I Think It’s Contagious

I chatted with someone yesterday that started the conversation by blurting out

I’m blocked

Now, I couldn’t tell if it was a question or an exclamation. Since he was looking at his phone, I assumed it was some social or a social media occurrence.

Of course, I spoke to him.

During the course of our conversation, I learned that he’d been referring to writer’s block, he was visiting town with his wife through Friday and that he thought that Trump’s vanity wall was an absolute necessity.

He spoke nearly the entire time we were together. Literally the only time I spoke was when I inquired about who had blocked him and when I left him.

I need to get away from you before my IQ bottoms out.

This is, by the way, why I like to pay cash. The last thing I want to do is stop my dramatic exit to settle up on my way out.

But ever since I woke up today, I’ve felt a little off.

I had an interview that went…okay. I wasn’t as articulate as I know I could be, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I felt that the woman didn’t like me or if she was behaving aloofly because my answers were lacking a certain luster.

So I took a nap.

Then I went to an exercise class.

Then I sat quietly in the couch, thinking. No TV, no music.

Then I thought I should write.

Maybe I should watch a movie

I couldn’t find my remote. I looked under the cushions, on the kitchen counter…in the bathroom – I dunno, just being thorough.

I looked under Myrtle, which she was most displeased about. Then again, she did this the other day.

…so, she couldn’t really blame me.

Fortunately, the last time she did that, a friend mentioned that there was an AppleTV app. All was not lost.

So now I’m sitting here, watching Lost In Translation and ignoring the reality that I’m blocked up. This is not the movie to snap me out of that funk, but it reminds me that I’m not alone in this funk.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. For today, this is what I got.

…and I can’t stop thinking about where that Trump supporter’s wife was…who goes on vacation with someone and then goes somewhere without them?

I Think It’s Contagious

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Still!

I went to a movie yesterday. Mary Poppins Returns…highly recommend, Charlotte, as if you haven’t already seen it! But anyone else that loves a good, family friendly story that’s dripping with nostalgia…go see it! If you also like crafty, half-marathoning, Disney loving new moms, then click on the link to check out Charlotte’s blog. It’s like checking in with an old friend, that you just met.

Anyway, The Fox and I enable one another for a drop-in to the good old local for a Pallet Jack on the way home. It’s a moral imperative, I tell ya. If Peej is on tap, I’m stopping in!

All this is to say that after I left the house at 345 for a 415 movie – after giving Myrt her midday snackety-snack – and have myself the teensiest of tasties on the way home…it’s 715. Myrtle’s 6 PM dinner is late!

That cat greeted me at the door like I’d just come home from a solo trek across Antarctica. Sure enough, in the extra 75 minutes, she’d finished her breakfast kibble, which she doesn’t normally do, and reverted to a near-feral state.

Wet dinner, coming right up, Missus!

Fifteen minutes of smacking later, she’s meowing at the door to go play in the hallway. Since getting a new neighbor a few weeks ago, I’m reluctant to let the Missus out into the hallway as often as I used to when it was just me and “another” old lady living on the floor. I don’t know why, I prop the door open for Myrtle while she’s in the hall putting the laying in playing and she runs in and under the bed when the elevator lifts off of the first floor.

30 minutes later, I’m texting a friend and I hear the distinct sounds of impending disaster.

Hur-uh-hurg-uh-rawlp!

Now, two things to keep in mind here:

First, Myrtle has a history of false alarms. More often than not, a few hacks sets her right.

Second, on the half dozen times she’s hurled since I’ve been holding her hostage, it’s that rawlp that signals real trouble.

I get up and look for the chunky puddle.

Nowhere.

Nor, it seems, I’d my feline overlord. It had sounded like she was by the utility room…

No.

I open the cracked door and Myrtle looks up at me from the doormat next door, her expression inscrutable. No barf.

Maybe it was a false alarm.

Breathing a sign of relief, I give her a distrustful look and turn to go back inside.

Something in my peripheral vision makes me stop. Sure enough, 20 feet away, there’s a clump puddle trying to decide what to do.

Myrtle…!

To her credit, she went to her office, located somewhere in the box springs of my bed, instead of supervising my clean up efforts. Unlike the close oversight I get when tending to her litter box.

Speaking of the Missus and her box of poo.

I know cats cover their waste as a generic throwback – or reminder – to their days in the wild. Covering waste is covert, so others don’t catch their scent. Like you when you use the bathroom on another floor at work to poo – you know who you are.

Anyway, my defective cat…she endeavors to cover her waste. I guess. If by “cover” you mean scratch around at everything near your box versus simply pulling litter over the waste and – y’know…covering it. I’ve watched this supposed superior being scratch at the wall behind the box, the chair or table legs that the box is under and the floor outside the box.

Nope.

The closest she’s gotten is scratching at the lip of the box. Unfortunately, since she was scratching with one paw and balancing her svelte self on the lip with the other paw, so only succeeded in covering her poop inasmuch as tipping the cat box over and burying it under an avalanche of spilling litter counts.

My cat ain’t bright, folks.

But these are her “Aaw, poor kitty!” behaviors.

She has never been a real affectionate cat. Playful is not her thing.

I nicknamed her Murderous Myrtle and The Mistress Myrtle for a reason.

This is our fourth year together. Each year at Christmas, my sister gets Myrt a gift, as she does for each of the family dogs. Usually it’s a crack-version of a treat, which Myrtle loves, and a catnip toy…which she pretends is trash.

Still, every year, I give it the futile college try. A little ignored encouragement and then into the closet it goes.

Until this year.

It might have just been the trauma of going into the kitty carrier and a 40 minute car ride. Or the DMZ meeting of my parents’ chihuahuas in my upstairs guest room – Myrtle has never traveled anywhere previously with me but the vet. But this year, the catnip toys got a little attention. At first, it was just a few

These fucking things again

…swaps after she emerged from under the bed. But then I caught her laying on her side, hugging one between her front paws.

I took some of the loose cat nip and sprinkled it on the carpet and she came over, sniffed at it, sat on it and then flipped over and rolled in it twice before skulking back under the bed.

Promising.

At home, I have no carpets. She diligently destroyed my one and only favorite all time carpet years ago. I think this is why she loves the neighbor’s doormat so much. Anyway, I tried sprinkling some loose catnip on a dish towel at home for her. Sure enough, she luuuuurrved it. I’d even catch her running to the towel and planting her front paws on it so she skidded across the floor, gliding on the towel.

I like this new cat!

Myrtle 2.0!

Until one morning I come back from coffee to find that she’s successfully covered a poop in her box with the dish towel.

That’s more like it.

Still, this is all just inane cat weirdness, right?

She hasn’t put me on my face in two years. That’s saying something!

Or, maybe she just hasn’t succeeded in tripping me…and I’m hardly one to assume the worst.

However, a couple weeks ago…it was 3:40 on a Sunday morning. Billy Joel, this wasn’t, no regular crowd…just insomniac me, watching the Netflix.

And the Murderous Myrtle.

Knowing nothing of the prophet Billy Joel and his song about people being alone together, Mistress Myrtle had just climbed into my lap.

Climbed might be overselling it. She’d scrabbled over the far side of the coffee table, using my ankle for purchase; been freaked out by my cry of pain and jumped onto the back of the couch, landed on my shoulder and connected the claws of three paws with my tee shirt clad flesh.

Here’s the only G-rated and non-humiliating pic I could get of the damage

I’m not sure I could capture the double tracks on my shoulder without also exposing more side boob, chicken wing or Dunlap than I care to admit to. But on the plus side, my ankle looks way thicker than its usual Chankle (chicken ankle – Chrisism) self.

Since I was trying to get her off of and away from me, she settled on my lap. I sat and bled, fearful of the proximity of her claws to my crotch.

This has now become a part of Myrt’s nightly routine.

300: Snack

530: Pretend it’s dinner time.

600: Dinner. Finally!

630: Whine at the door. Or a kitchen cabinet door. Just whine.

700: Pre-bedtime nap.

830: Fully dilate pupils and attack.

845: Retreat, but be creepy about it.

1100: Bedtime!

It’s the addition of that 830 activity that has me on high alert. She’ll just come sit by the coffee table and stare at my ankles, like they are singing a hypnotic siren song that only she can hear. When she feels like mixing it up, she’ll sit behind the corner of the couch. I can hear her paws clickety-click-clack up slowly behind me and I’ll turn to see her sitting there, black eyed…

Meow

“Don’t you even think about it.”

Meooow

“Shoo, Crazy Eyes!”

…and she’s off to the box spring home office.

Clearly, we have differing hobbies. Mine is to cuddle and watch Netflix

…or nap, hers is to kill or maim me.

Maybe it’s because she resents that she’s not a dog and doesn’t get three or four walks a day.

Whatever, there was a couple of moderately non-lethal years in there. Maybe the dark days this winter are just hitting her particularly hard.

I’m still walking around, so she clearly still finds me useful. Even if it’s just as a cushion and occasional scratching post.

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Visiting the Cousins

I just called myself out on procrastinating my own writing.

On someone else’s blog in the comments. PS: if you want a female perspective on dating, I dare say Doctor Maria might just be your gurl.How male doctors that look like ballsacks have a wife, a younger girlfriend and/or a trophy wife and this woman struggles is frustratingly representative of our culture’s myriad-standard. She’s a good contrast to my blog, proving that if I had a great job versus none, I’d still face an uphill dating battle.

Still procrastinating…so, before I apply for a job as a bus driver and then get fired for changing the destination display to STRUGGLE, let me set today’s entry up for you:

I started thinking about my cousins as topics last year, but never pulled the trigger. These were the second cousins I knew as a child. I just couldn’t get past where writing about the difference between our two branches of the family tree felt more like I was sitting on their branch with a saw.

So I shelved it.

Then, my first cousins joined the locals for our annual family vacation.

I noticed the difference between my memories of the seconds compared to the present day experiences with the firsts.

Maybe that was my blog.

But it seemed like it had the potential to be a 5k word blog…any of you signed up for that?!? Yeah, I feel like I’m abusing attention spans at 2k.

And that was before I noticed-slash-attributed the difference in behaviors of the family elder…

So, maybe this is two blog entries, maybe it’s three. Hell, maybe I thought about it long enough to wear myself out on the topic and describing the struggle is all I have left?

Until I stop procrastinating and start writing…none of us will know.

<deep breath>

The Seconds

My family is small.

I didn’t know much about family or family trees growing up. There was me and my three siblings, mom & dad and three grandparents. For a minute, there was a great grandmother running around my childhood saving me from beehives and breaking hips falling off couches. Mostly, though, it was me, the sibs, the ‘rents and the surviving grands.

That’s less than 10 in what I would call the entirety of my family as a kid.

Mom’s parents were…divorced? There’s an extended family there, but in Montana, so very distant. I think I met her dad once when he visited Oregon. Of her numerous aunts and uncles, I think two have visited. But not understanding extended family, younger me never really associated these folks with long term memories. Mom was an only child, for whatever reason. With my loose knowledge of grandma’s life before she became “the one with the tall hair and the cool toy closet”, I filled in blanks as to why. Not that there were blanks…it was just my naive mind filling in gaps with fiction instead of asking potentially sad-making questions.

I guess…

Dad’s parents were divorced, but still living. His grandmother was my beehive hero, but died when I was maybe eight.

Not from a bee sting, for the record.

His dad is still alive, 97 years old next month! Of course, dad’s mother was “the me” of her generation. A single recluse with an infamous death.

Foreshadowing, but someone else will have to write that entry for me, obviously. I’ll put it in my drafts under: Fool-ogy.

I forgot about my uncle. Dad’s younger bro by about a dozen years. He was always like a distant brother growing up, we were close in age. As a matter of fact, I think there are as many years between he and I as there are between him and dad. Anyway, that fleshes our my extended family of ten. He’s also rather integral to The Firsts, no?

But then, in the perimeter of my family consciousness, there was this not well known nor understood and mysterious aunt-figure we would visit a few times a year. My family lived in the suburbs of Portland when I was growing up, specifically Milwaukie and Oregon City – which made it sound less suburb-y than it was and still is. Just trust me. My cousins, on the other hand, lived in what seemed like Alaska. When we went to visit, it was an exercise in “Are we there yet?” for my impatient self.

In reality, I think they lived 20 minutes away.

But it was on a farm.

A real, live farm.

Without a paved road, I’m not even sure whether it was an unnamed road or a really long driveway. You got to there house and just stopped the car.

There were cows.

Chickens.

A donkey.

A baby in a manger…oh, wait. It was just my perpetually pregnant aunt.

Fields.

With real crops.

And cowpies.

I don’t remember them ever visiting us in the “city”.

Visiting them was like traveling backward in time. I think there was a lot of focus on being self-sustaining. There was a lot of chores. Homeschool was the only school. I wouldn’t know if anyone but us ever visited…but if I had to guess, I’d say they were church folk.

Not that I knew that my cousins attended church. I just remembered what their house was like. There were bibles. Pictures of Jesus, Mary and assorted saints hung on the walls.

My cousins weren’t really allowed to watch TV, aside from The Lawrence Welk Show.

You’d think that’s as cool as one could expect out in the milds of the pre-suburban-sprawl of the Oregon countryside. You’d be right, unless you factored the family’s Wurlitzer jukebox into the equation. And you’d still be right – having a jukebox is just cool – unless you took into account that the jukebox was essentially filled with more Lawrence Welk type music.

I’m sure, in retrospect, that it wasn’t all Lawrence Welk and Tiny Bubbles all the time. I’m sure there were Andrews Sisters and Hank Williams, Sr and whatnot.

There were for sure nothing I understood as music from the current century at that time: REO Speedwagon, Queen, AC/DC…y’know, the devil’s music.

So, what did we do after the five-day covered wagon journey to get to my cousins’ house? Well, sure…sometimes we cranked up that jukebox and hoped it was almost time to leave.

Other times, we did kid stuff while mom and my aunt – I think by this time I had figured out that my aunt was my grandma’s sister – did what they did. Whatever that was. My cousins were two girls roughly the same ages as my sister and me.

Sometimes I would make mud pies on the “road” with my sister and cousins. Other times we’d all play together in the fields or exploring a nearby creek. Still others, I’d go with my younger brother – just the older of the two, the younger still being a few years off – and uncle to do farm work.

What a lark that was!

We learned how to gather eggs and milk cows. Both skills I’d use in a much more modern and sometimes bastardized manner later in life.

Sometimes, we’d just hang our arms over a split rail fence watching my uncle work. Other times we would play in the hay loft.

Around the time my third cousin – a boy – was born, my brother learned that he didn’t like geese. Well, he learned – in a memory that is burned into my memory – that geese didn’t particularly like him. And that he liked running, at least to escape pursuing water fowl.

Picture a goose chasing a toddler boy up a dirt driveway…that is legitimately one of my favorite and most terrifying memories of both my childhood and a formative reminder of man’s place in the food chain.

Back before Portland made it popular, my aunt tried to give us a chicken to take home. Every visit, we would come home with eggs or bread and sometimes meat. I think we brought home meat…people seemed to always be giving us slaughtered animals when I was young. I’m pretty sure my aunt and uncle gave us beef. Some hunter-type neighbors – that’s how Milwaukie and OC North we’re back then – gave us venison. Venison was something I didn’t fully understand, but we always seemed to have it in the freezer.

Anyway, I’m not sure whether my aunt gave us this chicken for its eggs or for Sunday dinner. My dad didn’t strike me as the slaughter-a-chicken type guy, so I want to say eggs is the answer.

It turned out that it didn’t matter. In my childlike curiosity, I could not grasp the concept of us taking a chicken to the “city”. It was in a box in the back of our family truckster. Being pre-humane, my mother had put down the back window so there was air circulation for the chicken. Probably also so the car didn’t smell like chicken shit when we left.

My sister and older cousin both assured me that, yes…there was a chicken in a box in the back of our family station wagon.

But I had to see it to believe it.

You know what’s scary? A chicken flying into your face out of a box you’re crouched over.

It also kind of hurts…all that flapping.

Thank god it wasn’t more bees.

Anyway, the third second cousin was eventually followed by a fourth, another boy. I think it was between the fourth and fifth seconds that my youngest brother joined our little family, making us six.

Somewhere in between knocking my aunt up, my uncle bought some land way out in the sticks. Eventually, this ended up being “just down the road” from the largest and most she-she of shopping malls in Oregon. At the time, it was all expansive fields with a Nordstrom sticking out of it. He parked a mobile home on his part and started building a farm. It kind of seemed like a hobby. Like a farmer with five small kids had time for side projects.

Over the years between the expansion of families and land and when my family moved away…to Kansas, of all the ironic places, I also started to realize something.

Or suspect.

At best, my aunt and uncle were producing stranger and stranger offspring. Giving the term second cousins an unfortunate double entendres. To the point where we had a legitimate rocker in the family now. And not in the AC/DC way as much as I’m the “maybe mom and dad are related” way. It’s a thought that evolved, but I never followed up on.

More questions you don’t ask, right?

But this rocking cousin was enough to make me wonder about my other younger cousins. The girls seemed normal enough, given the setting. But were the other boys’ behaviors just normal boys-growing-up stuff or were they…

I mean, a lot of little boys are bullies because they don’t know how to express themselves. But what’s bully behavior when a couple brothers away sits a quiet child, rocking back and forth to music no one else hears? Then there’s that middle boy, the one with a bucket on his head. All of the time…I swear, I never heard it, but I just know at some point my aunt said, “We don’t wear buckets at the table, sweetheart”.

Bless her little house on the prairie heart.

After we moved, we didn’t really see or hear from that branch of the family until grandma died. Somewhere in there, my eldest cousin announced her engagement to a boy she’d met at school. I’m not sure what was more surprising: getting married at her young age or that she had gone to a school.

What I knew was surprising was the following announcement that her younger sister was marrying her fiancé’s twin brother. Maybe the girls got weird by circumstance or maybe they were always weird and just passed.

Nature or nurture, right?

All I knew was that it was weird…siblings marrying siblings. And I think it was a double ceremony.

When grandma died, they insisted on holding a wake. My aunt was her sister, after all, so it made some sense.

So, out to the now-complete farm that we had never seen.

It was a compound.

On a hilltop.

My Black Sheep Bro and his girlfriend drove out with Sasha and I. Or vice-versa. We parked near the pole barn and walked over to the main house. My brother and I not sure what to expect. Nor how to appropriately warn-slash-prepare our significant others of the time about what they should expect.

I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see a banjo playing hillbilly on the porch or my taxidermied grandmother standing in a corner…or both. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

We were welcomed in at the front door and taken past a hallway of bedrooms – that included a built in and lit grotto to the Virgin Mary at the end – to the living room.

Introductions were…a blur. I met a cousin’s husband and his twin, the other cousin’s now-ex-husband. There was a surly looking young man sitting – I shit you not – on an overturned bucket and sitting at the piano, but not playing it, another young man…quietly rocking back and forth.

My Black Sheep Bro and I exchanged a glance that said it all…actually, it said, “There better be booze”. We all socialized a little awkwardly, but pleasantly. I’m sure all the pre-marital sex and co-habitation and <gasp> homosexuality that we brought out from the city had more than one of them fighting the impulse to run to the grotto, but despite our different lifestyles and near-stranger status in each others’ lives…you could feel a connection in the room that evening.

There was pleasant chatting. Patient catching up on life events that were semi-alien to the listening participants on each side. But the bond of family provided a warmth in the room, that while awkward was still present.

Plus, a zebra-striped grand piano sitting in the middle of the room is always a great ice breaker…

Visiting the Cousins

Today I Learned #13

Flashback Edition

Since I’m procrastinating finishing up a draft or two during my Publish Every Day January initiative, and just killing time before an interview…here’s some food for thought. More like food for grossing you out, but I’m not here to add idioms to our lexicon.

Oh, wait…Chrisisms.

But this isn’t that type of thing.

When I was in college, I guess I learned some things. However, 25 years later, what do I remember? I studied history, yet every time the Silver Fox starts a story with, “You were a History Major…” my mind utterly blanks.

Here’s what I remember from college:

1) 1066. That was the year of the last Norman invasion of England.

2) How to ride a motorcycle. Or, not. Let’s say that I learned that it was not a skill I naturally possessed.

3) Household toilets have a 6 foot spray radius.

Those last two things were both courtesy of one of my college roommates, Cindy.

She was pretty tough. A compact and stout girl a couple years older than me, but that didn’t stop me from calling her Cynthia just to annoy her. Come to think of it, the number of times she put me on the floor for being a wiseacre might have something to do with why I remember so little of what I learned in college.

Also, alcohol.

Anyway, yeah…just remember, water droplets are dispersed into the air every time you do this

without closing your toilet lid.

Cindy was a design major, so she shared this with me when she was studying bathrooms. Ever since, I’ve accepted that I’ve been brushing my teeth with poop in most of the places I’ve lived.

But, you know how I am…my mind doesn’t stop there.

I’m also aware that I store my towels and spare crapping paper on the shelves over my toilet. Even if I closed the lid every time I used the bathroom (I don’t) there’s no way that my guests will.

Basically, I just live with the knowledge that every time I bathe, I’m massaging poo splatter all over my clean body and whenever I use TP to blow my nose, I’m shoving shit into my nostrils.

Probably explains why my nose hair grows so well…fertilizer.

Today I Learned #13

The Search Continues!

I went to the gym recently. Everything appeared normal as I approached…

Until I rounded the corner and approached the front doors. Normally, I feel a little intimidated walking into the gym.

Doors are heavy!

For whatever reason on this day, I tore my eyes away from my feet. I like to mind my steps, because falling down would hurt. Also, I tend to become easily distracted by attractive and unattainable men.

What I saw when I looked up filled me with a minor sense of optimism…

We’re Hiring!

Well, sure.

Why not?

I went inside, making sure to smile at the check-in biometric machine that was on duty…just to leave a good impression. Then I did my little fitness thing.

When I got home, I went to the gym’s website to apply for my next dream job!

Alas…it wasn’t listed as available. Which means that someone out there has my job!

But I’m going to go back, obviously. When I do, I’m going to keep my eyes open for the person with my job.

If I see them, they’d better hope it’s not near the top of the stairs. Now that I’ve set my mind on it, I won’t be satisfied until I can hold my head high as a member of my gym’s team.

As the Before Model.

The Search Continues!

Today I Learned #12

Calculated Risks

I don’t want anyone to mistake this entry for something serious.

Like wine.

I mean, I take wine seriously enough to not abuse it. I mean, waste it…I’m sure anything I do that could be described as wine abuse is actually closer to self-abuse or self-medication, depending on the circumstance.

That said, I feel like we should discuss decanting.

Sidebar: Autocorrect just changed “decanting” into “decaying” and I literally decant even.

Decanting a sure thing bottle is convenient for aerating the wine and opening it up do the acidic notes can mellow versus overwhelming the rest of the flavors when you…sip. So I’ve generally made a habit of decanting a bottle anytime I have company over, but switching to a by-glass aerator if that second bottle tries to get popular.

My logic? Maybe that second bottle doesn’t get finished, right?

What? I’ve heard of that happening…

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Wine is much like friends vs dating later in life.

You get to know the quality peeps in your life that deserve and have earned decanting rights. Then there are the new unknowns that are best taken on a by-glass basis.

As I’ve managed to overcome my desire for a relationship and remain a Singleton this past year, I’ve engaged in a little thought exercise. I examined my urge to open or order what I consider great bottles of wine on a first date. Was I simply indulging my tastes and myself as I did something I’m not super comfortable doing?

Sidenote: Roller Coasters should have wine stands at the beginning of the line.

Or, was I trying to show off?

Ugh.

I’m going to skip over the grisly details. Suffice it to say, hearing an attractive man say that my wine was really good as he leaves are perhaps the least validating final words to hear from someone.

In case that needed to be mentioned.

The last time someone came over for wine in a dating capacity, I legitimately caught myself thinking – as I reached up for my decanter – “Am I prepared to try and switch bottles because ‘This doesn’t taste right, let’s try something else’ if this guy doesn’t seem worth the rest of the bottle?” More importantly, am I cool enough to pull off that switch to a bottle of TJ’s finest?!?

But, like I said, this isn’t a post about wine.

Exclusively

It’s about any variety of risks we take. Moreover, it’s about how our own opinions of those risks change over time. And how we assess and prioritize those opinions.

A fairly blue case study – oh, I should write about Gee sometime – to illustrate my point:

Yesterday, I had a solo lunch date with dad. Mom had gone shopping with my sister and his usual Friday lunch with his own dad was rescheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Usually when mom, dad and I go to lunch, I can bank on each of them making use of the facility’s facilities. Occasionally it’s all three of us, which affords my dad and I the opportunity for a rather humorous take on what frequently happens at Portland intersections.

Yesterday, as our departure from the restaurant became imminent, I caved and asked dad if he wanted you use the restroom before we left.

He passed.

I raised my eyebrows.

When we got to my place, I asked if he wanted to come up and talk for a while longer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to more kill time while my mom and sister were out. He said no, so we sat in the car and chatted a while before I got out of the car and chatted more while standing at the door.

When he drove off, I crossed the street, fobbed into my building and then tapped my toe impatiently while waiting for the world’s slowest elevator to return to the main floor.

Then I did a full on pee-pee dance in the elevator as we made our glacial ascent to the building’s fourth floor.

Seriously…it is so slow. I’m tempted right now to go take a ride and count off the “thousands” it takes to climb from the Ground floor to 3. Sadly, I have to meet friends in two hours and nine minutes, so I’m afraid there isn’t time.

By the time we reached my floor, I was straining so hard to keep my bladder sealed that I accidentally let a fart fly.

That felt better!

But I consciously tightened everything up again as I prepared to engage my legs and leave the lift. My concern? Was that just gas or was it a…warning?!?

I farted out a few letters of the alphabet on the way to my door and while I was fumbling to get my door unlocked. Fortunately, neither of the other two residents on my floor chose that time to leave their units!

There I was, sitting victorious upon my throne. The contents of my bladder successfully vanquished, I reflected upon the Battle of the Bladder.

Were my check-ins with dad legitimate concern or projection on my part?

I want to say legitimate concern, since he drives about 35 miles home after he visits.

But the reality was that this was my second elevator dance of the week, so…

Either I need to move to a building with a faster elevator – or, better yet, a turbo lift! – or I need to stop projecting and openly check-in with my own plumbing to calculate risk vs transit time between cans.

So far, I’m not there. I have only gotten as far as calculating the height of a curb as it relates to chances of a fart in my body’s state of misadventures. Maybe it’s time to up that game.

Bet you wished this had only been about wine now, right?

Wine and poop. I’m a real enigma, aren’t I?

Maybe this whole Calculated Risks thing is more about food and drink, now that I think about it. The last example that popped into my head was about coffee. While that folds nicely into the bathroom urgency risk, it’s more about heartburn!

I’ve long maintained that I only need one good cup of coffee to satisfy my craving.

And the occasional need for a jump start.

The end of that saying of mine is that I’ll drink diner coffee all morning and still not feel satisfied. But I will end up with a banger of a case of heartburn. But I understood the risk and how my body worked.

Now, since I haven’t been working, I’ve sat at f&b for a second cup of their cold brew while chatting-ish with the Silver Fox. As my unemployment has dragged on, though, I’ve had to re-examine that habit.

The cold brew at f&b is brewed using the Japanese method for iced coffee.

Cold brew, iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee; three very different things. At least inasmuch as acidity is concerned.

Cold brew has very little acid, meaning I can drink it all day. That it’s made with good, medium roast beans means I really can sip it all day, but feel satisfied after a single cup.

Iced coffee, Japanese brew method or not, medium roast bean or not…has all the regular acidity of coffee.

When I have that second cup, I’m weighing the risk factors. Usually, with The Fox, the calculations come out in his – and mine, by extension – favor. When I’m alone, I’ll stop at one cup, go somewhere else or skip it altogether.

The cost/benefit calculated risk exercise I go through when it comes to the debate over taking a shower and getting presentable just to go out for a cup of coffee are a little…embarrassing.

How about some interaction? Surely, I’m not the only one that does this type of calculating…although, maybe I’m the only one that admits to it.

Tell me in the comments, what are your Calculated Risks?

Today I Learned #12

Fuck1ng C0mc4st

The title of this entry is basically the password to my Comcast account, for any of you mischievous readers out there.

Rightly so, in my opinion, since as with Godwin’s Law – which basically insures an Internet conversation will ultimately include a reference to Hitler or his misdeeds – any conversation about internet service will most certainly include the words fucking Comcast at some point. I’ve actually had this post knocking around my brain since the end of last year.

Shall we?

Comcast is one of those utilities that I always seem to have a bill pending with. Usually, it’s inaccurate-ish, too. If I get an email about a bill that says my balance is $XX.xx and immediately click on the pay button, I’m taken to their website and given the option to pay twice that amount to basically catch me up to the next bill closing date.

Then there’s the occasional random $5 this-or-that charge.

Oy.

But in late December, I was hellbent on getting out of the year with some resolution on why my $90 monthly bill was usually $130.

You know I called.

Unsurprisingly, the deal I had had expired some months ago and I’d not caught it, my assumption was that I had just missed a month and paying my regular $90 and occasional extra $5 was simply carrying a balance due across time.

Look, I just want to get back to paying less than $100 a month for Internet. I’m not gaining anything for the extra $40 you all are suddenly getting.

I was channeling my inner Maxine Waters and “Taking back my money!

You know, I almost felt bad for my customer service rep when he had to correct me and tell me my monthly charges were $150, versus the $130 I had thought I was paying.

Almost.

It’s weird, last time I “negotiated” a bill with Comcast – let’s stipulate that the “fucking” is implied, shall we? – they were pursuing me. There was some effort put into getting me on the phone and then getting me to accept the new terms.

Faster internet speeds – and it seems like it was up to 5x faster than what I supposedly had at the time.

Bonus local network TV – which I didn’t have or miss, but with Will & Grace returning to TV…I kind of wanted.

Double Bonus HBO – which I for sure didn’t have, but thought maybe I could check out this Game of Thrones thing that people with nothing better to talk about had been mentioning.

They were falling all over themselves to get me to agree to this for $90 a month. In retrospect, the reality was probably closer to I got a CSR that wasn’t making his sales goals…

Closer to home, the reality was that I watched part of a movie on HBO once. Turns out, movies on HBO don’t magically start when I turn on my TV. The GoT catch up was a pipe dream because I could only do that on the streaming service and that was an additional $12/month. Again, Will & Grace didn’t just appear when I switched my TV from AppleTV to Comcast, so I downloaded the NBC streaming app and got the latest episode on my timetable.

Plus, switching over from AppleTV to the Comcast Box was a hassle. It’s like I was supposed to keep a mental picture of what ports in the back of my TV had which cords plugged into them. My brain is not wired for that crap, so I put it in my phone and forgot about it.

Trust me, I was definitely going to forget about it, so I was happy that I at least remembered to make a note of it. Notes is probably my favorite built in app on my iPhone. All you step counters can say what you will, but I know that on any given day I either walked a long way or I didn’t. On the other hand, what I need The Fox to pick up at Winco or the Costco for me or how to make a particular dish, or how to keep my TV off The Ring channel…I may know that on any given day, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to access that information when I need it.

What I always say about my memory is that

I have an excellent file storage system, but the retrieval system is garbage.

Truth.

So, this poor schmuck has told me that my Internet bill went up ~70% at the end of my contract.

I told my CSR that I wanted to drop TV from my plan and just go back to Internet. His response was a can do, “Sure thing! And that will take your new monthly bill to $180!”

<needle skip>

Nono, take off the TV/HBO crap since I think I’ve used that service less than a half dozen times.

“I did. You’re all set!”

Fuc…well, you know where that’s going.

Since he wasn’t so eager to help me find a deal, I put him on speaker and pulled my account up. Then I gave him hell.

What’s the deal?

My demand was partly fueled by my suspicion that I was now in the age range where my Internet bill would just gradually increase each year until I was paying $300/month for nothing. Gradually loosely translating to $40+ increases a year with no additional service or benefit.

What’s this “Network TV Surcharge” of $8?

“Oh, it’s a fee we have to pay for local access.” This chipper lil bastard was starting to annoy me with his continued insults to my intelligence.

Friggin’ whipersnapper.

So there’s a fee on the service that I pay a monthly charge to use?

“Uh-huh!” I felt like he was mentally patting my head.

Well, forgive me, but isn’t that a little like buying a gallon of milk and then getting charged to drink it?

Sucker…I don’t even drink milk!

“Well, it’s an extra fee that we have to pay on top of what our service costs…”, and I could tell I was rattling him a little.

Yeah, that’s why I’m canceling my TV service. But when I’m cutting TV and it’s associated charges, I’m not sure why my monthly bill would go up. Explain.

“Well, you had a bundled promotion…”

I’m gonna stop you there. I find it hard to believe that you would offer me a deal that lost Comcast money. Plus $8. What’s it gonna take to get my bill under $100? What’s the $40 5x charge?

“Oh, that’s a speed upgrade that gives you download speeds of up to”…and I stopped listening.

What does regular speed cost?

“$85 a month.”

And I can use my phone while I’m streaming Netflix?

“Yes…you should have enough bandwidt – ”

Good. Let’s do that.

“Well, ok…”, and for whatever reason I can hear the reluctance dripping off this guy. “But for just $90 a month, you can keep your network TV service, too.” Suddenly there’s a “deal”…

TV. Which I don’t use.

“Sure, but you’d have it. For things like the Super Bowl!”

Wrong audience. Break down my bill for me.

“Well, there’s…”, and I tune out until I hear him say, “and $10 for the Network TV Surcharge – ”

Hold up. Did the $8 fee I was paying because I didn’t have a bundle just go up to $10 in my new bundle?!?

“Um. Yeah…it looks like it did. It probably increased between 2017 and 2018…?”

Forget it. That’s rubbish. I’ll just got with the $85 Internet that you can barely break even on.

“But, if…”, and I’m tuning him out again. I’m distracted by my own curiosity as to why Comcast is so friggin’ desperate to keep me in TV.

Then it hit me: the modem and the TV box.

I’m paying an equipment rental fee each month. Two devices, more revenue for my pals at Comcast.

And then it hit me again…if I quit TV, I’m gonna have to get their damn TV box back to them. They’ll even probably find a way to charge me extra if I don’t get it back to them yesterday.

Putting on my most, “You Win” tone of voice, I tell him

Ok, you know what. I’ll stick with TV and slow internet for $90, as long as I can change my mind tomorrow if I rethink this.

I know my procrastinating self isn’t going to make it to a Comcast office to return this box anytime soon. Looks like I’ll be renegotiating pricing with Comcast until I die. And then it’s someone else’s problem!

“Oh, you absolutely can! There’s no contract on this plan like there was with the special on faster internet!”

I hang up with him and hold the phone away from my head and say, “Fucking Comcast” while shaking my head in disbelief.

I’ve been kicking this around for a couple weeks, not sure I’d actually write the madness of Comcast out. After the service change the next day, I thought less and less about it. I haven’t noticed a bit of difference since my download speed decreased by 80%…so it’s fading from my mind.

That is until this morning when I had breakfast with my dad. He mentioned he’d had to run into “town” the day before because he’d noticed his cable bill went up $40. “Town” being St Helens, a widening of the road about 25 miles outside of Portland.

“Here we go…”, I thought. And sure enough, his story was more expensive, equally confusing and unhelpful and included phones in addition to Internet and Cable TV.

Regulation NOW! Should be the attitude we adopt as internet consumers instead of Fucking Comcast…maybe I’ll write Maxine Waters an email once she’s done playing with Trump like a cat plays with a mouse.

Don’t worry, I’ll copy my own senators on my email. They’re pretty cool, too, but they don’t have hilarious (only slightly racist, if you squint and tilt your head a certain way) memes like Maxine does…

God, I love deservedly sassy public servants.

Fuck1ng C0mc4st