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No new friends.

This is the preamble to my near brush with the NYPD on Christmas.

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I am still shocked that I landed myself in this kind of gay drama because I don’t participate in mess and we even had a pandemic going on! How did I get in the middle of messy white gay circuit queens with a whole entire viral situation keeping everything closed?

Maybe that’s the explanation. Bored and shut up in the house and creating drama.

If you just want to read (the much shorter blog) about what happened between me and my friend’s roommate on Christmas, you can click here instead. If you want the backstory because you love mess, you’re bored, or a combination, you can read all of this.

Chapter 1: The Players

I can’t remember exactly when I met Bobby because everything pre-COVID is kind of a blur. Either late last year or early this year Nolis introduced me to him at Paradisco and said he was moving here from San Francisco in March; the two of them had agreed to be roommates. I was feeling nice that day, so I made small talk and light banter with this guy because he was going to be living with one of my good friends, I would be seeing more of him, and I liked him. It wasn’t a struggle to have conversation.

Fast forward to March and the two of them moved to an apartment in Harlem a subway stop away from me, which is a distance I typically walk in 20 minutes or bike in 6. In New York, friendships can flourish or shrivel based on the time it takes to get there by MTA, so they were essentially my new neighbors. Fast forward to mid-March, and the city shut down, so there would be no flourishing of friendships of any sort while we were all stuck in the house. In April, Bobby followed me on Instagram and we made light conversation responding to each other’s Instastories, and by the end of May, he’d given me the green light to come over and hang out with Nolis because cases had gone down, testing was available, I was living alone, and Nolis had been coming over to hang out with me anyway.

(Lockdown didn’t go smoothly for me in the beginning. My roommate/best friend Travis had a boyfriend that I didn’t much care for in isolation with us, so I left my apartment. A friend gave me the keys to his one bedroom apartment a few blocks away while he was in New Jersey in lockdown with his boyfriend, so that’s where I was. In short, I was in isolation alone and Nolis was the only person coming to visit, so there was zero threat having me over to their apartment as well.)

So I got to know Bobby a little. We had similar struggles with anxiety and depression, we were both very into music, and we both liked Nolis. He had just moved here a couple of weeks before the city shut down and didn’t have any friends. I saw him a few times when I would visit Nolis, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to really get to know him one on one. Tenuous movie nights never came to fruition. Meetups in the park never got confirmed. However, I know what it’s like when my anxiety has a hold of me and I don’t follow through with things, so I didn’t really hold it against him. Plus, he was trying to figure out his job situation and he was always a little bit on edge about interviews. One night he was particularly amped up about an interview the following day, so I tried to lighten the mood after it was over and told Nolis I wanted to surprise him with a little present. I was checking in with Nolis because he works from home and if I was bringing Bobby a present, I’d want to hang out with Nolis for awhile too.

This was June 17th.

Adam moved here from San Francisco just before the pandemic and the two of them had met at the end of last year. They’d been hooking up at the beginning of quarantine before one or both of them caught feelings and decided to end that, but it was generally understood that if Bobby wasn’t at home, he was at Adam’s. I had to run errands so I left a little present on his bed — the biggest box we had in the house (a barstool had come in it) wrapped perfectly (I used to wrap the wedding registry gifts when I worked at Bed Bath & Beyond) with a tiny mini-bottle of wine in it (someone had brought it for a party last year and nobody was planning to drink it).

At the time, I figured moving to a brand new city and then being stuck in the house with a roommate you barely know would be stressful, and knowing more people or having more friends would alleviate some of his anxiety a bit.

Chapter 2: The Set Up

Up to this point, Bobby didn’t seem to be interested in hanging out with me one on one, but I didn’t think too much into it, because I don’t expect to be loved and adored by everyone. If you don’t gel with me like that, it doesn’t make you a bad person. I still thought it would be good for him to meet new people, and I could facilitate that because I have a lot of friends in the neighborhood, so I invited him to game night.

I moved back to my apartment in June, and Travis and I were brainstorming ways to be social while still being safe. Cases were low, testing was available, and our friends were still responsibly social distancing, so we figured we could have a few people get tested and isolate after the test to make sure they didn’t pick up anything in the interim. I set up a game night (day, really) in my apartment for June 27th and it would be the first time most of us had seen each other since March.

You don’t want to be best buddies with me? Totally fine. We can be friendly acquaintances and social pals. If I think you’re a decent person, I still want you to win and succeed at life, and I thought I could help him win and succeed by increasing his circle of friends in a new city where it was hard to meet people safely because of a pandemic. Maybe he would click with one of my friends better than he clicks with me and he would have a new buddy to hang out with. A couple of hours before the party he let me know he might not come, but if he does come, could he bring Adam with him?

I don’t take well to new people, and I especially don’t take well to having new people in my home that I have never met before. However. I thought through it and I figured Bobby wouldn’t come if I said Adam couldn’t come, and I wanted Bobby to come so he could meet people to lean on other than this one person from San Francisco that he had been fucking at the beginning of lockdown. It seemed like a messy dynamic and not mentally healthy for him to go running over to Adam’s anytime he felt a little down, when the two of them were trying to navigate a friendship where sex wasn’t part of the equation and one or both of them was incapable of being honest about their feelings toward the other. I said he could come and that was the moment that led to the threat of police on Christmas.

I wrote a section here yesterday, about their relationship and their dynamic and the conflicting stories I got from the two of them about it, but I just took it out because it feels disloyal. This is how I feel about confidentiality: If you tell me something in confidence, I’m not going to put all of that on blast just because we no longer have any sort of relationship. Everybody knows Adam and Bobby had a relationship. Nobody needs to know the details and it’s not my place to spread them around. Suffice to say, they had a complicated dynamic that I was privy to through Bobby at the time and part of the reason I was averse to meeting Adam was because of the picture Bobby had painted for me.

Adam was lovely. Once we started talking, we hit it off immediately, and he was in the same boat as Bobby: new to a city with no friends just before a pandemic. I told Adam he was welcome in my circle and we exchanged socials before he left. The next weekend, I took another friend from game night over to Bobby’s to hang out with him and Adam on July 4th, have drinks, watch movies, just be social with a few people we knew were safe to hang out with. Again, Adam was lovely and I felt silly about not wanting him in my home based on an image painted by a jilted lover, so we made plans to have dinner at my house the following week and watch a movie.

Chapter 3: The Conflict

Bobby didn’t like being excluded from plans Adam and I had made. Remember, this is the same person I had being trying to befriend since April. It was now July and the only time he would agree to hang out with me was when it was a group of people he knew or a group of people where he could potentially meet someone new. I didn’t think it was a big deal to make plans with Bobby’s friend without Bobby because Bobby didn’t seem to like me all that much, but Adam brought it up to me a couple of days before our planned movie night. It was fine with me. I could get to know the both of them in a smaller setting. Sure, bring Bobby. The three of us should be able to have fun.

The next day, Bobby told me he wasn’t feeling well.

I thought oh no he has COVID!!! so I asked Adam if he was sick as well and if he needed to cancel. Adam said he was fine and he was excited about coming to hang out, but I was still wary. By this time, I’d been tested for antibodies and I felt fairly safe that I wouldn’t catch anything, but Travis and Aaron (my roommates) hadn’t been exposed to COVID yet and I didn’t want Adam bringing something into my home that he got from Bobby. I realized from Bobby’s IG updates the rest of the day that he wasn’t physically sick; he was having an anxiety and depression flare up and didn’t want to be around people.

Thursday I went grocery shopping for the meal I was about to cook for Adam when I got this text.

Bobby showed up at Adam’s apartment a couple of hours before Adam would need to leave to come have dinner with me. The Devil on my shoulder said he did it on purpose so Adam and I wouldn’t hang out. The Angel on the other shoulder remembered the IG updates from the day before and figured he was genuinely in distress and went down to Adam’s for comfort. I put it out of my mind and Adam promised we would reschedule.

Meanwhile, Bobby’s roommate relationship with Nolis was breaking down. Nolis was in the process of making plans to fly down to Miami to get his dog from an old ex because he wasn’t doing so well in lockdown and he thought his dog would allay some of the loneliness. Bobby let me know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t approve of that plan after I reached out to him to hang out with me after he canceled dinner & a movie and then forced Adam to cancel too.

We have two problems here. One, reaching out to your roommate’s friend who you do not have a friendship with to air your grievances about that person is so strange to me. Two, Bobby was fucking around during lockdown anyway. All of his dramatic concern about Nolis bringing COVID back from Miami was falling on deaf ears because I had already learned from Nolis that Bobby had been hooking up with guys since April. At one point Bobby lied about changing his sleeping habits to wake up earlier and be more productive — Nolis caught him around the corner having a coffeedate with some dude when he said he was just going out for an early morning walk. I wasn’t interested in injecting more mess into their roommate dynamic so I didn’t come out and say “Nolis already told me you’re hooking up and trying to keep it a secret.”

Adam rescheduled dinner & a movie for the following Tuesday and he showed up on time with wine. I made a chicken pot pie, which wasn’t my best effort, but he pretended it was amazing, and we chatted for a few hours on the couch getting to know each other. I got in bed, ready to go to sleep, when my phone buzzed after midnight. Adam hadn’t told Bobby we were hanging out, probably because he knew on some level that Bobby would invite himself or otherwise make sure we didn’t get to meet up. He saw that I had tagged Adam in my chicken pot pie on Instagram and he felt a way about it.

I took the mature route and didn’t say what I was really thinking, that he was possessive and controlling, and then I gave Adam a heads up and apologized for any additional friction I caused in their already complicated dynamic.

Adam went away on vacation and in the meantime, I invited Bobby over to hang out with me and my best friend Miss Judi.

He didn’t feel up to it.

I invited him to hang out with me at the park.

He was busy.

He invited me to hang out with him at the park…as he was on his way to the park, so I was tutoring on Zoom and couldn’t. So I told him I would hang out with him the next day at the park.

He didn’t text me the next day to hang out.

I invited him to have drinks outside with me at a bar a few blocks up the street and he said okay. We set a date for Thursday, July 23rd.

Adam and I had been texting back and forth while he was away and we decided we should have fake international vacations. We couldn’t travel anywhere so we would pick a country where we would like to go, and cook from there. Listen to music from there. Watch movies from there. France was first and Tuesday, July 21st at 7:00pm would be our Fake French Vacation. I went grocery shopping for the two of us Monday night, made a marinade for the chicken, and set about making a French playlist for us to listen to while we cooked dinner together at my apartment.

The first time Adam and I were going to hang out, Bobby canceled it and prevented Adam from coming. The second time Adam I were going to hang out, he didn’t tell Bobby and Bobby threw a tantrum. This third time, Adam went the route of casually letting Bobby know we had plans…so Bobby invited himself.

I had just woken up. I did not have the capacity to deal with this possessive baby before coffee. I didn’t mind if he came, but I was annoyed, because I had just tried to make plans with him three times and he couldn’t be bothered, but as soon as I make plans with Adam, he’s suddenly all for it. In theory, I was fine having dinner with both of them because I didn’t know either of them that well, but I hate acquiescing to emotional terrorists. I hate when people behave badly and get what they want. I text Adam while I figured out how to respond.

No help. I was clearly on my own dealing with this child, but you know what? I’ve worked with children for ten years. I can handle a hairy toddler. It took me too long to answer him so he had time to make up a reason to come over Tuesday instead of having drinks with me Thursday at Boxers up the street, but I was prepared.

In my mind, I had it all covered! If you want to hang out with the two of us, fine. Adam and I can cook the meal and you can come by later to eat and watch a movie with us. If your concern is spending time with me, cool! We can still hang out Thursday and it doesn’t have to be at a bar.

I was doing some pre-prep for dinner when Adam text me to let me know Bobby was at his apartment.

Bobby went all the way to Adam’s apartment to make sure we wouldn’t spend 90 minutes together without him cooking a meal that he had been invited to eat.

So I washed my hands of the both of them. Bobby was not the kind of person I wanted to be friends with and he had made it pretty clear he had no interest in being my friend independent of others, most specifically Adam. I had only been around Adam three times at that point, twice with friends and once on my couch, so that was no huge loss. I was being friendly to two lonely people and creating a toxic dynamic that I didn’t need, so they could both go.

Chapter 4: The Crisis

While Adam was gone (he couldn’t stay put in NYC for more than two weeks all summer), he continued to text me. He was aiming to get his dynamic with Bobby into a better place and said that it would no longer affect any friendship we were trying to have. We got deep quickly and realized we had a lot more in common than we thought. I was excited! I actually hadn’t made a new friend in a few years and this one was so good at understanding my insecurities. I don’t like to talk about my self esteem or body image issues with my friends because they can’t relate to them the same way. Adam could because he was wrestling with the same things. I was like you know what? Why should I avoid a friendship with someone just because he used to fuck my friend’s toxic immature roommate? I’m not in the business of letting other people’s problems affect how I go about my life, so we continued getting to know each other through a smartphone screen.

I kept it cordial with Bobby because he lived with Nolis, but I was no longer reaching out to him. A beach trip with Nolis and Adam was falling into place, but Adam wanted to invite Bobby, and I was unsure what that dynamic would be. I said they could meet us there, because I didn’t want to drive in a car with Bobby anywhere. Bobby reached out to me to smooth things over, but nothing got resolved, because he doesn’t have the emotional capacity to face a problem.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it makes sense to talk on the phone with someone who lives in walking distance, and I wasn’t interested in having a phone conversation with someone while I was hanging out with my friend downtown. And he did not take a sleeping pill at 6 in the afternoon. He just didn’t want to meet up with me to address this situation he had created, so when he didn’t reach back out to me, I wrote him off.

Two days later, I went to brunch with Adam and when we back to his apartment, he put his hand up my shorts. I shied away because that was crossing a line for me. No, Bobby wasn’t my friend, but I had tried to be his friend and he was living with my friend. I thought a sexual relationship with a guy he used to hook up with in March would make a bad dynamic worse. Even though I owed him nothing, I still wasn’t trying to sleep with a guy he thought he owned (even though he was sleeping with multiple people and excluding Nolis from trips to the beach because he didn’t want Nolis befriending one of the guys he was hooking up with).  Later that week, Adam and I were having drinks and he showed me nudes of himself on his phone. That same night, we were hanging out with my friend Damon on my rooftop and Adam kissed me. I went to bed feeling like I’d definitely crossed a line with Bobby but I couldn’t figure out why I cared about his feelings when he clearly didn’t want a friendship with me anyway.

In the wee hours of the morning, Bobby saw a picture of Adam, Damon, and me that we’d posted on Instagram at dinner and he let me have it at 3am. I saw it when I woke up.

He never did explain it to me. He blocked me and that was the last interaction I had with Bobby until Christmas.

After that, I honestly didn’t care about Bobby’s feelings anymore. He was mischaracterizing his friendship with Adam and he was trying to paint a picture where I would be a villain in a fantasy of his own making. Adam wasn’t his only friend. He was out and about going to the park and going to the beach with guys he was meeting online. Adam wasn’t even that important to him, or if he was, he had a funny way of showing it, because he would leave plans open with Adam while he waited to see if his current fuck-of-the-moment would confirm or not. I would hear from Adam that he couldn’t make plans right away because he had tentative plans with Bobby, and Nolis would hear Bobby talking about some other guy he had plans with the same day. That guy would confirm, and suddenly Adam was free to hang out. Bobby doesn’t have any friends that he’s not trying to fuck, and that explains why he never had time to hang out with me — I never came on to him.

I spend a lot of time tiptoeing around other people because if I wouldn’t want you to do it to me, I won’t do it to you. That’s how I behave in any situation. But y’all. I was just lonely. I hadn’t kissed anybody since March. I was watching my best friend cuddling with his boyfriend on my couch every other weekend. In the very best of times, I’ve beat myself up about never having a boyfriend or never having been pursued by a guy, and this was the worst of times. I was depressed and lonely and it felt good that somebody wanted me. And not just somebody, but this kind of guy who usually ignores me in favor of my hotter friends or is downright rude to me because I don’t have an Equinox membership. Adam was handsome, buff, and on Folsom posters. I felt flattered and I felt pretty and my ego did a cartwheel I didn’t think possible.

Bobby no longer existed to me and Adam and I had a blissful late summer romance, brunching with couples, drinking with friends, and, on my end, falling in love with an unavailable man who told me at the end of October that we should just go back to being friends because he still wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anyone and he was uncomfortable with people asking us about it. He wasn’t interested in hooking up or dating or being in a romantic situation with anyone — he just wanted to work on himself.

Then my friend Damon fucked Adam the next week, Adam cooked dinner for me less than a week after that, and I was none the wiser until Damon let me know a few weeks later that they’d been hooking up. Yes, Damon, who was there with us the first time Adam kissed me. I had invited Damon to dinner with Adam and I that night because he was also relatively new to the city and I figured he could stand to expand his social circle as well. Over the next month I threw them together at brunch and house parties, and they threw themselves together in bed. So, Bobby won after all. My friend circle is fractured, I’m no longer speaking to Adam, and Bobby has used the NYPD to bar me from his home.

How’s that for making new friends during a pandemic?

 

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The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and the space for doubt.

Watch Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama tease each other over their differing religious beliefs.

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I’ve been an atheist for well over half my life. I grew up very religious, immersed in a range of Christian teachings from my grandma’s Southern Black traditions to my mom & dad’s Seventh Day Adventist cult. One of my first “when I grow up”s was to become a preacher and I gave my first little sermonette at 7 or 8 in front of my parents’ congregation.

But I was too curious. I wanted to know why Buddhists went to Hell. The teaching that I grew up with said you had to be saved, you had to believe in Jesus, you had to know Him and accept Him into your heart to experience eternal salvation, and it made no concessions for other good people who didn’t know Him.  It didn’t make sense to me that someone in a Christian country could commit crimes for 70 years, repent on their deathbed, really mean it, and get into Heaven, but someone from a Buddhist country could live a blameless life and end up in Hell just because they weren’t born in a place where Jesus was forced upon them.

That was my first step toward atheism and the road was paved with many more cobblestones of doubt and illogical fallacies. At one point in my life, I was definitely the kind of atheist who looked down on religion of all stripes.  was enlightened because was smart enough to reject the nonsense. If you  believed in an invisible skyman who looks like Zeus or reincarnation or 72 virgin maidens in paradise, that meant you  were not smart enough to come to the same conclusions I did.

I grew out of that. I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter administered by a Catholic church for over a decade and one of the nuns became a good friend. I used to go to church once a month in Brooklyn when I lived downstairs from this little old lady who didn’t have anybody else to take her.  The respect I have today for religion on a personal level is in no way an endorsement of organized religion as a whole, which I think is one of the most destructive forces in modern civilization. But! Religion at its purest form, to me, gives people an answer for four questions: where did we come from? where do we go when we die? what can we attribute good things to? how can we explain or cope with suffering?

Various societies and cultures have built their own belief systems to handle those questions, but at the core is a shared humanity where people should treat others the way they would want to be treated. If I’m hungry, I want to be fed, so you should feed the poor. If I’m homeless, I want shelter, so you shouldn’t leave people on the street. Taking care of each other is the path to happiness, whether you believe in everlasting life, reincarnation, or simply a short experience on Earth where you are at peace because you lived a life where you helped ease suffering.

That’s what Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama understand. All righteous paths lead to happiness, no matter your definition of it.

“He doesn’t mind too much because there is reincarnation.”

That is so beautifully phrased. There was no derision or arrogance. Desmond Tutu didn’t say “because he thinks he’ll be reincarnated.” He said it as a definitive: There is reincarnation.

Here’s an excerpt from The Book of Joy that the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu wrote together where the Dalai Lama is speaking to Tutu about their religions and what will happen when they die.

“So perhaps, according to your religious tradition, we may meet in heaven in the presence of God. You as a good Christian practitioner, you go first. You may help me and bring us together. But from the Buddhist viewpoint, once in a life, you develop some sort of special close connection, then that sort of impact will carry life after life. That’s Buddhist viewpoint. So maybe even then. But now, I’m looking forward to another occasion to see you again—somewhere that only God knows.”

Look at the space and the respect and the room for doubt. So much religious conflict would be solved if either side left room for doubt. If you leave space that you could be wrong, then you’ve left open the opportunity that someone else could be right. The worst part of religion is the urge to force everyone else to agree with you and it overshadows what should be the driving force: love, respect, and shared humanity.

I am very much an atheist. That is not likely to change any moreso than the Dalai Lama would become a Christian. But my goal as an atheist is to be the best person that I can be, to treat others the way I would like to be treated, and to respect people where they are without forcing my beliefs upon them. And there is room for doubt! I feel certain, but I do not know what happens when we die any more than a Christian knows or a Muslim knows. We all feel to varying levels of conviction, which we express as degrees of faith and certainty. What I do know is, in that space for doubt, whatever happens on the other side, I’m doing my best on this side, and it will be enough.

 

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Two Month Workiversary!

I have a job and I do NOT want to die! A Christmas Miracle!

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Well! I hit my Two Month Workiversary last month and I still like all of my coworkers. This has never happened before and is a direct result of not having to be in an office with them listening to their mundane chatter about their kids or diets or commute or spouses. I literally know nothing about them. <3

A few years ago, I actually got laid off from a job, mostly because of my “personality” since my work was exemplary. They used the Last Hired, First Fired reason for letting me go when they were doing cutbacks, but they also said in my exit interview / firing session that I didn’t fit in with the team. And they were absolutely right, because I didn’t want to! I just wanted to do my work, wearing headphones, and leave. I do not like being bothered when I’m working and I do not need my co-workers to become my best friends.

Because I already have friends! I don’t want to go to office happy hour. I want to go to happy hour with my real friends. I don’t want to go to lunch with y’all. I want to go to lunch by myself so I can text my real friends or watch my Real Housewives.

Anyway, I just got management feedback at THIS job that I have a great personality, and that’s because I only have to give so little of it. From “bad team fit” to “great personality” when I’ve only gotten more difficult and curmudgeonly in the interim? Office Life ain’t for everybody okay?

Let me give you a rundown of what I consider a highly productive day at work from a couple of weeks ago.

730 Workout
850 Laundry into the wash, make smoothie
900 Work
1030 Team Meeting and (I wear bluetooth headphones and turn the camera off so I can walk around during meetings) load the dryer, make some breakfast
1100 Text Travis “Do you want fajitas for dinner.” He does.
1115 Shower
1200 1:1 with the boss and fold laundry
100 Go to the cafe, have a juice, read the news. Buy groceries on the way home.
230 Just working and eating. Golden Girls or music is probably on.
430 Text Travis “Text me on your way home, so I can time the fajitas.” He said okay.
445 Management meeting and chop vegetables, marinate chicken
500 Work on project until Travis texts.
545 “I’m omw!” Make dinner.

The average office worker spends 3 hours a day being productive during an 8 hour shift. Being at home, with no Office Distractions, enabled me to give my employer a solid 5 – 6 hours, not counting meetings! I didn’t have to do my hair, try to protect my hair while braving the elements, take a crowded subway, spend $20 on a salad from Sweetgreen, pretend to look busy while the boss was coming, make up reasons to take a coffee break, or pretend to be interested in Christine’s latest Rae Dunn haul from Home Goods. I also didn’t have to put off chores or start dinner after an 8 or 9 hour workday.

Given how much I enjoy my solitude and my home, I’m not quite sure how much I enjoy my job because I like the actual work (I do!) or because I never have to be around anybody. I just wanted to go on the record and remind the Office Purists that so many of us are a lot more productive and effective when we can work in our own space without spending energy to navigate interpersonal relationships with people we ultimately do not care about.

So, y’all wanna know what my job is?! Well I’m not gonna talk about it! I’ve always talked about work on here, because I mostly complain on here, and I hated my jobs so I wanted to complain about work on here. In the past two months I’ve only had about 15 minutes that bugged me, so I don’t really have anything to say about it. I work for a financial tech startup and I basically solve banking problems for small businesses. Do you need to be able to accept funds as an LLC under a different name? Is the SBA being funny with your money? Did someone lose a wire transfer from India? Do you need immediate funds to buy a piece of property? That’s what I do all day.

The good news is I think it’s fun, there’s such a wide variety of stuff that lands in my inbox every day, and I get to do it from the comfort of my couch. The bad news is I get paid peanuts and I went into mad credit card debt during the pandy. But I’m trying to hop my way into a fancy promotion in the new year because one of the higher ups told me on the low that they’re building a new role and I’m the only one they can see filling that position.

Put out the good vibes for me!

All this means, I am having one of the top three Christmases I can remember. Travis has COVID, so I’m stuck in the apartment trying not to get it and I can’t have people over, but it’s peaceful. My bills are paid. I do not dread (and actually forward to!) work. My bills are paid. Once again, my bills are paid. It’s so novel. I’ve been Employment Unstable for probably 4 of the past 6 years, off and on, and I have worried about being able to pay rent this time of year every year. Last year I had an Amazon wishlist because, in addition to being unemployed, we had an awful roommate living with us and, since I never get any Christmas presents, I wanted stuff to open.

I don’t have a wishlist this year. No GoFundMe. I’m in debt up to my neck, but who isn’t really. So I want to remind everybody to go out (or online) in their local communities and see where you can help out. I don’t need bedroom slippers but I’m sure there’s a women’s shelter nearby that needs pads and tampons. I don’t need any baking supplies but there’s a foodbank that could use a donation. A lot of people (self included) are in a better place this holiday than they were last holiday, but those hardest hit by the pandemic economy have been forgotten in the midst of a Manchin vs Biden vs The People struggle for dominance.

I haven’t had a lot of downtime to write the past few weeks because there was a big project to get done before the holiday, but I should be able to putz around online more in the new year. I had some time today so I figured I’d drop a quick Life Update. Stay safe!

 

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I had a band director like Adele’s English teacher.

Thank a teacher today!

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How can you not love Adele?

I was talking to one of my Musical Soulmates over the weekend, because when something new comes out that we both do/should/would like, we discuss it a little. I felt like Adele was likely not on his radar because she’s not really on mine, but 30 pulled me in, so I wanted to spread the good word. I am very close to becoming an Adele Fan after this album, but I’ve always liked her public persona.

Adele’s concert special just dropped and I would like to ask y’all again: How can you not love Adele? She seems to be such a genuine, decent, lovely person, and it is a known fact that people who loved their middle school English teachers are better than the rest of us. Watch this clip where she talks about a teacher she only had for a year but who impacted the rest of her life.

That teacher who excited you or makes you feel special does stay with you forever. If my middle school band director hadn’t let me “noodle in the stands” I wouldn’t be living in New York City right now.

Noodling is when you’re playing around on your instrument while you’re not supposed to be, and doing that at a football game in the stands when the band isn’t playing is a big no-no. I had been messing around on the piano at home before a football game and I was plinking out “Push It” by Salt N Pepa. I thought it would sound good at a football game, so I transposed it for saxophone (my instrument) and I decided I was going to teach it to my homegirl Britney at the game. Mr. Hooper, our band director, caught us and told us to stop noodling in the stands, and I asked him if I could teach her a song. He made us put our scarves in the bell to mute ourselves and I taught her “Push It.” Once she had it, I figured out the harmony to it, and Mr. Hopper let us play it like twice.

That was the first time I ever “arranged” something, but it gave me the confidence to play by ear. That confidence came in handy when our football team went to state, because there was a big mellophone solo in our second song during the halftime show, but the mellophone player got in trouble or something (I don’t remember what happened) and she couldn’t go with us. Mr. Hopper knew I knew everybody’s part, because everybody’s part was more interesting than alto sax, and he told me to play Christy’s solo for him in his office the week before the big game. He gave me some pointers, and the solo was mine. Walking from my spot on in the back of the formation to take my solo position on the 50 yard line at the state championship was probably the highlight of my life up through 8th grade.

Later that year I went to All-State Band and I thought one of the songs we played would sound good at a football game. I remembered what I could, made my own staff paper, and wrote it out for each instrument. When I asked Mr. Hopper if we could play it, he said yes, and even though I had the baritone transposition completely wrong, he asked me to stay after school. He told me I had a real talent for music. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so there were musicians who were objectively better at their instrument, because I had only been playing sax for a couple of years, but he told me he was impressed with my ears.

I never wanted to be a professional sax player, but I loved music. Mr. Hopper told me I had good ears, and I kept arranging music. I arranged marching band and acapella music all through college. I was able to start making a few extra coins and that supplemented my income when I moved to NYC and couldn’t find a job that would pay my rent. I don’t really do it much anymore, but Mr. Hopper was the first person to tell me I was really good at something, and you never really forget it.

So shoutout to the teachers out there. Somebody remembers what you told them, and it still makes them smile decades later.

 

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