Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lock 'em up!

So after a long and depressing hiatus from some equally depressing dating, I’ve decided to become active in the whole romance department once again. This is interesting from a personally developmental point of view for many reasons, most of which are obvious to anyone who knows me. In the last few months various people that I know and trust have told me do several things that would presumably get me moving in the right direction. Needless to say some of the things I heard were a kick in the junk, while some of them were simply laughable.

*Shave the ferret (My facial hair)
*Lower the flags (Get rid of the silver at my temples)
*Lower my standards
*Be more forgiving
*Push out of my comfort zone, get out more
*Improve myself physically (loose weight) and emotionally (grow a pair)
*Resurrect Nick (My obnoxiously blunt, charmingly roguish alter ego)
*Join a dating service

A few of these suggestions managed to strike a chord, and I decided to do something about it. Loneliness is a hungry beast, and it was high time I stopped feeding the greedy pig. But how should I change? What should I change? Outside opinions are all well and good, but I’m the one who has to do the work and ultimately live with the results.

So this is what I’m doing:

I’m getting rid of the paunch. Yes, I know that women aren’t as visual as men, but who actually wants to date a fatty? There’s a reason that Brad Pitt is more popular than Jack Black. Besides, I’ve discovered that when I look good, I FEEL good. When I feel good, I am occasionally more charming than I have any right to be. Thus, a fit Bryan is more likely a lovin’ Bryan. Problem is I hate, Hate, HATE gyms. Bleh. I’m biting the bullet.

After a talk over the holidays with a genius friend of mine, I’m going to work on my excellence. “What does that mean?” you ask? Well, it’s simple. We are all attracted to excellence. Think about it. It’s not the football player who gets all the girls, it’s the star football player. Mick Jagger is hideous, but he still married a super model. Being wonderful at something, at anything, gets attention. A big part of this is that to be truly excellent at anything, you must have a passion for it. I have been excellent before. It’s a feeling unlike any other. A certainty that anything is not only possible, but that you can expect it to happen because you have reached one summit already. I’ve let a lot of my passion wither recently, and it’s high time I started throwing some fertilizer around. I’ve identified a few things I’m good at, and I’ve decided to try and be excellent at them. Again, this will take A LOT of work, but all of the things that are worthwhile usually do. Plus, there’s a certain pride that comes from being excellent at something. You are able to take ownership of it, to be a part of it. Excellence is a worthy endeavor for me at this point simply because it’s beneficial for a multitude of things beyond mere attractiveness.

As for the fur, I’m ambivalent. I’ve always been torn over the Goatee. I hate shaving in general, and the goat saves me some of that. I’m not dyeing anything though. I happen to like the silver flags. It’s like a badge of honor after the crap I’ve been through. Besides, it’s too much effort for such a small thing that ultimately doesn’t matter that much to me. Sure, I have my vanities, but that’s not one of them.

Forgiving the little things. I’ve realized that my pickiness has inadvertently become a sort of barrier to hide behind as far as women are concerned. A friend once wanted me to run interference with a true hag of a woman so that he could talk up her friend. I thought she was cute enough, but a monumental bitch, so I declined. He missed the point and half shouted in exasperation “They can’t all be supermodels!” My response was to ask him: “Why not?” While I still agree with the sentiment that you should always reach beyond your grasp, I fear that this has caused me more than a few opportunities to be wondrously happy. My Stepsister is someone who loves to fight it out over every little thing, but she will be the first to tell you that a relationship is a lot of work. Not in changing the other person, but in trying to change yourself. Now while there are things that I refuse to compromise on, there are also things that I can live with that I’ve refused to tolerate in the past. So I will consciously be taking a more open mind set when it comes to women that have little aspects about them that would normally turn me away. I’ve always prided myself on being open minded, so it’s time to apply that to my preferences in this aspect of my life.

Nick, my evil twin, will not be making a come back I’m afraid to say. Yes I was quite successful with certain aspects of dating when I approached it all like a self-serving, sharp-tongued asshole, but I also came to despise myself for it. I was certainly more popular, but I’ve never been the guy who went for quantity over quality. I want one woman, one GREAT woman. That’s why I’m going to go for a very different approach this time around. Instead of being the man who is self important to the point of being attractive to many insecure women, I’m going to try to be the man who is worthy of one strong, independent, exceptional woman.

Actually getting out there is problematic for me though. I don’t like bars, and it seems sacrilegious to go to church intent on seeing who you can meet, so as far as Albuquerque is concerned there’s precious little else in the way of venues for meeting quality women. I’ve started to consider drastic measures, but the whole hostage thing can go bad if you’re not careful… The solution I’ve come up with is a tad bit embarrassing though, so no I’m not going to list it here. Sorry, I don’t mean to tease you dear reader, it’s just more than I’m ready to share yet.

So there it is. I’m trying to get away from the whole moaning my single status thing, and concentrate more fully on fixing the root cause (myself) instead. As I sit hear and contemplate the staggering amount of effort required to achieve my goals, I find that I want to curl up and take a nap instead.

But a nap won’t help me earn the attentions of Ms. Right now will it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Caffeine Runaway

Went into one of my favorite people watching spots today to have a cup and a gander. For a cup of coffee and a cookie (Yeah, my dieting skills suck) I paid six bucks.

I don't want to sound cheap, but seriously? I know how much a cup of coffee costs. I know how much you pay for it, I know how much it costs you in overhead to make it, and I know damn well that it's nowhere near what you charged me. I sighed in defeat though, took my portion of chemical energy, and went to sit down and plug in my computer so I could get down to why I really came here: Free internet.

I had been sitting for maybe thirty seconds before a little old man tottered up to me and motioned for me to remove my headphones. Pandora hadn't kicked in yet so I figured what the hell. I did so and he looked at me with a straight face and asked me in a deep baratone: "What's my name?"

I looked around for the screaming monkeys and ninja cowboys to see if I was in some sort of weird brain fugue state again, and seeing none, I replied that I had no idea.

He shook his head, lifted his cup of coffee a few inches to indicate what he was talking about, and said: "I'll tell you what it is. My name is Don, but if you ever see me in here again having bought a cup of coffee, I want you to come up and call me by my new name - Stupid."

He didn't wait for a reaction, didn't smile and wink to let me know it was a joke, he just tottered off to sit on the patio. I almost fell out of my chair I laughed so hard. After he sat down, one of the employees walked past his table. He raised his cup in a toast and sang out "Stupid!" so loud that everyone stared. I couldn't help it. I went up and sat down with him. We talked about his life, my love of the scenery (Lot's of Coeds), and inflation. He was a fascinating old curmudgeon, and prone to fits of loud and obnoxious commentary on everything around him.

Don, AKA Stupid, eventually got up and left without any long, drawn out goodbye. "People to see." He said without a backwards glance.

He's kinda my new hero.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Taking out my trash requires a long walk.

I only say this so that you will understand that in my sanitation quest to the back end of beyond, I am afforded some me time to think without distraction. My path leads me through a dark parking lot that is completely bereft of billboards, tvs, and IPOD generated white noise. There is usually no one around when I perform this particular chore, as I usually wait until the middle of the night to do so, so there's no risk of idle conversation. There's no internet, no coeds (I think they're scared of big furry guys in the dark), and no little old ladies walking their dogs. It's nice in the same way that even though duct tape is silver, silence is truly golden.

All of this is relevant for the simple reason that I haven’t been writing much lately. You see, this time alone in the middle of a dark and ominous parking lot on an unusually cool evening, managed to do what no amount of directed thought during the heat of the day could ever do. It kick started my cognitive thought process, and as I stood there in the dark and looked at the shattered remains of some discarded shelving, I couldn't help but marvel at how easily my brain continues to be led astray. I tossed in my little white bag of castoffs and leaned up against the dumpster as a new thought tickled my brain in the strangest way.

The writing has been hard coming. It’s not that the ideas have dried up, my creative streak is still as strong as ever, its just that I’ve been distracted. Rather, I’ve been distracting myself, and distraction is really dangerous for me because I’m not all that huge a fan of reality to begin with.

It’s true that I’m a pretty scatterbrained guy most of the time, and that I get lost in my own head far too often and for far too long. I’ve simply cultivated my mind to think in a certain way, and it’s hard to stay rooted sometimes. Now while I could ramble on and on about this subject for days, (and have) no discussion about distraction would be complete without talking about my preferred method of reality bending source material: Women.

I love them. I think about them all the time, and when I’m not thinking about them it’s because I’m dreaming about them. It’s kinda sad really. Here I am, this guy who has so much to say on the subject of the fairer sex, but only because he so rarely ever considers anything else. No, I’m not just talking about sex either. While that’s a big part of it sure, I’m talking about the whole package, the entirety of the feminine condition. The sum total of what makes a woman what she is. That, or some elusive aspect of that, is what I am constantly considering. This is distraction in it's purest form.

Take recent events for example.

I’m sorta kinda having an incredibly hot, yet totally superfluous online affair. I have never met the woman, I am not entirely convinced that it even is a woman, and even if it is I'm not at all convinced that the face on the other end of the keyboard is at all related to the pixelated version on my screen. Hell, for all I know it is quite likely some sort of scam. Even when it gets exciting I keep waiting for the hook. You know, the part where I am asked for my credit card #. I know it's crazy, yet despite all of the ambiguity my chats with her/he/it are some of the most erotic times I’ve had in months. When talking about anything other than sex she is evasive and vague, and when she’s not driving me crazy via instant message I am busy stalking the chat room in hopes of her return. It’s pathetic, and because of the inherent mystery, it comes in at a solid 9 on the distraction meter. Seriously, I’m like a cat with the whole curiosity killing it thing.

As I mentioned before, yet another one of the truly amazing women from my past is getting married soon, and yes I’m still having trouble with my inner whiny bitch voice. Thankfully my inner tweener has moved on from the whole "It could have been me" mode though. Now it’s just grumbling at me about how If I’m gonna keep passing up on fantastic women, I should at least lower my standards so that I can get a little more pep put into my step. She (the soon to be bride) recently contacted me with the message that she’s not allowed to talk with me anymore. She’s been cut off. No calls, no emails, nothing. Apparently she told her fiancĂ© all about yours truly and the subject of Bryan Lee Home Wrecker White is now verboten in their happy little corner of Pleasantville. I feel as though I was just grounded or some other such silly thing. It’s a ridiculously frustrating feeling to have someone cut you off from someone else. It also smacks of someone meddling in my life, manipulating who and what I choose to have affect me. This rises the hackles like few things can, and my urge to break things in a destructively stupid and manly way is riding high at the moment. While I am perfectly capable of stepping back and acting like a big boy, of empathizing and seeing his side of things, I find that I am having trouble doing so. The sheer amount of gall required to forbid contact with someone is... well it's galling! It's true that when I look at both sides I can see why having an ex still muddying the waters of my soon to be marital bliss would make me nervous too, but in the end I always wind up coming back to the indignation of it. I mean really? Are you serious? It feels like we’re all 15 yrs old here. The worst part of it is the fact that every time I see a wedding ring, or a Walgreens (don't ask), the wound gets picked at. Seriously, I feel like I'm some kinda clumsy ADHD kid forced to sit still, picking at some scab I got while skateboarding. BTW, have you ever noticed how many freaking Walgreens there are? They're the geriatric equivalent of Starbucks.

Then there’s the ongoing tease of a truly lovely lady that keeps popping in and out of my life. In her defense, it’s not her fault that she’s a tease. While we both have some very powerful chemistry when together, we also share the trait of monumentally bad timing. When she’s single, I’m inevitably dating her roommate or something equally horrid. When I’m single, she’s off backpacking in BFE with some uber hunky sherpa guy. It sucks and it’s making me blue in more ways than one. We see each other quite a bit, and we keep having conversations that devolve into something that reminds me of the force field game. You know the one, the game where you get naked with your favorite play date and try to get as close to the other person as possible without actually touching them? Yeah, It’s a game I love to lose but that’s beside the point. We keep verbally dancing around the fact that we both want the same thing, but for whatever reason can’t scratch the itch. It’s maddening. I feel like the obsessive-compulsive guy who wants desperately to eat a Twinkie but can’t. I mean seriously, just picture the poor bastard sitting there in front of the broken open vending machine weeping. He is starving to death, low blood sugar putting him into a brain fog where his hunger is all consuming, and yet he can’t get the image of fat Panamanian fingers with grime under the nails stuffing that twinkie with creamy goodness in some third world shit box that’s never even heard of things like health codes or cross contamination. He can’t eat it, not even to save his life. That’s what flirting with her is like. The truly sad thing is that there are TWO women like this in my life right now. The particulars may be different, but the end result is much the same.

I recently picked up a number from a woman I met in line at the grocery store. When I called her and commented on the noisy background, she informed me that she was packing for her big move to Farmington of all places. In a week.

I recently met a woman for dinner only to have her insist we go to the store first. I shrugged and went along, thinking nothing of it until we wound up in the feminine products aisle. For all you ladies out there here’s a simple tip. Nothing says “Not interested” quite like asking a man to hold your Kotex on a first date. In retrospect I guess that I shouldn’t call it a date when it so clearly wasn’t, at least not to her. I’m still foggy on what the Hell I was doing there.

As bad as that one was, it's still not as bad asthe time I went to pick up a date only to discover that she was stoned. I shrugged, not really caring about a little trouble with glaucoma, but when asked if she was ready to leave she said no. I inquired a little further and discovered that she was waiting for her dealer to show up. One look around told me that she didn't have much if anything in the way of money, and that was when three things occurred to me all at once. One, she was really hot. Hotter than I rate in fact. Two was the fact that despite our differences on the hot or not scale, I was looking pretty damned good if I do say so myself. I took in my getup and realized that I may in fact have been resembling something akin to a sugar daddy. Number three was the distressing and very imminent arrival of the unknown quantity represented by her dealer. I've known both good dealers and bad, and while I'm not into the scene I'm not an idiot either. I tested some of the theories floating around in my head by flirtation and probing questions disguised as witty banter. She wasn't responsive to the flirting, and the answers she kept giving were vague and incomplete. After a stolen kiss that resembled a dead fish, I came to the conclusion that she either only wanted me to buy her drugs, or that she was setting me up to get rolled. Either way, I wanted nothing to do with it. I faked a cell phone emergency call from a coworker in distress and left with the promise I'd be back. When she protested I took a gamble and told her she could come along. She declined. I followed up with the statement that I needed to stop by an ATM anyway, and I saw relief come flooding back into her previously rigid body language. Relief and something decidedly predatory. I left in a more of a hurry than I'd like to admit too, and out of curiosity I circled the block and parked a few houses away. Three minutes later an SUV pulled up and neatly blocked in the random car that was parked in front of her house. I watched feeling a grim sort of justification as three guys got out and hurried inside. I guess she wasn't content with some guy just buying her drugs after all.

Keep in mind that these are just the dates that went bad. There are a few good ones in there too, but I make it a rule not to talk about them. I figure if the lady wants to talk that’s her business. My business is making the lady happy in the first place and I don’t wish to fuck it up after the fact. Sorry. I should also point out that the good dates are actually WAAAY more distracting than the bad ones. They can throw me off track for weeks at a time, and suddenly it becomes clear as to why I seldom have any idea what day it is.

Plus, reality still sucks. I’m typing in the middle of my 85 degree living room at 3:55 on a Monday morning as I patiently listen to the swamp cooler chug it’s way towards mechanical death. There’s no scantily clad model waiting to snuggle in my bed, and I get to fall asleep thinking about yet another amazing woman who is soon to be walking away from me down an aisle draped in white taffeta. The funny thing is, I would actually be sitting there in the pews smiling for her if I were allowed to. She’s a good girl and deserves every bit of happiness that I was unable to give her. So far, I think the guy sounds like an insecure little douche bag of a man, but I might be a tad biased. She DOES sound genuinely happy, if somewhat nervous, but that describes every bride I ever met. The thought of her happy, even if it’s not with me, makes me grin a little. Is that weird? Is it sad that I still keep checking the empty chat room? Is it healthy to be eating a quesadilla at this hour? Should I go back to the dumpster and steal that couch that only mildly smelled of cats?

Questions, questions, questions. That is the life of Bryan right now. Shrug. Of course, I think answers at this point would only serve to further distract me.

PS: (Do you use PS in a blog? Is that right?) Anyway, I inherited a slightly used film camera and have even convinced a beautiful woman to let me take pics of her as I learn how to use the thing. Yeah, I know. More distractions... Still, she has lots of buttons and cool moving parts (The camera) and I am quite sure that I’ll break it within the first ten minutes. Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

High Steppin

So I’ve been having an interesting couple of weeks. Here’s a few highlights.

I moved. This is both good and bad.

The good.

I finally have my own place again. I’ve had roommates for years now, and it’s nice to have my own little man cave to retreat to. I can run around naked, and often do. I can cook onions again without fear of reprisals, and I can walk barefoot in the dark without stepping on little doggy land mines. It’s a nice apartment, and it comes complete with really hot coed neighbors that like to giggle at the charming old guy and his antics whenever I talk to them in the mailroom.

The bad.

I miss seeing my brother and his new wife everyday. I love them both dearly and we were all at this weird kinda status quo thing where none of us really needed to talk to each other all that much because we were simply comfy with the way things were. It’s kinda empty without my brother and his wife around. I came to really take comfort in their presence, and even liked the smelly little beasties that loved to ruin any shoes left lying on the floor (their dogs, not my bro and new sis). I miss the fridge too. Neither of my old roomies liked leftovers, and I simply love them. I sometimes go to the fridge in the middle of the night convinced that there is some Dion’s in there somewhere only to find that the only thing I have are condiments and half an onion. I’ll usually shrug and take a bite of the onion anyway, but it’s just not the same.

The unrequited. A woman I was in love with is getting married. Married to someone else. Now I really did/do love her so I’m truly happy for her, but there is that inevitable thought of “It could’ve been me…” in the back of my mind. The voice sounds like a nag and is always speaking up when I’m at my loneliest, weakest, or most selfish. Basically, it’s being a little bitch and I want to hit it with a cactus repeatedly.

It’s also really hot out. Africa hot. The effects this has are many and varied, but the highlights are A: women are not wearing much, and B: I’m too sun baked to enjoy it. I once had heat stroke really bad, so now I have a huge weakness for it. Basically I’m like a trained chimp at anything higher than 95 degrees. When you couple these two things together, you get this weird sort of drooling, glassy eyed lurch thing that grunts a lot and blinks rapidly at every single passing woman as it tries to process what it is that it’s supposed to be doing. Let me just say that it’s made for some interesting conversations so far, and I dread the inevitable slap parade.

And then there is yesterday’s little incident. First a little background. A while back some of you may remember me mentioning that I kinda sorta got hit by a car. For those of you who don’t know, here’s the skinny.

I was walking through the target parking lot after dark. I walked past a lowrider and thought that he saw me. He didn’t, and sure enough he threw his car into reverse and hit the gas. He was yelling at his unruly kids so he was a little heavier on the gas than he could have been, and I was pretty much dead center in the way. I didn’t have time to get out of the crosshairs, so I was either going over or under. I’m a big guy though, so I just sorta hopped up and sat on his trunk lid. I grabbed on and went for a ride as he flew out of the parking spot and rolled backwards for a good twenty feet, pissed at his kids for something I didn’t see. His kids were busy watching me though, and I distinctly remember one mouthing the word “Whoa…” as I stepped off the car and started walking into the store. I figured no harm no foul, and I honestly didn’t think the guy would realize what had happened. I guess the kids told him though, because he jumped out terrified that he had killed me. He looked under the car first thing then up at me and turned pale. He was a little cholo guy, tats, bandana, the works.

“Holy shit holmes, are you okay esse?” (I honestly have no idea how to spell that word. Esse? Essay? Shrug.)

Anyway, here’s this gang banger that looks like he shoots gats and slings drugs, and yet he’s acting like a achoolboy caught smoking behind the bleachers. It was comical, and I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy he was so scared. I assured him I was fine and told him to have a nice night. I went on about my business and thought nothing of it. Well, it seems that the automotive world wasn’t done with me yet.

After lunch yesterday I went to the Sears at Coronado Mall to pay an old bill. I was walking along the sidewalk, headed straight for the front door, when I decided that Barnes and Noble might be a good idea. I’d just finished talking to a friend of mine thru the frustration machine known as a chat room, and was feeling right as rain. After the short drive in my oven known as the Maxima, I thought the air conditioning might be a nice bit of frivolous luxury, and the good looking woman I saw through the window was just further proof that a detour was in order. Anyway, I veered off and stepped inside the chilly aired little slice of Heaven. The angel inside smiled as I passed the door, and I walked along between the window and the magazine rack. As I neared the sci fi section a commotion outside the glass drew my eye. I turned just in time to see an newish Pontiac Grand Am looking thing catch air over the little grassy knoll that separated the parking lot from the driveway running along outside the North side of the store. The car landed in the middle of the street with a crunch as it’s plastic bumper shattered, sending little Styrofoam chunks bouncing everywhere. I saw all of this, because it didn’t occur to me to run like a ninny. The car bounced towards me like an incensed bull, and in my lack of self-preserving frenzy I noted that the old lady behind the wheel looked kinda glassy eyed. It hit the curb directly in front of me, and right about then some small part of me decided that I should move. Someone up there was smiling on me though, because the front tie rods snapped on impact with the concrete, and the car turned ninety degrees on a dime, sending it running down the sidewalk parallel to the building. I stood there and watched stupidly as it coasted to a halt, and wondered at the fact that I still didn’t have the sense to feel flustered. A noise turned me around and I saw that there was a store full of people looking from me to the car and back again. That’s when it dawned on me that had I taken the straight route down the sidewalk to Sears, I’d be sandwiched between a Styrofoam bumper and the street. Gulp. I was forgotten in the rush outside to check on the old lady, and the angel that had earlier drawn my eye came up and repeated the whole incident verbatim in a weird sort of play by play. I looked at her funny until I realized that this was how she was dealing with seeing me almost killed to death. I nodded at her, absently noting that I should try and get her number while she was rattled, but the thought of actually saying aloud the lines my inner perv were feeding me were enough to make me hit the old brain reset button and go find a seat instead. I eventually sat down with a cup of blended coffee flavored diabetes accelerant and waited. I don’t know what I was waiting for, but I knew it was important.

That’s when she walked in. She being a woman I know vaguely who is dating a guy I know a little less vaguely. Now, as many of you know, I have the tendency to fixate on beauty, and this woman is no exception. The one flaw I can find in her is that she’s in love with someone else. I’m used to that though, so no tears on my behalf. I intended to say “Hi.” And do all of the required conversational crap that you’re supposed to dance through upon seeing an acquaintance, but what with the near death and the heat addled brain and all, I sorta gave a half hearted wave and grunt thing. Imagine the old black and white Frankenstein trying to do the Macarena and you’d get the appropriate visual. Anyway, she had breezed past me and was on her way up the escalators before I even knew what had happened. I stood up and even went to follow her, but somewhere between my coffee and the value section I lost my drive as I realized I wouldn’t be able to talk to her in my state anyway.

So I paced back and forth in the no mans land between the up and down escalators like that duck that keeps getting shot with the bb gun at the funhouse, changing directions every time a new thought or emotion hit me, plagued in my attempts to reassert some sort of control over myself.

I eventually looked up and realized that she was directly overhead talking to her mother, and I’m pretty sure she saw my whole duck hunt antics. She was busy being tactfully unaware of course, trying not to embarrass me further, but there’s nothing quite like that new crazy feeling you get when someone sees the inner turmoil for the first time. I shrugged, laughed aloud at myself, and went to Sears.

I didn’t even look at the wreck as I walked across the pavement not thirty feet away, fully content with my own wreck just moments before. No rubbernecking for me thank you, all full up on mayhem here in Bryantown.

I don’t know what all this near death shit is about, I don’t like it, and I don’t want to look at it too closely. What I do know is that after being slapped repeatedly in the face with the fleeting, quicksilver nature of any particular moment, I now feel a near overpowering need to go out and get drunk, crazy, laid, etc.. Truth to tell, I’m not all that sure as to what to do about it. I know what the responsible Bryan wants to do; the one who always does what’s best for everyone involved and damn the boredom. He would say to ride out the storm, lay low and avoid interesting situations like the plague. That if I absolutely had to scratch the itch that I should go on a blind date (GASP!) or see an action flick. Yeah, he's a putz.

What about crazy Bryan though? What does he have to say at a time like this? Well, let’s just say that he’s not interested in anything to do with moderation at the moment. Or cars. Yeah, screw cars.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Amateur Hour

Been a strange few weeks for yours truly.

I realized that in a lot of ways, I simply don't have a clue as to what I'm doing. This applies to many VERY different aspects of my life, but the one area that seems to really be dominating my thoughts lately is that of romance. I'm simply lost.

There have been a lot of instances that illuminate this fact, but the most recent one is this:

There is a woman named "Joy" that I've been seeing at random all over town. I don't know this woman, we've never shared more than a few superficial conversations, and yet she has somehow become embedded within my waking mind. Now, the reasons for this aren't the obvious or the usual. Yes, she is beautiful in the extreme, and has charm like few others I've ever encountered, but that's not it. No, my reason for thinking of her so intently is because she is a phenomenon that I've heard of but never seen first hand. Joy is a Muse.

Normally, this would be cool if for no other reason than that as a writer, she would be an enormous inspiration. Joy has all of the normal effects of a Muse on a man. She's not the typical Playboy definition of beauty, yet when you look at her, your breath catches. Her smoky and resonating voice is enchanting to the point hypnotic, so much so that your focus upon her can't help but become razor sharp . When she asks a question, your whole world turns into the answer. She bubbles with so much life and vitality that just being in her presence is enough to restore faith to the most jaded of cynics. Yet despite all of these wonders, there is something within Joy that is broken.

Keep in mind that Joy and I are strangers. We've talked a few times, and we know of each other through intermediaries, and except for one notable exception we have never shared any personal truths with each other. Despite this, because she IS a muse, Joy is a very easy person to know.

I first met her in a restaurant. I was happily eating a Cajun style burger, (Yes, I still remember all the little details, she is a Muse and that's one of the things that they do...) when she came toddling in on a pair of crutches. She was adorable. Even clunky and awkward, there was no denying the effect she was having on her surroundings. She ordered the mac and cheese and collapsed into the table next to mine. It wasn't long before we were chatting amiably, and she told me all about how she managed to shatter her leg to the point where it was ridiculous. (her words). Even when describing terrible pain, while in a dull and throbbing misery, she was nothing short of radiant.

I did what any mortal man would do, I listened to the raving lunatic I keep chained in the back of my mind and asked her for her number. She said no, and did so in a way that made me want to brag about the rejection instead of brood over it. She finished her meal, favored me with a glowing smile, and hobbled back out of my life. Over the next half hour one complete stranger and two acquaintances came up and asked me who she was and how I knew her.

I didn't see Joy again for over a year. I was once again in a restaurant, eating dinner when she came in and sat at the table directly across from me. I didn't recall how I knew her, but there is no forgetting her. Instead of being some creepy guy with a weak line however, I stayed where I was and minded my own business. She had sat down with a table full of men, and it was obvious that while all of them were somewhat smitten with her, there was one in particular that was trying to stake a claim. I gave myself an inner shrug, silently laughed at the posturing idiot, and finished my meal. I got up to leave, said my goodbyes to my immediate neighbors, and then found her studying me with that laser like focus of hers. "Hey, how are you?!" It was clear she wasn't sure who I was or why she knew my face, but apparently I had left her with a good impression. "I'm great, how are you?" We talked for a few moments, but at some point I began to feel tension in the air. My gaze strayed to her table mates and my smile faltered. The man next to her was giving me a look of such hate and loathing I literally thought he was going to come over the table at me. The other men weren't any friendlier, and I felt myself tense up and center my weight, ready to take a charge or unload an attack if necessary. I did it without thinking about it, and I silently wondered If I should take care of this now or worry about dark alleys for the next few weeks. All of this happened in an instant, and it was lost on nobody, except Joy herself. Well, at least that's what I thought at the time. I left thankful it hadn't degraded to a fight, and that was that.

Then I saw her yet again, day before yesterday. This time, I was in a book store, one of my favorite places in fact. She came in all her glory, towing along what I quickly realized was her son. He was a tawny haired kid, lean and energetic with sharp eyes and a quick laugh. It didn't take a genius to see that he had inherited his mother's gift. He asked me about my book, I told him all about a guy named Houdini, and she arrived from the coffee bar in time to hear about his new passion with magic and superstition. She blessed me with another one of her smiles and we for the first time we both puzzled over why we looked so familiar to each other out loud. We were soon interrupted by the store manager, who turned out to be her ex husband and the boy's father. The boy gave him an earful, he gave me the gimlet eye, and she acted oblivious. They wandered off and had an argument while I entertained the kid. It was heated. There were a few looks my way before it broke up, and then she left with a smile and a few flirty touches to my arms and shoulders. The manager spent the next hour or so giving me the hairy eyeball. I didn't understand it, but just chalked it up to them being ex's. That is until one of the employees clued me in.

"That chick is crazy!" He said when I asked about the situation. After an hour of anecdotes and examples, I came to the conclusion that she was an obsessive flirt who delighted in getting guys to the pinnacle of jealous insanity before dancing out of the path of the inevitable destruction. She'd done it often, and was apparently getting better and better at it as time wore on. I told him that sounded a bit over exaggerated, but he insisted that it was true. He then pointed out that my own little incident the week before was just the sort of thing she thrived on. Apparently my muse was known as a tease of mythical proportions. I was dismayed.

I headed off to work in a weird mood, trying to ponder over all of the things he had told me, trying to reach an understanding that would allow me to still think as highly of her as I had in the beginning. One of my buddies at work took one look at me and said; "Bryan, tell me a story." So I did. I told him about the woman who had such an affect on men that she left fights in her wake wherever she went. He laughed, I laughed, we both dismissed it.

Twenty minutes later: "Dude, there is this woman in my section that is seriously flirting with me. She's hot too!" I had a suspicion, but told myself surely not. I went out, took a look, and sure enough it was her. She looked up and saw me, and gave me another of those smiles. My buddy said; "I totally see what you mean man. That woman just oozes appeal."

This time I talked to her with my eyes a little more open, and with a little bit more insight brought to bear. The differences were startling. Her smile hid a bit of unease, a bit of insecurity. Her laughter was a little forced, and her jokes were always just an instant too late. I realized that this woman, this muse, had been broken down by someone so thoroughly that she was standing on the last little bit of confidence she could muster. Our conversation got a little deeper, a little more penetrating, and soon I was the one who was trying to inspire HER.

It was an interesting day at work.

She told me how she doesn't date at all because it causes too many problems. She told me about how lonely it is to be wanted by everyone on sight, and that because of this none of them bother to get to know her. She said that the only answer she can come up with is to date a blind man so that she's not judged by her looks.

I responded. A lot. I pointed out the flaws in her assupmtions. I fell back on old roles and responsibilities as I asked illuminating questions. I provoked her sensibilities. I challenged her. I made her look at herself.

Before it was all over she had once again reverted to form and was covering up her weak points, but for a few minutes there I had seen that she wasn't thriving on the chaos she left in her wake, but was instead trying desperately to rebuild herself as a woman by focusing on her effect upon men. There was no malice in it, no evil intent, just a broken and hurting woman who was lashing out in her own strange form of internal pain. I never established the kind of trust required to find out what it was that actually happened to her, or why her road to recovery had taken this uniquely destructive turn, but I did catch a hint of what she must have been like when she had still been whole. A muse in truth as well as in action.

This opened my eyes to a fact that I try to avoid. Despite all my intelligence, for all my insight and understanding, I child when it comes to the complexities of a relationship between a man and a woman. I have only scratched the surface in my explorations of romance, and even though I am the type to hunger after all forms of knowledge, (and all forms of female company), I find that this intimidates the Hell out of me.

I feel like a shepherd boy shoved into a gladiator ring, terrified and alone. Just like that boy who sees a sword up close for the first time, I think of that smile, and I shudder in the face of my own incompetence. Because that smile, with all it's power, was only the merest hint of her true smile. A smile unfettered by pain and heartbreak. I wouldn't have gotten out of that encounter with a woman undimmed, not whole at any rate.

In the end I find that I do not hold her responsible for the destruction she wreaks. I actually feel for her. I'm left saddened by the whole affair. I don't know what the solution to her gordian knot is, but I am very aware that it is beyond my grasp.

Like I said, I'm just an amateur. When I think of my new friend the Muse, I realize that apparently we all are.