The Red Shirt Diaries #1

Even though I know my ultimate demise will likely be rather unremarkable, I have rather amusing moments in my life where I think, “Yeah, that’s about how I’d die”.  acmeAll things considered, it wouldn’t surprise me to go out under a falling safe or being caught in the crossfire of some other Wile E Coyote scenario.  Emphasis on “caught in the crossfire”.  I’ve long ago given up the concern that my death certificate would list “Death By Misadventure” as the reason for my demise.

The most recent example of a suitable cause of death for my randomly entertaining life is being hit by a car going the wrong way down one of the many one-way streets downtown Portland has to offer.  I really don’t understand the challenge to drivers here.  Is it that hard to notice a sign featuring a giant black arrow and pick up on the clue?  How about even larger white arrows painted on the pavement?  It seems likely that a marginally brain alive driver would be able to rely on their subconscious to steer their vehicle in the recommended direction.

Maybe these drivers know something I don’t and I’m the idiot.

Maybe Trump could Make America Great Again?

Anyway, I’ve grown dangerously confident in my abilities to safely navigate the streets of both major PNW cities in the last decade of my pedestrian lifestyle – which is anything but boring (see what I did there?) – but acknowledge the possibility that that confidence could easily become a fatal case of overconfidence given the number of times I look only in the direction one should expect to encounter traffic on one-way streets before proceeding through the crosswalk.  Or crossing mid-block and diagonally across a street, as several wise friends have unknowingly programmed me to do with their shrewd, step-saving strategies.  blammoPartnering that casual disdain for idiot drivers with the number of times I witness cars driving against the traffic flow on one-way streets, and you’ve got a Xtopher-worthy ironic cause of death.  Yay, me.

Acknowledging all that…a few weeks or days back, I commented in a blog post that on my long workday weekend closing shifts that the key I had discovered to tricking myself into not realizing that I worked 25 hours in two days, arriving home around midnight both Fridays and Saturdays, was to do something nice for myself both before and after my shift.  All too often I had indulged in an activity called Beer Drinking after I got home to the point where I was usually too sluggish in the morning to appreciate any pre-work activities.

That’s good on occasion, but left me fat and slightly irritated at the beginning of each weekend.  So I started really focusing on doing something enjoyable before work.  Coffee with The Silver Fox is always a fun and easy way to indulge myself before work.  Plus, he practically insists on it.  When he can be bothered to stay in town on the weekends.  He’s winning at retirement.  I also started – after a lengthy procrastination – taking a wee bike ride before work.  I’m aiming at making it back to the gym one of these weekend mornings.  Today, I’m writing.

However, I woke up last weekend feeling happy, but…bored?  The sense of ennui that had probably been probably been prairie dogging my subconscious for quite a while finally came out for a good look around.

I was looking in the mirror when it happened, thinking that my eyebrows needed a good whack job.

I took out my clippers and went for it.  In the usual manner at first; combing them against the grain with my fingers to make the crazy long ones stand up, then protecting my beautiful non-crazy-long-eyebrow with my finger as a cutting shield.  I always know there’s a few crazy long hairs mingling with my normal crop of brow hair, but now and then one or two will caterpillar out and those are the ones I really care about nipping.  I don’t get all nuts about the baby fine underbrows that make my eyes look heavy and tired.

News Flash:  I’m old, my eyes are heavy and tired.

Mission accomplished, I put the clippers back and turned to leave the bathroom.  That’s when I noticed the hint of a partially tamed caterpillar giving me the finger.  I leaned back against the counter and bent forward, my face an inch from the mirror just to verify.  I frantically finger combed my brow against the grain to find that little bastard and finally coaxed him from the crowd of his follicle fellows.  Pinning him to my forehead, without moving and losing him in the light, I re-opened the drawer of my vanity and reached in to retrieve the clippers.  Try as I might, I just couldn’t get him.  He was almost short enough to not stand out, but just too damn fat to lay down.  Catching him in just the right light made me look like I had some type of off-center, stunted unicorn horn protruding from my forehead.

He had to go.

Now, a reasonable person in possession of his faculties might have just reached for the tweezers that were less than a foot away.  But I am only one of those.

I slowly removed my finger-guide from my eyebrow in the hopes that that errant little bastard would stay in place so I could just take him down a tad more with the clippers.



There he was…sticking out and just up enough that I suspected I could snip him with the clippers, well, I knew that I could…I just hoped I could do it without shaving off half of my eyebrow.


I was so focused on the tip of that one strand of hair that I tracked its trajectory up as it hit and careened off the mirror and fell to the tile counter.

Take that, you little fucker.

Then I looked back into the mirror to survey the damage.

All good.


I felt so alive.

But the adrenaline rush was short lived.  By lunch time – dinner time to everyone that doesn’t work until 11:00 on a Saturday – I was feeling a little antsy again.  It hit me as I was standing at the crosswalk by work waiting to cross Lombard, which is the bypass for Highway 30 through the North Portland neighborhood that my store is in.

Y’know…probably just the second busiest East-West thoroughfare in North Portland.

I realized I was crossing against the walk sign about three steps after my body had left the curb at a fast walk.

Reaching the other side with nary a honk, I thought to myself that I was too old for that reckless shit.  I needed to get this boredom in check.

I worked out my shift, closed the store and went home.  Straight home.  I did not not pass my local watering holes.  I went home, where the world’s most dangerous feline greeted me and let me know it was time for a treat.  I reached down to pet her, caught her stubby tail twitching in the corner of my eye and thought, “Yeah, cat…you want a piece of this?” and barely prevented the firing of nerves that was poised to propel my hand down to pet her.

What the fuck was wrong with me?

I dropped my laptop bag by the bar, kicked off my shoes, tossed my dirty socks, shirt and undies into the washing machine and walked naked to my room with my blue jeans slung over my shoulder.hotel progress

The view from my little living room balcony is transforming into what will be the 4th floor courtyard for a hotel going in right behind my building.  The makeshift 2×4 fence you see here will be the top of a green wall that my neighbors below will enjoy once the project is completed.  I will enjoy – hopefully – the rather likely de rigeuer hotel patio potted garden that is as sparsely and apathetically attended as any other hotel courtyard in the universe.  If this courtyard is particularly populated, well…you know what their view will be like.  Hehehe.

I closed my bedroom door, locking myself away from Murderous Myrtle and the Danger Zone for the night.

I awoke the next morning, refreshed after ten hours of sleep, pulled on some tights and shorts, a tech shirt and shoes and socks before emerging from my room.  Myrtle was over my fearful neglect and barely glanced my way.

I dropped a scoop of kibble in her bowl, filled her water and walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth, frightening myself when I saw my rat’s nest bed head.  Truncated morning ablutions created, I put on my helmet and wheeled my bike out onto the street.

I didn’t know where I was going, how much water was leftover in my water bottle or when I would be back; but I needed to get out and clear my mind.  Being retired against my will from running, by my doctor and weakened tibia, I had been finding it difficult to replace the head-clearing therapy of the ballistic movement that running always gave me.  I was also finding it difficult to maintain my normal diet and alcohol consumption levels and still get into my own pants.  Let alone anyone else’s pants.

<cue laugh track>

I ended up pointed in the direction of Highway 30 – the real one, not the bypass.  As I let my mind calculate potential routes through the NW part of town that would get me there, I decided that I was going to ride out to Sauvie Island, an improbable agricultural haven about a dozen miles outside of town.  Also home to one of Portland’s two nude beaches that my people typically lose their shit over during Portland’s surprisingly beautiful summers.  Me, being slightly – or reasonably – repressed and not wanting to see my friends naked and inadvertently sexualizing them (Why I’m Single #74) have never been.  Not that I am changing my perspective here, but I figured at least getting an idea of where the hell this place actually was couldn’t hurt.  In all of my years living in Portland, I think I have been to Sauvie Island less than half a dozen times in my adult life.  Once, Sacha and I went out to the island on a little drive, I had half-heartedly kept an eye out for the signs to Collin’s Beach.  I never saw any, but maybe today would be the day I put a more geographic context on its existence.

Wow, I really got link crazy in that last paragraph.

Of course, back to the crazy manners in which I could conceivably die, my mother probably defaults here to “riding his bike on Highway 30″…a not unreasonable perspective.  I, however, would counter that with “stubbornness”.  Like getting lost in the West Hills of Portland, ending up riding all the way to the top thinking that “surely there’s a way down on the far side” and then dying of cardiac arrest because my fat, drunken ass is too out of shape to handle that type of exertion.  So, yeah, I probably should have turned around and chosen another path to Highway 30 before reaching the top and realizing the only other way down would lie on the other side of Forest Park.  Finally coming to my senses – realizing that if my tires survived the attempt at trail riding through to the other side, I more than likely wouldn’t – I turned my bike around and gave my chickeny little legs a break as I coasted back down the mountain.

Finding 30, I made the ride out to the Island and back…never finding Collin’s Beach and not caring.  I had at least purged the destructive need for adventure from my system.  It only took 30 miles on the bike, which resulted in some amazing scenic memories of how absolutely gorgeous my hometown is, despite the poor upkeep of Highway 30’s industrial area.

It also resulted in my ass feeling like ground beef, but whatever.  That’s a problem for another day.  Let’s see how I survive this next weekend…

The Red Shirt Diaries #1

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