The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

Singledom vs. The Aging Brain

I’m no hoarder, let’s get that <ahem> straight from the get-go. So last year when everyone else was buying a garageful of crapping paper, I was blissfully going about my own days.

Such as they were, in lockdown.

That said, household supplies in my household exist on only two par levels:

1) A nine month supply, easy; or,

2) Oh, shit…I should have bought toothpaste yesterday!

If you want to know how much coffee you have to drink to cover morning breath, don’t ask me. My neurotic ass is convinced that I’ve never accomplished this feat. But I’d guess the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “a lot”.

All that being said, I took my CRS riddled brain on a little shopping trip yesterday with the mantra “Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwasher detergent” playing on repeat in said brain.

I knew I needed other things, but the mantra covered what I knew was urgent to remember. The rest of my shopping trips usually amount to grabbing go-to staples like Mac & Cheese and hamburger or assessing whether I’d eat something before its pull date (broccoli and salad kits are the primary aspirational purchases in this category) or actually eat it at all (anything else that’s borderline healthy or with a risk of too many leftovers).

So shopping with me is pretty fun. If you lose track of me, I’ll be wandering through the beer and wine aisles until someone comes to get me.

As opposed to shopping with the Silver Fox on one of the many times he’s allowed me to coattail on his Costco membership. We hit the cart corral and he’s off and running on his familiar shopping routine while I’m still standing by the roll up doors wondering aloud to no one about a pallet of electric toothbrushes.

Next time I look up, I see only the smoke and dying flames that his feet left. And that cagey bastard expects me to keep up, actively preventing me from retreating to my safe space.

All this, of course, is just my attempt at lede-burying.

I went to the fridge today and grabbed my last cold soda. Not wanting Future Xtopher to be caught without an appropriately chilled soda, I went to the pantry to grab another 12-pack: none.

No worries, I have back up 2-liters for just this…oooooh, fuck.

So, yeah…this is that second par level I mentioned earlier.

I even looked at soda yesterday as I grabbed a cart. Specifically, I recall thinking, “3 for $13.99, that’s a crap deal” and pushing on.

Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwashing detergent!

Oh, mania…my steadfast companion.

Back to this morning, having finished my one measly soda, I showered to be ready for an interview. Then I debated running out for a soda, energy drink or coffee; ultimately deciding there wasn’t enough time.

There was time, however, to do last night’s dishes. It seems most of what I used for meal prep last night was too big for the dishwasher, so…dishpan hands, here I come!

Except

I was also out of liquid dishwashing detergent.

Ooooh, fuck…

The only bright side here is that I know I would never have remembered six things in a mantra. I’d have had to write it down…and then find it in my coat pocket next fall.

You think I’m being too hard on myself? Well, my brain, at any rate.

When I went to get my first COVID shot on Tuesday, I took my coat off so they’d have access to this skin. As is my habit when removing my jacket in public, I checked my pockets to make sure they were zipped.

You don’t want something falling out of your pocket as it gets tossed around a coat rack or bed by others. Learning this the hard way, if you watch me in public, you’ll see me surreptitiously checking my zippers – coat pockets and pants fly, can’t be too careful – often enough you’d think I should be medicated.

Probably, I should.

But that’s not the point.

One of my zippers was open, so I zipped it as I was shirking off my coat. The other one was zipped. But, what’s this? There’s something in it!

I love little prizes from Past Xtopher.

I open the pocket while the nurse is readying my dose, boom…$1000.

Thanks, Past Xtopher!

The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

This Oughta Be Interesting

So…yeah, I’ve been bird-dogging my bank account and the IRS site for the last couple of weeks, because: stimmie.

I had pretty much resigned myself to getting passed over again because I kept on getting the “need more information” error on the IRS site. I’d gotten the first stimmie last…May? Sure, let’s go with May, snd was one of the first to get it because I’d filed my taxes electronically and the IRS had my bank account info on file, badabing-badaboom: direct deposit.

Then, in December: bubkis.

No idea what changed in between.

But in order to help the old IRS find its wallet this time around, I pulled the trigger early on my taxes. I usually wait to file because I’m a procrastinator patriot and want to let the government use my money until the last moment possible. My hope was that this would remind them that they forgot about me last time.

And, sure enough, here’s what greeted me today:

Mind you, this is where the fun starts. Since I filed my taxes and they update this site each night, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Except

When I logged in to check, I was told that the address I put in was wrong. I tried my PO Box and Bob’s your uncle.

The only problem?

I unrented my PO Box last May.

This is my life, after all.

Like I said, this is where the fun starts. If I filed my taxes electronically, once again, they should have my direct deposit information handy. Why not just use that again?

For that matter, if they update this site nightly and I filed my taxes ten days ago, why isn’t my correct address on the site?

Now we get to see if the Post Office still has a change of address on file for me so that this gets forwarded. If not, I guess I’ll have myself a lil pet project…

This Oughta Be Interesting

The Red Shirt Diaries #30

It’s not hard to absorb the knowledge that I’ll likely never be in the 1%.

What’s harder to deny – given my “it could only happen to me”-ness – is the reality that I’ll probably easily find myself in the 3-5% club.

That club being populated by folks who were not protected by the COVID vaccine.

That’s right, folks…grumpy, old Xtopher got hisself a vaccine today. Isn’t it nice to see me embracing life like this?

I’m half convinced that they missed or didn’t even stab me. I didn’t feel a thing and the nurse couldn’t see where to put the bandage afterward because I didn’t bleed at the injection site.

Seems highly suspicious.

Anyway…use my jaded and twisted sense of humor as a reminder: this isn’t a cure. Just like flu shots, the COVID vaccination is a protection against COVID. Every year, I get a flu shot and sure enough, at some point I get the flu. It’s just a lighter illness than I would likely get otherwise.

It could be the same with COVID. So to share some advice an old friend used to give me: Don’t get dead. Get your shot and then behave responsibly. Keep washing your hands. Don’t take unnecessary risks. And please, stay home if you feel sick.

The Red Shirt Diaries #30

Mind: Boggled

Not to be confused with the mind “bottled” moment from Blades of Glory.

Mind you, we’re my mind bottled, I’m sure it would be with vinegar, spices and herbs to pickle it ever just so.

No, what boggles my mind – still, as I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned this before – is that this post from 2017 still gets any hits at all. Yet, here we are:

Occasionally, I’ll catch these metrics coming in when there are few enough hits on my blog to figure out where these lil perverts are reading my blog. It’s usually Eastern Europe…which I find strangely hot. More often than not the hit comes from Google, but that also usually garners a search term result like “kinkiest places” or “gayest city” or sometimes just “BDSM”. But alternate search engines, like Baidu, don’t track or report search terms.

All of this is rewarding, regardless of how the click happened, right? Writers just want to be read.

Nonetheless, knowing my little corner of the internet doesn’t come close to hitting the top page of any search result – probably not even if you typed in “Chris Galbreath blog” – or even the first three pages, I have to wonder how far these people scroll in their results before stumbling toward my particular brand of ecstasy…

Mind: Boggled

Small Comforts

We all need them, whether we acknowledge – and even more importantly, appreciate – them or not.

Doris Day parking.

Someone paying your coffee purchase forward.

A rain break when we forgot our hooded jacket or umbrella.

Chocolate.

A familiar face in a crowd.

Or, in my case…warm socks.

Yeah, turns out that’s what really does it for me.

As we leave winter behind and look toward spring’s arrival next week, I’m reminded of all the times I cozied up at home with a big, fuzzy pair of socks. It’s a great cure-all, especially after downing a couple in a tent on the street outside of a favorite bar – while it rains and cold radiates through your shoes and up your legs.

It’s a chilling, but necessary evil to maintain some sort of mental health self-care these days. But luckily, these days are becoming warmer!

Another thing that struck me as I was cleaning up my pics, deleting things I didn’t need and putting others into folders that make them no easier to find in the future, was that the women in my life were much better at providing this small comfort to me than I was at accomplishing it for myself.

Go figure, once again women are better people than men. Thank gourd mankind is not limited only to the male of the species or we’d really be rogered, but good.

Case in point: here are some $25 Keen socks that I bought myself five years ago. Wool, tech weave, lifetime guarantee…

…holes in both big toes.

Compare that to these Gas Monkey socks my sister gifted each of her male relatives a few Christmases ago.

Stop judging my chankles. Chrisism: chicken ankles.

Knowing my sister, she’s not dropping $25 on a pair of over-marketed hoopla socks like her frivolous brother. She’s got the money to, but she’s more shrewd than that. These were three-packs, and I bet she got them for $20 or less.

She’s proud of her ability to find a deal. I think this perfectly highlights the Hunter/Gatherer difference between the sexes, too. I find something and jump on it because it looks good. Or good enough. She, meanwhile, looks around and finds the best option.

Maybe it’s not fair to state that as an absolute difference between the traditional caveman era gender roles. Maybe she’s just smarter about her love languages than I am – and mind you, I’m just talking to myself when it comes to love languages. My sister is kind of Oprah, by comparison. At least where socks are concerned.

And then there’s the Crocodile Dundee of warm socks and love languages: my mom.

‘At’s not a warm sock, *this* is a warm sock! – Crocodile Momdee

She used to work at the local Kroger, Fred Meyers, which is an early inspiration for the present day Target and Walmart concept of adding grocery departments to their Big Box everything-but-grocery stores. Only Freddie’s did it the other way: grocery to everything else.

Anyway, over her 20 years there, all us (adult aged) kids looked forward to our annual Christmas stocking stockings. You see, as part of their Black Friday offerings, they did a crazy half-off all socks from some crazy early hour until the store’s normal opening time.

Mom stocked us up.

Because that’s what moms do.

The pair pictured above were part of one of my Christmas care packages during the time in my life when I lived away from my hometown. I remember these particularly well, since they came with a very mom-usual card:

For Those Cold Texas Nights…

Aw, mom.

So…yeah, my Texas misadventures were back in ’93, which I think must be pronounced 19-friggin‘-93. Meaning these socks that were maybe $9.99 regularly priced, that mom likely got for $4.98 and paid $4.49 for after her meager employee discount have lasted me 28 years.

Twenty-eight-motherfriggin‘-years!

The secret quality control ingredient is mom.

Jesus, I’ve had these socks over half of my life.

And these stupid socks that people who love me have bought me over the years make me feel as loved and cared for as anything I’ve ever been told or shown. Even knowing they’ve probably long forgotten the gesture, I remember it each time I go to my sock drawer and pull on a pair of chunky heavy socks for an evening in.

It really is the little things.

Small Comforts

Update: The Green Loop

Ok, A) whenever I fat finger “loop” as “llop”, my damn phone tries to autocorrect it to “LLAP”. For any of you non-Star Trek fans, that’s the shorthand for Spock’s famous farewell, “Live long and prosper”.

I guess I type that a lot?

Anyway. Some interesting developments in the Green Loop relative to my recent post on the subject.

2) You can imagine how much I enjoy being right. It feels good! Not that any Trump supporters who read this would understand that feeling.

Heck, even being mostly right or close enough feels good. And again, those Trumpsters would be left out in the cold on this one, too – blowing a 50/50 shot at being right is nothing to brag about.

Me, on the other hand: I speculated that the city should consider closing off my side street, Flanders, between 8th and Broadway versus putting in a stop light. This morning I saw this:

Instead of closing Flanders off between 8th and Broadway, they closed it off between Park and 8th. It does make sense, being those two streets frame the North Park Blocks, also giving my street its name.

I’m just saying, my way saved the city having to buy and install a new set of stoplights. I guess they were already on order or something.

But, I was close!

Lastly, C) looks like this is bound to remain a three out of four-way stop for a bit:

I love how the city can install planters on a Saturday, but not stop signs.

I know you were dying for an update. There’s the latest.

Update: The Green Loop

Step Aside Green Mile

Stephen King and Tom Hanks gave us The Green Mile back in ’99.

A movie about death row or something. Who can remember that far back? But there was something about a bunch of flies at one point, that I do remember, but it just casts more confusion over the premise for me.

Not to be outdone in the confusion or green departments, Portland has the Green Loop. Or, we will have. Currently, it’s a work in progress…and no one really knows what the fuck it actually is – so, yay! More confusion.

Here’s what I can tell you: it’s intended to make the core of the city more walkable and cyclist friendly – and ask any cyclist and they’ll tell you, they fuckin’ deserve this.

Sidebar: You know the old joke about Harvard grads? The one that was co-opted by Vegans? Or about Vegans…it goes like this –

How do you know someone went to Harvard?
Don’t worry, they’ll fucking tell you.
Truth.

Well, if you think that’s obnoxious, talk to a Portland cyclist.

The worst.

For as much of a superiority and savior complex as they have, I’d expect the planet to actually have been saved by this point.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Green Loop is a 6 mile circle around downtown that is a part of the city planner’s Central City 2035 plan. It passes by many of our city’s most famous or notable features – including Powell’s City of Books, the North and South Park Blocks, Portland Art Museum, the Eastbank, crossing over the Willamette River and back, yada-yada-yada – you really see the town. In the five years since its launch, we are nearing completion on two pedestrian/cycling bridges over the 84 and 405 freeways and have had quite an ongoing dustup between the city planning folks and my snotty neighbors about a 29 story condo/hotel project that would sit on Flanders Street, which is a big part of the Green Loop.

Doncha just love drama?

My neighbors think adding in a “taxi zone” in front of the hotel – like you do – would be a hazard to the pedestrians and cyclists using the Loop that would run right in front of the hotel.

They’re right of course. However, in a taxi vs. cyclist face off, I’m betting on the cyclist.

The thing is, this was their second argument against the project. The first was that this sliver style building would destroy one of the last few remaining centuries old trees in the Pearl neighborhood.

The city poo-pooed that argument, pretty ballsy given the word green is actually in the name of this initiative and here we are, condoning tearing down historic greenery…if trees can be referred to as historic. I dunno.

Undeterred, my neighbors invoked cyclist safety. But, because everyone has really had it about up to here <stretches arm out over head> with cyclists and their entitlement, the city shot down that argument, as well.

Now, they’re on to their third yeahbut and they are frankly starting to look a bit like rejection junkies. This new argument? That 29 stories is out of scale with the surrounding blocks.

Ok, that’s not a bad argument. Except, where was it when this was happening?

On the opposite corner from this proposed hotel/condo is The Casey. This precious metal LEED certified 16 story condo that’s just fine with my swanky neighbors. But, because of the city’s need for housing density, the height limits have been raised in recent years, and who wants to guess that The Casey came in just under the old height limits just like this new project comes in just a tad under the current 290 foot height limit for the area?

When The Casey went up, the next highest building was a six story co-op. You’d think building a mid-rise condo that is about two and a half times its height would have ruffled some feathers.

But it didn’t.

And this new project isn’t even twice the height of The Casey, so I bet the city is gonna tell these desperate housebitches to go pound sand.

By the way, here’s a construction pic from The Casey, featuring the tree at the center of the drama.

Honestly, I was prepared to laugh my ass off after the recent “snow troubles” here that downed a significant number of branches and trees. But this stalwart deciduous bastard is still standing.

For now.

Anyway…I mention all this as backstory for the Silver Fox’s recent conniption during his recent visit. He’d come home for a procedure and we were having a last supper type outing for fish and chips the night before. As we pull onto Broadway from Flanders, he points out that the city is adding in a four-way stop light, which he dramatically declared unnecessary.

It’s probably for the Green Loop.

My dispassionate tone – think Morgan Freeman saying “I don’t give a shit” – had the opposite effect. Instead of following my lead and calming down, The Fox turned apoplectic and started counting off existing stop lights at the cross streets on Broadway.

There’s one!

And another!

And another up there!

And here’s another one!

Not to mention Burnside!

How many is that? Five?!? So that’ll be six stop lights…we don’t need that!

Don’t forget the Glisan intersection.

I don’t know why I felt the need to poke the bear here. I guess that’s just one of the benefits of being my friend.

So, seven?!? There’s going to be a light at every intersection between the Broadway Bridge and Burnside!

I just looked at him, blankly. Like, what did he expect me to say? It probably wasn’t

Personally, I think they should just close Flanders off to cars from Broadway. It’s not like the few cars traveling that block couldn’t go around.

Sometimes I’m just a complete turd.

But other times, karma gives me a stern fucking over for all the fucking with my friends endure from me.

The next day as I was coming home, I noticed a new stop sign on 9th St. I say “noticed”, but I really mean, “screeched to a halt, narrowly missing the car in front of me that had stopped unexpectedly”.

What fresh hell…?!? Great, another idiot that yields his right of way needlessly.

And just as I was about to deploy a one-fingered salute, I saw it. A new stop sign. So, the city had a mind to turn Flanders and 9th into a four-way stop instead of a two-way. Thinking back to the day before, I chuckled at The Fox’s near-stroke-inducing mania over the stoplight at Flanders and Broadway.

Then I thought of how this would affect my usual cruise around the corner from 9th to Flanders as I return home. Usually, I park in the first spot on the corner of Flanders and Park, then just walk down to my front door in the middle of Park…yes, avenue. But it ain’t fancy.

The Silver Fox likes that I park there because he can keep tabs on me from his living room window when he’s in residence. I like it because it’s the one stretch of street in my neighborhood without trees overhead; meaning, no tree debris or crow shit.

Then I decide that of course this needs to be a blog, because it’s hilarious that The Fox and I can be such good friends when the things that send him sideways, I usually don’t give a damn about. And I’m sure the opposite applies, too.

So, I go out to take a picture of the new traffic controls…and then I see it.

What the hell kind of city has a three-way stop at an intersection where both streets have two-way traffic?!?

Oy.

Walking back to my apartment, I notice something else weird. While I parked in my usual spot, suddenly I seem to also have parked between a stop sign and a sign that says No Parking.Being the generally law abiding citizen that I am, I moved my car back a spot to be in compliance with the new signage.

Ok, truth be told, I briefly lost my shit and then I moved Angela back a space.

The moral of this story?

I dunno. I’m sure there’s an applicable Bible parable, but the long and short of it is that I’ve turned into my NIMBY neighbors.

Being the poorest person in the Pearl, I’m sure I’ll recover my plebeian senses soon enough…

Step Aside Green Mile

It’s My Anniversary

Of sorts.

The Facebook reminded me of a personal milestone when I checked in this morning.

Two years…

I’m really conflicted about this.

On the one hand, this life event was the culmination of leaving professional work in April of 2018 and giving myself time to indulge in my hobbies. Well, hobby: writing. More specifically, story telling. It turns out that my only other hobby turned out to be rage hair growing.

That Fall, I participated in National Novel Writing Month – aka: NaNoWriMo – for the first time. I’d sat it out the prior six years because it occurs in November and that’s just hell with a retail career.

After completing my 50k word goal, I fleshed out my story over the next couple of months to around 90k, took a swipe at editing and declared my story “good enough” for the telling.

Then I started exploring publishing options. Because I wanted this to be a hobby versus a career, I was quickly and easily turned off of traditional publishing. The horror stories of deadlines didn’t daunt me as much as the stories of writers getting fired by publishers after fulfilling their contract.

If I wanted to get dumped, I’d date.

So I leaned into self-publishing. I reached out to social media contacts around the world to pick their brains about their experiences. There were plenty of holes in my knowledge of the process, but I felt I understood it enough to take a stab at it.

The cover you see in the pic above was that stab. I decided to take a practice swing at the process by collating a blog theme from WordPress and going through the process. Ironically, the blog theme was about dating, which was a personal growth challenge I’d undertaken for the entirety of 2018. Effectively, my practice run at self-publishing was about dating and I’d decided on this route to avoid getting dumped by a publisher down the road.

I can mentally bend over backward for irony.

Anyway, it was a surprisingly intuitive process – even for a tech-naive Oldie Hawn like me. Sure, my first few orders shipped with blank backsides, but that’s all part of learning.

Right?

Since that initial foray, I’ve published two additional books. I have also completed three other drafts. All of that took place by the end of April 2019, so I feel like I embraced my storytelling hobby rather enthusiastically.

By the end of that April, I’d finished the draft of my third work in progress and had a timeline for release of all three.

Then the world basically ended. Or came to a screeching halt just short of meeting a calamitous end.

You’d think lockdown would have been a perfect environment to hole up and write, but I rarely wrote at home. As a matter of fact, finishing the draft of that third W.I.P. was a real challenge. I don’t have a comfortable writing nook here and used my daily caffeination or intoxification outings as the settings for my creative productivity. So, being forced to stay inside really curbed that process.

While I was home, not writing, I was also watching my third book not sell well and indulging in some good old self-doubt. My concern was that the cost of printing a 500+ page book was high enough that the lowest price I could charge (garnering me less than $1 in royalties, mind you) was too high to be palatable by consumers. I reached out to some early readers about my concerns and was assured that all was good, despite the story sales were telling me.

By the end of the year, I had decided to split the piece into two books. So now I really had five W.I.P.s and no mojo or pathway to publishing.

And that’s where I’ve been since January.

Sulking.

Not even proChristinating, just good old fashioned sulking.

I could dress it up and call it a writer’s ennui

I’ve taken a couple of runs at recommitting to this blog. Trying to get at least a couple posts up a month. This week, I low-grade challenged myself to publish daily…a challenge I’d abandoned yesterday because I was worried I couldn’t follow through with regular posts after the fact.

Then that darned Facebook memory surfaced. Thanks, Fuckerberg.

But while I’ve been writing this, a news story dropped saying that the House had re-passed the most recent stimulus package, sending it on to the White House. President Biden is expected to sign it by tomorrow and stimmie checks should start going out by month’s end.

Assuming I get one this time (I didn’t get the second one, somehow ending up in the group that gets to claim it as a credit on their tax filings) I’d been vacillating between buying a Peloton or a new couch with the $1400. This was dependent upon achieving my goal of exercising more consistently.

More exercise = Peloton, less = couch for further potatoing.

Oddly, that is the theme for my third non-fiction installment: fitness. I’d blogged about it in the year leading up to my 50th under the fitfy hashtag and thought it was due for a revisit as I enter my mid-50s.

So now I’ve created a nice, vicious thought cycle for myself:

New couch could easily morph into a new desk set up at Chez Galby so I had a space for writing.

Which would keep me off of my couch more, in turn reducing my need to replace it.

But would inhibit my ability to buy a Peloton to reward myself for being more active and propel my fitness efforts further forward…giving me more to write about.

I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m not so much a “Friend of Dorothy” so much as I am Dorothy Gale and my mind is the cyclone that swept her away to Oz…only for us all to learn it was all in her/my head in the first place.

Maybe I should just start an OnlyFans where I can livestream a fundraiser. In it, I’m naked at the beginning and put on clothes as people donate.

I’m sure I’d make enough to accomplish all three purchases!

It’s My Anniversary

The Red Shirt Diaries: #29

The Bathtub Blues.

I’ve recently become increasingly aware of the pitfalls and dangers of my bathtub. Here’s a backward timeline of my increasing disease:

January ’21: my drain starts clogging more frequently because of my lengthening hair. The slower draining and pooling, soapy water leave a slippery residue for me next time I step into the tub to shower.

November ’15: I adopt Lizzy, now known as Myrtle because I couldn’t see having a cat with a diminutive form of my sister’s name. Shortly thereafter her murderous intentions are made clear. Compounding that, she also begins peeing in the tub, leaving a slippery streak from the back end of the tub all the way to the drain. I imagine her feasting on my assorted soft bits after I fall in the tub and decide to start keeping the bathroom door closed.

February ’03: a former work colleague misses several days of work after falling in her tub and a new neurosis is born!

Recently, I’ve taken to holding onto the wall when I tip my head back to wet or rinse my hair. Also, while washing my feet – not sure how much increased stability holding the wall with a soapy hand offers…let’s call it a sense of security. I should probably look at getting a few of those tub tread decals or install a bar – not the kind that serves shower beers – for actual safety.

It’s weird, though, how something that started out as a semi-recreational vicarious fear has become more of a potential reality in less than two decades.

Living alone makes the fear potential feel more real. Living with Myrtle makes that fear more of a terror. You just know that b-word wouldn’t care if I was truly dead or not if she were hungry. You should see the mess I return home to if dinner is late.

Not that living with another human would be a treat for them in the eventuality of a shower slip and fall by yours truly.

Maybe if I go silent too long, send a stranger to do the well-being check. Less traumatizing for my friends and family should I fall and end up a snack to tide Myrt over until her rescue. Less traumatizing for me in the event I survive.

And since this is my life/death we’re talking about, you just know I’d live in order to have to endure the awkwardness of being “that guy who fell in the shower”.

Screw it. Once gyms fully reopen, I’ll just start showering there…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #29

The Haircut Saga: Fín

I’m sure I placed that diacritic backward. But I’m not here to talk about important things.

This is about me.

That came out wrong.

My neglect of my own hair maintenance is fairly obvious – in person – and just one facet of my ability to proChristinate that I’ve low key bragged about on this site. But given that this is my life, there has to always be some sort of Nth factor.

Finding that second link made me realize that I inadvertently lied to my new barber when I told him it had been 15 months since my last haircut. It has been two full years!

See also: how long my parents quietly suffered.

So, yeah…I got a haircut. Here’s a before:

Level of Neglect: Jesus

Level of Entendres: Double, speaking only about the hair. Sadly, no Jesus Level Abs detected in recent inspections.

Getting a haircut in this circumstance wasn’t just an accomplishment. It was a victory.

My old barbershop closed recently.

(Seriously, read that second link for why it was such an enjoyable victory for me. We’re talking layers of icing on this cake!)

It is a local chainlet, so don’t feel bad for them. It’s just one location. I’m not sure if the decision was pandemic related or if it’s more of a strategic business decision. For all I know, they got better lease terms in a nearby new building and will open a new shop in the area. But I’m still claiming the W on behalf of my stubbornness and self righteousness.

I’d recently been driving past a new shop on Broadway that opened in a couple of friends’ old gift shop location. Initially, I was curious that a barbershop using a single gender noun in its name could fly in liberal Portland, Oregon. Eventually, though, I decided to give Menspire the honor challenge of making something out of my nest of a mane.

Plus, you know I love a good portmanteau. And, really, Themspire is just confusing.

I wasn’t crazy about the $40 price tag, compared to my old shop’s $30…but think of all the money I’ve saved in my haircut budget over the last two years. Assuming I resume any sort of regular manetenance – boom, Chrisism! – with Menspire, I have a $240 cushion to pad my budget, or about 6 years of haircuts that I can offset with my “savings”.

Still, you know me…I went in dubious. It’s a hangover from the last two barber chains I’ve been to, here (Bishops) and in Seattle (Rudy’s). Also a nod to the whole, “if it looks too good to be true” trope, since both Bishops and Rudy’s are rather stylized. Menspire presents with a rather severe yet austere decor and I was wary that this would be a same old everyone gets the same stupid haircut schtick like Rudy’s and Bishops only with different aesthetics.

I learned that it’s a U.K. chain, complete with a training academy. Lil ol’ Portland is their first U.S. location.

Sure, appeal to my hometown pride, why don’t ya.

As I talked with Brandon the Barber, I realized several things:

A) The appointment lasted a full 45 minutes – and that’s normal, not a byproduct of my hair volume. Bishops appointments are so fast, the barber’s chair doesn’t even warm up.

2) They seem to default to razor cuts! I gave up on asking elsewhere because the answer was usually no. Additionally, I wouldn’t necessarily trust this particular old fuck buddy turned Bishops employee with a razor, so why trust anyone who associates with him?

C) Welp, in a fit of C.R.S. I’ve forgotten my third realization…<shrug emoji>

Neverthemess, I’d been debating my course of action with this cut: wade in with some shaping and styling or go balls out and return to a clean cut like this

I figured going all the way was overcommitting. So I waded in, figuring if I didn’t like an intentional long style, I could drop another $40 in a month or so and Bob’s your uncle.

I didn’t think to snap a pic of the fallout – probably because I was literally light headed – after the cut. Trust me, though, my follicular fallout was a good 8′ in diameter.

The cut ended up shorter than I’d imagined – explaining the debris field around me – and it felt…weird. I liked the look, though, and left with a smile.

Of course, then there’s the next day.

I wasn’t sure after sleeping on it and showering what I’d gotten myself into.

Was this some sort of resurrection of my junior High cut, the bi-level? Because I’m not sure that something that morphed into the dreaded mullet with all of its incarnations is worth the effort to resurrect.

The razor cut creates a lot of texture organically, probably by traumatizing the hair. But my hair has a natural flip when it gains any length. Otherwise, it’s pretty stringy and straight.

Looking in the mirror that next day I didn’t know if I loved my new style or if I looked like I’d scalped a young Meg Ryan and then had shock therapy. I felt like maybe I looked like a psychotic pixie and just hadn’t realized it.

Fortunately, things settled down up top over the next couple of days. While I was no longer accidentally ending up with the ends of my hair in my mouth while eating, those first few days required my eyes to adjust to the new length, which routinely had the tips of my hair poking me in them.

But things did settle down and I’m feeling pretty secure about the decision to stay on the long side. For now.

Of course, that confidence was rattled when the Silver Fox visited last week and said nothing about my cut. I had to passive-aggressively thank him for noticing on the second day of his stay.

I don’t know why I don’t have more friends…

Anyway, here’s a couple pics of the new ‘do. My selfie game is pretty weak, so…tough.

Now, back to the battle of the nose and ear hair! I’ve lost my ear hair camouflage and I suspect masks may go away soonish thanks to vaccinations, so there goes the old nose hair cover. Maybe I’ll try having those areas waxed…

The Haircut Saga: Fín