Lemme Fix This For You…

Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

Hopefully.

I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

Or a shirt.

Either way – pretty low bar.

Here’s the profile:

This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

More specifically, the follow up.

Pls be exciting

If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

Here…

Crappily married

I fixed it.

Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

Couple years younger, too?

I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

So boring, those gyms.

As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

Unless

Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

Those people are exciting!

Lemme Fix This For You…

Ongoing Pat-scapades

Well, the part my dealership ordered for Door Seal Repair: Part Duex should have arrived either Friday or Saturday – depending on when the clock starts on “two days to arrive”. I thought it wise to just check in on Saturday and get an update.

Mind you, this communication is all done through a text messaging system, so it’s not like I’m making them drop what they’re doing to answer my inquiry. Rest assured, this text message system has not impaired my ability to scream bloody murder at them for their continued successes in fucking up an attempts to fuck me over.

Nothing.

Sure, maybe my service tech is off on Saturdays, but you’d think someone would check messages…

Well, I would think that. Me and my uncommon knowledge.

Then on Sunday, I get a text reminding me of my drop off the following morning.

I mean, A) no one told poor Allie that my car was already onsite, but what’s good communication gonna do for an outfit, anyway? And, B) my appointment was for 7:00, which I thought was when they arrived/opened. Given my myriad experience with these folks, I also know that these appointment slots are rather informal. Last time I dropped my car off – maybe…three weeks ago, now? – my service tech was surprised to see me and when I mentioned that I thought there would be a bigger crowd, he kind of poo-poo-ed the overall effectiveness of the whole appointment notion.

But, since I did have questions…

My car is already there, since it was not usable for work, a dropped it off early. A part was ordered, with a two day delivery, and should be there by now.

Can you confirm it is? If so, I should be picking it up tomorrow. If not, I’ll still need a loaner until it’s done. But I’d rather not get up at 6 to get it. Could it be held until later in the day?

I know, I know…I didn’t proofread my text. But, it turns out that my typos will only be seen by you since the only follow up I’ve gotten to those questions was this:

Poor Allie isn’t even real! Still, she’s probably their best employee.

Anyway, my tech – Joseph – texts me back this morning in response to my Saturday message with this BS…

So I tell him that I’ll be in around lunchtime to pick up my loaner. At about 12:30, I set out on foot to the dealership which is only about a mile and a half away.

At least it’s a beautiful day!

I get there…any guesses?

No loaner.

To quote the prophet Kathy Griffin

Oh, for fuck sake!

They decided to comp me a rental from Enterprise, telling me that they would pick me up in 5 minutes.

Well, the wait was longer than my walk to the dealership took, so either I walk really fast or these guys are less tight with honesty than the GOP.

Back to that whole “good communication” thing, when I finally got to the Enterprise place, I got charged a “Totally refundable $50 deposit” to which I replied,

Well, if it’s as totally refundable as my comped rental from the dealership, I see a good deal of hassle in my future.

Nonetheless, here’s the new ride at least through next Monday.

There was a BMW and Porsche SUV on the lot and I – totally jokingly – asked if I couldn’t have one of those. The rental guy replied, totally serious, “Sure, although that would probably run you a little out of pocket!”

Nice try.

My annoyance – I’m oddly kind of over the ~$900 bucks I could have made driving during Pat’s most recent spa visit – is that somehow the logic of spending $385 to rent me a car for seven days is superior to just getting another damn door seal on a plane that would get here in two days.

I’m not surprised these jokers didn’t think of that – I’m surprised they are both employed and still in business.

Idiots.

Ongoing Pat-scapades

I Get The January Thing, Now

First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

“They” even made t-shirts!

Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

Apparently, January seems like a long month…

Maybe it’s all the exercise?

Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

But not this year.

Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

How do I know?

I average 25% in tips each week.

Also,

Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

She never sent it out.

This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

Nothing.

What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

But she didn’t send it.

So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

Idiots.

Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

So I did.

Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

Of course, I checked the payroll database…

Once.

She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

Bless her pointy little head.

Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

Really, I wouldn’t!

Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

As a company employee.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

Just kidding, I was born during the day.

But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

I Get The January Thing, Now

Pat Takes A Spa Day

High Maintenance is one thing in – I feel I should selfishly mention – a friend.

In a vehicle, it’s a little less charming.

Yet, here we are…Pat and I. They got dropped off at the shop yesterday to repair a body leak. A leak I wouldn’t have discovered until who knows when if o wasn’t driving with Lyft, since it was presenting in the backseat passenger side footwell.

The original problem was pointed out December 20th, which coincided nicely with our first serious rain of Fall. Yes, this was on the final day of Fall, too – thank you, Global Warming. I’m sure there had been mild and unnoticed dampness prior to this, but this was actual standing water.

<cut to me holding an empty bag labeled “fucks”>

This was not an occurrence that left me with lasting confidence for this relationship between Pat and I. We first started going steady around the third week of August. Then, they had their stroke on the third weekend of October and on the third week of December…this.

Being Christmas, they were having trouble getting us restored at the dealership.

No, that’s not right. The dealership was out of loaners, and with my needing to take The ‘Phew over the mountain to his parents’ a couple days later for the holiday, that was a problem for me.

I called the dealership to speak with the GM, he wasn’t available. So, I vented my frustration at the situation onto the Contact Us page of their website.

I received an immediate response, which I suspected was auto-generated, but included the words “as soon as possible”, so I felt the ball rolling.

Then I received a second, which was odd. I read it a little closer than I had skimmed the earlier email.

It was a sales pitch.

I was being invited in to check out their new and used inventory.

Awkward.

I shook my head and put it out of my mind. Dwelling on these professional shortcomings only drags me back to the state of mind I was in when no one would hire me.

Still, that second sales person followed up a couple hours later with a phone call. At that point, I felt it was incumbent upon me to share my professional embarrassment with him.

No, for him.

He apologized profusely, both for his lapse in attention to detail and for Pat’s ongoing struggles. In an attempt at redemption, he printed out the nudge he’d gotten from their system based on my email and put it on the GM’s desk.

In front of the GM

…that was how he phrased it, leading me to suspect the GM was actually present for the delivery.

Nothing.

There was nothing I could do, the car was drive-able, so I shelved the repair issue until after the holiday.

Except.

My overriding concern was frequency. I’d like my car in the shop less often than I have actual dates. While I’m glad that Pat isn’t in the shop weekly, it bothered me that they were averaging every other month visits. Particularly since my ability to leverage my car expenses and earn some side-hustle money is pretty limited with a loaner car.

I’d set aside the non-drive-ability observations if had about Pat.

The filling loosening toughness of their ride over bumpy roads.

The accompanying clanging and screeching of dry metal in those same circumstances.

The groan of the frame whenever someone exited the passenger side of the car on anything but flat ground.

The oil light coming on six weeks after purchase – even though the Jiffy Lube sticker in the window suggested I had 1500 miles to drive before I was due.

The gouges and dents in the metal OM the inside of both front doors.

The squeak of the brakes when I stopped on a downhill grade.

The rub of the windshield wipers three months after I bought the car.

I’d sucked those pesky little imperfections and inconveniences aside.

But…after two more urgent repair needs in four months of ownership, I began to wonder.

Was Pat a lemon?

I suspected that Pat had been in either an undisclosed or an unreported crash.

My course of action in the face of the dealership’s GM’s refusal to communicate?

Well, to assume my assumptions were likely, obviously.

<googles Lemon Law>

So, I learned Oregon’s Lemon Law only applies to new vehicles. My Pat was a 2016, one previous owner car – so no help there.

I did find a link to Oregon’s Department of Justice Consumer Complaint Department, though. Since I had given a Lyft to Oregon’s Attorney General, who I knew through the app simply as Ellen, I felt like I could complain to a friend.

And she was quite nice during our ride, by the way. I was even more glad I voted for her after meeting her!

After detailing the struggles I’d endured and observed in such a short timeframe, I packed up The ‘Phew and took off for Central Oregon.

Two weeks later, post-holiday craziness, I was a bit frustrated to have gotten no response from the GM. The DoJ website had listed other complaints they’d had for this dealership, six total over the past three years. The only other “Selling Damaged Goods” complaint had been earlier this year, which troubled me. But it was also listed as resolved by the dealer, so I at least felt like they would take action.

I also made a second attempt to get Pat in for their repair work – again, no loaner.

Three weeks later, it started raining again. More water visible over the pile of the carpet. I made a drive-by to drop Pat off: no loaner.

But.

The repair supe that had helped me nearly three months earlier now remembered my name and my car. I made an appointment for two days later, when he promised me an available loaner.

Then I went home and stewed.

I decided to voice my complaint to the GM, both over my issues and his not responding to my complaints.

Forty-five minutes omg hold later and I get the receptionist. She tells me the GM is off for the day but offers me the Assistant/Sales Manager.

Begrudgingly, I agree, and she puts me through.

Voicemail.

Ok, that actually made me mad. If you’re trying to help a frustrated customer by suggesting a fallback solution, stand the fuck by just in case it doesn’t work. If I was only going to get voicemail, I’d rather have the voicemail of the joker I was frustrated with, anyway!

Alas.

So, Friday morning, I haul my ass out of bed early on a day off and take Pat in. The plan is to give them a three hour shower to find the source of the leak.

Probably just the door seals. But it could be the body welds…

Since door seals are magically not covered by my warranty, I hope it’s the body welds. That would also jive with the growing wreck theory I’ve been nursing, so…

By the way, the tech tells me he got me a Grand Cherokee for a loaner – I tell him I don’t know what that means, but thank him.

It’s the nicest Jeep on the market.

Yeah.

Kinda nice!

Witness: my text to the Silver Fox after driving off the lot on my loaner.

Ridiculous.

But, I’m less excited four hours later when I get this text from the Service Department.

Hey Chris, so it is the inner door seal on the rear door that needs to be replaced. Like we talked about the door seal would not be covered so it is going to be a cost. Looking at $198 with parts and labor. I do have to order the seal and would not get it until mid next week. You can use the loaner car until then no worries. Let me know if you would like me to get it on order – Update your satisfaction at any time here https://getpe.co/YXp76K – Joseph

My response was a little dry, particularly in comparison to Pat’s Spa Day activities.

So, here I am: stranded with a really nice loaner for the next five days on earnings restriction since I can’t drive it with Lyft since it’s not listed on my insurance policy. On top of that, it’s gonna cost me $200 and the GM still hasn’t addressed my other complaints.

Maybe while I’m not driving, I’ll revisit those issues with him.

But right now, Conspiracy Theory Xtopher is in overdrive thinking it was the body welds and they dealership is using the excuse of ordering a door seal as cover for repairing my other issues from the DoJ complaint…yeah, it’s fun in my neurotic brain.

Pat Takes A Spa Day

A Study In Opposites

That’s what I am.

Somewhere today, I got a wild hair to start cleaning up my Instagram. I had noticed a few days ago that my follow to followers ratio was about 3:1.

I wouldn’t say that bothered me, per se, but I did wonder what that imbalance provided me.

Entertainment.

Giving it a very little bit more thought, I added a qualifier or two.

Minimal and prurient.

I was able to admit that I got nothing out of this but minimal entertainment watching strangers’ stories and pics as I mindlessly scroll my free time away. Sometimes that entertainment is minimally thrilling, too, as several of the folks I followed were prone to what I like to call soft core selfie-porn.

A lot of this was obviously one-sided, too…remember that 3:1 ratio?

There were also random or aspirational restaurants that I hadn’t gone to in over three years.

Some had closed.

There were people I chatted with on asocial media back during my 2018 writing challenge that led to Dating Into Oblivion. Some of these pages had zero posts, and only ever posted story videos.

A couple of the empty pages had thousands of followers, too. Thousands of followers without a single post?

Yeah…hi, comrades.

A few of the pages I deleted hadn’t posted in years. I knew some of them and wondered if the attention they put into their pages shifted to relationships.

There were a couple of friends that I knew had died. I just couldn’t delete their pages. Is that nuts?

So, what’s the opposite?

I’m doing this as I am actively adding friends on the Facebook. Last year, I started weaning myself off of my Facebook habit. When I wasn’t driving, I had lots of free time during my public transit commute to spend mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Now that I’m driving and notably not commuting to or from work, I wanted to put a little discipline into that scrolling habit.

But ever since mid-December, I’m adding friends on Facebook. Some are friends of friends. Others are guys I had texted with after hitting it off on asocial media. One worked at a bar that suddenly shut down a couple years back. Still others were just cute.

Shoot me, ok? I’m a guy.

But the real standout was a guy that currently works somewhere I worked three or four years ago.

Four. It was four years ago.

What truly set him apart was that I’d given him a ride in my car! I had picked him up from a something-con at the convention center a few months back.

He granted my friend request and then began chatting with me on Messenger.

Our conversation was catch up stuff on the random crossovers in our lives.

Then some strange things began dropping into the conversation.

How old are you, hon?

And “hon” had company like “dear” and “sweetness”…which in chat is a little hard to interpret.

So, I just flat out ask the question.

Are you flirting with me?

Too many denials followed. Enough that I was left feeling both undesirable and dubious about their veracity.

A couple days later he drops in that he has a date.

I mentioned that ~36 hours after clearing up his disinterest in me was a little too soon to begin parading a date with someone else into the conversation. He apologized. Then mentioned he had a follow up date the next day.

So wait…you’re going on a first date on Christmas Eve and already scheduled a follow-up for the next day? What if you don’t like him?

“Oh, that’s what the second date is for! We’re doubling with my bestie – I won’t know if I like him until my best friend meets him.”

Wow. Don’t give away all of your decision making power there, Sparky.

I also thought, what a junior high level dating mistake. That thought just kind of faded into the mist of my memory since I had no further contact with him. I actually began to wonder if he’d unfriended me.

I popped over to his page and the very top post – from just a few hours before – was “In A Relationship With”.

It had been a week since their first date. And he lives an hour south of town.

Kids.

Outside of this post, I kept my thoughts to myself. But each of the red flags he’d bemoaned during our chats was now being waved in celebration…

The bestie must have really liked him.

But as the realization and acknowledgment of my – oh, hell – inconsistent behaviors settled in, i consoles myself with the knowledge that at least on the Facebook it’s a mutual decision. With Instagram, you can pretty much follow whoever strikes your fancy. That’s the allure, Insta is more entertainment than actual friendship.

At least my list building is mutual.

And in the other hand…

I’m down to about a 2:1 ratio on Instagram. So, there’s that.

A Study In Opposites

Well, That Was A Surprise

You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

~150 words

~400 followers

It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

Frustration.

Location.

I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

But then I also got texts.

Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

Yup. Still dumb.

Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

Take it from Antoine.

I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

What do we expect, though?

I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

School is government funded daycare.

Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

United in denial, by the way.

Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

I think there is an absolute difference.

Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

Money.

I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

That a few people actually read what I have created.

Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

Well, That Was A Surprise

I’m In Literacy Hell

I’m aware on a daily basis that education has taken a nosedive in America.

And not “education” strictly in the school system manner. I know there are issues there, certainly. What I’m referring to is the responsibility of the individual to refresh their knowledge to ensure their intelligence continues to grow as they make their way in the world, lest we end up becoming Stupider Americans…

My daily reminders are things like the there/their/they’re and your/you’re headaches.

But today…today has been extra.

It started with a friend’s Facebook status:

I don’t run away when theirs a challenge.

Fine.

Pretty run of the mill.

Well, I mean, it’s kind of a double-whammy. He missed the contraction in his misuse of there’s.

But then this guy I’ve been chatting with sends me a text about a conflict he’s having with his boss:

I don’t think there’s a way I could ethnically do that.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Obviously, I can’t see him any longer…

I’m In Literacy Hell

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

That was the opening to my parting shot the other day at the Brodega across the street from my place.

It’s pretty strong Portland passive/aggressive game on my part, too, if I do say so myself. It sounds like conversational curiosity, but really, it’s an indictment.

What you have to understand is that here in the Pearl, space is at a premium. Both of my neighborhood markets – Brodega and the RiteAid – have shopping aisles that basically end abruptly at the checkouts.

While the RiteAid is happy to let that devolve into a Thunderdome type situation, Brodega has gone to the trouble of painting a sign on the floor indicating where the line begins.

You’d think that would help.

Please allow me to introduce Americans to you.

Stupid Americans.

I picked out my whatever I needed desperately enough to pay Brodega prices for and hopped into line behind a little old man who – I swear – actually shrank while I was watching. Anyway, the cashier calls him up and I move to the front of the line. A couple moments later, a sweet little old lady walks into the checkout line and stands next to the man – obviously, this is her husband and I’m stuck in a sweet lament of my aging singleness.

Thank gawd there was a Stupid American to pull me out of that moment.

From around the aisle to my left a woman yells, “Excuse me, ma’am…there’s a line!” just as she steps in front of me. Her boyfriend/husband-person sees me and makes a face saying he’s sorry for inadvertently cutting. Then he tries to get the woman’s attention, but she’s still yelling at the sweet old lady.

The cashier finally stops her by saying, “This is her husband…they’re together“, rather tersely. I can actually see the woman in front of me bristle.

Nonetheless, I mention that she has a point, there is a line. Then I look down at my feet, literally on it.

“We were in line around the corner”, she says dismissively over her shoulder. She doesn’t even take her eyes off the old couple as she says this. Her man-friend looks like he’d like very much to possess the power of invisibility as he makes apology faces at me and tries to urge her into line.

“It’s fine. You can go ahead of us if it’s that big a deal”, she huffs at me. She still has not even made eye contact, so you know just how sincere her non-apology is. She’s the type of person that if they were male, you’d refer to as a dick.

“Clearly.”

Then I delivered my indictment.

The man showed me the whites all the way around his eyes, which made me chuckle. Then he shook his head in the negative. I think he was warning me about triggering the woman, but I chose to interpret it as answering my question.

Helpfully, the woman said “No, we’re visiting, why?”

“Well, because you didn’t know where the line began”, I said as she moved up to the cashier. I was thinking, “Portland natives would never yell at someone like that” but my better demons kept me from voicing it.

Ok, my better demons and the man’s frightened eyes.

The irony is that another cashier arrived and called me up moments after the interloper took her righteous – er, rightful place at the checkout.

We finished at the same time and as I held the door for them, they veered away from the door and bellied up to the small bar in the front corner of the market.

The whole time, they were just on a snack run. If I were the guy, I don’t think I’d have gone out of my way to leave my barstool to shop with this woman when I could have stayed behind peacefully sipping my adult beverage.

Of course, I get home and read a fellow bloggers experience with the Christmas Spirit and am left feeling jealous that she got a saint and I got a grinch. But the season isn’t over yet!

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

Going Out Of Business!

Portland Edition.

I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

It’s an 8×11 street grid.

There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

Alas.

Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

Redevelopment

Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

Case in point, The Rodney.

This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

A bigger problem?

The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

Then silently came down.

More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

Then, poof!

Gone.

Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

Then, the rumors came.

Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

There’s that greed again.

That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.

An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

Greed?!?

Perhaps.

Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

Let’s compromise and call it both.

The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

It should.

After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

The rub?

It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

The way to control real estate expense is to move.

It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

For everyone.

It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

But how likely is that?

The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Until then?

I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

Or not approving it.

I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

I think the current situation has proven that.

Going Out Of Business!

Awkward Things I Did This Week

Ok, how this isn’t an ongoing theme for my blog…I just don’t know.

Maybe I should try making #ATIDTW a thing.

I realized after my walk this morning – doing prep for a larger entry tomorrow – that I was wearing mismatched socks. No biggie…it’s just a Saturday morning walkabout.

It was the second time this week. No, they weren’t the opposites of the other mismatched set. Yes, last time was a workday.

I guess I should be more careful about golfing laundry in dim lighting.

Or around wine.

I barely avoided sending a snarky email to the owner of the company I am consulting for the other day. I realized I had somehow chosen to “reply all” as I was proofreading it – I’ll explain what that means later, Silver Fox – and decided it was safer to just tell her in person.

In a small victory over my own awkwardness, I fell into my chair at work without spilling my coffee. I was attempting to sip coffee, hip-check my chair so it spun so that I could sit down and turn around all at the same time. My foot landed on one of the casters, sending me off balance as I turned and my chair skittering in the opposite direction from my vector.

I fell backward.

Somehow, I hit the chair.

Arms flailing.

Coffee sloshing but not spilling.

Thank gawd I was alone in the office, but I still looked to make sure not even the Chief Feline Officer was present to witness my derp.

No, neither of those three things – socks, reply all or near fall – happened on the same day.

I am only in the office three days a week, so I’m batting 1000 in the awkward department for this week.

I had a date this week. Someone I met online and decided to throw $20 at to see if he was as good in person as he was online.

He was!

A cute construction worker type. Maybe 5’8″, so right there in my shorty sweet spot.

And while he was an engaging conversationalist, he was also a good listener. Letting me prattle on about me-things while he listened attentively and encouraged me with relevant follow up questions instead of scrambling to get the conversation back to himself.

Turns out…he was 20!

Is. Fine.

Goddamnit!

While he was trying to sell me on the fact that he was almost 21, I was asking him if he voted in the last election.

“Nope. I wasn’t old enough, silly! But I’m voting in 2020, for sure!”

“Nono. In the midterms!”

Blank stare.

At least I came away from the encounter with something more upsetting to me than his age.

And to cap off my week in derp, I stopped on my walkabout this morning for a coffee. It was my backup coffee shop because it was geographically desirable, plus my primary shop opens at 9 on Saturdays and it was only 8-ish.

I haven’t been in in about a month because my Barista Boyfriend has a girlfriend now. Or at least he did last time I was there at the beginning of November. We were the only two people sitting on the mezzanine and he stopped by to kiss her.

No kiss for me, though. But fresh off a really good kiss (goddamnit!) from The Toddler yesterday, I figured there’s worse things than being fake betrayed by fake boyfriends.

“Oh my god! It’s been so long!” – Female Barista, Boyfriend Barista was looking on, smiling from behind his La Marzocco.

“Coma.” – Me

“You look all flush! How are you feeling now?” – FB

“I think it’s just walking in the cold. Or maybe my scarf is too tight! I miss Elvis, though.”

“That was a long coma…”

We went on to chat a bit more, then finally convincing me that I needed a hot coffee if I was going back out. Might as well be a peppermint mocha, too if it’s the only hot coffee of the season.

Winning argument.

I also found myself without my reusable bamboo straw, this being a spontaneous event. FB convinced me to get one of the metal straws, since it had a silicone tip and she could chew on it.

“Well, you can chew on the bamboo straws if you really want to.”

“P’shaw…I’m not a panda!”

“Whatever you say, Ping Ping.” – Me, in perfect deadpan.

That was the awkward, by the way….

“Well, I may be Chinese, but I’ll leave the bamboo chewing to the pros. I’ll still answer to Ping Ping, though, but only for you!” She gives her coworker a little side eye warning.

She was laughing, as was Boyfriend Barista and I thought Ping Ping could stick. Still, there I was…totally feeling like a latent racist for bringing panda names into the conversation with someone who turned out to be of Chinese heritage.

It registers on some level with me when someone is a POC. But that level is the same level as hair color.

Still, when race comes up, so does my guilt. Honestly, I couldn’t profile an Asian person’s race if there was a million bucks riding on it. For a cool mil, I might make a guess. Otherwise, I just don’t care.

One of my best friends is Philippino. Something I only remember because she nicknamed herself Filipina Fox. The Silver Fox’s daughter in law is Asian, but I have no idea what race. She’s from Las Vegas and Seattle, the end.

Anyway, with Ping Ping, I decided to ignore her race drop in and pivot. I segued to panda trivia.

“Did you know that it costs $10 million a year for China to loan out pandas? That’s per panda.”

“No! Really?”

“Yup. Key word: loan.”

“Goddamn. That’s quite a racket!”

“And any pandas born while they are on loan belong to China, not the host country! No anchor pandas allowed!”

The discussion went on from there, but I never got to impress them with the full extent of my panda trivia because people came in.

I’d bought my cool reusable straw –

– but I did manage an aside to my two-timing Barista Boyfriend as he topped off his latte art with a few dollops of chocolate whipped cream.

“Hey, if anyone asks for a loaner straw for their drink, charge them $10. Per drink, no free use on refills!”

“Right? Why should China have all the fun?!?”

I don’t think these things only happen to me. I do kinda think that it’s possible no one embraces their awkward with as much vigor as I do, though…

Awkward Things I Did This Week