter scooping coconut dream ice cream into mugs.

“Yup,” he said. “This is really hard. I need to let it thaw for a second.”

He came over to the sofa and sat down for a while. We talked some more and had ice cream. He got closer and leaned in to kiss me. It wasn’t awkward. He was a good kisser. After a few minutes my scarf and shirt came off. It became clear we needed to go upstairs and get naked. We went upstairs to his bedroom. It was clean with a queen bed, a dresser, long mirror in the corner and side tables on either side of the bed. I climbed into his bed. There were flannel sheets and two wool blankets on top.

It was perfect.

We made out for a long time.

A long time. I hadn’t had a marathon make out session like that in years.

On the nightstand closest to the window there was a CPAP machine. I knew what it was because my friend Janelle had sleep apnea.

“Oh you have a CPap machine,” I said.

“Yeah. How did you know what my CPap machine was? Hardy anyone knows what it is.”

“My friend Janelle has sleep apnea. She went and had a sleep study done and everything.”

“I didn’t have a sleep study done but I was having a really hard time staying awake so I went to my doctor and he prescribed a CPap about three years ago. Speaking of which, are you tired?”

“Yeah, let’s go to sleep.”

We went to sleep. The next morning we woke up late and messed around some more. He made me coffee but unfortunately he wasn’t a coffee drinker and it was incredibly weak. It was a nice attempt though. I biked home and packed for Hawaii. I was sad that after two great dates with him I was going to have to interrupt the flow and leave for five days. Weird things happened when I left town and vice versa at the start of dating someone. I was hopeful but knew that things were too new with Paul to really know. Bad things.

 

Kauai

I flew into Lihue airport in Kauai. It was 6:00 pm and the sun was setting behind the island as we landed. I illegally took my phone out, turned it on and started snapping pictures. I texted a gorgeous shot to Paul.

“Nice!” He responded.

“We should hang out when we get back,” I sat back in my seat as the plane bounced along the tarmac. There was no one beside me.

“Yes,” he responded quickly.

“I just landed,” I texted my sister.

“Ok, we’ll leave now,” my sister responded.

“Take your time it will take me 20 minutes at least to get my bag.”

“Ok.”

I got off the plane and the airport looked like something out of the 1980’s. Everything was dark wood, tropical and smelled islandish. There were 7 gates and 2 baggage carousels that were outside. Katie and my brother in law David pulled up in a 2005 silver Chrysler Town and Country minivan. It was getting dark and the temperature was dropping a little bit. We stopped in at a strip mall and ate a restaurant called “Kim Chee #9” and had Korean food. The meal was somewhat awkward and stilted. Katie and David comment on the smell of the rag that’s used to clean the table. I don’t smell anything. I have a poor sense of smell.

That’s how it was with my sister and brother in law.

I ordered beef bulgogi, rice and kimchi. They ordered a full meal of kimchi, macaroni salad, fried fish and spare ribs. It looked like enough food for a family of six. After we settled the check we went to Longs Drugs and got a few groceries. I got coffee, rice cakes, nuts, and dried fruit. They got coffee, candy, and other things I can’t remember.

We piled back in the car and drove another twenty minutes to the condo. Even though it was pitch black the island was super green. My sister told me there were wild roosters and chickens everywhere and Khloe, my two year old niece, liked to chase them. Katie, David, Khloe and my mom got in four hours earlier than me on an earlier flight. We made our way down a winding road to our three bedroom/2.5 bath condo. David carried my giant suitcase that wasn’t very heavy to our condo. It was nice to have someone around to carry my bag. I was so used to doing everything on my own.

We walked in the front door and my niece and mom were sitting at the dining room table. It was 8:30 pm and they were snacking on toasted rice cakes my mom slathered in Tillamook salted butter and vegan cheese.

“Hi Kelly!” Khloe said with a giant biggest smile. “Look what I’m eating!”

“What are you eating Khloe?”

“Cheese! Look!” she held her arm out with a square of cheese in her hand. In the past few weeks Khloe had gone from saying one or two words to small sentences with five or six words or referring to herself in third person. “Khloe do it!” she would say if she wanted to switch off a light or push a button.

“Awesome!”

I dropped my bag at the table and walked around the condo.

“Kelly! Where are you going?”

“I’m gonna look around,” I said from far away as I made my way past the dining room, kitchen living room and down the hallway to the master suite, Katie, David and Khloe’s headquarters for our trip. I walked past my mom’s room and the main bathroom I would use to shower.

“Am I sleeping up in the loft?”

“We thought you might like some privacy,” Mom said; which was actually code for: you get stuck with the last room because you got here last.

It was 9:00 pm and everyone went to bed except Mom and me. We stayed up chatting about their flight, my flight and how Khloe did on her first flight over 2 hours. After about an hour I climbed the stairs to my loft bedroom with two single beds and a half bath. I hadn’t slept in a single bed in a long time.

##

The next day I wake up at 7:30 am and everyone except me is already awake downstairs making breakfast. I make my way downstairs and David lets me know the coffee maker is beyond dirty and old and doesn’t work. Before I can carry on a conversation I need coffee first thing in the morning. I make due with boiling some water, putting some coffee in a filter and holding the filter while the coffee flows through. I actually get to mugs out and alternate holding the filter over each one.

We eat breakfast, pile into the mini van and head to Sand Point Beach. It’s cloudy and in the mid-60’s. Sand Point Beach is a beach my mom found in a guidebook. We pile out of the minivan and sit on orange and green beach towels we found in the condo hall closet. I try and relax since I’m on a beach and it’s Hawaii.

After several hours sitting on the beach, eating snacks and playing the water we drive to a little town that has a suspension bridge and cheesy art galleries for tourists. I send Paul two text messages and he doesn’t respond. We find a bar to eat at in a neighboring small town. I order salad. My sister orders something slathered in gravy. My mom orders a salad.

We get back to the condo and I take pictures of the furniture in my room. I send the picture to Paul along with a message: “The dream of the 90’s is alive in our condo.”

He doesn’t respond immediately and I have a momentary freak out. I text my best friend Stacia.

“He’s not responding to my messages,” I type out and feel like he’ll run away.

“Don’t text him anymore!” She responds immediately.

“I won’t,” even though I have itchy text hands.

He responds an hour later: “That picture looks pretty Hawaii.” It’s not really the message I want to hear. It seems pretty flat and boring. “Thank God,” I think. He’s not going anywhere. I take a deep breathe. I think back to what his profile said: “I’m primarily looking for a long term relationship. Or at least a ping pong partner I could play with at my league downtown after work.”

I take a picture of the condo living room and send it to Paul.   “90’s condo.”

He doesn’t respond.

The rest of the week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, goes like this: we pile in the mini van, drive somewhere, my niece has a meltdown in the car, we eat, we do more sightseeing, we go to beaches and other tourist spots. I randomly send Paul messages every day but not too many: usually one or two. Sometimes he responds. He gets a cold mid-week. By day three I’m starting to get annoyed with everyone.

“What flag is that?” my sister asks as we pass a flag flying outside a government building.

“I don’t know. Maybe the British flag?” My mom guesses.

A few minutes later we pass a gas station:

“Gas is $4.75 here,” David says.

“What do you think they do with their trash?” My mom asks.

“Put it on boats?” My sister guesses.

“Send it to the mainland?” I chime in from the backseat just so I don’t appear to be an asshole who doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

When Saturday rolls around I can’t wait to drop them off at the airport. Their flight is at 11:15 am. My flight is at 9:55 pm. I have ten and a half hours to kill. I drop them off and we say our goodbyes. I find several thrift stores to go to on Yelp. Google maps helps me find the first one: Salvation Army. It’s close to the airport and I go inside. It’s dirty and raggedy looking. The building looks like it might have been an old movie theater. I’m relieved to be alone. I buy a t-shirt for $3 and drive to a health food store to get something to eat since I haven’t really eaten anything yet. As usual, I’ve inhaled an insane amount of coffee. The health food store is next to a Safeway, a Starbucks, another Longs Drugs, and a Vietnamese restaurant.

I go to Starbucks and order an iced vanilla latte and stand in line ten minutes for the restroom. Even Starbucks is on island time. When I come out of the restroom my latte still isn’t ready yet. I sit down and wait. “It doesn’t matter,” I tell myself. I still have 9 hours to go.

I get my coffee and walk to the health food store. It’s super hippy dippy and small. I grab a couple Kind bars and some rice cakes. I stand in line and the person ahead of me takes her time. So does the cashier. Island time strikes again. I have no where important to be but I’m still rushing. I get through the line and inhale a Kind bar. I get the urge to text Paul again but I leave it be. I try and have faith.

Take a leap of faith and just trust.

Trust that everything will be ok I tell myself over and over and over again.

No matter what the outcome.

I drive to the Kauai Coffee Plantation and I’m grateful it’s fairly empty. The coffee plantation sits up high on a hill overlooking the ocean. It’s 80 degrees and hot. There’s no entry fee and the tour is self-guided. I’ve never been to a coffee plantation before. It’s basically like a farm or a winery with hops; except its coffee beans growing on vines overlooking the ocean. There’s a wooden sidewalk/plank thing that serves as the self-guided tour. There are several signs that describe the different stages of coffee bean growth and production. There are also several round outdoor tables with umbrellas and plastic chairs to sit at. I sit down at one of the tables and do some writing.

It’s probably the most relaxing time I’ve had on the vacation. I get a sunburn on my shoulders but I don’t care. I write for forty five minutes. My friend Alice calls from San Jose and I fill her in on my vacation, Paul, my clients and family. She has a Ph.D. in English and recently quit her job as an English teacher at what sounded like an uppity private school in the Bay area. She was stressed out during her time as a teacher. We talk every 4-8 weeks. I met her when I was 17 years old at Camp Cleawox in Florence, Oregon on the central Oregon coast. It was before my senior year of high school and her junior year at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

She was an English major at Amherst. After camp ended in 1994 we wrote handwritten letters back and forth to one another. When email came along in the late 90’s we stopped writing letters and switched to email until 2001. She graduated from Amherst, got accepted into a PhD program at Northwestern and moved to Chicago. We lost touch for a year between 2001 and 2002. She started dating someone 15 years older and went through a nasty breakup. She finished her PhD program and moved back to the Bay area with little direction about where to go career wise. She didn’t want to be a professor even though that was her early career goal.

She got a teaching job and then another teaching job. She met a fellow teacher, dated him, moved in and got married. Her parents got a divorce after 32 years of marriage. Both her parents remarried in the mid—2000’s.

She cheered me on when I started my business, went through the rigamaroll with Rachel, started writing, and bought a house.

She heard about Joel, “B” and The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend.

She never liked The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend. Probably because he was older.

I don’t think she trusted the older dudes.

The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend was born and raised in San Jose. I went down for her wedding in June 2012. The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend and I were still together. Alice’s Dad and stepmom bought a house close to his childhood home. When I told The Boyfriend/Non-Boyfriend where they lived he said his childhood home was ¾ of a mile away. This was back when I thought that we would be together for a long time. I used Google maps on my phone and walked over. It was a white ranch number with a pool in back but you couldn’t see the pool.

I finished up my tour of the coffee plantation, went to two more thrift stores, another museum and back to the island time Starbucks. By the time I dropped off the rental car at the airport I was *hopefully* ready to be back in Portland to resume things with Paul

 

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East River Ferry

I’m pretty sure some version of this story has appeared on my blog.  All names and some locations have been changed.  Just a heads up: it’s not really safe for work.

Caleb

Caleb kissed my cheek as I walked onto the East River Ferry. I blushed and wanted it to be more than just a peck on the cheek. I wanted him to fuck me back at his apartment like he had done seven weeks earlier in his studio in Murray Hill. It was the first week of December but mild. It was windier down by the water. He made me nervous. He was 6’1, skinny, brown hair and blue eyes. He was the only person I had been involved with who looked like he could be a model. He loved ferries because he grew up on Whidby Island outside of Seattle. He had moved to NYC in 2004 but was happy when the East River Ferry started running a few blocks from his apartment. He would ferry to other islands or Seattle quite a bit he told me.

Caleb and me had met up an hour earlier for coffee at a place that used Stumptown Coffee near Grand Central station. The coffee shop was busy with customers and there was a constant flow of foot traffic outside on the busy sidewalk. I was standing in line when he walked up.

There were two tip jars out on the counter. One was labeled “Tina Fey” and the other “Amy Pohler.” Both were stuffed full with dollar bills and change.

“Tina Fey, duh!” he said. “Is there any doubt?”

“Agreed!” I said back

I met him in Portland in 2003 at the tale end of my first major break-up with “B”, my long term on-again/off again boyfriend from 2002 to 2007. Back in 2003, Caleb had just gotten out of a long term relationship as well. His girlfriend, Jennifer, had cheated on him and he seemed to be nursing a big resentment. Understandable. We both worked at Wells Fargo as temporary employees and took the same bus together at night.

Caleb had a faux hawk before they were cool when we first met in 2004. He’d do his hair up and had curls on either side of his cheek – just like Hasidic men had – only his were thinner and not as long. He usually waited at the bus stop with a gay man who was in his early 30’s who also worked at Wells Fargo. Caleb lived downtown. He was the only person I knew who lived downtown in 2004. No one lived downtown. Only businesses, restaurants and hotels existed downtown.   I waited by myself and smoked. I tried to get at least one cigarette in while I waited at the bus stop. I smoked compulsively and fast. I always wanted to get a second cigarette in as well. Caleb lived at the Beverly Alder apartments and his apartment was immaculate. It bordered on OCD.

Back at the coffee shop near Grand Central I was still nervous. I hadn’t seen him since I left his apartment in Murray Hill seven weeks earlier. After sixteen hours of sex, movies and eating at a southern restaurant down the street. He had turned me onto the “Tim and Eric Show, Good Job!” It was an odd comedy sketch show that made fun of 90’s infomercials and so called experts on news shows. The two main characters, Tim and Eric, played a majority of the male and female characters but had guests on like John C. Reilly and Steve Buscemi on it a lot as well.

 

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Morning writing

Here’s what my writing routine is like in the morning.  I try and write every day.  Here’s how I do it:

I always feel like I’m going to stop writing. I make myself write every day. I don’t do it everyday.  Things come up: Wednesdays I race downtown at 8:30 am for therapy and I usually don’t do it on those days.  If other things come up during the week, I have to meet a client early one day, and can’t write, I try to get back to it as quickly as possible.

For each new piece of writing I set up the margins:

double spaced,

12 point Times New Roman (always TIMES NEW ROMAN)

page numbers on the lower right hand side

and upper left hand corner on the first page has a title. Even if it’s something simple like: “Anger”.

Based on this fear I write just after I have made a cup of coffee in the morning. I have to be at least a little awake.  I don’t usually write at night.  I need to get it out of the way first thing in the morning.  I sit on the couch.

In winter time I pile my green and grey blankets on, pull the laptop to my lap and start typing usually 70 words per minute with a lot of errors. I get up when the coffee runs out of my cup and refill. I go back to typing.  Five minutes later the cat wants to go outside.  I open the back door for the cat.  I go back to typing. Ten minutes later the other cat wants to go outside. I get up again and let her out. I open my Pandora page.  I take my multi-vitamin and Vitamin D since I’m up and go back to typing.  I get up for more coffee.  I let the cats back in.  I check my iphone that’s charging on the counter.  I look at Instagram and like a few things.

I go back to the computer.  Pound out more sentences.  Check Facebook even though I shouldn’t.  I correct more errors.  Let the cat inside. Drink more coffee.  Pound out more sentences.  And so on and so forth.  It goes on like this for an hour.  I can’t just sit and type.  I’m distracted.  It’s fine.  As long as I do this I keep cranking out the work.  Eventually all of the one to 10 page titles are put together.  Usually over the course of a month. That’s how the second manuscript I”m working on about relationships came to be.  I took 10-15 different sets of “stories” with varying titles and mashed them up.

Tomorrow I’ll have more time to write.  It’s Saturday.  I’ll put in 1.5 hours.  Weekends are different.  I don’t have to rush anywhere or meet any clients.  I can just sit.  Listen to Pandora and write.

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HappyAlone

I’m going on a dating hiatus.
Going back to HappyAlone
I had spent 9 months: May 2013 to February 2014 alone. Trying to figure out how to be alone. I thought I had figured it out. I went back to online dating in February 2014. I went out with three dudes in six weeks. All three bad some level of unavailability:
One was evaluated for sex addiction
Another fresh out of a 10 year marriage with kids
Another just disappeared

Saturday nights alone with my cats and Hulu started to sound more appealing then dating emotionally unavailable people. You may think I’m turning into the crazy cat lady. Like the honey badger (who I’m Facebook friends with-well, I’m friends with the straight man who voices the HB) I don’t give a shit. This all begs the question: maybe I’m not available either. I like to think I am but I’m not really sure. Here’s the lie I bought into for so long: in order to be happy I needed to be in a long term relationship. Married. I don’t know when I bought stock in the marriage corporation? Maybe 5-6 years ago. When I hit a milestone: age 30?

Sometime in the last week I decided I wanted to pull my stock. To fire the corporation. I bought tickets to upstate New York to attend my college reunion in May. Then I decided to take it a step further and go down to NYC for a few more days after reunion and then fly to Iceland.
Yes. Iceland.
I have always wanted to go.
Would I have made a decision like this if I was still in online dating land? Probably.
In either case I am getting more comfortable being in this body. In Kelly. Being KellyAlone.

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Presentation Skills

Memoir in progress:

Reblogging! This is a great post! You are a great teacher and presenter, MB!

Originally posted on To Pursue Happiness:

One of my recent ad hoc jobs has been assisting in the Columbia University graduate business school, coaching on presentation skills and strategic messaging.

I don’t want to give away all of my tips and tricks. But here’s some of what I’ve learned and taught.

  1. Plant your feet to make a point
  2. Make eye contact
  3. Breathe
  4. Be prepared, but not memorized
  5. Put it in a story form
  6. Show the benefits to your listener
  7. Use emotion

Let me explain what I mean by all of these. I’ll use myself as an example.

  1. Plant your feet and make your point. Don’t wander around. Don’t fidget with a pen either. I need to remember this. I’m a passionate person, and so I like to really emote! That’s fine (see #7). Sure, move out from behind the podium, but move on the pause, and stop when you speak. Plant your feet. You can move…

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Busy Up in this Piece

Things have been busy up in this piece. Here’s what’s been going on:

1. Last Sunday I saw my Dad for the first time in 11 years. I’m still processing this in my head.  I haven’t written anything down yet.  In fact, last week so busy I did very little long hand writing.

2. Typing out my relationship book that is now (hopefully) going to look like a cross between the t.v. show “Girls” and “Portlandia”.

3. Reading through the edits on the first 115 pages (there are 325 altogether) of “The Yellow Blanket” (my first manuscript) that Joanna Rose (from my work shopping group, The Pinewood Table) made.  So far I have read about 30 pages and I’m loving it.  Can’t wait to read more…..

4. I booked a trip to upstate NY for my 15 year college reunion in May, followed by a few days outside NY/in Connecticut/NYC to see friends, and then a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland.  I have always wanted to go and super excited!

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Autism, Developmental Disabilities and what I’m reading right now

Happy Monday! It’s the start of a new week and I’m starting my day and week on the right foot: writing.  After spending three months reading young adult books I needed to get away from 12 year old conversations and themes and go back to my best friend, memoir.

What I’ve been reading: Kerry Cohen.  My writing mentor at the Attic, Lee Montgomery, suggested I read “Loose Girl”.  I read “Loose Girl” in five days.  I picked up her second memoir: “Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and the Meaning of Normal” and I’m smack dab in the middle of it right now.  “Seeing Ezra” details her experiences with getting a diagnosis of autism for her young son and having to deal with experts: psychologists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists when getting assessments completed on Ezra.

I don’t consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have almost eleven years experience working with people with developmental disabilities, Aspergers and autism.  I also have several disabilities myself (anxiety/depression).  I think this helps establishing connections with clients.  I also think it helps me in my work understand the experiences of parents, who when their child was born may have had an entirely different set of expectations for their child (weddings/careers/family) pre-diagnosis.  When a parent gets a diagnosis of developmental disability and/or autism all of those expectations are usually shelved.  An entirely new set of expectations is pulled out.  What challenges will my child experience in school?  Will they go on to college?  What supports will they need throughout their life to be successful?

I usually come into the picture when the client is 18 or older.  I help assess their vocational abilities (do they show up on time for work?  are they motivated to work?  what skills need to be improved on at the job site?) and/or help them find a job in the community, as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store or stocking shelves in a retail setting.  Most parents have accepted that their child has a disability and want them to be integrated into the community at a job.  They know their child inside and out and can let me in on their quirks, skills, personality, etc.

Anyway, it’s always interesting to read a parent’s perspective on their child’s disability.  It helps me in my paying job.  At any rate, I don’t plan on being a social workers forever.  I’m really hoping to transition to my second career, writer.  When that will take place, I don’t know.  I’m looking into a low-residency MFA program at Pacific University.  I would like to teach and supplement my income as an adjunct instructor at a community college and/or teach in the writer’s in schools program here in Portland.  I’m really good at goal setting and making my career dreams reality. It’s just a matter of time.  And with that, it’s time to get to work!  Have a great day.

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