Innate Skills

This is what happens (to my crazy ass, anyway) when your subconscious self thinks that your conscious self needs a reminder that you really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house unsupervised.

No, your personal retina/rod/cone situation has not been hacked.

Yes, I do know that orange is my favorite color.

And you can and have heard me joke about being OCD.

Wreckreationally.

But when I go into a store for a maté and a snack and the maté are on sale 2/$5, I get two. Of my favorite flavor.

Which is blood orange. I get it…

However, being responsible – or trying to be – about snacking, I’ll opt for something not crunchy or too processed. Dried apricots, right?!? They’re just hanging right there…

Obviously, also also orange-y.

No. I did not see the emerging theme.

But then I had to wait in line for some Karen-type. Her behavior stressed me out. Maybe it was more of an annoyed reaction. I dunno.

But those bastards at the Brodega run their line right down the goddamned chip and chocolate aisle – yes, they have about 18 feet of gourmet chocolate bars. Naturally, my response to this person’s behavior was emotional eating.

Plus, they recently – as I discovered in that moment – revamped their Cretor’s assortment to include cheese flavors again. Before this, they’d switched to only a pickle flavored SKU, and…no, thank you. Homey don’t want that.

However…

Anything cheesy and Cretor’s is amazing.

Highly recommend.

But what would you have me do in that situation?!? Of course, I picked one up.

So now I’ve got that calling me home. Myrtle could take a page out of cheesy popcorn’s playbook…

Innate Skills

The Password is: CULTURE

Celebrity Host: Yogurt.

Me: <blinks>

CH: Kombucha.

Me: <blink, blink>

CH: Live performances.

Me: THINGS I SEE FOR FREE!

CH: Oh! Wait, what? No. I’m sorry, we were looking for “culture”!

Me: Same, yo…but not on my budget! Someone else gonna need to pick up that tab.

CH: No parting gifts for you. Can someone get my agent on the phone!

Ok, my skinflintiness is situational. I’m choosing to be amused by the pattern. I’m also choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to see live performances again.

It had been too long before the pandemic started. Tack on two pandemic years to that too long and you’ve got a real risk of Xtopher returning to some devolved Appalachian form of human.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my problematic drinking made me luckier than most during the pandemic. Geez, that sounds like a line from a winning entry for a free stay at Betty Ford…

Tis true, though. My former old standby, the Big Legrowlski, hosted music during the pandemic.

Daily.

It was quite…the salvation.

No, I wasn’t there daily, thank you.

But a couple times a week. I’d go and sit in their three-sided tents outside and watch people perform through the 10 foot windows, doors open and speakers on the sidewalk.

Plus, fire pit. It was the mental health booster I needed during the lockdown. Sorry for anyone who thought “alcohol” was the correct answer there. Close second, but…no. And that’s despite the fact that many of these mental health boosts happened in 40 degree weather, oftentimes with rain running in under the tent wall and right under my feet.

So when I was working from home and heard one of the DJs from my local radio station – Kink.fm – say he was giving away tickets to a Saturday morning performance at the inaugural re-opening of their live music lounge…I was on that phone! Despite the fact that refreshments were being sponsored by Coors Light.

And I won!

And that’s why I was out of bed before noon a few Saturdays back.

Tom Odell, that is, not free Coors Light. (Sorry, dad!)

Seriously, having a chance to see live music for the first time in over two years…we’ll, I thought Indigo Girls playing at the Pioneer Courthouse Square would get me fixed up. But that show isn’t until June. And I’d have to buy my tickets. I still might. Or I’ll just go hangout on the sidewalk, since the venue is literally a brick plaza on a city block.

Proof Portlanders use umbrellas?

Legitimately seeing live music for free, though? Highly recommend. And as if free wasn’t an awesome enough incentive? The free libations included some Topo Chico hard seltzer options, so I had some. Partook of the two free drink maximum, did I.

Booze Bracelet!

Then there’s the reality that this venue holds less than 100 people. I tried to count seats, and I don’t think it has 70. It had 7 rows of seats. I chose to stand close to the bar in the back, since I was alone.

Free, boozy, intimate…well, I doubt I’ve ever experienced those three adjectives simultaneously before.

Plus, Tom Odell has a seriously distinctive and evocative singing voice. The first note off the piano made the hair on my eyes stand up and when he opened his mouth, tears started welling up on my forearms.

Wait. Something’s not right in that paragraph…here, don’t think too much about that. Look at these pics, instead.

Ok, his voice and fingers do all the heavy lifting. He doesn’t have to rely on visual distractions like dancing and pyrotechnics to give a killer experience. But it does make for a dozen pics that look almost exactly the same.

But just look how small the venue is!

Pre-show audience games

Best part – besides standing in a room with a few dozen strangers having an aurally stimulating experience? When I turned on the car, guess who was playing on the radio?

Right outside the station, no less. Quite a meta-moment, if you ask me.

This is all top of mind for me right meow since I just got home from a show with Little Buddy. I was her +1 for Freestyle Love Supreme this afternoon. Yay for married season ticket holders with busy spouses!

That’s right, I am spoiled and got to see a second live performance in less than a month for free! I wasn’t super into seeing the show, but I was super into a social fix with Little Buddy. It’s always too long between visits, but since she moved out to the Columbia River Gorge, it’s even further between visits.

Don’t get me wrong, she invites. I think I’ve taken her up on it twice, although one of those might have been prior to the full-time residency. But it’s home to some of the best wine in Oregon – and that’s saying things! – so it is somewhat problematic for this light weight…since it’s an hour away.

So on the second-nicest day of the year so far in Portland, I donned my dress-Chucks and went to the theater.

Hey, it was over 70 today…I almost wore shorts!

For a show I wasn’t jazzed to see – call it a variant of something every younger sibling knows too well, since this was co-created by Lin Manuel Miranda and (through some scheduling miracle) playing at the same time that Hamilton was in town – this was pretty damned entertaining.

The premise is that it’s all pretty much improvised based off of audience feedback, hence the “freestyle”. There’s also a lot of hip-hop vibe going on with that improv. There’s a beatbox guy, a couple MC folks, not in the Master of Ceremony vein, rather the MC rappers tack onto their stage names.

And then a bunch of middle-aged or better white women from the suburbs yelling out suggestions.

FWIW, my word was gonna be orgasm – but some of these Karens brought proof they’d had sex with them. Since I have a modicum of decency, I didn’t ejaculate yell out my contribution.

I think part of the fun for me was judging what people did yell out.

Two people yelled out answers that one of the MCs had used as an example. Friggin’ brainiacs, those two.

Several others yelled out variations of things like “singing” or “dancing” and I was all, “Really? We’re here to watch some hip-hop improv and your subject matter suggestions are ‘singing and dancing’?!?”

Mouths shut, husband’s wallets open, ladies. That’s all the contribution to the arts you need to worry about.

Makes me regret not yelling “Orgasm!” when they were taking suggestions on the “Something you can’t live without” theme. Seriously, someone yelled “Banana”…to be fair, I think it was the sibling of the STD that yelled out “Monkey” when the MCs were looking for verbs as a cue. But who can’t live without a banana?!?

Despite my audience members doing their best to prove they are barely more tolerable only being seen versus heard, I’m in the mood for more super spreader events live entertainment.

Given my aforementioned pandemic “live entertainment loophole”, I can only imagine how exciting these past few weekends were for others. I can overlook them not fully knowing how to audience appropriately.

And, damnit…now I’m in the mood! I may need to pick up a rush ticket or two over the coming month. Who knows, I might even troll Craigslist for an Indigo Girls ticket.

The Password is: CULTURE

Sorta Mental Journey

I was all ramped up to watch The Batman tonight.

At the Silver Fox’s place. I don’t pay for HBOMax.

Neither does he, anymore, either. His son shares his password with The Fox and his ex-wife.

That’s a whole other touching bit of family stuff, I won’t go into too much detail on. But the son is giving back, I guess? He’s…hard to get along with – yet a fine human.

He’s made it big in vidya games and 3D/virtual reality. Like, really big. I think this password share is indicative of his love language.

I respect that.

Even if it takes the shape of sharing a $20/mo password with a third gen heiress and a retiree who freely admits he was grossly overcompensated in the decade+ leading up to his retirement simply be staying in the right place for the right amount of time.

So, my broke ass felt no remorse availing myself to that shared password by way of my key to the Fox’s Lair tonight after hearing The Batman was now streaming.

Making a night of it was my first delivery of the evening, which was to a non-existent address. That left me with some free gumbo and a slice of sweet potato pie.

Until

The Silver Fox’s TV decided to remind me of my place in this world – namely, looking kind of dumb with my finger and my thumb in the shape of an L on my forehead.

Facing a cosmic mirror, no less.

So, home I trudge. Free food and no The Batman with a hostile feline as a consolation prize.

My fallback?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Suck on that DC!

During the pandemic, I used my lockdown to watch many a Marvel flick. There were some that I just omitted, though.

Constantly.

Namely, the Ant-Man movies.

Ok, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sure, I’d watch Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, which Scott Lang was in. But I never rewatched the standalone Ant-Man movies.

Until this week.

Sidebar: are you familiar with the machete viewing order?

It’s how you watch the first six Star Wars films without ruining the Skywalker arc. Most importantly, you throw out an entire film. You can even add in the last three films in order without doing anything more than extending your machete session by another 8 hours.

Short story long, I watched the Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp this week.

Spoiler: I didn’t die.

I even quite like them. I’ve just never considered them classic superhero movies.

But, partially through the second film, I found myself anxious to round out Scott Lang’s arc. Which really just involves jumping to Avengers: Endgame without all the Infinity Stones dustiness.

Spoiler below!

Think about it, Ant-Man and the Wasp ends with a mid-credits scene where we see the Pim/Van Dyne family snapified, leaving Scott abandoned in the quantum realm. This is what makes Endgame possible: Scott accidentally being brought back out of the quantum realm.

So, that’s what I did this week…Ant-Man: machete.

Some in-jokes are funnier. Some riffs just land better for the non-MCU geeks.

But all of the resonance of loss and redemption are there without watching the whole kit and caboodle of the MCU.

Plus, I didn’t have to watch my MCU/imaginary NAMBLA boyfriend bite it in Infinity War.

A lot. I cried.

But I also got to watch a familiar story through an unfamiliar lens.

That took a lot of the MCU dick wagging out of the process and allowed me to just watch the stories. I know Mother’s Day is on the horizon, but this short viewing order – couldn’t say “short machete” because that’s a dagger or something – gave me severe Scott Lang for father of the year vibes.

Give it a shot.

Maybe then find another filter to view the MCU through. Tell me! I’m game for another shortcut that feels the narrative.

For now, though, since I’ve come through these three films and am feeling a fatherly vibe? I think I’ll go off on a Hawkeye tangent. The big question…do I go right into the Disney+ series to pick up on the Black Widow thread where it left off on Vormir or do I go back to watch him in the first Avenger movies?

I’m thinking I go right to the series. That would lead to watching the actual Black Widow movie after the short series. Sadly, I don’t think that’s enough time to allow for whatever Valentina has in store for Natalie’s lil sis to come through production.

Might be a dead end after that…at least for a while.

Look, I warned you in the title this might be an esoteric idiotic post.

Anyway…what did you do with your Saturday night?!?

Sorta Mental Journey

Bad Math

It’s been following me around this week.

I swear, I’m not even trying to entice this shit. It has been a particularly frustrating week for my inner Rain Man, though.

It started when I picked my parents up from the airport after their trip to see Black Sheep Bro. Actually, it was likely well underway at that time, but I hadn’t become attuned to it yet. They wanted to fill up my tank at the Fred Meyer near their house. At $4.95/gallon at the place by my house, I wasn’t saying no!

We roll into the station and the guy puts in mom’s phone number and asks if she wants to use her $1 off. She says yes, and I look at the sign and think the resulting $3.97/gallon makes the price damn near reasonable. We get the receipt and mom declares the $3.93/gal price to be downright worth the stop. I’m staring at the sign and mentally subtracting a dollar from the price posted in it and not coming up with $3.93 – but at least it was an error in our favor.

Then I woke up to this on the Twitter this morning:

Seriously. The state of Florida thinking their involvement in the schools improves the quality of the humans they turn out is grossly overestimating their contribution.

Like, not even in a bizarro universe is that a truth.

Here’s a math problem for ya: True or False – a racist minority + racist laws = less racists?

Pretty sure that is false and only increases the number of racist in that state because there’s no critical thinking – race theory or otherwise – being taught in those classrooms to offset the racist behaviors these kids learn at home from their racist parents.

My response on the Twitter post was something to do with math books being inherently unrelated to Critical Race Theory since…it’s fucking math! Maybe they were worried about the whole three-fifth a man thing coming up in the fractions chapter.

Hard to apply logic to a mind filled with the screwball thinking that goes on in Florida, though.

But here’s where I realized that this whole bad math thing had been simmering for a while. My now-truly-a-gig gig, driving for DoorDash.

My mind likes to recreationally search out patterns, and the way this app operates kind of lends itself to that on every job. When you accept a delivery, there’s a tiny .5 font telling you the estimated miles involved. I started noticing it so I’d stop accepting orders to the suburbs 10-15 miles away for $9 and no tip. Then it went from nothing over 10 to nothing over 7. Now, I’m loathe to accept something over 5 miles away unless it pays around $15.

But that’s not the algebra I’m getting at. My mind just likes to see that a job has X miles in it and then see how close that math shakes out. This is all really just something to pass the time, anyway. Might as well keep an eye out for things that make it worth the while…otherwise, I’ll focus on how boring it is and how much I really don’t like it.

But this is where it gets interesting. To me, anyway.

In the same Rain Man vein, I try to keep my lifetime deliveries at a number that ends in a 5 or 0. I did the same thing with my Lyft rides.

What makes it hard is mentally keeping track of where I’m at. Since it’s boring and I hate it, I consider 5 deliveries a full shift. I can usually mentally count to 5. But there are jobs that I cancel for one reason or another: the restaurant is closed or surprisingly open given the dysfunction I experience once I arrive. There’s been a couple instances where I show up and they are having a random and insurmountable issue and tell me they have to cancel. I’ve had a couple of “shopping trips” where they were literally out of every damn thing the customer wanted.

So, that makes it kind of tricky on the old memory.

But after a few instance of checking my number and seeing odd things, I start paying attention – determined to true up my number and make my wreck-reational OCD happy.

I’d hit the road thinking, ok…I gotta do 7 jobs tonight to get back on track. I hit my seventh job and call it, and see this:

117?!? Well, that ain’t right. I try and figure out how things got that fucked up and just can’t make it make sense. More determined than ever, I hit the road the next time, determined to balance my scales with 8 deliveries.

It was a tough night and I failed, hanging it up out of frustration after my normal 5. Then I see this…

Ok, do the math with me here. 123 minus 117 does not equal 5!!!

Fine. The next time I hit the road, I’m committed to 7 deliveries.

Looks familiar, right? Just where I’d left off last time. This time, no grumpy old Xtopher moments to derail my productivity and I hang it up a few hours later, feeling like I’ve righted my universe.

Oh, short-lived peace of mind…

That’s right, people. 123 plus 7 is now 128!

You ever seen the movie Highlander? “There can be only one” ring a bell? I mention it because my reaction to that math might have resulted in me Highlander-ing Gilbert Gottfried this past week.

Just picture it…

But more important to me as a business person is how am I supposed to have confidence in an organization that can’t count? Especially since they farmed it out to a computer who was clearly programmed by graduates of the Florida Public Schools. Even more so, as an “employee” of this outfit, how do I muster faith in their accounting that I’m being paid correctly?

Not to worry, since this is me, I’m more concerned with unfucking up my stats. I’m back to needing 7 jobs to get there.

And in a victory for mathletes the world over…

Victory is mine! I can figuratively sleep once again. I’m back into a comfortable rhythm of blocks of 5 deliveries and calling it a day. My aggressive and goal oriented brain starts rocking the boat by turning numbers over in itself figuring out how many jobs a week I need to do to pay my rent. I try to settle that bastard down because it comes up with 35…which is only 7/night five nights a week – or three nights if I do a double one weekend day!

Me: Shut. Up.

I try willing my inner Rain Man to just settle down. It’s a struggle, because after 30+ years in retail, making goals is an intoxicating reward.

Still, I go out to put my 5 in tonight before dinner with a friend. I feel like I’m squeezing too much into my day, but am driven by the exercise, earn, write paradigm of success I’ve set for myself – a whole other goal. So I do it. I think that with my average being 2 deliveries/hour, I can make my 6 o’clock dinner with a little cushion if I am on the road by 330.

Fate favors all sorts. Sometimes even me…as I had my 5 jobs in by 5 and was pulling in to the garage by 515! Then I checked my lifetime number…

For the love of…just, goddamnit!

Bad Math

Sample This…

…exemplary specimen of proChristination.

I have shit to do. Instead I’m gonna do this.

Warned, you have been. To wit:

A friend posted this on the Facebook today. My response: Stop judging my lunch!

And it was no lie, nor exaggeration. I had indeed had Mac & Cheese for lunch that day. A box of it. Keep in mind, while I may lose points for my seven year old’s palate in your mind, I require bonus points for making lunch at 10 AM while on a conference call and then using my actual lunch at 1 PM to exercise and shower.

Juke the system, did I.

Also, this was all in the name of “research”, too, since the Silver Fox had sent me an article a few weeks prior ranking the top 10 store bought boxed Macs and Cheeses.

Obviously, I needed to sample the brands that had never crossed my razor-thin white-ass lips.

Especially since one of them was crowned #1! I felt I had a moral obligation to fulfill and don’t understand how you could possibly see that any other way.

I’m not going to waste your time airing out the scoring system and this particular food writer’s bonafides. But I will tell you that they were both extensive and his Mac and Cheese pedigree rivaled my own – although he never mentioned any enhancements like my very own ripped off from my mother White Trasherole.

Imagine how stupid my dumb face looked when I read that the #1 title went to…belly-drumroll, please…Walmart’s Private Label!

<gasp!>

And their boxed Mac was only $.34/box!

Yes, that’s a liqueur in a sperm shaped vessel…

I spent the week after I read this trying to happen into the vicinity of a Walmart to drop $10 on this experiment. Mind you, before college, I’d never been into a Walmart. And then I think I only went in once. Turns out there’s better things to do in Manhattan than go to a Walmart.

Even if the Manhattan in question lies in Kansas. I’m not counting the two-on-one gay bashing I got in that Manhattan as better. More of a draw.

After that, I wasn’t in another Walmart until 2006. Which would be two decades, depending on how you count the years between 1987 and 2006. I count that as 20.

And believe me, that 2006 occurrence was under duress and orders from my then-boss, a very barely hinged person named Susie. And she may have spelled that one of the crazy ways with a Zed versus the normally accepted basic version.

After that, I wasn’t in a Walmart until…2012 or 13. I wasn’t pleased with the trajectory my Walmart visit’s half-life was taking. But that visit was in a bumpkin-town outside of St Louis booze emergency situation while Rib and I were at his sister’s wedding,

I’m not saying we accidentally started the whole People of Walmart thing, but I will say that I’d never heard of it until after my wedding reception rant about the experience later that same day.

Are you going to call that a coincidence?!?

So I was back in the decade-plus club for time elapsed – lapsed? Phil will tell me! – between visits and was for the first time in my life willingly looking for a Walmart. That’s not a brag, but it’s certainly humbling.

I just had to know!

I mean, this guy had the credentials, but that’s never stopped someone from being a shill, right?

Well, you know what they say about cops, right? Same with Walmarts. Never one around when you “need” one. For research purposes only.

One thwarted week into my research search and I decided to…<gulp> download their app.

By that time, my Mac and-chemically-powdered-cheese-addled brain was desperate to know the answer. I could get free delivery two days later – I think – but I couldn’t wait! I had to know!

Plus, I was starving and had no food in the house, because: bachelor.

There was one delivery window for that baleful day. Same day delivery is $10, so I went for it.

But, being the shrewd consumer that I am? I made that $10 charge scream. But all in the interest of research, right? To that end, I went all in on my experiment. The guy who makes a living writing specifically said he didn’t deviate from the box instructions, in the interest of judging the purest intent of the manufacturer.

I one-upped him and bought all of the ingredients required in the Walmart Private Label brand.

Then I rounded out my cart with other non-essentials (read: things I usually bogart from the Silver Fox when he’s not looking) like trash bags, light bulbs and the like. I mean, it was $4.50 for the 10 boxes on Mac and Cheese – maybe the article was 15 years old, I dunno. Still…$.45/box is pretty good, and on just what I saved on 10 of Walmart’s private label boxes over the $1.89 for Kraft these days, I’d pay for the delivery charge in savings. Then a buck and change for the half-and-half and I think the butter was less than $4. So a $10 delivery charge for $10 in groceries seemed a little nutso. Realizing I was unencumbered by any consistency for the sake of fairness rigamarole like the author, I added in several bags of Walmart frozen peas and cans of tuna so I wouldn’t face limits in concocting meals with my 10 boxes of Walmart’s best.

This was all before I realized there was a hefty tip added in – and I swear, I look for that crap, so I don’t think it was there until afterward. I noticed it when I got a message from the app saying, “thanks for tipping your driver $7”.

Sounds suspect, but wudevs. I’m certainly not stingy with tips, but this just seemed like a shady situation. Plus, it was the Walton family…you can’t honestly think they respect or value their customers any more than their employees. That $7 tip was probably a 70/30 split with the family.

But that’s neither here nor there, really.

What’s both here and there?

It was…good!

Foundational snobbery shooketh.

Before reading this article, I wouldn’t say I had an opinion about boxed Mac and Cheese so much as an awareness for what I was in the mood for. Did I want an unadulterated experience? If so, that meant a splurge on the Velveeta cheese sauce in the box variety. If I was shooting for more of a White Trasherole meal, a box of the powdered cheese stuffs would do just fine.

I was enough of a snob about it to know that was a line that didn’t blur much. I might add peas to the Velveeta but never tuna. But that was the end of my snobbishness.

I had also sampled enough to know that the Amy’s brand organic was pretty lackluster, yet ran about the same price as the Velveeta counterpart. For powdered cheese! Who do you think you are, Amy?!?

Any of the GF varieties I’d ever tried were flat out hot garbage. The reviewer shared my views on this…or at least bore them out with his rating system.

Given that level of situational awareness on the topic, I have to admit to my surprise on the Walmart brand. If I had to find a point of dissatisfaction, it would be…appropriately esoteric. Something like their frozen peas stayed too crunchy, with almost a dryness inside – regardless of how long I cooked them. That or, more specific to the key component, the pasta seems starchier than other boxed pasta.

See? Esoteric.

How much fucking Mac and Cheese do you have to prepare to know how the starchiness manifests while cooking?

Well, I don’t know. I just know two things: A) I’ve cooked a lot of this stuff; and B) starch content affects the bubbles in the boil – the more starch the pasta releases, the bigger the bubbles get in the boiling water.

Oftentimes, this manifests as a slimy film around the waterline of the pot that dries kind of like sunburnt skin. But with the Walmart brand, it’s more like a paste around the waterline. In a People of Walmart level of appropriateness, it’s kind of the same level of repulsive as talking to someone with an eye booger or that white film in the corners of their mouth.

Given those visuals, I usually rinse my pasta, since my body doesn’t have the best reaction to pasta or gluten or starch or something. But I’m an intrepid non-gourmand, so I’m not letting that stop me! And, lest any of that mental imagery curb your enthusiasm around trying this, well…feast your eyes on this lil parting gift again and go forth:

It’s worth the…adventure? Go ahead, save a buck!

Now, if someone writes an article about Walmart having good wine? I don’t wanna know! I’m happy enough with my Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet wines that I have yet to explore what Rib swears is a good selection and pricing paradigm at the Costco. Stay in your lane, Walmart.

Call me backlogged. Or more of a problematic Mac and Cheese consumer than drinker – bet ya didn’t see that rationalization coming.

Sample This…

I Can’t Have It All?

Part 2: What the hell was I thinking?

Damn universe, always teaching me lessons…like crippling humility.

So, there I was…having most of it. Gently nudged into balance by the Silver Fox. I’d gotten Angela all spruced up for her annual check-in with Lyft, but was focused more on those other pillars that make me feel like a normal person productive: writing and exercising.

No big news on the writing front.

Yet….

Couple blog posts. I re-read my prime WIP, by way of seeing where I need to tweak formatting before I hit publish. That’ll happen this month.

For sure.

So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.

Also something?

I exercised twice as many days in March as I had in February. That ain’t nothing. April’s looking good, too, there’s a Class Every Day challenge and I’m on track. But balanced old Xtopher is keeping in mind that some days will be ride days, others will be strength…but mixed in will be days that are just a longer than my usual 5 minute post-ride stretch classes or even yoga classes.

Balance.

Also helpful? And this is where all that foreshadowing nonsense comes in: I got de-platformed by Lyft.

You read that right. Boy, they rogered me but good. Real good.

But that’s another blog.

I chose to look at it optimistically. The removal of a barrier to a balanced day.

The thing is, though, my temp gig doesn’t pay that well. I mean, I can’t complain, it’s not minimum wage – which I’ve certainly done as I explore non-career level employment. And it pays the bills. And-and, in a real Pinocchio twist, they started making sounds about converting me from a temp role to a real boy job.

The pay talk…we’ll see. I’m looking at it as a positive – even though the talk happened on April 1st. That’s just how my life goes. It was a good talk.

Except, the universe being the lesson teacher that it is, I was de-platformed by Lyft after dumping about $3k into little repairs for Angela that I’d been putting off. That was the month after the surprise $2500 I’d put into her in January, no less.

And after all that I had boldly (ie: no drink in hand) faced my taxes.

The day after I’d done my first draft of the taxes was the day I got the dry fuck from Lyft.

I’ll tell ya…I don’t believe in god, but I fully embrace the notion behind the phrase “If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan”.

And that’s what I had done. Made a financial plan that included making quarterly payments to the Feds for my $11k tax bill.

Thank god it was only a first draft. The second draft is a much less traumatic $8k, but it’ll still require an episiotomy after my main revenue stream gave me the same treatment it gave the driver that raped a passenger here in Oregon.

That seems fair. My punishment is the same as a rapist. My crime? I got two speeding tickets in a 12 month period. Yeah, well stick with “sounds fair”.

More on that later, I’m sure. You know how loquacious I can be when I get going on something.

Now, look…I may be seriously fucked right now, but I’m all Mr Bright Side, damnit! Even if that just means I jump off the bridge with the best view in town – that’s a tough one here in Portland – and don’t take anyone else out with me.

So that naive dumbass Mr Bright Side fella is looking at this as a way to achieve balance. Less opportunities for proChristination. Fewer distractions.

Bright side. Mr. Me.

But since my temp job doesn’t keep me in the happy hour budget I like, tax debt or no, nor does it afford the luxurious $30 treats Mistress Myrtle prefers…I need a second income stream.

Reluctantly, I signed up to be a delivery old man boy with DoorDash.

I hate it. It’s boring. It does give me that “in service to others” paycheck I found I missed after leaving retail. So, that’s a plus. And it pays around $7-10 more and hour than the temp job, so there’s that, too.

But it’s sooooo fucking boring.

Bright side? I can really only tolerate doing 5 deliveries in a shift. More than that is excruciating. Ok, that last part wasn’t very bright side, I admit. But, dashing out to do 5 deliveries after work a few nights a week and then a double or triple on a – singular – weekend day leaves me plenty of time for happy hour hangouts during the week – and it gives my budget the wiggle room to offset said indulgence. It leaves me the time for writing and exercising.

All. That.

There’s plenty to be grateful for. And since I hate it, the ~20 hours I give it each week balances my books. Well, excluding the G-men obligation. I might have to see if there’s a niche market for barely out of shape old men on OnlyFans to solve that problem. God only knows what weird shit passing as erotic that The Gays are lapping up these days.

Fucking morons.

But I think I’ve got a third draft of my taxes in me. I just need to make a phone call first. I think we all know how long I could drag that task out. So I’ll also file an extension…sometime between April 14th and 17th.

It’s good to have a plan.

And goals. Since my goals are work, exercise, write and not “pay less in taxes than Trump” I think I’m in a good place.

Fuck, being optimistic is a weird feeling. I should’ve stretched more before this post. Anyone else miss grumpy old Xtopher?

Don’t worry, he’ll be around. Until then, cheers to the bright side and cheers to you for reading. Thanks!

Look how my thigh is about the same size as my thumb in that pic. You go, Chicken Legs McGee!

I Can’t Have It All?

Decisions, Decisions…

I had everything planned out for the week. To a literal T. But you know the old saying: If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan.

That’s all the god-talk you’re getting from me.

I had my two-part “Having it all” post for mid week and weekend, sandwiching a fatness fitness post, and that was my writing week.

But then I won tickets to a pre-concert private show from a local radio station and now that’s all I wanna write about!

But I’ve gotta stick to the plan, right?

<crickets>

Anyone?

So, it’s the fitness post, then. Chalk it up to underwhelming demand.

Plus, it’s quick and I’m tired.

I don’t write about my Peloton often. It’s such a cult-y thing, so I try to be low key. Although, since I dropped 30 lbs in the first two months and then likely gained it all back over the holidays, maybe I’m pissing away a potential Peloton payoff by not being more vocal. Surely their brand can’t stand the scandal of my Delta Burke-esque results.

But I digress.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary with my bike. I was kind of jazzed about that and kind of blues about it, too.

I know in the dark attic spaces of my mind lives the remnants of my insipid narcissistic younger self. He still thinks with a twink metabolism – you know the kind, the type of metabolism that burns more calories thinking about exercise than I do in a 30 minute spin class. That guy figured length of bike ownership would produce results. Like, simply by passing the one year anniversary, I’d magically transform my flab-ulous center into fabulous abs.

Well, lemme tell ya, the only things of steel on me are my jaw muscles. And it ain’t just from flapping them. It’s also due to all the masticating I do, too.

On the other hand, there’s the guy who currently lives in the biggest rooms in my head. He’s the guy that decided I deserved ice cream tonight.

So, yeah…he’s a coin toss between self-care and self-sabotage, that guy.

He’s the one that enabled my weight gain over the holidays when I was recovering from a bruised tailbone. And compounded that with an overly-permissive attitude about getting back on the bike once I healed up.

He was finally vanquished in late February by a coalition of all of the other Chrises I keep locked away upstairs. Led, of course by Twink Chris.

Getting a largely work from home temp assignment didn’t hurt those efforts, either. I found I could wake up early and workout, shower and be “in the office” by 8 or wake up at 745, grab an energy drink, brush my teeth, be at my desk at 8, then workout and shower during my hour lunch break.

Which do you think I do more?

Regardless of my shiny-skinned, baseball cap wearing mornings, I was relieved because I’d been bracing myself for the defeat of not making it back on the bike by my one year anniversary. Let’s face it, that was a real possibility, given how seriously I take my health and fitness.

I mean…what kind of asshole buys exercise equipment on April Fools Day?!?

That’s the bullshit attitude I’m talking about.

Fortunately, that didn’t come to pass.

As much a fact, I made progress that once again even impressed my favorite person. By mid-month, I realized I was on pace to hit my 200th ride by my anniversary. It’s easier than it sounds, racking up ride numbers – think cool down rides after each ride and you’re looking at an easy two-fer scenario.

Heck, I realized I was also in striking distance of hitting my centurion strength workout and my 25th yoga class.

Clearly, none of those accomplishments mattered in the company of my stretching results. And I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna look at a sore thumb result like that and not choose to give myself a stroke versus a pat on the back for everything else I achieved over the course of the year.

That’s a healthy attitude.

So in the last 8 days before my anniversary, I finally started taking the advice of the trainers and replaying my 5-minute post-ride stretching classes. Since I know that’s kind of cheating, I punished myself by making myself do at least a 10-minute morning stretch class on the days I didn’t ride – which was, yeah…also kind of a cheat.

But in this case, those particular two wrongs did make a right.

Here’s what I’ll say about my drive to sync up these milestones with my first anniversary of ownership: It was kind of a “Go big or go out like Mr. Big” mindset, and if you know what I’m talking about, you know that was a perfectly Xtopher thought to have.

Talk about your Red Shirt Diary topics!

Ok, that’s all I’m saying about the cult. But here’s a couple pics of the instructors that keep me cumming coming back to the bike.

I ride because I secretly would love a sexy man to make that face in my presence…even if I couldn’t see it.

And since you just had to endure that mental imagery, here’s a pic from one of the ABBA themed rides, just for a fun mental palate cleanser…

That’s my towel on my handlebars and a collar so big and 70s fabulous on her top that it looks like a towel draped around her neck. And now I’ll wrap up with some sweaty old Xtopher pics so you can experience a fraction of the emotional pain that I inflict upon myself…

All in pursuit of keeping my <ahem> pointer visible in my own line of sight and this pointer consistently on the right side of 200…

Namasté, bitches!

Decisions, Decisions…

An Interesting Self-Own

I was boozing it up chatting with some friends last night when I shared a realization I’d had on my way to meet them.

It occurred to me that I’m still wearing masks much like I did before Oregon lifted its mask mandate earlier this month. I tell myself a couple of different things to explain this away. First, I’m no longer the youngest person in my building, but I’m still close. I’d wager the median age in the building is at least low-60s. Likely older, so by wearing a mask in my building, I’m protecting my neighbors. But secondly, I’m employing that wait-and-see tactic that I used when Portland first reopened bars for inside service back in…Spring of 2021?

No, wait. Maybe it was still early winter, like November of 2020. I recall, well…that’s not the point. The point I was making was that back then, I waited two weeks before going inside for a beer to see if cases spiked after the re-opening. I’m kind of doing the same thing now with masks.

All that said, on my way down the stairs last night, I was thinking about how my sense of caution has changed over the years. I flashed back to the 90s, when hand sanitizers first came into popularity.

Protective moms were forever slathering the stuff on their kids. My observation at the time was that overdoing it on the antibacterial goop would likely cause more harm than good by creating a generation of kids with immune systems that never had to flex and grow to defend themselves against minor germs. The end result being weaker immune systems and more incident of sickness in these kids as adults.

Of course, I never put much effort into following up on my assumption, outside of randomly announcing that I’d called it when the flimsiest of examples arose. Think: bad flu years, more allergy complaints and, heck…remember that Ebola outbreak?

Me:

I realized then, over the course of just a few flights of stairs that I likely needed to re-embrace that less risk averse mindset for my own good now. I mean, I’m vaccinated, boostered and reasonably healthy. It’s not that big of a risk, more just me forcing myself outside my complacency comfort zone.

It’s been a couple weeks, after all.

So, today, I moved around barefaced, with my nose hanging out for all the world to see. Shockingly, I actually encountered one restaurant that still had their mask sign on the doors during my meanderings. So, I toddled back to the car and got my mask. Easy-peasy. I’ll still respect the wishes of business owners in my community.

But I sure was looking forward to someone challenging me on my continued masking. I had a ridiculous “my body, my choice” response lined up and ready to fire off.

Alas.

Maybe the next pandemic.

An Interesting Self-Own

I Can Have It All!

Part 1: Everything’s fine!

I creep into every week with a simple goal – to have a day or several where I succeed in all three pillars of what I consider a “good day”. I want to make some money, exercise and write.

That’s it. Nothing earth shattering. No outrageous goals like cure cancer before lunch.

You may wonder how I struggle to accomplish this. Like, why is my weekly goal “a day or several” and not something more aggressive reasonable like “at least three days a week”?

The answer is simple: go fuck yourself.

Wait. That came out wrong.

I used to run, run, run and go, go, go. All day. I did that for 30+ years, starting in high school, no less!

Now I’m tired. Actually, I’m not just tired…I’m fucking tired.

And after leaving my retail management career behind after 30+ years, I was ready to rest. I liked my little income setup: Lyft 25-ish hours a week and keeping an iron in the temp job fire to keep things fresh. My average for temp placements was 2/year, which I was fine with.

I was a little less fine when I got my W2 for last year’s temp assignments and saw that I’d earned around $1700 in 2021. And that mindset is never the right time to pick up the phone when your temp wrangler calls.

But I did, didn’t I?

Because I’m a dumbass.

Which is how I ended up on assignment in early February. It’s full-time, which I hate because I frankly make more driving. Plus a 40 hour/week commitment seems so vulgar now. But I’m getting used to it.

Stubbornly.

Case in point, I was still committed to getting my minimum $500 in ride earnings in each week after this temp job came through. That goal actually wasn’t much of a problem, most weeks I was clearing four digits. I swear, with Lyft, if you download the app they practically automatically send you $500/week. I think if you go longer than one week without managing to earn over $500, they send someone to check in on you.

What I’m saying is that it’s pretty much a sure thing. People gotta go places, you’re going to make money. I’m ok with that.

Until…the Silver Fox ruined everything. Root of all evil, that guy.

I met him at our local after work one day when he’d come back up to town. Him being all pro-me, he was apologetic or overly grateful or something…stressing that he didn’t want to keep me from making money.

Ooh, foreshadowing!

But I assured him everything was fine. I’d overachieved prior to his visit, so it turned out that Bob’s now my uncle. In assuring him I was ready for a rest – there’s that foreshadowing again – I spilled my prior week’s Lyft earnings to him.

Amazed, he asked how long that took me.

Me: I dunno…like 30 hours? Nah. Less! I dunno…I was getting up at 430 if I couldn’t sleep and going out for the early bonus hours before plugging in to work at 8. Then doing a little driving after work on some days, too. Oh, and then Friday and Saturday!

SF: And you worked 40 hours on top of that doing the payroll thing?

Me: <raises glass to self> Yupperz.

SF: Geez! You worked 70 hours last week!

Me: <blinks cluelessly>. That can’t be right.

SF: That’s amazing.

Me: It never occurred to me that I’d worked that much. Driving doesn’t feel like working. Not at all.

See? He’s obviously the devil.

Anyway, that also drove home the point that my stubbornness had over-corrected and was keeping me from succeeding at accomplishing my other metrics: writing and exercising.

Shift my focus, did I.

Plus, Angela needed some spa days. I’d been putting off my oil change and replacing a fog light some malcontent had popped out of my bumper last summer during our…protests.

Who objects to a fog light being in a bumper where it belongs?!? That’s what I want to know. Stupid protester.

Anyway, I book a few days in the shop for the car and dial back the driving.

Ratchet up my workouts – which had gotten ridiculously infrequent. Like less than two/week.

I still struggled to write. I posted a couple of blogs and opened my laptop to check on a draft…the shock of which nearly fried my laptop.

What? It was a long pandemic.

But I still have WIPs to get out on “in progress” status. The Gays aren’t big readers, so it’s really only for my own sense of accomplishment. It still bothers me that they are languishing there in WIP status. That’s on me. No one reads them? That’s on someone else.

Shockingly, that stubborn streak of mine asserted itself in a strangely non-self-sabotaging manner. I started choosing to exercise or write versus choosing to drive, aka: proChristinate.

It was oddly liberating.

And motivating.

Maybe I could manage to have it all several days a week after all?!?

Tune in soon. See if that next shoe that drops is a platform heel with a goldfish living in it or a cross-trainer that washed up on the shores of the Puget Sound with an amputated foot still in it.

Yeah, I think we all know which way this is going for foolishly optimistic old Xtopher….

I Can Have It All!