TransDating: Part II

As is my norm, I looked up from my phone while wandering around yesterday and was surprised at where I found myself. I was in the North Park Blocks, basically, my front yard.

No surprise there.

What was slightly surprising was that I was in the midst of the Trans March and found myself thinking, “Guh, is it still Pride weekend in Portland?!?”

Pride weekend kicks off Thursday night, the parties really ramp up Friday night. Saturday has traditionally been reserved for a pre-parade Dyke March in the evening but has recently had a Trans March added earlier in the afternoon. Sunday is the big parade, followed by a visit to the festival at the waterfront park and Monday is recovery day.

This was me at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. I’d pledged to sit this Pride out, my personal pride reserves are dwindling these days, so I just wasn’t feeling it. Plus, Portland Pride had been pre-marred by a promise made by some anonymous alt-right Proud Boys to cause trouble to revellers as they left events.

It was too much.

But just finding myself there incidentally ignited something.

It got me thinking about my earlier post on TransDating and how at the end, I’d only shared my experiences about dating – or not – Trans but not really my observations on the actual Folk.

Part I was 2500 words on experiences but maybe missed my actual point: Do trans-folk have themselves more together mentally and emotionally than other human folk?

Men?

Gay men?

Any Women?

I’d bet you a dollar you can guess what side I’m coming down on there.

Yes.

Oh, hell yes!

Probably. Maybe a draw but I’m gonna give Trans Folk the edge over cis women.

Is it that that post sexual mindset I think millennials may display more as a group than prior (non-Victorian) generations is part of their journey to gender expression?

Yeah. My supposition is that it is something like that.

I think gay men – collectively – have had a tougher time traditionally in regards to managing mental health versus their sexual identities. But that thought of mine is 30-plus years old and I’m aware it needs to evolve. Because it’s a thought that precludes the increased visibility of transgendered people.

In my opinion, men start out less mentally mature than women. So, there’s that. But then when alternate sexuality rears its head as puberty rolls around, I think both genders have – historically speaking – kind of tended to withdraw.

I’m glad that fresher generations are not experiencing that so much as the rule anymore. It still happens, but I’m encouraged to see younger people expressing their sexual preference at – or sometimes even prior to – the time puberty comes on the scene. Perhaps it’s that early awareness and acceptance that will change gay men’s tendency to medicate through sex, drugs and alcohol and provide an opportunity to get mental help early on and produce better people.

Have I maybe wandered off track here?

I’m slightly distracted by envious thoughts about my nephew’s high school graduation last weekend and the fact that there was reference to openly gay classmates like it was no big deal. Also, I’m watching the Pride parade setting up outside since I live in their staging area.

So, I am distracted.

Still.

The point I was building toward is that once someone comes out to themselves as trans and says the words out loud – a huge hurdle – the mental health is built in. It’s not necessarily a tidal wave of mental health support, but there are pre-surgical boxes that must be checked before one can proceed.

Like, Joe Schmoe can’t just walk into a doctors office and book a boob job.

Well, actually, that might not be totally true now that I think about this guy. He famously said in an interview that he loved boobs so he got a set of his own.

I’m not sure what pre-surgical conversations he had, but that statement was pretty flip. I do know that he kept his girlfriend and his dumbstick…but that was then. I’m not up on current events since he left office.

Anyhoo…

I think that access to mental health helps to create what usually registers with me as an overall attractive energy…unique in my experience to TransFolk. I just don’t see or feel that same wellness from other people.

It’s very appealing and creates a real pull. You can see their happiness. I have a friend-quaintance in Seattle that just radiates happiness. I first met him at a party a friend threw. I was completely drawn into that energy, I didn’t learn until weeks later that he was FtM (female to male) Trans. Once I did it was like a lightbulb moment where I was all, “Of course!”

But as with all things mental health, it’s a destination. Truly a journey. Some people’s trek toward it is longer than others. Some people never actually set out. Still others will hit the road and then decide they want to go somewhere else.

That was the case with my Seattle-friend, ultimately deciding queer was the right label versus trans. But that they figured it out, that’s the win.

Which brings me to my deepest thought – perhaps even the point – of this derp post: is disqualifying a trans person as a sex partner any less sexist than doing the same based on someone’s race is racist?

Maybe?

I suspect that we will all still be allowed to be attracted to the physical appearances and plumbing that we are attracted to…maybe we’ll just evolve to a point where we can express those preferences without sounding like assholes.

From what I’ve seen, TransFolk have arrived at a destination that I hope can be a glimpse of a future. One that transcends physical appearance and allows someone to actually fall in love with the person and not the flesh around them.

It’s motivational.

And enviable.

And might just get me off my damn ass and to the parade, Proud Boys be damned.

TransDating: Part II

This Ain’t No Strawberry Hill!

More like Strawberry Juliet Balcony.

Yeah, I doubt that anyone will be writing a song about my balcony berry growing prowess…at least based on the yield thus far.

Are those tiny babies not the most ridiculously cute things you’ve seen all evening?!?

Those aren’t the only four, but they are basically the only ripe berries that are bigger than a pencil eraser! I don’t know why, but my mom surprised me with a planter planted with four of her extra strawberry plants. She said there were different types of plant but I wasn’t fully listening…I was musing about how one ends up with extras. I mean, what actually constitutes an extra strawberry plant, anyway?

Methinks she wanted to do something nice and mom-ish for me, so I was busy being all

and didn’t hear for sure what she said. I remember “four”, but I only know of the Hood and Totem varietals – cultivars? who cares? – off the top of my head.

Yeah, look at me…I can google memes and clip art for my blog all day long, but when I need actual information it’s suddenly “Fuck That:30” at Chez Galby.

Because while harvesting my lil crop of “what the hell am I gonna do with four berries?!?” I was reminded of a little story.

When I was a wee little man, not even 12 yet if I recall correctly, I had a summer job picking strawberries. Actually, raspberries, too.

All the cool kids were doing it.

I want to say that I learned a lot during my pre-teen summer job, but I didn’t even learn about the damn berries, so that claim is a bit of a stretch.

The most important takeaway? My reinforced disgust for mayo. Seriously, it’s gross stuff. Food lube.

My argument for licensing people to breed is the same as the validation of my mayo hatred: kids’ parents packed their lunches and put mayo on the sandwiches. Then they put their kids on an un-air conditioned bus and sent them to work in a field all day, where their sack lunches sat in a bus, parked in the blazing summer sun until lunch time.

Yeah, we had some sick kids.

With dumb parents.

PB&J all the way from my mom!

So, other than no real useful knowledge, I did at least get a few good stories. I mean, like you can top spoiled mayo.

I swear to god that my sister and I spent a couple summers getting up at 5 am to pick berries. What normal kid wants to do that?!? I don’t know what my sister’s motivation was, but since she was doing it, I wanted to do it, too.

Plus, I was quite the avaricious kid.

But there we were, waiting at the bus stop every morning to get out into the fields and work in the sun all day. Mr Tinker would pick us kids up and drive us out to whichever Sester field we were picking at that day. I think parents entrusted him with their kids because he was a pastor – but seriously, the alternative was having your kids around all day. This was a way better solution. They’re out of the house all day and tired as hell when they get home.

All the parenting wins.

Pastor or no, if our parents knew that we nicknamed the farm’s owner Sester the Molester, they might have thought twice. There was absolutely no evidence to support the nickname, we were just little shits masquerading as human children.

Case in point:

Tinker was the owner of a slightly overwhelming speech impediment. “Strawberry bushes” came out “stwahbewy booshes” and we were merciless about it.

Maybe we were just grumpy from lack of sleep. Hey…maybe that’s why I’m such a crank nowadays?

Suuuure

Anyway, Tinker never let on that he knew or cared that we made fun of his speech impediment. Or his clothes. He just drove us out and back, making sure we worked in between and ignoring our criticisms about his dwiving.

Still, it was our summer vacation, so we had to have some fun. There were pranks. Throwing berries was too obvious. And kinda frowned upon. Unless they were rotten…I’m pretty sure everyone wore a rotten berry in some fashion or another at least once.

Probably smashed on top of their head.

Throwing dirt clods at the portapotty when someone was inside was another pastime in the fields. It was pretty easy to get away with, too. Just look over your shoulder to make sure Tinker was distracted by whatever and then wing a big old chunk of dried earth.

Well, not me. I was a weenie arm. Ask anyone, they’ll tell ya. Plus, I couldn’t hit the broadside of a proverbial barn, let alone a three foot wide johnny on the spot.

But both of these things were pretty harmless, usually good natured. Although, more than one kid experienced a near miss with a dirt clod after a poorly timed exit from the honey bucket. Either way – hit or miss – you’re awake for the afternoon.

The truly heinous fuckery was reserved for the girls that the cool boys liked. They’d go into the crap shack to pee or barf out their tuna salad from lunch or just get a breath of disgusting air while getting out of the sun – ok, that’s a lie, those things were hot and rank. Remember, this was the olden days, too, these weren’t hauled back to a warehouse, emptied and sanitized. These babies were out there all summer long, perched over a hole in the ground.

Ugh, I just made myself a little nauseous with that sense memory.

Anyway, school is out, so no dipping the ponytail of your sweetheart into an inkwell. No, these poor girls got to experience the joys of having their princes tilt their shit castle violently from side to side while they were trapped inside.

Ah, young love!

It’s kind of horrifying to think that’s how we treated our friends and crushes as kids. The behavior is barely discernible from how kids treat people they didn’t like. There was one unfortunately heavy girl that picked with us for a while. Her stop was after ours, so we always saw her board the bus. When the cool kids were feeling particularly cruel, they’d wait for her to sit. Then, as soon as her butt touched the seat, they’d jump up out of their seats and come crashing back down dramatically yelling at her to take it easy.

This earned them a stern look from Tinker in the rear view mirror over his head. Otherwise, that poor girl was at the mercy of the so-called cool kids’ whim and anyone else – myself included – that cared to participate. I feel bad about it now, obviously, but at the time I was just glad they weren’t picking on me.

Well, this has all been a fun little stroll down memory lane to a time when I was actually employed, but I can’t sit around here writing all day…I gotta go make the world’s smallest strawberry shortcake!

Ok, not to be a totally lazy writer, I went to the Oracle to get more info on strawberries.

Turns out, there are three cultivars:

June Bearing, Ever Bearing and Day Neutral.

Past that, there were different varieties in each. Neither Hood nor Totem were listed amongst the 13 examples named, but at least Tillamook was in there to represent the old PNW!

You know, nowadays, people send their kids to day camps in the summer and spend big bucks doing it. Screw that, if you’re gonna have kids, monetize the little monsters.

This Ain’t No Strawberry Hill!

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

News Flash: they don’t.

Well, not any more or less than the usual person.

For some, I’m an acquired taste.

But as we flit into Pride weekend in Portland, I figured drag was as good a topic to reflect on as any. And I’ve had kind of a funny history with drag queens. Or DQs as I’ve referred to them in the past, since saying two words is so damned hard.

Actually, in thinking about this, I realized that maybe DQs should hate me. Maybe just a little.

You see, I realized that in my early gay days, I was kind of embarrassed by people who did drag. Reflexively, I want to give myself a pass for this early discomfort, since it is something that I know was happening when I was first working to overcome my own gay shame and internal homophobia.

This was the late 80s and early 90s. My knee jerk (or just flat out jerk) reaction when seeing a drag queen in a Pride parade – about the only place I ever encountered them – was “Welp, that’s what will lead the news story about Pride”. My thinking – or frustration – with that obvious reality was that Pride parades were supposed to help normalize our culture for the flyover states. Showing the most flamboyant elements of our culture was doing more harm than good in that battle.

Then I realized a few things:

First, unless we’re naked, we’re all in drag. This is some Grade A DQ wisdom. And it’s dead-bang spot on, especially once we start dressing ourselves. We dress how we want to be perceived in the world.

Second, and piling onto and expanding that sense of expression, drag is a frigging art. If you’ve never watched one get into face- as it’s called – find a YouTube video and be prepared to be amazed. Drag Queens are equal parts self expression and performance art. Regardless of whether they are on a stage or socializing, when a DQ is in face, they are performing. That’s not just Jeff in a Dress you’re seeing. Jeff has a different name and persona once he slips those stilettos on.

Third, our community’s most extravagant fringes should be our ambassadors to the Normie Culture. Accepting anything less than our wildest representations is acceptance with conditions, like that friend who accepts that you’re gay as long as you don’t do gay stuff around him.

Bitch, when I’m being your friend…that’s me doing my gay stuff.

So, flash forward to me overcoming my own homophobia. It only took me leaving the LBC for Florida, living in Texas, moving back to Long Beach and landing back in my hometown of Portland.

Easy-peasy.

Except…not so fast.

When I move back to Portland in ’96, I lived on the Willamette River. This was back when Stark Street was commonly and crassly referred to as Vaseline Alley because most of the gay bars were clustered along a three-ish block stretch. Not the closest gay bars to my home, of course. That was Embers.

Half dance bar, half drag performance venue…I would bypass it for Stark Street unless I was out with a group of friends that wanted to shake their booties.

Interestingly enough, I credit this balance between my “safety in numbers” approach to Embers and my early onset grumpiness with helping me develop a comfort and then appreciation of the drag community. You see, I would go dance at Embers with my friends, but being an evolving grouch, I could only take so much crowding and being stepped on before I had to give myself some alone time on the drag side of the bar.

Not that it was empty or even less crowded. But it was quieter…if only by comparison to the dance side. I’d stand in the back and watch the show for a bit or throw a $20 into the video lottery or grab a beer and enjoy it solo.

Ok, I usually did that last thing with either of the first two while the walls buffered the thumpa-thumpa of the music next door and I decompressed.

It was here that I first saw Linda Lee, Raven, Poison Waters and many other performers that showed me the breadth of our drag personalities.

Linda Lee simply refused to tuck as part of her prep. Usually you could count on at least one flash of a pantyhose encased crotch during her performance. She also didn’t really bother to learn the words to the songs she was lip syncing. When she got to the end of the words she knew, rumor – or legend now – had it that she’d either start mouthing “fuck you” over and over until she found another chorus or treat us to an incredibly obscene tongue display.

I remember seeing Linda out in public one day. Well, part of her, at any rate. It was a summer day and I was driving around doing errands and had one stop downtown before heading home. I was looking for parking and realized that I’d just missed an opportunity in the shape of a car door being carelessly flung open in front of me. I’d just rounded a corner and stopped versus trying to change lanes to avoid taking the door off. The door started to close again just as the driver’s leg was coming out. It was a thick, varicose veiny old man’s leg and it caught the door to stop it from amputating the leg as he tried to exit the car.

That was when I realized the leg was attached to a subtle pump, maybe a tasteful 2″ heel. It was midday after all. Gradually and awkwardly, Linda pulled the rest of herself out of the old car, her skirt riding up as she scooched of the driver’s seat, turning to hold the door open with her half exposed ass as she gathered her stuff off of the passenger seat.

Another signature Linda Lee show.

Raven was another story. For a crass as Linda was, Raven was to opposite to the point of genteel. The first few (hundred) times I encountered her, I was sure she was hitting on me. She’s Native American, so right up my alley. She’s also about 20 gay years older than me, so that alley ends at the end of a pier. Gradually, I got comfortable with her overtly flirty style and would just enjoy our occasional chats from her perch at the bar for what they were: low key social interaction. Those “I’m talking to a man in a dress” conversations were what really helped me embrace drag as both an art form and lifestyle that was an integral part of our gay community.

Still, neither of my experiences with these DQs prepared me for the time a performer ended her number by jumping off stage and making her way directly toward where I stood at the back of the bar. She was smiling like a crazy person and barely broke eye contact as she navigated the tables between us, prompting me to basically do one of those look-to-both-sides-then-mouth-“me?” things like the cool guy I am.

It was me she was headed for.

Apparently, I was distracting her throughout her number and I was to be chastised, thanked and asked out on a date.

In my stunned and flabbergasted state, I agreed, forgetting my Groucho Marx motto about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me as a member. That carried over to finding fault with someone who was attracted to me…I wasted so much time hating my beautiful younger self.

This was somewhere between hereand here

in my 20s.

<sigh>

Anyway, we went out. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember our date started with me picking him up at his place and ended at my place the next day.

Being a good American conspicuous consumer, I appreciated that I was picking him up at his place in an old two story 20s-era apartment that I’d probably just about kill to live in. Tile roof, stucco exterior, arched doorways and fantastic landscaping. I was jealous and impressed…drag obviously paid better than I’d thought. Turns out, his day job – and family, black sheep that he was – set him up pretty well. Drag was just an expensive hobby, as his second bedroom turned sequin gown filled dressing room attested.

He was a beautiful boy outside of that fancy dress, but it was that second bedroom – and the later realization of that thought about the dress – that made us a bad match at the time. Both my faults. I’ve often wondered where he ended up…he was a really nice, fun guy. Too bad FaceBook was still a decade away.

After my decade long Seattle exile, I moved back to Portland and re-settled myself near the remnants of the now scattered gay bars. Stark Street has been rendered unrecognizable from the enclave of gay bars I’d left, only one remaining. Gentrification touches everyone…but I’d positioned myself close to my primary gay watering holes: Embers and CCs, which had the added bonus of being close to Hobo’s and Fox & Hounds for when I wanted to eat with my people and/or be left alone, respectively.

Embers and CCs has a steady stream of Drag Queens because they both had a drag component to their bar environment, CCs even has a Drag Queen Bartender

which is truly a rarity, I believe she’s one of only three in the US. Every shift is a completely different incarnation, each a very elaborate artistic creation.

Major drag bars aside, my favorite interactions with DQs occurred in settings that reminded me of my barside chats with Raven all those years ago. The Fox & Hounds is around the corner from CCs and on the opposite side of the block from Darcelle’s, Portland’s own world famous and Guinness Book of World Records holding female impersonator. This provided a steady stream – trickle, really – of drop in drag queens who, like me, wanted a drink in relative peace.

Even though I’m pretty sure all three bars are semi connected by Portland’s underground network of Shanghai Tunnels, most DQs would work the sidewalk around the block, chatting and taking in a casual smoke on their way to Fox & Hounds for their “break”.

I’d casually chat with these performers about where they were performing or whether they were just out and about for the night as well as what was going on. Sometimes, we’d just sit quietly, sipping in the camaraderie, others we’d play some video lottery and urge each other toward victory or commiserate our losses. Still others, we’d talk about our town and the community and the subculture that is drag.

At the end of the day, our struggles were what united us more than our sexuality. After one evening of winding down at Fox & Hound, I’d decided to wander around the corner to CCs to see what was going on. It was the first day that weed was legal for recreational use in the great state that is Oregon and there was a palpable – if not subdued, for some reason – energy in Old Town. There was a group of people from all walks of life planning a sort of smoke in on the Burnside Bridge beneath the ubiquitous Old Town sign

I learned this as I was passing CCs’ hostess in residence. Our relationship had run the gamut from enthusiastic, gushing fan when I saw her at my first Pride after moving to Seattle – a welcome bit of my hometown – to our current low key drive by greetings as she worked the crowd at CCs. This particular night, she acknowledged me by offering me a hit off her joint. I passed, but thanked her. She reminded me to go to the bridge later to celebrate. End of story.

My absolute most favorite DQ story happened shortly after this. I was meeting a friend at the Mock Crest tavern for a drink after work. I was working a few blocks away in North Portland at the time and got off work around 11. Oftentimes I’d chill with a beer or two before catching – or missing – the last bus home. We were sitting in this little shotgun of a hole in the wall bar, enjoying a beer and listening to the three piece band that they’d managed to somehow cram into this tiny space as we talked.

It was very pleasant, which I know is a surprise coming from me.

As we’re sitting there chatting, in walk a couple of Drag Queens and I’m wondering how the hell they got so lost as to end up in a dive bar in NoPo…only to realize one of the two was friggin’ Raven!

It’d been nearly 20 actual years since I’d seen her and my presumption was that she’d died, like her counterpart Linda Lee had. I bought her and her friend a beer and learned that she wasn’t dead, “just in my 60s!” as she’d put it. We chatted for about a half hour before she and her friend took off for town. They had stopped in to mentally prepare themselves for the evening out on the town seeing friends while navigating the crowd of “bitchy kids” as she put it.

I apologized for having been one of those bitchy kids when we first met and she gave me a big kiss, hugged me and told me I was always a delightful companion at Embers.

Not bad for a future grumpy old man.

As if that wasn’t enough to put a smile on my face, I’d also missed the last bus of the night. Naturally, I stayed and closed the place before grabbing an Uber home, reflecting on how life really is just such a rich and delightfully strange and unpredictable journey.

Back to my titular (hehe) question. Drag Queens certainly don’t hate me. If anything, some might say the opposite. In the best possible way, their collective acceptance of pretty much anyone they come across helped me to become a better human. Certainly, the acceptance I have felt from the drag community over the years has helped me accept – and stop hating – myself.

The things we learn in unexpected ways…

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

Peer Recognition

I wouldn’t even be mad if this was called wreckognition in my case, it’s a delight for me when a fellow blogger likes my content enough to think of me when their work is acknowledged by their blogging buddies. And that’s just what happened this last week. Not once, but twice.

So, big thanks to Roger at ReNudePride and Ben over on MyCasualTrainwreckLife for the kudos.

I’ve followed Roger’s blog for about – geez, I dunno…a little under a year now? (Feel free to fact check that!) As you may guess from the name, ReNudePride has some NSFW content. What I like about it, though, is that it’s art, not porn. It’s a collection of pictures that celebrate the beauty of the male body and I think that’s an important reminder, especially within gay culture, which is hyper-sexualized and full of selfie-porn these days. It’s nice to enjoy the body as an artistic marvel versus the more commonly occurring use it gets today as self-validation.

I’ve only just discovered Ben and MyCasualTrainwreckLife, but it’s been a really fun experience for me. His writing feels comfortable, if you can’t tell by the similar cheekiness of our blog names, I feel his writing voice. It’s also nice because his experiences are familiar. Reading about someone else’s life and their perspective on similar experiences provides me with takeaways that broaden my own behaviors.

In case you can’t tell, I really admire what both of these men do. I kinda have a writer’s crush on them. So, it does mean a lot to me to be wreckognized by them.

Ok, so these Blogging Awards have a couple of strings.

They are three-fold, first to get to know the writer a little bit and get some insight into their blogging philosophy. So, for that I am asked to talk a little about what prompted my blog and then to share two tips for other bloggers.

This is a blogger recognition vehicle, after all.

The second criteria is to nominate another blogger or two or three for this award, because – y’know…it’s kinda like a chain letter that way. But in a good way, I don’t have to send a dollar to anyone in the mail. These nominations are inspiring to recipients (see my awkward gushing above) and passing the award along keeps it going and might help my readers discover a new blog they’ll appreciate.

Was that enough ado for you? I have more, but feel like I should probably get this show on the road, eh?

I’ve been writing this blog for a little over three years now. It started as a Facebook dare by a couple of friends who thought I possessed the talent and wit to write a book. This was the compromise after my insistence that I was only as funny as they were right about my talent.

Yeah, a dare.

My beginnings aren’t so humble as much as they are self-effacing.

My $.02×2:

First, there’s a lot of writers that tell you to establish a routine. Pretty much every writer but me. It’s not that I don’t agree, but only insomuch as a routine is a good discipline if you struggle there. I don’t so much, I publish 2-3 times per week and that’s pretty good…compared to my sex life.

The other argument for establishing a routine is that it trains your audience when to check in or expect new posts. According to the admittedly glitchy (What? I admit it’s glitchy, that counts!) WordPress metrics, 10% of my views happen Saturday night at 11 o’clock. So, basically 1/10 of my views happen during this 1/168 of the week…

Honey, I got bad news for my readers…10% of you are wallflowers and nerds with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. Or I’m a good lead in to SNL.

In place of a routine that commits me to publishing on specific days, I’ve opted for themes to helpfully nudge my writing toward consistency and keep content flowing.

Find which incarnation of routine works for you.

Second, reward yourself for blogging. I didn’t really start seeking out other bloggers until about the one year mark. I viewed other blogs as competitors with a little bit of jealousy. I envied their followers and views and likes and whatnots.

Well, that was stupid of me.

Reading other blogs does several things for me as a writer:

It keeps me checking into WordPress, even when I don’t feel like writing.

I’ve made friends in far reaches of the planet, Australia, Britain and Canada as well as other glorious nooks of the empire and also on the other side of my own country. The pleasure of following their exploits or sharing in their thoughts is great. Chatting with them in the middle of their day while I’m not sleeping at night was another unexpected perk.

I gain motivation and inspiration from these other writers. I’ve got one that nudges me closer and closer to pulling the trigger on that initial Facebook dare and writing a book. Still waiting on a new laptop for that – hint, hint.

Anyone?

No?

FINE!

There are others who will tell a story that reminds me of a similar instance or time in my life. Since some of my fellow bloggers are 10-20 years younger while others have 10-20 (ok, 15) years on me, the stories are often different in voice and tone if not even completely different because of situational norms that have evolved in the interim. It’s really great for my worldview. Not to get your hopes up, but it’s also made me a little more relaxed to have that perspective…maybe I won’t be such a grumpy old man after all.

Nah.

Now, the hard part:

Nominating someone else for this award. Or someone else(s)…or would it be someones else, like attorneys general?

This is tough because of s couple of reasons. First, some bloggers scoff at the recognition, it’s not why they write. Second, bloggers come and go. One of the last people I nominated stumbled into a relationship and hasn’t been seen or heard from in months. What a curse!

I think perhaps I’d like to pass this on to a writer that I’ve only recently discovered. Kaylena writes a blog called far kingdoms about books. Amongst the rewards I get from blogging, she gets credit for refueling my fire to read. I read a half dozen books last year. I’ve read two in the month that I’ve been following her blog.

If you are an avid or even lapsed or aspirational reader, head over to her blog and check out what she’s doing. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Oh, my bad:

I should formally thank both Ben and Roger for nominating me. I winked at a thank you up above. But, sincerely…thank you both!

PS: another super rewarding acknowledgement I enjoy as part of my writing hobby is when a blog I write is shared by or referenced on another site. Generally, I take that as a form of positive reinforcement, so by all means…

“PS” is Latin for “shameless hint”, right?

Peer Recognition

The Great Job Hunt 3.1

PaMiDa Edition

I spend a lot of time reflecting on my past. Because: neurotic. But I also spend a lot of time recently wondering if this is what it’s like from here on out.

Reliving the glory days.

Although, humorous as my stories can be, surely one life shouldn’t provide so much schadenfreude. That being the case, perhaps gory days is a better way to describe my life of one bumbling mishap after another.

It really has been fun being me, so I hope there are new misadventures in store for me yet!

Maybe I’m just noticing my tendency to reflect more with my extra free time since quitting my job. When I go back to work, things might change.

Until then, maybe it’s an escape? Don’t bother asking what. Before I get into the fun stories from this PaMiDa outfit, I’ll tell ya what from what I require escape:

1) Honestly, I think I give a job search in retail management the attention it deserves. There aren’t a lot of appropriate jobs out there. As a matter of fact, many of the positions I’m interested in end up frustrating me. Sometimes the posts are for companies I’d like to work for that don’t actually have the opening for which they are advertising. Whether this is the unlikely scenario of looking to fill a job before “at willing” the person currently in the job or just a – more likely – way to pad their EEOC coffers, just in case. Since I have never gotten a call from someone that wanted to talk to me about a job I applied for six months earlier, I’m thinking that whole “keep your Application on file for future openings” schtick is a bunch of BS and don’t see the value of this practice…other than to tick me off.

Another frustrating thing about my current search is employers demonstrating their incompetence up front. That’s really kind of them, but frustrating since I see a position I’m qualified for with a company I’d like to work for and then I see something like this when I click on the link to apply

or, better yet, a link to a job in another city instead of a post for the specific city where this job search is occurring. I know it’s hard to believe, but I live in Portland, Oregon and would rather not move to Auburn-friggin’-Washington to work. Little known fact, the landfill in Auburn gives the place an aroma that makes me wish I was at a dinner party with rotting corpses, versus anywhere near that dump of a city.

One of the most aggravating things about being unemployed – even by choice – is seeing incompetent people with jobs that they do poorly.

2) Thinking about funny good times from “the old days” is an effective offset from the uglier parts of your past.

Case in pointing saw this as I was heading to bed the other night.

Sacha has never liked the idea that he gets mentioned in my blog occasionally.

At first, I was surprised he read the damn thing since we aren’t in contact these days. He insists that our mutual friends inform him about his occasional mentions. This kinda tracks, since he takes exception to entries he appears in in what I would consider a positive manner.

Because it’s not like our relationship was six years of bad times, I challenged his assertion to react based on what our mutual friends were allegedly telling him about his starring role in the blog with the idea that if they were feeding him negative information, maybe they weren’t as good a friend as he was thinking…cuz like I said, I don’t set out to write negatively about him. Today aside, virtually all of his mentions are from over a decade ago and from my perspective not terrible.

And he still cares…or our mutual friends do, as he’d have me believe.

But, I could see him having a reasonable objection to his original blog name since it was quasi unflattering…unless you actually read the blog post, then it’s just awkwardly cheeky. Still, to spare his ego – er, feelings – I shortened his blog name to Sacha as a sort of acronym for his original moniker.

Plus, Sacha is a lot easier on my fingertips.

He tried commenting early on in my blog some petulant BS, but he wasn’t a wordpresser, so publishing his comment would have ruined his anonymity by broadcasting his email – and, ergo his name – to any reader who cared to check my comment threads. I explained this to him in a text after he accused me of being “too scared” to post his comment but just got more bluster for my attempt to shield his identity from his own spin control.

His comment the other day was breathtaking. It takes a special kind of bastard to kick a guy when he’s down – he was commenting on my entry about basically being punished at my last job for being a whistleblower – but add to that the extra layer of bother he went to by creating a wordpress profile just to be able to make a petty, vitriolic comment “anonymously”.

And that’s all I’m saying about that, because I try to keep my stories about him and our relationship about that time in my life. I know nothing about his present day life, aside from these occasional and unwelcomed glimpses of his present day efforts at charm.

I dunno…maybe if I’d changed his blog name to Huge Dick, he’d have been happier. He was generally pretty proud of being a show-er. Maybe that hint at flattery would have blinded him to the double entendres. Or maybe apologizing for his original moniker – Sucks At Cheating Ex – since he seemingly didn’t get the cheeky entendres behind that name.

<ahem>

Let me try that now…Sacha, you don’t suck at cheating.

What kind of sociopath is proud of that skill? If any of us are going to cheat, I would hope we suck at it just to speed shit along.

I guess I did have a little more to say about that…

However, onto the fun stuff!

I was originally wanting to share some memories of one of my first jobs.

That was the point of this entry, although a little context had seemed appropriate to demonstrate the allure of my visit to Memory Ln.

I had had jobs before, picking berries in the summer, delivering papers, shagging balls – shut up, Diezel – at a driving range – still shut up, Diezel – but my first real job was at a place called PaMiDa.

I started working here shortly after my family moved to Atchison, Kansas. PaMiDa is/was a big box discount retailer, much like Target or Walmart and it was close enough to home at the time to walk to, a perfect commute for me in my sophomore – no, wait…junior? – year of high school, since I didn’t always have wheels at my disposal.

Legend had it that the owner had named the outfit after his three kids, Pat, Mike and Dan…Dave? It’s been 35 years, I forget.

My department manager there was a nice enough curmudgeonly greaseball of a guy named Doug.

(Hidden irony)

Hygiene was not high on his daily to do list. I could usually depend on seeing him in the same short sleeve button down shirt with pit stains and ring around the collar, black clip on tie and his red PaMiDa vest lurking around the department. I say lurking, but he was usually making the rounds, creating a to do list for us as he monitored the goings on with his trademark heavy lidded, shifty gaze. For his caricature-making hygiene and habits, he was a pretty fair and respectful supervisor. I have learned through many years of trials and tribulations that there are worse bosses.

Atchison wasn’t the least diverse of towns, but it certainly wasn’t in any danger of being called a melting pot. I had one black co-worker, Sheila, who lived on the other side of Division St, if you get my drift.

I loved her!

She had one of these full body laughs that no one could not enjoy. She was the jocular offset personality to Doug’s outward schlub. I was glad she was in my department but simultaneously sad, since it meant we usually worked opposite shifts and I didn’t get to see her much.

Which is why she was probably caught off guard when I walked around the corner of the aisle she was working in to find her muttering to herself. I’d heard Doug’s voice and needed him for some reason or another.

Sheila, for her part, did not. At least that’s how it seemed since she was muttering something about how he should get his “day old sex smelling ass” out of her face as he left from the other end of the aisle.

That’s certainly a graphic statement.

She turned to me as I asked her what she’d said, thinking she was talking to me. I was a teenager, I assumed everything was about me.

(And still may…)

When she realized she was caught, she laughed one of her longer full body laughs. It was so loud that I think it may still be echoing though the building. She nearly fell off the ladder she was working on as she tried to dismount it, still laughing. She supported herself on my shoulder, holding herself up as she doubled over…still laughing.

As she began to regain control, she wiped away tears, apologized for speaking her thoughts aloud and said, “I’m so embarrassed. If I was white, I’d be red right now!” in a demonstration of self-effacing reverse racist humor that made me laugh nervously at the time.

Now? I think it’s hilarious. I wish I’d understood the humor as well at the time so I could have enjoyed the moment less awkwardly with her, but two people laughing uncontrollably at our department manager’s expense would have just drawn unnecessary attention.

Oh, Shiela…

While I am pretty sure that the store manager interviewed and hired me, Doug introduced me to him during my store tour on the first day of work. It was something along the mumbled lines of, “This is Mr Stickler, the store manager…” as we were speeding by on our little tour.

Stickler.

I was young enough – and naive enough – to accept what my ears told my brain at face value. Therefore, despite what my eyes screamed at me on the daily, I spent the next three months greeting and responding to him with a “Good morning” or “Hi!” or a simple, “Yes, sir”, Mr Stickler.

Much to the terror or utter amusement of my co-workers and head scratching chagrin of my store manager, Mr Strickler.

Missed it by one very important letter.

Nonetheless, fate placed him right in front of me to enjoy the look on my embarrassed teenage face when that omitted “r” finally clicked into place for me.

I was white, so I was red!

Fate being a bitch, this had to occur right after my closest encounter with a tornado. Of course, that obviously turned out ok for me, but had the tornado happened after my embarrassing realization, I might have hoped for a more shituationally merciful outcome.

Of course, I’m happy with the way things turned out…near miss with a funnel cloud. At the time, i has seen several tornadoes. However, I’d never really seen a funnel cloud or understood its connection to a tornado, so this was quite the educational moment for me…

I was covering a break at the front registers and was staring hypnotically at the parking lot out of the 60-feet of plate glass windows when the associate returned. Following my gaze skyward to the gray and black clouds coalescing into a shallow swirl over our store parking lot, she advised that probably we should move away from the window. This happened just about the time the city’s tornado warning sirens went off and other associates ran to the front from their respective departments.

We mostly ended up watching the slow moving swirl pass over our parking lot like a bunch of Darwin Award honorable mentions. We were ready to duck behind the cash wraps, should the funnel look like it was going to touch down. For all the good that would do.

At some point in my senior year, Mr Strickler quit. He had apparently bought the…I wanna say, Taco Time franchise across the street from us and was working there as an owner/operator. I didn’t understand going from working in a store like PaMiDa to fast food, even if you were the owner.

At the time, PaMiDa was the best job in the world! Definitely gets a good bit of credit for me starting down my retail career path. Of course, at the time I was gonna go to college and then law school, so the wrap lawyers had in the 80s for being basic shit-heel people didn’t hurt the eventual lure of retail’s sense of immediate career gratification…

The Great Job Hunt 3.1

BikeTown Chronicles #2

Over the past week, I’ve been missing being active as my foot heals up. It’s provided me the opportunity to live actively vicariously through myself…my memories of being outside and active, at any rate.

It’s also gotten me thinking about the unfortunate side effects of getting back on my bike. Back in the saddle, if you will.

The muscle soreness, I look forward to. Achey knees, I’m able to tolerate…literally walking off the cumulative shock in the hours or days after a ride.

That saddle rash, though.

Short of getting a new seat, I’ve done what I can to minimize the occurrence of saddle rash. Wearing fewer layers of fabric to minimize chafe. Wearing the right layers, ie: padded undergear. Post-ride care, including a bag balm, because some remedies have to make you question whether the cost of the cure is worth the cause of the malady.

Kinda like the old chestnut about only sane people questioning their sanity. So when I ask if applying salve to my taint-ish region is a reasonable post exercise recovery…I have to be able to affirm my cycling adventures. It’s not as worth it as it would be if someone else were (gingerly) working the cream into my nether area.

Shush, Diezel.

But, since that’s not a fun part of my cost/benefit cycling analysis – and since today is the first day old leftie is feeling like a ride won’t send my recovery backwards – I move past the potential discomfort into other areas of my recent outdoor adventures.

So I’m co-opting or resurrecting this draft of my second BikeTown Chronicles with a few things further onto the plus side of cycling in order to motivate me back out onto the road this afternoon!

I had gotten to the point where I would remember gloves. Actually, I was pretty proud, I remembered them after my first ride. My forearm soreness was pretty severe after my ride, but in a weird way. I also experienced numbness during and after my ride. I remembered the gloves recommendation from one of The Fabulous Baker Girls, who is an avid cyclist. She swore the padding in the palms of the gloves would reduce, if not flat out alleviate, hand and wrist numbness during my ride.

The fact that I experienced numbness up my forearm after the ride reinforced the need for gloves. I put them inside my helmet so I wouldn’t forget them for my next ride. My hands and wrists still get a little numb during my rides, but not until I’m about 10 miles in. I have a mountain bike, with traditional straight handlebars. I’m sure there’s an alternative bar that would afford me the opportunity to reposition my hands during my rides so that I can reduce this numbness even further, similar to 10-speed handlebars. I just haven’t done any research into those options yet.

Cycling took an unexpectedly social turn on my third or fourth ride of the season when I ran into – more accurately, he “caught up” to me – Casey Adler toward the end of my Springwater Trail ride. How he recognized me from behind, in cycle gear – including a helmet, Mom! – is beyond me. I don’t consider myself to be that distinct looking as to be recognizable from either that angle or at that velocity.

It was a nice surprise, though. We rode the last couple of miles of the trail together, catching up.

Honestly, though, there was a moment where “catching up” turned into “catching my breath”, when I tapped out and told him he needed to talk for a while while I wheezed and listened.

I’m old, I own that!

I hadn’t been in a situation where I needed to be cognizant of sharing the path as we rode two abreast and chatted. I’m usually the grumpy guy muttering “excuse me” as I steer to avoid such people. I was proud of the fact that Casey and I took turns dropping back to avoid colliding with oncoming groups that were also riding side by side, albeit obliviously so. Hell, Casey was even aware enough to see a faster rider coming up behind us and sped up so we were riding single file again so Speed Cycler could pass.

Our social cycling ended abruptly when we realized that Casey was taking a street route – presumably – back to his place in NoPo while I was peeling off to take the Esplanade back toward my place.

After we separated, though, I focused on his casually motivational comment when I asked where he was coming from. He simply said that he’d taken the path out to Boring and was on his way back in. I was inspired because that’s a 50 mile ride for me, probably closer to 60 for him.

It was just two rides after this encounter that I managed – and promptly swore off of – my own half century ride. I know I’ve got another 50 mile ride in me…at some point. I just need to figure out how to incorporate them into my cycling routine, since they are time consuming and do have quite a physical toll.

My Health App and Strava finally synced on this ride, too!

Prior to this, for whatever reason, there had been about a half mile discrepancy. My Health app had been shorting me a half mile in ride and doubling the total mileage post-ride.

Weird.

Interestingly, it had been – and still is – waaaay overvaluing my caloric burn. It measures the energy in kcal units, which as my simple mind understands metrics – is 1000 calories. For the ride above, Strava estimates a 534 calorie burn, while my Health app insists on making that a 534 kcal burn.

Sadly, I don’t see me burning a half million calories in a month of cycling, let alone a single day.

But like I said, maybe calories and kcals are interchangeable and I’m just an idiot on the subject.

Could totally be the case.

There are definitely a few things for me to remember as I psych myself up for a ride today. Negative factors that are beyond my control, unlike padded shorts and gloves.

The ride that prompted this entry originally occurred on Cinco de Mayo. I failed to connect the dots between the holiday and the fun zone idiots I encountered on my ride home along the waterfront. The path along the waterfront is mixed pedestrian, cyclist, skateboarder, roller blader, unicyclyer, jogger, segue rider and any other mode of transport you can imagine. It’s Portland! The city may as well put up bleachers on the path at Gov Tom McCall Park since the path runs between the river and the strip of grass that houses amusement park rides or tents during the many summertime waterfront events. This effectively renders the pathway unnavigable as lower functioning humans are stunned into a slack jawed, mouth breathing and quite stationary existence on the path as they contemplate whether or not to enter.

Sidenote: this is not happening anywhere near the actual entrance to the festival.

Since we are in the midst of Portland’s annual Rose Festival activities, the fun zone is in full swing. Luckily, there’s a path along both sides of the river. I just have to remember to take the right one on my way home!

Hey, did you know that Walkathons are still a thing? Apparently, most of them are in support of Rude People Pride since they seem to block the entire path…prompting me to admonish them to share as I weave and wobble through the crowd.

That said, a Monday ride is a ride free of Walkathons!

However

I need to be careful to time my ride so that I’m back before rush hour for Portland’s bike commuters. This is particularly important while there’s an event at Tom McCall Park since everyone funnels along the east side of the river to get home, bypassing the virtual bleachers on the west side of the river.

Generally speaking, I love catching the worker bee exodus of Portlander cyclists as they leave work for the day when I’m returning from a ride. It reminds me of what a great city Portland is to live in.

The only pinch point is the Steel Bridge.

This bridge was opened in 1912. One has to admit that at 106 years of age, it’s fared quite a bit better than more infamous technological marvels of that same year. Portland has also worked to integrate the bridge into its infrastructure plans to make sure it doesn’t cripple the city’s growth through the years.

Originally, this two-decked bridge carried vehicles on its upper span and train traffic along its lower span. When Portland introduced its commuters to light rail in the 80s, the upper span was repurposed to carry two lanes of car traffic and two lanes of light rail MAX trains. When the Eastbank Esplanade was created, the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges were selected to connect the east and west side waterfronts, each gaining a pedestrian and cycling path. For the Steel Bridge, that manifested in an addition to the lower deck. At about 5 feet wide, it’s half the width of the paths along the waterfront.

For all the ribbing Portland drivers get for being too polite, demonstrated nicely by Portlandia in its “No, You Go” sketch where two drivers at an intersection bent over backward to yield to the other, one of whom didn’t even have a stop sign or signal, the same cannot be said for its cyclist population. Especially bike commuters.

I’ve long suspected that being killed as a pedestrian by a cyclist would be the perfect manifestation of a Red Shirt worthy demise. Little did I realize that cyclists are trying to take one another out, too. During the Cinco de Mayo fun zone-slash-bike commuter rush hour, the Steel Bridge became something of a cycling Thunderdome. As I was crossing over in this last mile of my ~20 mile ride, the path was packed with slow-moving pedestrian and bike traffic.

I’m sure there was a very good motivator for what I experienced on the bridge this day, but all I can muster is either selfishness or straight up idiocy. We riders were all doing a slow pedal across the bridge as we navigated across with our walking counterparts. For whatever reason, an oncoming cyclist decided to pass a mother/father/stroller situation that was walking side by side across the bridge.

Mind you, at around 5 feet wide, this path is barely wide enough to accommodate three people across. This oncoming cyclist – in her irrefutable good judgment – decided rush hour was the day to make this a four person across path by bending the rules of physics.

She was partially successful, this typically stupid American. However, most of her success I attribute to me slow-crashing my bike into the hog wire railing of the pedestrian path. The commotion she caused didn’t cause her to slow down or rethink her judgment whatsoever. To her credit, it also didn’t cause her to speed up, so the chaos she created was maximized.

What a feckless cu…well, you get where that’s going.

So, hopefully the need for editing in this post is minimal, since I’m giving it less than that. You see, I have a 3 hour and 6 minute window for my ride before the bike commuter rush hour starts. I need to run.

Er…peddle.

BikeTown Chronicles #2

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve been a little lazy lately. Kind of living the life of a shut in or hermit.

Lots of factors.

However, the two that led to this initially and then hooked me, eventually were:

A) The first of the season sunburn that I exposed myself to during my spur of the moment half century ride has kept me inside versus making it worse. I could simply buy some sun screen, but for now I’m living a literal version of “once burned, twice shy”…at least until I stop peeling!

And,

B) I hurt myself. Yes, again. Yes, while I’ve allegedly been inactive.

But there’s a story behind that Point B.

Naturally.

The Silver Fox was laid up a few days back and I offered to take his pooch out for his pre-bedtime walk. His dog is a good boy. Certainly a better pet than my Mistress Myrtle, who is currently in the midst of an Otter Identity Crisis.

George is 110 pounds of heart. Definitely more heart than brain, but as soon as I open the door he’s doing his “happy to see you” dance. It’s the same dance I get when I’m visiting and use the bathroom in The Fox’s Lair. Anyway, having been a slug for the past several days and wanting to make sure The Fox gets every opportunity to rest up by sleeping through the night, I decide to give the dog a good pre-bedtime run. We zip around the North Park Blocks in the darkness in between sniff and pee breaks so that he can get all the pup-dates the neighborhood dogs leave…the NPB really are like Canine Facebook.

Still, we ran up and down four of the five blocks of park in between Chez Galby and The Fox’s Lair, occasionally doubling back on ourselves as we ran and played. It was only 3/4 of a mile, but I knew it was more than George usually gets at that late hour and I could tell he was ready to settle in for the night when we were done.

I went to bed thinking, “You know, you could shuffle out a mile jog around the park blocks a couple times a week” and motivated to give that a try to see how my knees and lower legs tolerated it.

Of course, I woke up on Monday scarcely able to put my ever increasing body weight on my left foot.

Gotdammit.

So I’ve been relegated to the sofa most of this week…naturally, it’s also a week where my normal Monday morning acupuncture was cancelled because of the holiday.

First World Problem.

You’d have thought being laid up would give me plenty of writing time.

You’d have been mistaken.

I’ve been trapped in a daily Netflix Spiral.

But, ending the week on a high note, I am determined to tell the story of that time my phone fat-shamed me. It was also my last outdoor activity, a hike with Little Buddy in Forest Park. There might even be some pics, it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten if I snapped pics during that hike or not.

One of the reasons that I enjoy hiking is the natural setting, of course. That’s the same reason I enjoy cycling. The difference is that while hiking, I can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when it’s buzzing by at a whopping 15 MPH. Hence the potential for pictures.

My usual Forest Park hike is a ten mile affair, about 50/50 split betwixt sidewalk on the to and from and actual trail in the park itself. It’s usually a 3-4 hour endeavor, depending on how long I stay at Pittock Mansion once I reach this little urban summit. Little Buddy had told me she had a few hours between work and family dinner duties, so I stopped her from paying to park by my place when she rolls up, figuring we can park adjacent to one of the many entry points and start there.

I’m not just respecting her pending familial obligations, I’m also ensuring our post ambulation recreation at The Big Legrowlski: beer!

Here’s the rub, though: I’ve never driven to the trail, so I have zero clue where to direct Little Buddy. Being the slave to technology that I am, I google Forest Park and get directions.

This takes us in the complete opposite direction than I normally head off in when on foot, so I’m completely lost. I usually head NW through the Alphabet District – encompassing the Pearl District, Slabtown and The Conway neighborhoods – and then into Northwest and ultimately the forest on Thurman Street.

These google directions set us off toward Burnside, the primary East-West thoroughfare through town and really the first street in the Alphabet District, and the opposite end of the alphabet from my normal entry point. Mind you, Google Maps is – allegedly – going to provide the quickest route, so off we go.

Intrepid, no?

Here’s the payoff for struggling through those Portland neighborhood specific details…patience really can pay off.

We’re heading up Burnside, chattering comfortably away about her and 2.0’s new home escrow, an upcoming kitchen remodel in their current home and my parents’ kitchen remodel – it appears I literally have nothing to add to this conversation myself, so I’m ripping off my parents. But, being an okay son, when she mentions having a potential Quartz Guy, I tell her that my parents had wanted quartz but opted for marble because they couldn’t find a decent deal on quartz.

Sidebar: She literally just texted me this as I’m writing

Hehe…Wong’s.

This is my life, I cannot make it up any better.

End sidebar.

So, we’re driving up Burnside and our conversation is interrupted by directions, as is often the case when GPS is your friend. Or in this case, frenemy.

“In 600 feet, continue on past Taco Bell”…

As far as landmarks go, if you’re going to base them on businesses, Portland has a few iconic offerings along Burnside. For example,

Jim Fisher Volvo has been on Burnside since 1957 and its sign 60 feet over Burnside is nearly as famous as this guy sitting at the head of NW Burnside.

But, no, my phone had inherited my snarky and completely unveiled bitchy personality. Allow me to translate its directions for you.

“Hey, fatty, since you don’t drive and based on your drunken Uber history, the park you’re looking for is past Taco Bell…do not stop at Taco Bell!”

Little Buddy and I were so stunned by this out of character type of direction that it took us a moment to begin laughing our asses off. LB nearly drove into a truck. We were laughing so hard that we nearly missed the second warning at 400 feet. We’d regained our composure enough to enjoy the fact that google kept on shaming me until the “200 feet” marker.

As funny as that was – shituationally – I felt a little cheated that there was no congratulatory message once I’d successfully made it past my drunken dietary siren.

Somehow – after that amazing ab workout slash dose of the best medicine – we made it to our urban trailhead destination. I recognized it, as I’d crossed this road a few times on other adventures. After parking, we head out into the trail as I try to mentally adjust my map so I don’t get us lost.

We both quickly realize that we aren’t entering at the easiest point on the path…as we pretty much are silenced 300 feet into a maybe 12 degree (I’m guessing, not really sure how grades are measured…just assume it’s steep) climb when LB says something along the lines of, “Geez, how long is this hill?!?”

Basically, what I was desperately trying to remember. Wiping the streams of sweat from my face before turning to answer, I tell her that “I can’t actually remember” and that it’s “longer than I recall, I’m trying to remember which way to go at the top so I don’t get lost again”.

Now, this Little Buddy of mine, she’s pretty sharp.

Again?!?”, she asks.

This totally takes the pressure off the early phone fat shaming since I answer her honestly by telling her that I’ve only gotten lost in Forest Park twice.

This year.

This just happens to be one of the two paths I’ve been lost on.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d guess that the initial climb was about 1000 feet and my treacherous phone told me we climbed 13 stories. One of my math-y friends can figure the grade out and tell the rest of us in the comments.

After that initial near death humility inducing beginning, the path leveled off into a more comfortable elevation gain and we were back to our normally chatty and much less wheezy selves. It was last Wednesday and we both enjoyed the relatively people-free trail as we absorbed the natural settings and caught up.

It’s one of those normally awesome experiences that is even better for the company. I’m glad she and I have had a couple of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, being outdoors, some beer, a lil wine, great weather and surprisingly few other people. As a matter of fact, once we reached the mansion, I mentioned that this was the smallest crowd I’d seen up there in the three years I’ve been hiking these trails.

Less than a dozen counting us. Excluding us, maybe not even a half dozen.

Heavenly.

Naturally, two of the only other visitors were feeling chatty. And commemorative, asking me to get a pic of them in front of the overlook. LB took off for a shady spot in the corner while the tourists from Salt Lake chatted me up. I mentally praised her reclusiveness, even though I knew that I was projecting my early onset grumpiness onto her mom check in moment.

I can’t blame the tourist for wanting to capture the beautiful view, even if the mountain wasn’t out that day.

I swear, there is a mountain in that haze…somewhere. Maybe next time. I have that luxury, even though it’ll probably be so crowded up there when the mountain is actually out that I won’t be able to get a decent shot of it.

Oh well, first <ahem> step is to get my foot cooperating again!

Fat Shamed By My Phone