Rebooting a Routine

I’ve been blessed to get what I’ve said I’ve wanted for 15 years; I work 100% from home. I teach for two online universities, (both have some on-campus classes but I’m remote), and I’m a supervisor of a division of a non-profit organization supervising two to three employees. Everything must be great right? It’s only been a little over two weeks as the supervisor and I’ve already started to adjust to the additional duties and have found some ways to make the position more efficient and cost-effective. As you can imagine having the responsibility of three jobs can be stressful and that’s why I’ve had to come up with a new routine.

Part of my new routine is what you’re witnessing here, a daily blog of some sort to talk about what’s currently on my mind, a past event, or simply to rant about life. Another part of my new routine is that I start working the minute I pour my coffee. I talk to my girlfriend briefly, (we are in a long-distance relationship), and then I’m off and running. I also try to do a morning brief podcast and soon I’ll be using a motivational journal as a daily inspiration for writing. With the weather starting to warm up I may include a long walk in the morning or evening to help balance out my days as well. That’s all for today, thanks.


Spills, burns, and cracks in the tabletop (A short Story)

We sit at the same table, a nineteen-fifties Formica top of white with silver glitter.  A large round melted spot sits in the middle a reminder to always use a hot pad or a trivet when trying to serve spaghetti in a hurry.  Some smaller melted spots still contain the ash from a forgotten Lucky Strikes; make that many forgotten cigarettes or cigars of various brands.  The metal trim around the edge contains fragments of meals from Christmas dinners to Thanksgiving, baby showers, and probably a crumb or two from the coffee cake that was served the day Uncle Larry was laid out in the parlor of the old house.  My father sits across from me.  His wife-beater was stained almost as colorful as the table.  A trail of coffee tears down the front, the yellowing in the pits and what’s either blood or strawberry jelly on the seam which thankfully is beyond the open door of his pajama bottoms.  Our eyes never meet as he slowly dunks his hard toast in his tar black coffee.  Espresso wouldn’t have a chance up against his six scoops of pure Columbian coffee.  I sit on the padded silver flaked seat with the same metal trim as the table; being ever so careful not to pull out any of the stuffing leaking out of the cracks.  The newspaper I’m reading separates us physically, life separates us emotionally.  We don’t speak to each other.  We bounce off of each other as if force fields surrounded us, even the narrow hallway of this third-story apartment can’t make us touch.  By the indentations in the couch and the sweat stains left on the cushions, one can only assume that that’s where he spends his days while I work to support us.  It wasn’t always like this.

Uncle Larry’s funeral was in our old Victorian home; my mother justified the funeral being there because at one time it was a funeral home with its pocket doors and heavy curtains to muffle out the sound.  She loved the attention of the guests, and the fresh flowers in every vase. Even the Coke bottle in the downstairs bath held a single carnation.  My father was a great host and inwardly happy over the fact that his more popular more successful brother had died before him.  Most likely to succeed my ass is what my cousin Evelyn said she heard him saying as he stood in front of the casket.  Dad toasted Uncle Larry a fifths worth of Jack Daniels before anyone figured out that he didn’t give a crap that Larry was dead.  His eulogy included “sorry son of a bitch” and “creepy little bastard” before my mother could interrupt him and apologize to our guests who were nodding in agreement and would have let him continue concluding with thunderous applause.  Being an only child, this display from my role model left me thinking that my chance of life being anything but screwed was at best minimal.  At fourteen though I still supported my father and joined him as we peed in the big planter of flowers on the back porch.

The divorce didn’t come right away; in fact, they stayed together for the sake of me, a great idea.  Four years of fighting and disappointment spread through that house like crabs across a college campus.  My father lived in the den, the same den Uncle Larry was laid out in.  Occasionally he’d come out for food and beer when his mini refrigerator ran out.  I graduated on a Saturday; Dad moved out on Sunday.  I followed suit moving out a week later.  The divorce became final a month later.  The house sold quickly, and the auction of contents brought in enough cash for Dad to get an MG Midget and a cruise ship companion in her twenties.  Mother moved in with Uncle Larry’s wife and traded in the Town and Country Wagon for a pink scooter and matching pink helmet.  I went to college.

Did you know you can get a BA quicker if you never leave the campus and just take classes year-round?  In three and a half years I had a BA in Business Administration and in no time I was a General Manager, at Taco Bell.  My dreams were a bit larger but Taco Bell fit my dysfunctional existence.  I rented the third-floor apartment, furnished it from Goodwill, and bought my first used car that wasn’t at least ten years old.  It was the early eighties so my seventy-eight Sunbird with the sunroof was a major step up from the Pinto.  That car had the Firebird steering wheel without the price of an engine twice the size and without the big bird on the hood.  The seventy-nine Sunbird added a hatchback eliminating the trunk making it look like a smashed-in Firebird that shrunk in the rain.  It was about this time that the letters started coming from Aunt Polly.

 Dear Alex, your mother needs you, she’s isolated, she’s started to drink, and she’s this and that.  I ignored the letters.  It wasn’t until Dad wrote that I realized that I needed to do my son-like duties and visit.  It was the first letter from my Dad that didn’t include a request for money.  “Alex, it’s your mother.  I think she’s finally taken that last step to un-shuffling her deck if you know what I mean”.  I think a simple “Your mom is nuts would’ve sufficed.”

I went to Aunt Polly’s on my next day off from my fast food life.  I pulled my brown Sunbird up the curb, twelve inches away, as I had been taught by Mr. Snodgrass.  There on the porch was my mother, Marietta Freemont, pink helmet on, a yellow scarf around her neck, and no sign of her scooter to be found.  Hello Mother I said with no response from her.  Aunt Polly came out of the house and gave me a hug and explained to me that she hadn’t taken that helmet off for a week.  I asked where the scooter was.  She told me that one night my mother had been drinking at the Pink Lady lesbian bar on thirty-second when one of the butch lesbians made a crack about the helmet.  My mother as I was told calmly got off of her stool and cracked the butch out of her.  On the ride home she rode closer than twelve inches to the curb, jumped it, and cracked her scooter in half off the library steps but not her pink helmeted head.  Aunt Polly said that was two months ago, about when the letters started.  I asked why she contacted my father.  A guilt trip later about my non-responsiveness and “a who else would I call” comment made it perfectly clear, somebody had to commit her and that somebody was me.  The hospital took her helmet away but let her keep the scarf.  I promised I would visit.  She died there of an unknown cause.  Probably some crazy butch lesbian who wanted a yellow scarf, or a heart attack or cancer, I didn’t ask for details.

Fast forward ten years, Dad’s turn.  I never married, fear of mental illness and alcoholism, or maybe just the fact that I’m an asshole.  He called on a Sunday night and asked if he could stay with me for a while.  Barbie, now in her late thirties, left Dad the minute he bought a mini-van and stopped taking cruises.  I had the three-bedroom apartment still and was now managing a Wal-Mart working sixty hours a week so why the hell not.  After all, he was still my father.  This brings us back to the present; I folded up the paper and nodded to my Dad, wiped my coffee ring off the table, and tossed the paper towel in the trash.  My Dad scratched his sack, smelled his finger and walked over to the couch, sat down, and turned on the Price is Right.  I put on my jacket and grabbed my keys for my Miata, turned to look back at my dad with one hand on the remote and one in his pajamas.  Maybe he could be a greeter someday; I’ll have to look into that.

Funding the Dream

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wake up and realize that a lot of life has passed you by? I’ve had many dreams in my life. I lived in a 1902 school where we renovated a floor of a four-story building to live in, I’ve owned three or four businesses that sadly all failed, I’ve moved, and I’ve moved, over and over again hoping the next move would be my last. I’m now looking to move one last time, to fund the dream of a hobby farm, with outbuilding cabins for friends and family to come visit. Buy, I’m out of gas, out of steam, out of energy. I’ve been in a spiral for about four years now, a life event sent me into this spin that I’ve yet to recover from. This past fall, September 2022 I had a health scare that took me from the mountain top of income to the ground floor so to speak, from $90,000 a year to $30,000. I’ll bounce back, it’ll take a hot minute to do so, but I will. For now, though I need, need to keep dreaming, to focus on what I want and need, and that’s a final home of my own.

Part of the final home thought process is I’d love to have a tiny hobby farm, I’ll be 54 soon and my future life is truly a mystery to me. I have found additional work, I’ll work my way back up, slowly, because it was the quickly that nearly killed me. I want bantam chickens, small goats, a tiny horse; well, you get the idea. To start it off I need a place that I own where I can do what I want. I’m currently renting and freezing as it’s an old house with leaky windows, and oil heat that cost me thousands over the winter, and living alone can be boring at times. I feel animals would keep me occupied until life changes. Blogging today isn’t working for me, check our my fundraising if you get a chance:

Take care.

Starting Over

It’s been a year of ups and downs, mostly downs, and now I’m feeling the pressure of being tired, broken down, old, and now; broke. I’ll bounce back to March of 2022. I had moved back into a home I didn’t want to live in but sold my house, (the one with chickens, ducks, a big yard, close to the park, my “grandpa” house), to my youngest and her husband. I was in a relationship with someone I met online, we had been dating a little over three months when I decided, fuck it, I’ll move to Wisconsin and start a new life; this was all prior to March. I found a job in Minocqua, where she lived, and I started the move, still paying rent until May month as I was renting from my daughter. The new place was good, I liked the dogs and the location, but, it was a bit overwhelming living in a house with her late husband’s photo staring at me from the mantel. I understood that she had made a promise to him, but it made me highly uncomfortable, I didn’t complain. One day I did lay it face down only to come home and see it face up again; we never discussed it after that.

The job, of administrator at an Assisted Living home, experience, none, but work ethic, and care for other human beings, quite high. I loved the people, (the residents, the employees, eh, not all of them). The owners of the company were probably the most douchey men I’ve ever met in my life. They focused solely on money, and they were losing a lot. There were no avenues to increase revenue because the empty rooms all needed repairs, and there wasn’t any money for repairs. I’d come home at night and my significant other would be deep into TikTok, that was her life, not me, but being a “star” online. She felt she’d find fame and fortune eventually. I tried to fit in, to accept that as a 50-something-year-old man “beggars can’t be choosers”. Let’s face it, a thrice-divorced man isn’t a catch. She was and is a good person at her core, she just wasn’t what I needed. If I’m being honest I didn’t know what I wanted. We tried to open a business together and that ultimately was our downfall as we both lost thousands of dollars; at one point I was losing $1000 a week on top of the bills that needed to be paid. We fell apart, and I moved out, back to Michigan but still commuting to work an hour each way. The positive that I can point to is I learned a lot about her culture and it is one I value, and yes, I was introduced to Pizza Ranch; a restaurant like no other; that’s a story for another day. The end for me, financially was approaching.

I moved to Michigan again in late July, the daily commute was rough, we still had the store, (she had bought me out mostly but not all the way), and I was driving an hour, working ten, driving home, and then teaching a few hours or grading. I almost lost one of my online jobs in the process because I couldn’t keep up. In early September I had a health scare that landed me in the hospital, got nitro under the tongue, and spent the night wired up with two of my kids watching over me as I thought I was dying. The doctors never figured it out and my employer wasn’t happy. My main boss tried to get me to do payroll from the hospital bed; I refused. I took the next day off too and told no one that I thought I was going to die. I kept working, 10, and 12-hour days, plus the drive, and even filled in for a couple overnights; that was the beginning of the end. After doing the two overnights I was looking at the schedule when I was told that an employee was threatening to not show up if her demands weren’t met. The house manager said that “I guess you’ll be covering” and the days I’d be covering would mean giving up a visit with my oldest daughter. This was the last day of September. I had been slowly taking my belongings from my office. That day I hung my keys on the doorknob, took the last of my belongings, and drove away; not knowing what was next. All the way home my phone was “dinging” except in the dead spot. The final straw was a call I got from an employee stating that she needed a raise or she’d quit, I said, “Quit then”, and hung up. I typed up a resignation and for the first time in my adult life, I quit a job without a notice. The fall was about to begin.

I decided to take October off as I had savings and I figured I’d find a job the minute I looked, and I just needed a break from life; that was a mistake. I ended a relationship the day I quit my job too, a budding one. The long story short is that by the end of October, I was rested but the panic of losing money daily as my savings dipped. I had gone from close to a hundred thousand a year to $30,000, while my debt was based on that higher amount. In November I started subbing at the local schools, not getting the five days a week I thought I would, I started selling what I could and watched my money tick down. I stupidly took out a loan to try to live on as I was certain that I would find something, arrogance is not a healthy trait. My money, my savings, the most I had ever saved, had run out. In a desperate move, I asked my mother for a small loan of $1500, to carry me to the next month. The plan was to side hustle my ass off, but fortunately, I landed a new job, still over $1000 less a month than before but; a start. The problem was that I was still bleeding money, there was no hope left, I tried one more time to get a huge consolidation loan; it failed, but they signed me up for a debt management plan.

A debt management plan in a nutshell is that you simply stop paying the debt the company listed as now theirs to deal with. The plan, is you pay them a fraction of what you were paying, and they negotiate on your behalf to pay it off. The problem is that they need to wait until you’ve gone default on all of it; something that causes your phone to ring a lot and your credit score to fall in chunks. It’s been almost three months now, and my score has dropped over 100 points, the collectors are actually understanding that I prefer to not be homeless and I need to keep my vehicle, (a bad purchase choice), and have shown empathy; something I desperately need. I’ve made the decision to lead a credit card free life, with the exception of using one to reserve a room, flight, etc. Every Monday I look at my bank balances and I take out any “extra” that may be in there, $20-$100 and I put it aside. I buy in bulk, (thank you Sam’s Club), and I did get a promotion to supervisor that should bring me to within only $800 less than what I was making at my peak. I’m dating, it’s complicated, and that’s okay.

To finish this off I did want to talk about my latest and last relationship. It’s an LDR, a long-distance relationship, and she may, or may not move from her state to mine; I doubt it will happen. I’ve decided as I near my 54th birthday that I don’t expect it to work out, and I’ll be okay. She has to fight for custody of her daughter in order to move and I honestly don’t think she will. We will probably continue to date long-distance for a while but if it fails it’s okay. From that point on when people ask me if I’m single, I’ll simply state that “I’m done”. I never fully recovered from the devastating loss of my last marriage, I’m okay, but not okay as well. I have a grandchild and another on the way; with probably more to come after that. I’m going back to minimalism, (I have to overcome the need to sell everything and not simply give things away). Exercise used to be my escape, I tried to reboot that and injured myself to a point where that motivation, the motivation to exercise is gone. Below is my PayPal, I need to raise $5000 for a down payment on a land contract; which is another step backward. In the end, I’ll have a $500 credit card, a good used truck, hopefully, a house, (or at least be allowed to continue to rent), and have a relationship, in person or long distance. To quote an oldtimer, “Every day on the right side of the grass is a good day.”


Venmo: @Brian-Foreman-10 (make sure there’s a picture, of me with glasses on)

Back to Basics

It’s time to get back to something I started a few years ago; minimalism. I’ve reached my goal of having a home office for my foundational job, (the job that has insurance and PTO), and I teach online for two different universities; I don’t have to leave the house much. With that in mind I’ve decided that I need my home to be a happy peaceful place. A home without clutter is a good start. One in which when I leave for a trip or training that when I get home, my home will be a welcoming place to be. I currently live alone but have plans to change that in roughly six months; in the next six months here’s what I hope to accomplish.

The first thing I’ll be doing is separating what I can sell, give away, and trash. With various online marketplaces available I can sell everything from shoes I don’t wear to old sports cards and comics. I have many items that just take up space that can go; with that money, I can focus on adventures over items.

The next thing I’ll do is a floor-to-ceiling cleaning. The extra dishes will make the cupboards easier to clean. The closets will be less cluttered, and the storage areas will be low to non-existent. Once this cleaning is done it will make the house easier to maintain.

The last item on this list of minimalism is to make my outdoor space fun. I’m renting now, I don’t want to pretty up the rental too much but I do need a peaceful space. My fire pit and log rack, my garden and greenhouse, all of this is important to me and with the reduced clutter inside, I can spend more time outside.

Lastly, the overall reason to do all of this, to minimize my life is to be able to save money and use that money to travel, spoil my grandkids, and not worry about my jacket being ten years old or that my vehicle isn’t brand new. Life is what we make it; I want to make it simpler.

(TikTok @yooperminimalist)