The Red Shirt Diaries #28

It’s probably bad form to post under this theme twice within a week. Please, don’t pack me off to the cotton-walled Hilton.

Early last summer, I began musing that I’d died in late February or early March. Really, it was just boredom and mentally passing the time in lockdown.

It was certainly a way to explain the hell we were all living through.

Then, as the campaign season wore on and Election Day approached, I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t died late in 2016…and this was how I’d be spending my eternity in hell.

Trump’s America.

It certainly seemed feasible enough. Plus, the hangover I had on 11/9/2016 was the worst I’d ever had – no joke. Maybe I had died of alcohol poisoning back then.

But then…something awesome happened.

Biden and Harris pulled out a win. Things were looking up. Well, up despite the efforts of 74 million idiots.

So this morning, not too long after Trump snuck out of the White House for the last time

I was finally able to put that simmering concern to rest as I watched Biden address the nation as our 46th president. And, while I’m sure he will be the first Democratic one-term president in about a half century, all felt right knowing that our 47th president was very likely sitting there watching.

Congratulations to is all – Americans, stupid or non-Trunts alike.

We made it.

We survived.

We will heal.

The Red Shirt Diaries #28

I Am Unresolved

But, still…one (this one, anyway) does like setting and achieving goals. Especially if they are fun or don’t require too much work.

That said, my goals are a mixed bag of those two…adjectives? Qualities?

I dunno.

Nonetheless, here’s a brief accounting of the goings down to date:

1) After Chadwick Boseman died last summer – suddenly, to out of the loop fans – I started putting pressure on myself to get my mind sorted on the Coming of Age test that my doctor had been pestering me about for several years. It’s cute that he thought getting ahead of my fiftieth for the test would provide results. He plied me with mail in poo test kits on every visit for a couple years, trying to sell me on “new and improved” collection methods.

Bless his heart. He’d only known me a couple of years at the time and was unfamiliar with my stubbornness.

When T’Challa died, I finally pulled one out of mothballs my pile of unread mail and stabbed a floater before sending it in.

Of course, I failed.

Since it tests for trace blood and I have ROH (randomly occurring hemorrhoids), duh…blood.

When he calls me with the results, I’m talking to a doctor that finally knows me.

I’m going to write you a referral. When they call, *please* answer your phone.

Hehe.

I replied by asking how many years he’d been chasing me about fondling my feces, which amused me way more than him.

It’s not funny, it’s just funny.

Anyway, my colonoscopy is the week after my birthday. AKA: at the end of this month.

2) At Christmas, after my mom unwrapped a bird feeder from her Secret Satan Santa, I remembered what I’d forgotten: I wanted a bird feeder for my Juliette balcony. Mom directed me to the shed, where there was a hummingbird feeder they had decommissioned some time ago that I was welcome to.

I’d posted about the minimal effort required to install it – basically a trip to the local hardware store.

Side Note: my local hardware store is the one that Anastasia Steele (what a douchey name, but what does one expect from such a masturbatory story?) worked at before becoming involved with the titular character in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Anyway…I finally got around to that. Now the waiting game begins.

She’s a meany. But I’m sure she’s nice enough to invite any takers into her Red Room.

3) And no Resolution List would be complete without a diet or exercise entry.

Diet is not that entry. Although, after reading about the prep for the impending ol’ tooter rooter, I’ll consider that diet.

But I’d seen the latest greatest resolution challenge floating around on social media – something about 100 Days of Motion or some such nonesense. While I consider goals to be a great thing, realistic goals are the ones you attain.

Somehow, 100 Days of Motion for this old bag of bones didn’t seem likely. Unless, of course, one counts getting out of bed as a sit up, on to or off of the couch a squat or some similarly unlikely rationalization a success.

I don’t.

Nonetheless, I committed to being more active, minimum bar for success set at five days per week.

I started with three sets of weighted exercises at home – my only real option in Lockdown 2.0 – and had at it. Any movement feels good after months of rather unfocused but still highly effective neglect. So I was satisfied…and increasingly motivated through my own accomplishments.

Then I did a mile of stairs in my building.

It was the end of the second week – which seemed reasonable. But my body informed me otherwise.

I mean…it seemed so reasonable. Then I walked weird for a week. Nevermind the reality of wheezing my way up and down six flights of stairs dozens of times in a mask.

In a fit of frustration over my soreness and lack of saw ownership, which would provide me the ability to cut off my legs, I ordered an e-stim massage unit for a little relief…I hoped.

I have a friend – who I will allow to remain anonymous – that has one he uses for personal massages. That particular endorsement doing nothing but sending my nuts fully back into my torso whenever the topic comes up, I also had one from Bubble Boy.

Not that his was much better. He’d found playing the part of “cowboy” to my “bull” (Ha, I wish) taxing after falling asleep with his attached to his rear a couple of days before one of our assignations. Not that his rear needed a workout, but the results of his nap on a high setting gave me hope for a therapeutic result on a low setting.

It most certainly did the trick! Not bad for a $30 solution to my million dollar baby problem. Here’s a video of the above situation if you want to see ol’ Chicken Legs McGee twitch…

I’d also seen a former colleague hosting outdoor fitness classes, reminiscent of my uber-fit days in Seattle, when I’d wake up at the crack of dawn and go to a boot camp overlooking the Puget Sound and then grab a doughnut before 7.

Anyway, she was doing Saturday morning classes (at a non-crazy hour) for $10 and I thought maybe I should participate. I missed the first week, but the second week I took my Jabba-esque physique out for a trundle. Hell, for all I knew, it would kill me and spare me the colonoscopy.

Upside.

Here is my post following the completion:

And I should be back next week. I was gratified that my former colleague bemoaned being 43 as we caught up, trying to decide “how long it had been” while also laughing at how long it had been. That’s aging for ya, it’s kind of amazing. Additionally, with her being probably exactly middle-aged for a woman, that lent itself to the majority of the participants being only slightly younger than me. So I felt comfortable.

On the other hand, the single attendee who was young-young was someone I was fairly certain that I’d chatted with on asocial media several years back and maybe only unfollowed this past summer. It’s hard to tell with masks and all, but I recognized some thigh tattoos and distinctive guybrows.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize me – or my less-than-impressive thunder. Because, of course the class I went to so that my clothes would fit better started off with midriff-baring downward facing dogs. While that’s a position I would enthusiastically put him into, no one needs to witness my shituation in that same posture.

All that said, the class was great – despite the humbling nature of the endeavor and one errand exertion related fart – and I will be back next week. And I can still walk, thanks to my e-stim buddy.

4) And I nearly forgot this one: I raised my weekly Lyft goal by 50%. When I’d originally set it, my goal was just to minimize street parking expenses, since I don’t have a garage. I usually made that goal, but now that I’m not doing any part-time office gigs, I’m on the street whenever I’m not driving for Lyft.

Honestly, I normally blew that goal away, but officially resetting my goal to the 50% increase was daunting.

So far, mixed results. I’m averaging my new goal over the first weeks of the new year, but I have only achieved the goal itself two out of three opportunities.

There still work to be done. And 49 chances for success!

So that’s what I’ve got going so far this year…I still have my new InstaPot as an open/unopened goal to tackle. I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media will be assaulted by result pics know as soon as I start executing on that goal. I’d like to put it into weekly use…it’s just finding those recipes that will produce leftovers I’ll actually eat or that can be cut into halves easily.

It’ll happen.

How are your resolutions going? Tell me in the comments…

I Am Unresolved

The Red Shirt Diaries #26: LyftLife Edition

Long story, short:

I still love driving for Lyft. It’s currently my favorite form of prochristination and cure for boredom.

Now…

Short story, long:

Last night was the second time I’ve thought, “Sheesh, that could have been it for you, son” after a ride.

Yes, I talk to myself like that inside my head. Well, mostly inside my head. I also have a “Mom Voice” and a “Dirty Harry” persona that make occasional appearances.

But out of ~3500 rides, two that could have gone from dicey to deadly ain’t bad, right? Also, check out that 5-star rating! I feel a Rain Man voice coming on, because…

Clearly.

Anyway, I never wrote about the craziest drive I ever gave because it:

A) was just about everything anyone who’s ever said, “I bet you could write a book about your experiences driving” would think it would be; and,

B) my actual mom would use her actual mom voice on me and make me get a real job again.

Also, maybe I’ll write a book about it.

So…

The Runner Up Ride:

First off, last night started out as a shit show. I picked up a guy on my first ride who tells me he was just leaving a friend’s place after a hang out. Assuming correctly that “hang out” was exactly the euphemism I thought it to be, partnered with the reality that this is a heavyset fella, I was immediately equal parts envious and Nancy Kerrigan.

I mean, really…whyyyy?!?

Then it got weird, when he asked if he could ask me an off topic and admittedly weird question. I’m pretty game for weirdness, so I chuckled and told him to get at it. Well, it turns out this guy and I worked together briefly at a local healthy grocery from which we were both fired – because that’s what this joint is like. In a fit of C.R.S…I have absolutely zero recollection of him.

His question could have been weirder, but my C.R.S. added just the right layer of awkwardness to the conversation.

We trashed The Gays for a while, since he’d mentioned his friend was a dude and 1 + 1 = a sword fight. Then, as he was exiting the car at the bar I was dropping him off at (a coping mechanism I completely understand) he says, “For what it’s worth, being a gay guy in his 20s is totally different than being a gay guy in his…” and waves his hand at my general state of being. Then he shows me a quarter slot as he hefts his way out of the back that could hold every damn quarter ever. That overly cheeky fat fuck…the nerve.

First person to throw up in my car? Me. Almost. Well, I did, mentally.

Optimistically, I thought, “Well, things can only go up from here” in my Dirty Harry voice.

Then I picked up a young woman who answered “Better…” when I asked how she was doing. She followed it up with “I’ve been throwing up all day, but now it’s mostly dry heaving. But I brought a plastic bag, just in case.”

So…that was a quick arc, from virtual to actual (potential) vehicle based vomit.

It turns out she’d drank an entire bottle of something that was lost behind and effort to stifle something else on Friday night – on an empty stomach, no less – and yesterday was a Bob’s your uncle type day for her. Fortunately, we made it to her destination without incident, Portland’s pot-holey roads notwithstanding. Her ride ended close to my home – and, in a completely unnecessary side bar, right across the street from a place I lived back in ’96-97 – and I though that maybe I should just give up and call it a night.

Clearly, the universe was trying to tell me to fuck all the way off something.

But the (recreational) O.C.D. is strong in me and I like to give blocks of 10 rides when I go out. My feeling was that even if I was going to short-day it, I needed to hit five rides so I could sleep. Hell, at least four, so I could true-up my total ride balance to a mentally comfortable multiple of 5 or 10.

Full disclosure: when I get into what I call “overtime”, that 10 rides block goes out the window. If I’m in the far reaches of Portland on my 10th ride – as is often the case, given the level of fuckery I endure from the universe – I’ll put my app in Home or Lux Mode and take rides that come my way, but not hold myself to ending on a multiple of 5 or 10…

Surely, I could manage two or three more rides. Right?

Again, optimistically, I thought in my Mom Voice “You never know, the next ride could turn everything around for the better”.

That was just plain, old foolhardiness, though.

Enter, my third rider.

A phrase that is as potentially foreshadowing as a depraved mind could imagine. Seriously, you wanna know how this turns out? Remove the comma.

Let’s call this guy Donnie Drunko.

I clocked his blood alcohol level as elevated as he wobbled toward the car. I also clocked his sexual proclivities as he gave a long hug to a male friend before heel-toeing it my way.

He seemed amused when I told him I came out to drive after giving my wine rack the side eye too early in the evening, unnecessarily admitting he’d had a few drinks. “Yeah”, I replied, “but knowing my night owly tendencies, I knew that if I opened a bottle at 6:30, I’d be opening a second before 11.”

I went on to mentally muse that there was also a $15 streak bonus at 9:00 for giving three rides between 9-10 PM and I wanted to start a second streak in that hour to add a $30 bonus to my night’s effort. That bottle of wine could wait until 11.

Well, that’s what my thought process had been. I was already second-guessing that moderation decision and by the end of this ride, I was going to regret not boarding the bus to Hammertown.

Let’s just go straight from his surprise that it was only 7:40 and he was firmly wrapped up in a booze blanket, bypass the fairly enjoyable conversation about owning a house as a single person and skip onto me pulling up to his curb, eh?

He seemed to have trouble getting his shit together before deplaning getting out of the car. Not an unfamiliar phenomenon – especially with relaxed folk. People want to make sure they have everything, and that’s just more of a production from inside a bottle.

I’ve learnt to display a detached patience when this happens, like I don’t notice.

Instead of struggling to get out of the car, I realized he’d been struggling to close the diagonal distance between us. From the back, he grabs my arm to pull himself toward me so that his chest is against the back of my driver’s seat.

Assuming best intentions – like a moron – I ask if everything is ok, like maybe I parked in front of the wrong house. Nope…right house, wrong ballpark, as I soon found out.

“Do you, uh…want a hand job?” he slurs at me, his masked face surprisingly close to my own when I turned to face him.

“Boy, did you read that wrong”, I replied, enjoying the chance to use one of my favorite West Wing quotes in the same manner – albeit far more X-rated – that Leo McGarry had used it when Josh had tried to hug the curmudgeonly Chief of Staff on the show.

Shrugging off my rejection like it was my character flaw versus the complete cultural abdication of class on the part of The Gays that it is, he gets out of the car. Eschewing my usual “wait until they get to their door safely” M.O. I drive off immediately, debating when I should 1-star this clown and lamenting the pathetic state of Gay Kulture.

Internally, I’m trying to talk myself into waiting until morning. Then I hit the Block Hammer wall that I encounter so frequently on asocial media. When I don’t align with someone’s self-indulgent world view behaviors and they block me for – and I’m paraphrasing here – telling them that they are basically an affront to anyone with actual retarded developmental issues.

I know…you’re just dying to know that if that was the paraphrased version of my online response, what is the actual content. Trust me, it’s usually full on Julia Sugarbaker-esque indignation.

Low grade concerned that this guy could effectively pull that same cancel culture bullshit on me that faceless gays do online when they block me, simply by lodging a complaint about me with Lyft, I pull over and pull out my 1-star rating for this Lost Boy.

I hate giving someone a low rating/review and think Lyft is a little overly cautious in its pairing paradigm. Out of five possible stars, the app will never pair you with anyone you rate 3-stars or less. I think that’s a bit harsh, but I understand that they are trying to make the community the happiest possible place for passengers and drivers by pairing you with seeming favorites. It’s cool with that perspective. Wanting to be a busy boy, though, I tend to rate riders thusly:

5: good/great ride with a tip

4: good/great ride

3: lacking behavior, self-aware enough to tip to compensate

2: lacking behavior

1: WTactualF

This guy got a 1…even though I woke up to a chubby tip. I’d have still not felt bad had he given me a fat or even morbidly obese tip…and here’s why: it wasn’t until I pulled back onto the road to fetch my fourth ride that I realized this guy pulling himself so close to me could have easily ended with him pulling a knife across my throat – remember, I live in Stabtown, USA – as it did with a clumsy offer of a handy. Needless to say, I was a little trembly when I pulled up to my next pick up.

Happily, and in a fit of Mom Voice vindication, ride four was a 25 minute Lux ride from the swanky West Hills to far less swanky Felony Flats on the east side of town. As if the $50 ride itself wasn’t enough to tilt things back into cosmic balance for grumpy old Xtopher, the guy was a great conversationalist…which is fucking priceless.

The post-credits scene:

Since you obviously want to know…having stayed this long; no, I did not manage to double up on the streak bonus. Ride number four in my streak efforts barely fell into the 9-10 o’clock hour, but by the time he ran out his five-minute pickup time, it was 10:03 so I couldn’t start a second streak.

Still, I’ll gladly take:

A) a $50 ride

B) restored faith in my riders’ behavior; and,

C) getting to my 10 ride goal after a really rocky start to the night as offsets to a second $15 bonus.

The Red Shirt Diaries #26: LyftLife Edition

TIL #12: I Needed A Distraction…

Bless your heart if you wondered from what.

Unrelated question: What are comas like? I’ve always wondered.

After this past Wednesday, I’m happy to report that my new TV survived my watching the news of the Right-Wing Extremists storming our nation’s capitol building. I didn’t even break my phone reading follow-up news pieces or reading conservative blogs on it.

But, I needed some detox and self-care to return myself to an emotional balance.

So I cooked.

It’s something I’m loathe to do for myself, mostly because it’s so wasteful. You see, I hate most leftovers. Living alone makes cooking problematic. Either I eat too much or I toss perfectly good food once it spoils.

My fridge is kind of like the Island of Misfit Meals or a Leftovers Hospice.

Needless to say, this cooking indulgence had to be strategic.

I’m not entirely sure this solution qualifies as strategic, I’ll at least call it symbolic. While shopping for grocery staples the other day, I decided to take advantage of a sale on 3 lb chubs of ground beef.

Normally when I use ground beef in a meal, it’s a pound at a time. But I’ll usually only eat meat once or twice a week. That made my splurge on 6 lbs at once…daunting.

But it was a really good deal at $3/lb versus the normal $5-6. (I’m sure any international readers will find my use of empirical units…quaint) I knew exactly what I was going to do with it, too.

Freeze it.

Shocking, right?

However, last year I’d read a hot tip in Bon Appetit magazine – before their BLM implosion – that I’d been wanting to try. One of their food writers – I think it was Carla Lalli Music, who I’ve always loved reading…I mean, just that name! – suggested it.

Cook up 1 lb batches of ground beef and freeze them. Then when a recipe calls for it, it will thaw and reheat in the pan as you prepare the meal. Saves time and dish washing over the course of your mid-week cooking.

She freezes hers flat and in freezer bags, of which I have none. I do, however, have these great reusable take out bowls that I used to take the precious few leftovers I will deign to consume to work in for my lunches.

Alas, here I am with no work that has an associated associate break room these days.

Time to repurpose!

So, in two batches, I cooked up my chubs.

For each batch, I made two 1 lb doses to freeze and then used the third 1/3 of my chub to make a meal.

Important side note: let your meat cool before covering and freezing it. You don’t want to inadvertently create a bacteria growing environment in your containers!

Recreational side note: if you’re more of a meal planner or disciplined eater than I am, you can even coon these up with taco, Italian or what-have-you seasonings and be that much further ahead.

So simple. Look at me, I’m a fucking Heloise knock-off over here. Honestly, the biggest challenge was keeping Myrtle away from it while it cooled.

My biggest regret was that what drew my attention initially was the chubs marked with those “Manager Special” stickers. They were marked down to $2.79 for the entire 3 lb chub! Sadly, they were the 80% lean ground beef and this physique I inhabit needs 20% fat like I need a second term of Trump. But, since the 93% lean was still a really good deal, I went for it.

Ok, in all honesty, I misread the sign. It said $2.99 and I thought, “Hells yeah, I’m getting that one!” without realizing it had some small print noting “per lb” until I was at the U-Scan. Like I said, though, still a good deal, so I went ahead and bought it. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try this tip for the longest time.

What can I say? The remaining items on my Bucket List just aren’t that exciting, so this is what you get.

TIL #12: I Needed A Distraction…

It’s *So* Big!

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to handle this. It’s so much bigger than I expected.

I mean, you hear the words…10 inches and think you understand what you’re hearing. As if you can conceptualize the size of such a large unit. But then you see it and your mind just…🤯

Wow. That’s just…a bit much.

*cat pictured for scale

Wait. What did you think I was talking about?

So, yeah. I got a new TV to replace my problematic 55″ Vizio that I’d had for about a dozen years. For whatever reason, it just decided to die stop turning on.

The newby is an early indirect birthday gift from my parents, who rained shekels down upon me during a car-bound coffee date earlier this week. They’re so awesome, I joke about being their favorite child, despite my occasional feeling that I’m the most disappointing. Thank gourd for Black Sheep Bro, he puts considerable effort into being disappointing. If it weren’t for him, well…I think my personal list of achievements would be looking pretty grim.

I still suspect my parents’ actions with BSB makes him feel pretty fortunate, too, regardless of how hard he campaigns to look like a bastard and ingrate.

Anyhoo.

My parents being great parents and deriving joy from the happiness of their kids waited several hours before checking in to see if I’d gone TV shopping yet. So, yesterday I caved and took my search from virtual into the real world.

Mind you, this 36 hour delay is remarkable for me. Particularly compared to the reality of the still uninstalled hummingbird feeder that I made off with from my parents’ shed on Christmas.

All I needed to do was hit up a hardware store for a hook that would clamp onto my balcony railing…

Regardless, I’d been advised by a Blog Buddy to wait until after the StoopidBowl to shop because people are rubbish and will buy a TV to watch the big game and then return it after. He swore by the open box steal. Having been a career retailer – granted, not in electronics – I knew the phenomenon he was suggesting.

This new TV is a 65″ Samsung and it’s rather overwhelming. Watching it makes me feel like that guy from that vintage stereo ad.

Or was that a speaker ad? (I know who will know, so keep your eyes on the comments…!).

I knew there was room to play with a larger screen, since my old TV had plenty of space on the sides while sitting dead atop its perch. However, once I got the new TV upstairs – no easy feat, given my singledom. Thankfully, the salesperson took pity on me and helped me load it into the car. So at least there was that.

Once upstairs and in front of my TV console, I began to think I’d overestimated my space. The salesperson had suggested that the extra 10″ would shake out to about the width of a 2″x4″ beam on each side. A factoid/estimation that my high school math classes backed up. Still…this visual gave me pause.

But I told myself the screen wasn’t as big as the box. Which was only right by about 2″.

Magically, given the absence of anyone in their 20s or 30s to help, the set up was fairly breezy. It didn’t take long at all…

That’s a pretty quick and easy installation!

Now, it’s anyone’s guess how long it takes to get rid of the collateral debris.

My salesperson gave me a 60 day return window just in case it was too big or not the right TV for me. Unless it breaks, I think it will more than fit my needs. But should I still keep this stuff around for 60 days in case it breaks down?!?

Oh, and best part? That reader I mentioned earlier? He still had my back, even this morning. I woke up to an email featuring an ad that he was passing along. It featured a similarly sized Samsung for a few bucks less than what I’d paid last night – except it was a generation behind the one I got. As if that’s not enough to make me feel like good folks are looking out for me to make sure I get a good deal, here’s an ad from a competitor’s website for the TV I got.

Not a bad deal, especially as an open box…but I paid $275 less!

It’s *So* Big!

Don’t Call It A Recap…

Especially when recrap would be a much better way to sum up 2020.

And since it’s 2020 we’re talking about, I’m just going to talk about the last two months – really, the last month, outside of an early November mention. The whole year would run 20000 words, I’m sure.

Truth be told, I’m just going to bitch about a few things that broke down and then express a little post-holiday gratitude. This shouldn’t take long,

All in all, I’d summarize 2020 as a year in which if it didn’t break, it probably died.

Here’s a few things that gave it up in the last weeks of the year:

My laptop. As I geared up for NaNoWriMo in early November, my laptop started shitting its pants whenever it stepped off a high curb. I’d planned a non-fiction piece about job searching in my fifties. Fortunately, after a few hours of online tutorials, I was able to coax my laptop back to the land of the continent. That NaNo project, though…never did quite manage the download from brain to laptop. The Silver Fox stood by helpfully – virtually – while also acing his best friend duties by offering up the MacBooks he saw at Costco as a potential solution. I thought about it, even looked at one online in my most frustrated moment, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Costco offering was ~$800 and an Air model. In hindsight, that would have layered in what turned out to be unnecessary excuses for not tapping out a NaNo entry this year since the Air just doesn’t have the memory for writing like the Pro does.

New Pros run $1500-2400 and a used one is gettable for around $400. That’s what I did last time I replaced my laptop. I ended up with a refurbished model that was a year newer than my old one, so on balance I’m netting up two years of use…and counting.

After that brush with disaster, it looked like smooth sailing.

This being my life, that didn’t last long. The second and third weeks of December made week one of November look like a snowball next to their avalanche of misery.

Let’s see…

This is probably a clunky segue after my snow analogy, but it started to rain in the second week of December. Hardly a surprise in the PNDub, but I mean it rained. Like, people were walking around with expressions that said, “All that pandemic home improvement we did and we didn’t think to add pontoons?!?”

That type of rain.

I didn’t really notice it outside hearing things like “two inches in the last 36 hours” on the radio.

Until…I came home from running errands one day, took off my shoes, kicked up my feet to watch some Seinfeld for a couple hours and then – when I put my shoes and socks back on so I could go drive, my socks were wet. Flipping over my shoes, I was greeted with the thought, “How long ago did I get these?!?”

Walked the hell out of them, I did.

Off to NikeTown I went.

I was shocked by a couple of things:

First, my new shoes were only $130. I say “only” because that is about what I remember paying for my last few pairs – further reinforcing my suspicion that I haven’t had these last shoes that long. In reality, I recollect it being about 2 1/2 years, so they had more of a life than old Phil and his shareholders would like.

Second, the kid who helped me with my purchase was both unnecessarily tall and flirty. I’m not mad about that last part.

Next, as I rushed to get to the Festivus episode of Seinfeld before Christmas, my TV crapped out on me. It just started shutting off after an hour or two of play. I’d reboot it and it would come back…for a couple days. Then it just stopped powering on altogether. Haven’t been able to revive it yet using the same Internet U continuing education resources I did with my laptop. I might need to actually get someone on the horn to figure it out.

Then again, the other U – as in Universe – might be trying to tell me it’s all for naught. Last night, my final ride was a pick up at Video Only, a local electronics chainlet. While I waited in front for my passenger to emerge, I had prime seating for the TVs playing right inside the door.

Also, now I know that my car will hold a 65″ TV.

But in a fit of mixed messages, the guy wasn’t a tipper, which I’d interpret as the Universe steering me away from a new TV after putting me in front of Video Only’s temptations. And this is a rather significant sign since on top of having to figure out the logistics of getting a large object into a small space (merry Christmas, Diezel) this ride was from the far north end of town – literally, the Oregon border – to the far southeast quadrant of town…over 30 minutes, thanks to an accident on the crosstown. Yeah, by all means, feel free to drag your huge TV away from that scenario with no feeling of gratitude.

Let’s see…laptop, TV, sneakers…what else?

Oh!

Angela. This would be Pat the Patriot’s replacement from last February, who I don’t write about often because she doesn’t spend an average of a week in the shop each month like Pat did. Still, the other day – Christmas Eve – I got in the car to drive a bit and my low tire pressure alarm went off. Looking at the vehicle status screen on the onboard, I saw that the back passenger tire was the issue, but it was only a half PSI off of the next closest pressure level. I chalked that up to the morning being rather colder than the more recent days and planned to monitor it as I drove and fill it when I parked later. Sure enough, as the tire warmed up, the pressure crept up but still needed an eventual top off.

Undaunted, after eight rides, the Universe tossed me another grenade.

I pulled to a stop at a freeway exit and while I waited for the light to change, Angela made a sound I’ve not heard before. Let me tell you, I love the onboard computer, but the alarms are not subtle.

Everything is DEFCON 4.

“Hey, dummy…get gas!” makes the same sound as “Low Tire Pressure”. That’s also the same sound as the warning for low outside temperature…which is triggered at an unalarming and balmy 37 degrees.

However, the sound Angela made at that off ramp made me debate running away from the vehicle. On top of that, I was treated to my dash display and my onboard console display both changing screens to tell me my brake pads needed replacing.

It was rather a stimulation overflow.

Hell, with all that fuss, I’d have thought the wheels had come completely off the vehicle.

Nonetheless, I managed to both proChristinate getting gas and filling the low tire, so when I got in my car later that day – to go searching for wrapping paper, which was harder to find on Christmas Eve than crapping paper was in March – I was treated to a deafening cacophony of alarms that lasted about two blocks.

Sweet Jesus, Germans…calm the hell down.

But, as of Christmas morning, the only alarm still regularly greeting me is the brake pads warning. It is, however, pulling double duty. I hear it when I start the car and again when I switch it off…so, someone is looking out for my C.R.S. Hoorah?

Not for nothing, I check my mail midweek, generally. Last night, for whatever reason, I checked it when I came home.

Yeah…pretty sure that’s a ticket. The city is pretty good about screaming the purpose of its mailings if you pay attention. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing the bold type that screams “City Arts Tax Statement” and others, it’s just knowing that the mailing address is the County Health Clinic just down the way. Not that I’ve ever gotten a letter from them…

The vagueness of this letter – only a “Response Requested Within Thirty Days” to guide me – made me think “request” was meant to trick me into opening it. Like I’m getting invited to the Mayor’s re-election party or something. And I do remember driving one night and seeing three strobe like flashes out of the corner of my eye. I looked at my dash and saw I was doing low 40s in a 35 MPH zone, but wrote it off as paranoia since I was also on an old state highway versus at an intersection where one usually sees red light cameras.

Heck, I don’t even know if Portland uses photo radar for ticketing. I can’t wait to find out when I open this sometime next July.

Now, just to make sure that you’re not all looking longingly at your own balconies or googling “macrame nooses” – that might just be a Portland thing – remember, I did get a pair of new sneakers out of the ordeal.

Plus, then there’s the actual good things that happened in the last few months, no wait…weeks, no…wait hours of the year. Optimistically, I’m choosing to accept these as net positives despite the fact that the Universe tends toward Lucy behaviors to my Charlie Brown existence.

For instance, when I checked my mail last week, I got a Christmas card from Little Buddy.

I know it’s hokey and completely against my typical on-brand bitterness, but just look at that grandpa playing Santa with his grand baby! It just made me tear up again!

Also mail related: when I checked my mail last night, I found that the City of Seattle had gotten its shit together and sent me some unclaimed money.

Mind you, Portland had theirs resolved weeks ago. Like pre-Thanksgiving. But on the upside, I was expecting $100 and got a check for $123, so…I’m not complaining. Hopefully that maybe-ticket isn’t too much more than that. Actually, if the maybe-ticket turns out to be a not-ticket, that check can go right into my New TV Fund!

The actual bummer here is that I don’t want a New TV Fund. I’d been hoping to have January bills squared away last week so I could maybe splurge on a Peloton-like bike for home. My 2021 non-fiction project is going to be a bit of a redux to my Fitfy blog theme. I figure that will nicely close the loop on my aging series of non-fiction: dating, working and fitness.

Anyway, I digress. Now we’re up to Christmas Day!

I’m not kidding when I – again, against my Early Onset Grumpiness brand – say that seeing my sister and her family of three for the first time this year had me feeling things. My attendance at family Christmas was (secretly) predicated upon the size of the gathering.

Our Thanksgiving had been four – mom, dad, youngest bro and I – from three households. State guidance was no more than six – pass! – from two households – fail! Those guidelines held for Christmas, too.

That said, Christmas was set to be that same group along with the welcome addition of my sister’s family from central Oregon and the unwelcome addition of Black Sheep Bro and his two teenaged sons, whom none of us have ever met.

From Texas.

If the pandemic weren’t a thing, I’d still have “put my foot down” level issues with this occurrence.

After screwing up my courage – not in an alcohol related way – I took my shot with the parents. It’s not that I begrudge them their parental – and grandparental feelings – which I will never experience first hand, but my shot was that Christmas should be a repeat of Thanksgiving.

I know. This is why people sometimes call me the Voice of Treason.

But I figured not saying anything would be the real problem. And I didn’t want the Christmas follow up conversations to be:

People: What did you get for Christmas?

Me: Dead Family. You?

So, I said it.

What I offered was to do a same day drive over and back to drop off and pick up gifts for my sister’s family…on the additional condition that we all *not* miss BSB for another Christmas. As expected, the results were like my favorite joke* and resulted in BSB being cordially disinvited but my sister still coming over.

That suited me fine enough. Although I was chagrined-ish to run into my brother in law and nephew in the drive when I arrived, on their way out to walk the dog. After exchanging greetings and getting a brief update, my brother in law says to me, “Are you going to wear your mask in the house?” I’d completely put it on out of habit before getting out of the car.

At least I’m consistent.

Now, what you should know about my family is that we are terrible Americans. At least as far as Christmas goes. We have a small family. I’d say our “core” census is seven: mom, dad, sis, brother in law, nephew, brother, me. Even adding in what I’d call the extended family – my uncle’s family in Texas and my 98 year old hermit of a grandfather – only adds five to that.

Then there’s BSB trying to add in his brood of three to our numbers now that the wife he basically left the family for has left him. Allegedly for something that comes with a cork in it. I shared a bedroom with the guy growing up, though, and I’d say the wine was a cure and not the cause my BSB would have us believe.

But that’s another blog.

The reason we are bad Americans at Christmas is that we draw names for our gift exchange versus just buying everyone gifts from everyone. However, the upside is that between breakfast and dinner, we only have to open ~7 gifts instead of four or five dozen, so there’s very little disruption to our holiday feeding frenzy.

On top of that, we make lists. Whoever draws our names basically has a cheat sheet. My youngest brother, as I gather – having not seen his list, even put down websites. That guy came to Thanksgiving prepared!

Me? I came to Thanksgiving oblivious. When I learned the routine for this year, I was stuck completely in “What the fuck do I want?!?” mode.

I vamped my way through my list of 3-5 things before coming up with something useful:

1) Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice

2) Skateboard

Here’s the explanation of those requests. Really, though, I hoped I didn’t get those items because I’m old and hips are expensive.

3) This Tee

And then my brain kicked into gear.

4) An InstaPot.

There had been an InstaPot at last year’s Christmas, but it was a White Elephant style exchange and it got stolen by mom. But I loved the Brady Bunch Inspired gift I brought home…

I present to you the real reason 2020 has been such a shit show!

Now, this year’s rules mandated that the gifts be given anonymously – which I missed, so my brother in law knew I was his Santa – so when I opened my gift, I didn’t know who to check for smirkage.

Because it’s me, and I didn’t just happen, I was completely open to my Santa being someone who knew I’d never buy myself an InstaPot and that I was disappointed to not walk with one last Christmas. Heck, I’d gone rogue and bought my nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store and debated putting it in a box with some rocks to weigh it down, so I couldn’t reasonably expect my Santa to not have had the same notion.

But, not knowing who to scrutinize for tells, I was left with opening up the outer box for verification.

Blammo!

Apparently, not only can you find one for $100 – that’s another rule – you can find one that connects to goddamn wifi and can be controlled from your smartphone. What an amazing time to be alive!

I finally found out that my Santa was my sister. When I told her I was worried my list was either entirely gibberish or over the price limit, she gave me a humblebrag about her ability to “find a deal”. Whether that meant she’s a legit Coupon Queen or threw me a bone and bought the only thing on my list that wasn’t snarky, despite having to bend a rule is unclear. I am pretty sure she honestly found a deal. She is good like that.

Now, I just gotta decide what to make and then screw up my courage to do it!

All in all, it’s a year that makes me think “I should have moved into a unit on a higher floor” whenever I stand on my balcony. Luckily, the year is nearly behind us, so I don’t think I will be worrying whether a four story drop would qualify as a landing I could walk away from or not.

Now, for all of you who waited patiently for the *, here’s my favorite joke of all time:

What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic?

Halfway.

Keep in mind, I heard this joke as a pre-teen on the friggin’ Muppet Show. That Fozzy Bear could bring a house down, I tell ya. But four decades later and I’m still carrying his torch!

Don’t Call It A Recap…

I’m A Psychic!

Completely acknowledging that I’ve definitely been called worse. However, as my own most severe critic, I tend to let other people’s gentler criticisms bounce off of me and swirl into the gutter where they belong.

But while psycho might be a more popular moniker amongst my lesser fans, psychic is strictly an internal title. At least as far as I know – as if that’s not an indictment of the very skill I am claiming.

Fine.

Let’s meet in the middle and call this my special version of psychic: preemptive lucky guesses.

The inspirational guess for this entry?

The Silver Fox.

A couple weeks back, he graced me with a visit so he could knock out 300 doctors appointments we could finally finish watching Ozark, which we started before he decamped to Monmouth for the end of the world. Because I’m figuratively an acerbic son of a bitch, I chose to remind him that he packed his calendar and seemed to expect me to make myself available during his free time during the two days he was in town. I also whined about his doctors appointments requiring him to fast the day before, which also eliminated my favorite social pastime.

No, I’m not telling you what that is, you really ought to be able to guess – even if you aren’t psychic like me. Ok, wait…just so none of my more sarcastic friends guess “masturbating”, the pastime in question is beer drinking!

This whining had the intended manipulative side effect of guilting him into staying an extra day – which I also complained about because that was a Friday…big drive day for me normally. But I took the day off to spend time with him.

All of this, by the way, just highlights why I should be exactly as single as I am.

Anyway, back to the acerbic part.

When we met to have dinner and watch the final episode of Ozark’s third season, I greeted The Fox with the accusation question: “Did you manage to meet with your realtor between doctors appointments while you were up here?”

Having spent enough time around me to be infected with my toxic sarcasm, he replied in the affirmative. Because he’s the Silver Fox, his affirmative response was also inscrutable.

I let it lie, but I had to do a little work to maintain my level of denial disbelief.

How does this all make me psychic?

I’m now having dreams that when I check his mail – worst paying job I’ve ever had, incidentally…but I might still add it to the resume since I’m closing in on a year in that position – I find realtor’s business cards on his countertop when I take it into his condo.

For those who have never been involved in or on the periphery of a home purchase, realtors leave business cards in houses they show so the listing agent has their contact info for follow up or whatnot. Additionally, you should just drop into open houses in your area. It’s fun to just look, plus, you may get a cookie out of it.

Anyway, I’m dealing with the dream situation by avoiding taking his mail into his condo when I check it. I’m tossing the junk mail in the recycling and leaving the few pertinent actual mail pieces in his box for now. If it gets too full, I’ll have to decide if I want to bring it over to my place or risk finding out my dreams really were visions…ostensibly, I should be able to handle a blow like that after New Years. Inauguration Day at the latest.

But I know for sure I can’t risk that type of blow in what’s left of this shit show of a year. That would definitely cause me to revisit the cho/chic suffixes I mentioned at the top of this post.

I’m A Psychic!

The C.R.S. Chronicles

Will this become a new theme?

Who knows?

(Probably no, as you read on you’ll figure out why…)

Nonetheless, here I am: declaring chronicles.

So, I’m a little O.C.D. Also, a tad hypochondriac – recreational hypochondria, as my P.C.P. likes to say as he calls me out.

Both relate in this instance. I’m just one big Venn diagram of dysfunction.

On the O.C.D. side of my personality, I drove last night into what I like to call overtime. That is, beyond my normal goal of 10 rides. Ten is nice, sometimes it takes two and a half hours and other times it takes five. Yesterday was a – because it’s my life – frustrating blend of those two potentials.

I started out just around 4:30 and got several short rides around my neighborhood ride out of the gate. So, by 5:30, I was staring down the barrel of being 40% finished and figured by 7:00 I’d be home.

Oh, no…just…no.

Suddenly, I was getting rides that had me zipping 20 minutes across town – which is about all it takes in Portland, really. Especially in the QuaranTimes.

Because I love to recognize when the app is taking care of me, I noticed that ride nine had me – once again – just a few blocks from home. My aunt used to say “Thank you, Jesus” just loud enough to be heard when something good happened for her because performative religion she has an attitude of gratitude. It’s something that I like to recognize, that A of G. But my attitude manifests more along the lines of “Thank you, Universe“.

I carried that ritual forward in life, thanks to her example.

But, since it is my life, the Universe decided to exert dominance and ride number 10 had me in Hillsboro. The Aech (A.K.A. Hillsburrito) is about 10-12 miles outside of town.

Literally.

Portland has had a growth boundary my entire life to promote density over sprawl. You’re welcome, Californians. Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro do not, so far as I can tell.

That has manifested in Portland being more dense and upwardly building. Luckily, the ‘burbs are there to pick up our slack and the result is that somehow, the towns have all basically coalesced, despite Portland’s sprawl discipline.

Anyway, I’m not going to shut off my app way out in the ‘burbs and drive my ass home for free. Fuck that. I was basically in a place in Oregon where I could throw a rock and hit surf (not really, weenie arm notwithstanding) so I set my app to only take rides ending closer to home and kept driving.

It took eight more rides before I was once again close enough to home to justify shutting off the app for the night. I stopped at a cart for some grub before the closed – it was just midnight, but they took orders til 1…no need to overdo overdoing it – and then went home.

I parked just as the app was pointing out to me that I was in a bonus zone. Was another ride worth an extra $6?

Nah.

Actually, totally! But as a driver, it bothered me for a potential ride to smell my food. They might feel guilty. I don’t mind them smelling someone else’s doggie bag, even though I try to air Angela out between rides by rolling down the windows.

Did I mention we are in the midst of a weekend forecast in the PNDub that would have the rest of the world building arks and gathering animals?

So, I went inside and treated my to-go food like a prom date: I finished in a few minutes.

But all day today, as I say on my ass on the couch, my O.C.D. was niggling. Gourd, I hope that word doesn’t have racist history…

Around 4:30, I had hit the road. But I’m not going out for two measly rides. To split the diff, I committed to seven. Not a full drive shift, but worth dragging my flat ass off the couch – which, oddly, still has a butt shaped indentation. In both ends.

It’s probably defective.

During my second ride – which would true up my 10 Goal for the week – something came up in conversation and I immediately portmanteau-ified it and debated my next five rides.

Couldn’t quit it. I’m such a fucking Ennis Del Mar.

BTDubs, Brokeback Mountain turns 15 this week and Jake Galbreath Gyllenhaal turns 40.

Heath’s update is a little less surprising and a little more dire.

My rational brain says,

You better write that down, yo.

But I didn’t have anything to write with/on…

I’m not kidding, you know you’ll forg –

I got a ride.

And that’s where C.R.S. comes in. For those of you outside my daily bubble – it stands for Can’t Remember Shit. It’s very serious.

Seriously, I thought I’d remember this blog topic because it was so compelling and dynamic. There were portmanteaus!

Alas, ’tis gone.

However, in the unlikely event that I a) remember what I forgot; and b) remember that I started a potential theme on my blog…well, I’ve at least made a first (only) entry as a foundation.

I figure around 2 this morning I’ll be faced with the dilemma: blog my rememory or go back to sleep.

Any bets there? 🥸

The C.R.S. Chronicles

Heil Grammar!

I admit, I might have more of a problem here than I can back up…

Case in point: I came across this “story” on the Instagram tonight.

Yes, yes…it’s “dirty”, although if you’ve gotten to this point in my blogging (fake equivalency) career, I think it’s your own fault that you’re here.

Just own it, already!

Anyway, you know I just couldn’t help but rub some salt in the typo wound – I mean, really…if you’re going to monetize your social media, please don’t be illiterate! – so here we are.

Personally, I love that they were self-aware enough to type in all caps. I choose – as a frequent oopsies writer – to believe that they discovered their mistake in edit mode but couldn’t change their story. I’m so – less optimistically – open to the potential that there were a Brazilian (old joke, but make me tell you) other mos that corrected this guy.

But, c’mon…gays that read are one unicorn thing, gays that read and have spelling confidence…?!?

Nah. C’mon. If The Gays were confident, we wouldn’t work out so much…

Nonetheless, this GayBoyProblemsAF – as he calls himself here, but I know this is one of at least four Instagram pages this lil hottie admins – was totes up for the Hot Tip, regardless.

That’s even sexier. Nothing worse than a sexy young un who thinks he knows it all. It’s way hotter to come in across a guy who gets live creating and can factor his ego out of it.

This particular good natured exchange was delightful.

I’m not sure my non-gendered ending worked. But I didn’t want to assume the content creator (a cis male) would want to be called a boyfriend…fake, as it were.

Regardless, I should have included the word “imaginary” there at the end.

My imaginary man friend…

Heil Grammar!

Yeah, This Tracks…

You know me…every day is just another opportunity for me to put my affairs – not that kind, Diezel – in order before I die alone.

Today was no exception.

It was a day that started out strangely well, considering a night of whack sleep. I’d fallen asleep for <30 minutes last night on the couch around 8, but was then completely wide awake. I didn’t take my new favorite weed syrup sleep aid before bed because I was meeting my parents at 10 this morning to go look at bathroom fixtures and entry lights for a few projects they have going on at Galby Acres and I didn’t want to oversleep.

Naturally, I woke up at 730. <eyeroll>

No matter, I had errands that I could run before meeting up with M&D at 10 and actually managed to overcome my usual morning torpor and get to it. Of course, my parents surprised me with an en auto breakfast – restaurants are closed to dine in customers here in Portland, so we got take out and ate in the car like hippies – and after we hit the kitchen/bath/lighting shop, they re-surprised me by letting me tag along to watch them car shop.

It was a good morning.

When they dropped me back home, mom admonished me to take the rest of the day off, like spending my morning with them had been some sort of chore. I fully intended to comply, but then decided to just pop out for a couple hours.

Mistake.

I was out for just under three hours and only had six rides. Most of my time was spent sitting on the 5 northbound since it was after 230, and even in a pandemic under lockdown orders, the idiots that live across the river in Washington – with its lower property taxes and no income tax – but come to town for our higher paying jobs and sales tax free shopping have found a way to make a three mile drive take 15+ minutes. I had one ride that took me to the second to last freeway exit before the state line and the next two hours were spent with me getting almost back to the city core before being called back to one of the last two exits before entering Vantucky.

Actually, my third ride was to pick up my second passenger, because he got nauseous being that close to Washington completed his errand quickly and I was still the closest driver. That was a first: a back to back repeat rider.

After yo-yoing between almost downtown and the state line for the next two rides, I decided to put my app on Home Mode and call it quits. Earnings were crap, since I’d spent most of my time sitting in traffic…and none of those apparently entitled bastards understood how gratuities work. Or their sense of entitlement made me driving 15-20 minutes to fetch them for a 6 minute ride seem equitable.

I’d roll my eyes, but they are still sprained from the last epic eyeroll…

I got one ride on the way home.

In true Portland style, this is my passenger’s avatar.

Well, that looks like it is gonna be an entertaining ride. If it was a cis-woman, I was prepared to be hyper aware of how easily she could snap me in half. But I suspected it was merely another queer youth expressing his gender-fluidity.

I was right.

Still, we had a nice and amiable chat during our 8 minutes together. I learned he was going to his boyfriend’s for an at home date night, which sounded super sweet. They started dating just after lockdown 1.0 and have been together a little over six months.

I don’t know why I was surprised to pull up to his boyfriend’s house and think “I’ve picked someone up here before…”

Imagine my surprise when my passenger replied.

Oops.

I vamped and said that I thought I’d given his BF a ride before. I immediately called up a mental picture of the guy – like a stoned out, slightly-too-old-for-it skater boy who was newly missing a front tooth when I picked him up. He awkwardly came out to me during our ride after bitching about how picking up an extra shift at work was better than hanging out at home with his bitch ex-wife, who he also worked with so it was not easy to manage time apart.

His words.

He talked a little about the guy he was seeing before I dropped him off at a dispensary a few blocks away.

Imagine my surprise as I sat in the driveway trying to decide whether to head left or right and a call came in, taking me to the left. A right and a couple of miles had me pulling up to my next ride…at the sister store for Mr Nice Guy.

Only me…

I think it’s because something weird like that would only happen to me, but it might also be because I’m one of the few who would notice that type of coincidence.

Still, if I dropped the woman I picked up at the second shop at the house where I’d just picked up my previous ride, I was fully prepared to laugh all the way home. Luckily, that did not happen.

Back to tonight, though, I tell the guy that I think I’d given his boyfriend a ride before and asked if he worked at a weed shop.

Me? No, I work at a pizza joint.

Okaaaay.

Clarifying I had meant his BF, while thinking that even with his tendency to capture makeover moments on film – he was not wearing any overt makeup tonight – that he should be able to do better than the guy inside that house, my young, gender-fluid passenger laughs awkwardly and gets out of the car.

Affording me the opportunity to see the Mr Nice Guy logo on the hoodie he was wearing.

Fuck my life.

Luckily, I’d ordered a beer delivery from Big Legrowlski whilst sitting in traffic on the 5 and it was presently waiting for me at home. A Pallet Jack or two oughta set me just right, allowing me to forget that a burnout type guy missing a front tooth can get a boyfriend and I’m sitting at home drinking alone with the ever disdainful Mistress Myrtle.

Because, with Myrtle around, you’re always alone. I hope she ends this game of cat and Xtopher she’s playing soon and puts me out of my misanthropy…

Yeah, This Tracks…