And Then…?

I’ve been working on my first post in about a month.  It’s going crazy, so I thought I’d try a lil MAX Blog Challenge post on my way to work today.

Also, it’s 4:05 in the morning.

But, looking for inspiration on my way in to work today, two things came to mind:

First, I’m thinking about trying to leave at noon today.  Normally, Mondays are my “short” days…usually 6:00-3:00, since I have acupuncture after work.  Knowing myself, if I try to leave at noon, I’ll be outta there at 12:30, and that’s still eight hours.  So, there’s that.

Second, I remembered seeing Jeo at the airport the other day and that made me smile.  We didn’t speak, he was walking toward his flight at my normal pace and talking to another flight attendant.  I became aware of them as our paths coalesced, it’s just unusual for people to move at or maintain my pace. 

Still, I didn’t realize it was him until after we passed the Pet Relief Area after someone’s pet had died – only possibility, given the odor – and I heard Jeo say, “Yes.  That is a smell!” as he passed through the area.  I half-turned my head and chuckled.

But still didn’t realize it was Jeo.

I was pushing s rolling rack of souvenir tees to each of our stores to fill in and they hopped on the moving sidewalk.  That added momentum carried them ahead of me and that’s when I realized it was Jeo.  

He either didn’t notice me or didn’t say anything.  Given his pace, I let him keep going instead of interrupting to say hi.  I figured he was in a rush to get to his flight.

Plus, it was around 3:00 and I looked like hell toward the end of a long day.

Jeo has only recently come back into my life.  We stopped talking two years ago this coming Fall.

About a month ago, I was on a MAX home in a car filled with fucking hot men.

Not just hot.

Fucking hot.

For instance, the fireplug of a construction worker sitting right in front of me.  He had me plenty distracted, even before he struck what I call the Beauty Pose.

The Beauty Pose is when people turn sideways in their seat and put a leg up on the seat, resting their chin on a fist that is propped on their knee.  It’s the classic “look at me/don’t look at me” posturing.

So, The Fireplug got off at my stop, which amused me.  I further amused myself with the notion of stopping at The Fox & Hounds for a beer on the off chance he stopped in, too.  He’d gone left, heading up Davis and I’d gone right up Everett, so anything was possible.

But I didn’t.  I was being good.

At 4th St, I realized he hadn’t gone into F&H.  Gotta love catching a flash of safety yellow out of the corner of your eye at a crosswalk!

That brief glimpse kept me amused for several more blocks until he was no longer with me at Broadway.

Whatever.  That was my longest relationship of 2017.

A couple of blocks later, someone touched my back.

Ooooh!

I turned to see a rather attractive man that wasn’t The Fireplug.

It was Jeo, but I didn’t realize that until he said, “I thought that was you!”

He went on to say he’d been thinking about me recently and was happy to run into me.

When I asked why, he told me that he regretted leaving things the way he had after I’d served him some “realness” – his word – that he hadn’t wanted to hear.

He felt bad about it and had been looking for a way to apologize since he realized I’d been within my rights.

Hey, I’ve seen enough sitcoms to know that when a friend kisses you unexpectedly after a couple seasons…things are off track.

I appreciated his gesture and then wondered aloud at his presence in my hood, since he lived in St Johns.

Turns out he had moved into NW and was on his way home.  That was also when I learned he had become a flight attendant.

Er, Sky Mattress.

No!  Flight attendant.  Hehe.

This was also when he remembered that I was heading home and said, “Don’t you live around here, still?”

“Yeah, a couple blocks back” I replied.

“You walked extra blocks for me?!?” he said, genuinely touched by my nothing effort.

Shucks.  “Well, yeah, it was nice to catch up” I said, gesturing that I should head home to feed the Mistress Myrtle.

He gave me a hug and said it was nice to catch up.  I suggested a coffee or drink at the airport one day and he agreed.

We were still hugging.

I’d attempted an end between sentences, but he deepened his hug, like a cuddly constrictor.

I’d forgotten what a hugger he was and re-engaged, appreciating his quirk.

And that was it.  No “And Then”.

We’ve traded a few texts, but nothing has happened except that random sighting.

And a guy restoring my faith in men, to some degree.

That’s enough.

And Then…?

The Red Shirt Diaries #12

This will be the twelfth entry of TRSD.

The first that’s actually non-fiction.

Potentially non-fiction, at any rate.

Mostly non-fiction.

And it’s not a funny-way-that-I-meet-my-demise entry like the other TRSD, which are really just the nonsense synaptic equivalent of watching someone fall down while ice skating .

I’ve been watching the last part of the second season of The West Wing today.  I’m sure the statute of limitations on spoilers is up, so I can say without fear of retribution that Mrs. Landingham dying, watching President Bartlet deal with coming out about his MS and then the cliffhanger question of “Will you be seeking a second term?” ending of this season wrecks me every damned time I watch it.  As a matter of fact, knowing what’s going to happen makes it emotionally more devastating to me because you start watching the things that go on beforehand and they just make it more intense.

So, I’ve been ugly crying on my couch a lot today.

At a TV program.

Like some dumb jerk with misplaced emotional attachments.

And then I read on the Facebook an update from a casual friend of mine that he was shaving off his Pride-inspired rainbow flag hairdo to commemorate the end of Pride month.  His update was beautiful.  It inspired me.  It was thought provoking.

He talked about how cognizant he had been of his own trepidations in becoming a visibly representative member of the LGBTQ community.  How it impacted his behaviors while he wore his rainbow ‘do.

I skipped this Pride.

I skip a lot of them, actually.  It’s just not my scene.  Not because it’s too anything specific.  I don’t go to the Rose Festival Parade, either.  I guess I don’t like large crowds is the best way to describe it.

But beneath that, well…is what I think is a Red Shirt worthy fear.

I went to last year’s Pride because I felt like I owed it to my community to be a part of the strength of our numbers in the long shadow cast over 2016’s Pride month by the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year.

This year, I returned to my curmudgeonly avoidance.  Once a decade is enough for me.  Not only because of my normal preference to avoid big crowds.  Also in part because of that Red Shirt worthy fear I mentioned earlier.  For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been on a sharper than normal edge.  I feared – realistically feared – that Pride was under a more than usual target.  It wasn’t something I felt compelled to be involved with.  I worried as I worked the day away that checking my phone was going to present me with unwanted terrible news.  Actually, I had been feeling that simmering trepidation for each of the weekends preceding PDX Pride on the 18th while Pride was celebrated in cities around the country and around the world and once again on the following Sunday for my friends and chosen family celebrating in Seattle.

The text I got from my sister asking me if I was home that Sunday left me with a vague fear…worried that she was worried that I had been somewhere something bad had happened.  Turns out, she and her family were in front of my house, assembling to march with the Portland Police Bureau in the parade.

That’s a whole different kind of fear, right there.  One I thought maybe I dodged, not becoming a parent:  fear of powerlessness for your loved ones’ safety.  But, my brother in law has a leadership role with the police force, so march, they did.

And as Pride month comes to a close <knocks wood> I find myself relieved that we made it through the month without any major bullshit hate crimes or massacres against the LGBTQ community.

Relieved and surprised, truth be told.

I’ve kind of lost my faith that Americans can comport themselves in a manner that still respects people’s differences.  It’s way heightened since November of last year, that’s for sure.  That stupid, hate mongering cheeto has enabled a lot of small minded people through both his direct words and actions as well as by his visible inactions and silence…he didn’t even make an official Pride proclamation.

But today’s cathartic binge-watching has kind of helped me out of another funk I have been experiencing lately, too.

It seems I’ve been fighting this battle of dis-ease on multiple fronts this month.

First, a vague, random danger like with the MAX stabbings.

Then, the more general fear or danger of participating in a potentially targeted event like Pride or an Ariana Grande concert.

But lastly, a quite specific fear for my personal well-being after a surprise random verbal attack on my on my person at work.

It’s like a trifecta of potentially PTSD inducing bullshit.

Nearly four weeks ago, a fairly generic conversation about whether it was unrealistic of me to expect employees to check their work schedules weekly – it’s my responsibility to create the weekly schedule – ended abruptly and unbelievably when my peer at work got up, yelled, “Just do your fucking job!” at me and essentially stormed out of the office.

I can’t believe how close to home random violence and hatred hits sometimes.

I was flat out godsmacked (not in the heroin overdose-y way) at such a surprisingly violent and random outburst at work.

And my dis-ease at this final scenario has simmered and percolated over the course of the month simply because…nothing happened afterward.

No apology.

No admission of wrongdoing.

No perfectly within reason – in my opinion – termination of my peer.

Nothing.

In the worst possible ending, he’s begun to just behave as if nothing happened.

Raise your hand if you know me.

<surveys crowd of raised hands>

“OK…you!”

“Um, I would guess that you, Homey, are not playing that?”

Yeah.

Homey ain’t playing.

Man, there’s some stuff from my upbringing.  I was raised with morals.  Standards of acceptable behavior.  There were fucking nuns, ok?  I learned some shit.

And, boy…did it stick with me.

Over the course of the two days that followed the…oh, let’s call it The Incident, shall we?  Yeah, over the course of the next 48 hours, I tried to make it semi-safe, between silently seething on the inside, for my apparently festering wang of a co-worker to apologize or admit his error so that we could begin to get past it.

I tried a little levity and was rewarded with an eye roll.

I tried resetting my own attitude to neutral by walking in on day two with a chipper, “Good morning!  How is everyone?” and was ignored.

Well, buddy, if you got a problem you need to make amends for…I’m not gonna work harder to resolve it than you are.  Stick your hand in your pants.  Anything?  No?  Maybe that’s the problem…he doesn’t have the balls to admit his wrong-doing.

But, that’s not my problem.

But maybe that’s not the actual problem.  Maybe he’s convinced he hasn’t done anything wrong.  And that obliviousness is a big red flag to me.  On that flag is printed something like “Beware!” molly you in danger girl

If someone in my personal life fucks up that badly and compounds it with being too ignorant or self-entitled or childish to apologize to me then I’m gonna get out my social scissors and cut a bitch out of my life.  End of story.

Not so at work.  I gotta work with this jag, so I put on my big boy pants and go to work, tolerating his existence.  It’s the best I can do.  The best he could have done – apologize – is now off the table because, in my book…when you mess up, you gotta own it…quick.  Ironically, I feel the same about counseling someone for poor performance at work, it needs to be immediate.  Well, once we crossed over that 48 hour window, I couldn’t accept an apology as sincere.  Actions speak louder than words, right?  His actions weren’t anywhere near saying that he was sorry for his behavior.

But, wait!  I’m not completely unreasonable.

Sure, you can’t sell me an apology, but you can at least acknowledge fault with me and I can muster up some forgiveness.  Hell, in a professional environment, I may even let someone off the hook without subjecting them to a lecture on how they failed to meet my expectations or grilling them on how they are going to re-earn my trust so that I can feel secure in their assurance that it will not happen again.

I can be graceful.

Ish.

I might trot out a “Well, that’s certainly not my fucking job” in the future to provide him with a good-natured poke, if our relationship happened to heal to that degree.

But in the ensuing near-month that has passed since The Incident all I’ve gotten was a couple weeks of silence and then some half assed attempts at getting me to tacitly agree with his apparent plan of pretending nothing happened.

Let’s just say that our office at Portland International Airport has been pretty well chilled during Portland’s recent minor heatwave.

Except – and this is what really reinforces that this whole thing is an epic shituation – for the dreams that have come in the wake of The Incident.

I was awakened when my dream turned into a scenario where my counterpart was storming toward me, yelling at me about an unresolved loose end that was his own responsibility.  It was a crappy way to wake up. But it was also pretty demonstrative of the environment that I walked into with this job.  There’s not a lot of accountability – internal or externally generated – with this fella.  My boss’s early words to me were “He doesn’t work a lot of hours, but he always gets his work done”.  Well, no…he doesn’t, he just gets away with not getting it done.  The scenario in the dream he was yelling at me for is an actual situation that exists at work, and has for a few months.  I went to work that day with a feeling of dread hanging over me because I had basically woken up with the certainty that this particular tiger wasn’t going to be changing his stripes.

That’s left my previous chill factor around the shituation behind and what I have now is an active feeling of dread…like I’m just waiting for the next unforeseeable occurrence.  Unless something happens to guarantee there is a reason to not expect another incident, I think it’s not an entirely unreasonable fear.

At this point, though…his absence is the only thing that would provide that assurance for me.

With that notion kicking around my subconscious self, my next work dream was even worse.

The shituation had been resolved.  My counterpart removed from the equation.

Fired.

Duly.

Did I mention he’s a hunter?  No?  Then I probably should.  He just returned from a hunting trip to Africa where he went trophy hunting.  Yeah, he’s one of those types.  I guess I could have told him he needn’t apply extra effort into losing my respect for him outside of simply pursuing his “hobbies”.

So, my more recent work dream ends with me standing on the MAX platform at PDX feeling relief in the knowledge that my sense of personal security at work would once again be made whole.

Yeah, he shot me in the chest from the parking structure.

Y’know, all things being equal, I have to say given the scenarios that have made me feel so uncertain of my safety this past six weeks or so…I think I’d prefer to go out heroically, like the men who demonstrated what Portlanders are truly like.  Sacrificing myself for the greater good, defending the defenseless.

Being blown up in a bar or sniped at a Pride Parade wouldn’t be that terrible…considering the legitimately decent buzz I would probably have I would presume I would be semi-oblivious to my being blown to oblivion.

But being taken out by a co-worker with an axe to grind?  Man, do I need a job like that in my life?  I acknowledged earlier that I know exactly what to do in my personal life with people like that…the money ain’t near good enough to make me compromise those values in my professional life.  If I wanted that type of work environment, I could get a job as a prison guard in Les Nessman’s jail.les nessman office

But, I have to say, between West Wing and a great Facebook status update…this afternoon has been pretty cathartic.  I’m inspired to be better.  A better example of a life well lived.  Instead of hiding on my couch with my values, I will challenge myself to participate in an actual life and let the trepidation I feel about my countrymen be a mental exercise versus a physical manifestation of the fear and discomfort our American culture engenders in me.  If I do nothing, well…I’ve heard that is all a good man has to do to assure evil a triumph over good.

So, I gotta be present.

But I’m still starting season three of The West Wing tonight.

The Red Shirt Diaries #12

I Tried

If you hang around me long enough, you’ll hear me say – in a strictly non-pejorative way, I swear – “Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”.

Or something like that.

After writing about the pending increase in Oregon’s Bottle Deposit last year, I knew that I was a part of the problem and committed to action. 

In my own charmingly procrastination prone style.

$.10 a can or bottle is a good chunk of change to literally throw away.  

Well, recycle.

Whatever.

Fine, it’s a good chunk of change to figuratively throw away.

What I ended up with was a utility room chock full of empty cans and bottles.  Heck, some were even non-alcoholic!  I was even bringing home the empty soda bottles from my lunches at work.  I was Xtopher in action.

Which, with the slightest amount of effort becomes:  Xtopher inaction.

A new problem.

Luckily, attempting to live on a budget and save money on my…quaint lil paycheck finally lit the fire needed to get me to recruit The Silver Fox as a driver and haul my recyclables to the Safeway.  

Call him conscripted.

I had fully intended to just walk to the Safeway every other week or so with a bag of empty cans and bottle jingling over my shoulder.  I try to go every Friday to stock up on lunch supplies for the coming week, anyway.

I couldn’t shake the mental image of me doing my best homeless person shamble there the streets of Portland’s swanky Pearl District.  My natural procrastination was well fed by this imagery.

Which is how I ended up in The Foxes SUV for a ten-ish block trip.  He dropped me off, parked and made the most of the inconvenience by going inside the store for some much needed oranges…

“When life gives you lemons, exchange them for oranges!” – The Fox.

Ok, he didn’t say that.

But about the time he was walking down the stairs from the parking garage to the store, I was standing in front of the Pearl Safeway’s two reverse vending recycling machines.

Oh, excuse me…the two broken reverse vending recycling machines.

Fuck me.

A homeless guy I’d woken up by walking in groggily said that someone had gone into the store to alert them to the crisis.  That sounds helpful until you factor in my uncertainty in his ability to tell me what day it was.

A very nice employee showed up as I was hauling my bags toward the ramp to the parking garage and offered to hand count my returns for me.  I gratefully accepted.  Then she suggests moving somewhere less stinky.

So I’m standing outside on the sidewalk watching helplessly while she counts my empty cans and bottles.

Of course, a crowd of homeless people with a couple bucks worth of cans each starts to gather ’round.

Oh, the optics.

If I harbored any hope of a future relationship, this would be the time our paths crossed.

$11.40 worth of counting later, I’m on my way.  I’m feeling rather unaccomplished and briefly consider drinking even less beer and soda than I have lately.  

Wine bottles are somehow exempt from the Bottle Bill.

That night, I’m wandering by The Brodega by my house and notice their new taps are featuring Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack and make a date with The Fox to grab one the next night.  

Hashtag: brainstorm

They also fill growlers.

That’s the key to my participation in improving the recycling issue: refillable growlers instead of six packs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle after all!

So, in I walk with my growler the next night.  They fill it with an extraordinary amount of waste, but I’m kinda ok with it since The Brodega is she-she expensive and this growler will probably cost $19, based on their normal over-pricing.  By comparison, a growler fill at The Big Legrowlski is $16, I think.

$12.

That’s what my growler fill fist at The Brodega.

My favorite goddamned beer at bargain basement prices AND I just juked the whole bottle tax vs recycling conundrum.

Yes, please!

Hashtag: winning.

I Tried

Father’s Day

Here’s the card that I got my dad for Father’s Day.

Three years ago?  Maybe four?  I’m quite the procrastinator.

Yeah, still in the plastic sleeve.

I sometimes wonder what The Cats In The Cradle would sound like if written from the son’s perspective.

Why?

Probably because as I’ve been procrastinating what to write to my dad on his Father’s Day card, I was trying to think of early memories of dad and struggled to do so.  Of course, that’s not surprising with my memory.

Side Bar: earlier this week I found myself chuckling at how accurate the phrase “killing a few brain cells” was as shorthand for drinking.

Anyway, that was about when The Cats In The Cradle popped onto my mental jukebox.  It’s been knocking around ever since.

What wasn’t surprising was that I never really associated that song with my dad.  He had a pretty good work/life balance.  As a matter of fact, when he did have to work on weekends when I was a kid it was a treat for me to go to work with him.  

In a fit of Harry Chapin irony, I’ll be working today while the rest of the family is out to brunch with dad and grandpa.  

But when I got to go to work with him, it was a strangely exciting environment.  He was an engineer and the offices were usually darkened except for his office, lending a feeling of isolation to the day…like we were the only two people on the planet. Sometimes his boss or a co-worker would also pop in, but usually it would just be the two of us and I would play with his drafting tools while he worked.

One time as we pulled up, I was amazed to see a battered old airplane fuselage in the yard of his company – he worked for a pipe manufacturer and apparently the fuselage was bought for scrap metal.  I don’t know if this is something that my child’s imagination and sense of wonder filled in or not, but I remember associating the old aircraft with a recent news story about a plane crash.  It gives the whole working weekend with dad thing a further sense of adventure in my memory.

One of my other random childhood memories of dad was one of the few snow days we had as a kid.  Dad – I’m sure for the sake of mom’s sanity – had taken us boys out to play in the snow.  Somehow – probably I innocently pegged dad with a surprise snowball, the real surprise being I threw something and hit a target – dad ended up chasing me around, both of us laughing like maniacs.  Dad had eventually caught me, obviously, and we’re both laughing; I’m trapped…he’s holding me facing away from him, feet dangling a few inches off the ground and he’s feeding me a snowball that I didn’t order.

And we’re laughing and laughing and laughing like maniacal popsicles.  It was a good day.  Especially for me, since I’m not the outdoorsy type.  I’m sure that’s why it stayed with me.  I was more the stay inside and study or watch Gillian’s Island type of kid versus the athletic type like my siblings.

I remember when I got my first “real” job.  No more picking berries during the summer for me, now I was a man with a real job!  Must’ve been maybe 14 or so?  No…had to have been younger.  Maybe I was in the seventh grade?  How old are kids then?

Anyway, I was hired by the golf course down the road to shag and clean balls – shut up, Diezel – at the driving range.

Yeah, I was the target.

And I felt so cool!  It was obviously a new sensation for me.

Anyway, I’d been hired to take over for the owner’s son when he went away to school.  It was great!  Again, not being outdoorsy or sportsball-inclined, this was a big deal to me.  This helped connect me to both my dad and grandfather, since golf was his favorite pastime.  

Oops, is his favorite pastime.  

I got fired.

I walked into the so-called Pro Shop one afternoon for work and the owner was behind the counter and just says he doesn’t need me anymore, it’s not working out and he’s gonna have to let me go.

I was pretty shocked.

I rode my bike home kind of in a daze.  This is one of those weird times as a kid where something fairly traumatic happened to my kid self and I kind of logically processed my feelings but as soon as I hit my driveway, I just reverted to traumatized kid mode and started bawling.

Not for nothing, it turned out that my dad hears my literal sob story and takes off to the golf course.

How fucking awesome is that?

Dad takes off out of the driveway to give that mean old golf course dude what for!

For me!

He comes home a little later, I think the real  story ended up being…guess who came home from school for the summer?

What a dick move.  But dad had sorted that situation for me and – while still sad at losing my cool job – salvaged my shredded dignity and sense of self-worth.

It was heroic to my barely teenaged self.

Luckily, dad was there to support me during my transition back to the Summer berry-picking workforce.  It wasn’t the last time I’d find myself between jobs and not the last time dad was there to help minimize the struggle between paychecks.

I know I’m lucky.

Probably my favorite memory of dad wasn’t a specific memory, rather, it was a time in my life.

An era, if you will.  And it’s my blog, so you will.

It was when we both lived in SoCal.  

The LBC.  

Belmont Shore, specifically.

Mom and dad had separated.  Mom and the rest of the kids were back in Portland.  Dad was single.  I was coming out.

We lived just blocks from each other.  I was young, moving around often.  Dad was in his idyllic little stucco building on St Joseph.  Still, we were never more than a few blocks away…it was like a tether, living that close to my dad as a nascently independent adult.

We’d run into each other at the local convenience store…the 7-eleven, the Murder Mart, the AM/PM.  Me:  buying Super Big Gulps for the day at the beach; him:  Coors Light or lottery tickets.

Hey, we both have faith in the lottery, ok?

We never ran into one another at bars, obviously, but we each had our neighborhood haunts.  His:  Legends; mine: Ripples.  As a matter of fact, I can scarcely remember running into him once at a restaurant.  It’s just the vaguest of memories.  

Maybe it’s a false repressed memory.  Who knows?  But for not running into each other while eating, dad made a point of being fairly consistent about having a standing dinner or lunch date with me.  We’d meet weekly and go to breakfast at Chuck’s on the beach – still my nostalgia dive favorite breakfast place.  Or we’d go to Hof’s Hut for lunch.  Or maybe SuperMex for dinner.

It was nice.

I never felt like it was dad taking me out.  I felt more like I was getting to know him as a man.  Maybe he felt the same way…a lot had changed with us both.

It’s when I feel like I became friends with my father.  That’s why that era is such a fondly treasured time for me.

It’s funny, I don’t really consider my father to have any resemblance to the ne’er around father from that Harry Chapin classic, obviously.  I do think I’m damn lucky to be able to say I’ve grown up to be even a hint of the person that is my father.

And, who knows?  Maybe next year I’ll mail the damn card.  Baby steps.

Father’s Day

This Was Me Yesterday…

…right around 8:20 PM.

To riff on the prophet, Sinead O’Connor, it had been 71 hours and six days.

It was quitting time.

Time for my weekend.

48 plus hours of elsewhere being.

My only plan was some hang time with the Silverest of Foxes and some exercise.

Oh, and a quick Sugar Detox to shock my system a bit, as my mother reminded me yesterday.  I had decided to start it on my Friday and maintain it throughout my weekend to minimize the hangriness at work…but come Tuesday night, I realized how much leftover food I had in my fridge.

Naturally, I deferred my detox plan.

Can’t waste food!

So, number one on my weekend to do list is still gym time.  Here’s a glimpse at what other big plans I hope to accomplish:

  • Finish up my leftovers, starting with this Costco size bag of Chicago style Cretors.
  • Finish s4 of Sherlock.
  • Mail Fathers Day card.
  • Do some wrap up writing…I have 18 pieces in draft status.  I’d like to get that down to 15, which seems like a reasonable goal although, I prefer to keep my projects to 10 or less.
  • Do my recycling.
  • Finish s5 of House of Cards with The Fox, but that is still eight episodes.  That might be to loftily lazy.
  • Mop the floors.
  • Find Myrtle.  When I returned from morning coffee with that aforementioned Fox, she was nowhere to be found and the place was fairly trashed.  She’s probably hiding, knowing she was a bad kitty.  But maybe my bandit – one of those drafts – got in and kidnapped her…

But, first!

Imma knock these two off my list:

Right.

Meow.

This Was Me Yesterday…

That’s Just So Carlos!

Today was a tough day at work, falling somewhere between “complete shit” and “uphill battle”.

My MAX ride home after 11 hours of giving my nose a good grind put an unexpected smile on my face…but it, too, ended well after getting off to a touch and go start.

What I typically enjoy about my time off from work is that it’s solitude.  After spending however long tending to the needs of customers and staff – I call them my internal customers – and most importantly, the needs of the business, well…I can get a little…Garbo-y.

The luxury of choosing who I will spend my free time with and what I will or will not do doesn’t start as soon for me as it does others.  Mine starts not when my car door slams, rather when my front door does.

Ish.

I’m usually greeted by Myrtle screaming at me after being gone literally half a day.  Particularly when I’m working an alt-schedule as I am this week.  Sunday was 10 am to 1 am, today and tomorrow are 10 to 8…although I failed by an hour in my departure time today.  Mistress Myrtle let me know as soon as I came off the firewell stairs – yes, I can walk up stairs again! – with a frantic mewling that I could hear in the hallway.

How dare you leave me unattended so long!”

“Need I remind you that dinner is at 6 pm, sharp?!?”

Or, being merely human, she worries about my ability to survive in the wild for prolonged periods.  Either way, all is forgiven once I crack open that Fancy Feast!

Until she remembers that she hates all food, all the time and starts complaining about my cooking.

But!

Let’s get back to what I just realized is my respite from needs and demands…my MAX commute home.

I’m waiting on the MAX platform, resisting the urge to consider what ball I could have let drop that would have prevented my seeing a train pulling out as I came out of the airport.

13 minutes.

That’s how long I get to tap my toes until the next train.  At this hour, the Red Line trains are single car affairs.  I surreptitiously assess the size of the crowd trickling in as we wait for the transit security guy to inspect the car before we load in.  

It’s not too bad.  It won’t be crowded.

I also use this time to gauge which end of the car to head to, preferring the front of the train.  There’s several people with clunky bags at the rear and just one single fella with a small bag at the front door.

I’m actually only one of three people that aren’t jockeying for position outside each open door waiting for the inspection to be complete.

Human nature…when I think of it as an individual, he’s that kid that runs headfirst into walls with a bucket over his head for…protection?

It’s not like we’re going anywhere for – I check the departure clock – 6 minutes.  What is the friggin’ rush to board?  Simply being told to wait until the inspection is over?

<eye roll>

Anyway, I start sidestepping my way toward the front of the train and arrive there to see the somewhere-on-the-autism-scale inspector come off the train and bow slightly while making a surprising sweeping gesture toward the doors, welcoming the passengers on board with a flourish.  I’m not sure of the actual intent behind the gesture, but I feel myself grinning.

There’s only four of us in the elevated front of the train.  I think there’s 19 seats, five rows of two on either side of the aisle.  One in the front row on the right side of the driver’s compartment to allow the driver room to enter and exit.  

We’re pretty spaced out.  The guy with the small roller bag is on the left in the third row, I sit on the right in the fourth row.  He gives me a strange glance as we’re each settling in.  The other two people that didn’t rush the doors are in front of me.

Ever since the MAX stabbings just under three weeks ago I tend to not sit in the fifth row.  The front of the train is elevated, but someone from below could easily reach over the unprotected seat back.  

I may have a little MAX PTSD.

My stop is the 12th stop.  There’s a lot that can happen in 12 stops.  It’s the retail witching hour:  the stores have closed and many of the riders coming on board look as if they are just leaving work.

Mostly, people Mother Teresa would bitch-slap get on.

The guy that sits behind me after boarding at the third stop sounds like he’s snoring through his nose.

I just sit there and try to look normal as I imagine nails on a chalkboard with each breath.  

He gets off two stops later.  

A few stops later I hear someone – someone who sounds permanently stoned – talking behind me.  I put up my mental buffer against street urchins panhandling for change, but realize that’s not what’s happening here.

I turn around.

There’s a kid hanging forward up the stairs from one of the yellow support poles.  He’s asking the new, silent breathing rider behind me if he knows where the Roseland is and whether this will take him there.

He sees me and looks plaintively up at me, asking me if this bus goes to the Roseland.

I check my desire to tell him he’s on a train while also registering his peach fuzz mustache and yellowing bruise around his left eye.

And his friendly, lost eyes.

I tell him it does take him there, but stop short of telling him how many stops there are…I’m not sure he’s really in any shape to keep track of stops.  He heads back to the other end of the train with a genuinely grateful “Thank you, sir!”

I’m mentally preparing myself to go out the rear doors when I get off and tell him the next stop is the one he wants.  Doing something nice for a stranger almost always makes me feel good.

I can hear him talking in the back with his friend about how great the show is going to be.  

We get to the Rose Quarter stop and I can hear them start talking about whether or not this is their stop.  I’m mentally answering them with a “no” as the doors start to close and I realize one of them decided it was their stop and ran out.  The kid who had asked me if this was his bus had not made it off and we’re pulling away.  

I’m hearing people tell him he can get off at the next stop and come back over and thinking their show must have been at the Moda Center in the Rose Quarter and not at the Roseland.  

He’s yelling that he has to get off.

Suddenly, he runs puts me and lands chest first against the driver’s door, fists balled and beating the door over his head, yelling at the driver to stop.

“I have to get off!  My friend is back there.  Let me off!”

I’m low-grade alarmed at the outburst, but I can see his energy waning as quickly as he burst by me.  My alarm turns to concern that the driver will call the cops, ruining the potential concert he was so excited about.

He leaves and heads back to the rear of the train,

I can hear him mumbling about how he has to get off the train.  I turn around and he’s leaning on a pole by the rear doors, dejectedly moaning his defeated mantra about getting back to his friend.

It’s kind of heartbreaking.

I realize that he’s been holding the driver call button down while he talks.  He lets it go and the driver is in the middle of a surprisingly calm reply about getting off at the next stop to go back to the Moda Center as we come off the Steel Bridge, this is my stop.

I get up and move to the back of the train.

He sees me coming, locks eyes on me and blurts out, “Hey!  Sir!  I know you’re the manager…can you make the driver stop and let me off?!?”

What?  Lol.

“Is your concert at the Roseland or the Rose Quarter?” I ask.

“The Roseland!  And my friend got off and the doors closed and I’m stuck and I have to get back there!” he frantically rambles.

He sounds like an upset toddler, I expect instant huge tears to erupt from his eyes and streams of sudden mucous to run from his nose at any moment,

I tell him his stop is two away.

“What?!?” he giggles with relief.

“Your friend got off too early”, I say.

“Oh my god, that’s so great!  Gimme a high five.” he yells.  Manically happy again.

I high five him and he asks my name, extending his hand and telling me his name is Carlos.  I tell him my name and he pumps my hand vigorously, saying, “I’m so faded man!”

Before he releases my hand, the train jostles and he’s thrown off balance, his grip on my hand being the only thing keeping him upright.

I help steady him, mentally registering the odd freeze frame we must have been.

I move toward the now open door, tossing a “You get off at the next stop, ok?” over my shoulder as I exit.  

He followed me off the train, still babbling his thanks.  I’m not entirely sure he realizes he’s no longer on the train.  I gently turn him around – don’t make it weird, Diezel – and tell him to get back on.  “Just one more stop”, I say, worried he won’t make it and I’ll somehow end up in charge of him.

“Just one more stop!” he replies as he stumbles through the door.

As the doors close, bouncing off his head before reopening to let him board.

I turn and head home, grinning like a fool.  My cruddy work day pushed to the rear of my consciousness.

Oh, Carlos

That’s Just So Carlos!

Fitfy: 49.19

I think it’s time.

I’ve been focused on preserving my physical well-being and developing some routine around structured exercise.  

I’ve been cleverly denying curbing my bad dietary choices at the same time.  Sure, challenging myself to cook at home versus eating out – which has become more of a necessity since tax time, too – but I’m still cooking more comfort food to soothe my emotional self than food that supports my entire self.  

It’s time to focus on integrating diet into this hopscotch toward success in my exercise regimen I am currently on.  I do feel better for the once weekly fit of exercise I get outside of my 6-9 miles walked at work daily…but that ain’t slimming the old silhouette, if you get my drift.  I know a diet based more on lean protein and vegetables will improve that result.  Further, those foods with their added latent results will probably mentally and physically stimulate more of a post-workday activity mindset.

I’ve been avoiding supplements to help reduce my body fat.  I don’t want a crutch.

I’ve been stalwart in my resistance to far diets, whether it be a juice cleanse or going paleo.

I’ve been contemplating a return to a diet prescription an obnoxiously fit gym owner my age once gave me.  He recommended only chicken and green veggies like broccoli after lunch…he’ll why not for lunch, too?

I’ve been glaring at my iced lattes, mentally preparing myself for a return to home made cold brew.

Making those moves would be a jolt of support toward my goals.

Ironically, I realized that diet regimen has been given a trendy and modern name:  a sugar detox.

Plus, it’s a fairly stripped down version of a paleo diet, too.

So, starting Wednesday…three days of hardcore focus on this diet plan and the layering some different foods in while maintaining that base.

After all, what’s in a name, as long as it works for me?

Fitfy: 49.19