Settled Affairs

I think I mentioned a while back that my grandfather passed away. He was just weeks shy of his 100th, so I like to say that he pulled a Betty White. I also like to say he might have liked older women, so was sure to leave a cushion between them. I think she died 3 weeks shy of her century and grandpa had closer to 6.

Of course, as he handed off the patriarch title to my father, I also like to think he was teaching us one last life lesson: don’t get your hopes up. You see, I’d bet the family was a bit more excited about having a centurian in our midst than he was about being said centurian.

Why doesn’t spellcheck like that word – centurian? It wants to make it “centurion”, but grandpa wasn’t a gladiator. The spelling paradigm for other decades of age grouping is “ian”, so why not here, too?

Septuagenarian.

Octogenarian.

Nonagenarian.

Centurian.

Maybe there’s just not a word for it in the English language since it’s such a rare thing in Western culture. Maybe there’s another word for it. Look, I don’t have time to Google it…I’m making sauce!

Also, my place smells fantastic right now.

Anyway…he decided to die without a Will. My uncle had helped him draw one up while he was visiting years ago – along with a power of attorney – and all he needed to do was get them notarized. He managed to get the PoA completed, but just didn’t find the time to get the Will done.

I come by my procrastination honestly.

So my dad and uncle have been slogging through settling grandpa’s estate.

It wasn’t – or hasn’t – been too challenging, aside from dad being local and my uncle being in Texas. My dad’s goal had been to have the house sold by the time that he and mom went to my cousin’s wedding in early April. Then it was just a matter of waiting out probate.

My uncle’s goal was a little less defined. Actually, it may have not even existed. Honestly, I think he has separation issues. If I’m not mistaken, someone still has some of grandma’s stuff in their garage that he couldn’t part with. She’s been dead close to 20 years now.

But my uncle did manage to go through a lot of stuff when he was here for the service. Including a quarter of a closet worth of stuff he wanted to keep.

I get it, this was the house he grew up in. That’s a rare occurrence anymore.

That said, he was reluctant to commit to anything more than what was ok to donate. At the same time, he actively poo-pooed the notion of an estate sale.

But once he was on a plane, my sister and I got right to work doing just that. To hear my parents talk about it, we were amazing. Honestly, though, my sister was an absolute force. I don’t have her drive or determination. Plus, her round trip commute every day with mom and dad was close to 3 hours!

Hats off, sis. All the props.

Since mom and dad credited us equally, it was their pleasure to encourage us to liberate anything we wanted from the estate. In the interest of heirlooms and legacies, y’know.

Since grandpa’s house closed a couple weeks back – the didn’t quite make dad’s timeline, but they were signing papers at the wedding – and there’s about a month left on probate, I figured now was a good time to highlight some of the things of his I’ve brought into my home.

Also, I’ve done the work on my relationship with grandpa and feel like I can look at these reminders and think of the man he was without being reminded only of the good or bad.

Oh, quick sidebar: one of the things that my uncle found was the original advertisement for his house – which was new construction in the mid-60s. Let me just say that I think the reality of owning a house for 40+ years os a thing of the past. Americans can’t commit like that. At the same time, selling a house for 30+ times the original purchase price is also a thing of the past. At least on my coast.

Now that the sidebar is out of the way, you can probably think of some of the amazing things that gathered dust at grandpa’s during the last half of his life. Not to mention all of mine.

I swear, I don’t covet. Really, the one thing I wanted once it was pulled out from the back of a bottom cabinet was the cookie jar from my childhood.

I knew it was valuable – estimates put it at around $300 – so I was reluctant to accede to mom and dad’s encouragement. Dutifully, I posted it online. But when takers failed to materialize, well…it wasn’t going to Goodwill!

It’s so cool. And aside from grandpa bringing out his 5 lb coffee cans full of change for us to sort through during our visits, stuffing my hand into this cookie jar was very looked forward to part of visiting grandpa.

And that was kind of how I approached my heirlooting heirlooming. Make it available for sale, but if no one took it, it was up for grabs.

I say “kind of” because there was a slatted bench I wanted – despite having nowhere to put it. Grandpa had it at the foot of his bed forever, however, my bedroom isn’t as spacious as his. Still, you know how The Gays are with the mid-century aesthetic.

So, for me – for now – it’ll be a plant stand. Also, like the cactuses on the other window sill, this keeps Myrtle out of the windows, which means I can put the screens back up for the summer. Who knew that Myrtle would hate slats?

Don’t worry, she’s upped her pooping out of the box game to let me know she objects to the placement.

You can’t really see it well in that pic, but there’s also one of a pair of nifty ashtrays that I pinched. I don’t smoke, so really these were just nostalgic discoveries when we found them. However, when I turned them over to find my grandmother’s signature of them, they became a remote tray and place to drop my keys and wallet.

I’m not a smoker. That’s not to say they aren’t well used…luckily, grandma’s glazing game was right on, otherwise I’m sure the smell that went along with those nicotine stains would have been a nostalgia dealbreaker.

Yes, yes…dusty. I know.

Unbeknownst to us, grandpa had a thing for old bottles and insulators. Like an “entire kitchen cabinet full” thing. That being the case, I didn’t mind adding a couple of his to my own collection of glass whatnots.

That bottle is an old Old Bushmills bottle. The glass – in raised letters – says that “Federal law forbids the reuse of this bottle”. My limited pre-post-Googling on this topic hasn’t brought and federal prohibitions – see what I did there? – to light. I’m sure someone <cough, cough> Phil! <cough> will have a notion on the topic, so let me know in the comments.

The last instance of heirlooting I’m gonna share was both a last minute discovery and an “I’m grabbing that before the house goes on the market” type of thing.

No one in my family agrees with me that this had been in great-grandma’s kitchen when she died in the mid-70s. So I’m likely wrong, but that’s what I remember. Still, when we cleared away the project remnants from it and pulled the protective cardboard off of it, I think everyone was surprised by its presence in grandpa’s garage. Clever man had the wear-withal to protect its surface, despite its relegation to his garage…

I’m just stunned that no one snatched it up at the estate sale! So, that being the reality, once dad told me the date the house was going live on MLS, I did a midnight run and picked this baby up. If no one else wanted it, Myrtle can use it as a feeding station. Saves my old knees and back squatting done multiple times a day to feed the not-as-old-as-me bitch gal.

I mean, look at it. It’s amazing! And in better shape for its age than I – but I’m working on it! Since entertaining isn’t really a thing these days – at least in my life – I’m in no hurry to add chairs. But I will, I’m sure.

Someday.

Until then, I’m glad I have these mementos of grandpa’s. For as difficult as our relationship was after I came out as gay, these remind me of the amazing grandfather he was, even if he wasn’t always the best human. And on that last point, he didn’t change so much as he changed his behaviors. That says something. I knew in certain moments of silence that he was editing his responses, if not abandoning them altogether. An impressive feat for someone whose anachronistic behaviors had been written off by most as “That’s just how he was raised” things we would have to endure.

Well, I was watching, and I think he proved them all wrong. That’s both a memory and an example that I can embrace.

Especially as my family faces it’s next obstacle: bringing Black Sheep Bro back into the fold.

Settled Affairs

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…

Well, Now I Feel…

Something.

Bad?

Nostalgic?

Accomplished?

Formerly accomplished?

Probably that last one. So…thanks, Facebook Memories.

Three years?!? How has it been that friggin’ long already…since I’ve had a date?

Kidding. Trying/not trying.

But I guess it’s just one more reminder that it’s been a long pandemic. If we factor those two years out, then it’s only been one year!

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make hay out of the forced free time we all gained with the 2020 lockdowns. In April, I started NaNoWriMo – despite having two WIPs from prior NaNos still waiting for completion, then didn’t finish. Again.

I think I got derailed after a Twitter battle with a local stripper, who I’m sure knew nothing of my existence until I dared to correct him on his feed. Then I was all he could focus on, earning me featured status in his social media stories where he called me old and ugly. Not to mention a failed writer.

The young people are so woke – which seems to manifest with being disagreeable and combative. That’s regardless of the validity of their initial point. What moxy.

Sure, I’d only finished three books at that point, clearly, that’s failure in the eyes of a stripper who leaves the stage in a thong.

I actually finished all tasks associated with my job title, son. I have to imagine that a stripper’s job isn’t complete until they are clothes free. But what do I know? When I was a young man, tracing on one’s flesh was viewed differently than it is today – and I appreciate the evolution of sex work from villainized and humiliating to artistic expression and empowering.

This kid was – pardon the entendres – a dick.

Ultimately, that all stopped when he blocked me – the penultimate admission that he was wrong. The ultimate expression being actually saying it. But this is hardly the United States of Accountability, let alone Admittingyouwerewrong.

Anyway, as this was going on, I flirted with the idea of going to one of his shows and tipping him one of my books – yeah, I’ve got a few copies laying around. My overt grumpapotamus self imagined reading wasn’t high on his hobby list, see also: how he got to his current level of misery in his life.

Judgy.

The women strippers I meet driving with Lyft are all – every damned last one of them – such interesting people. Very engaging. Great stories. The male strippers I meet are all cunts. And not in that cool English slang type of way. At best, they look at me, and treat me like, I’m an ATM. Not that I go to strip clubs often…none of them have palatable beers.

I also considered going and tipping him $.02, since me giving him my figurative two cents was what set him off in the first place. Ultimately, I decided my absence was the best action for me.

Still determined to make some productive hay out of the lockdown, I pivoted to another project I’d been kicking around. When I finished my third book, it came in at a whopping 530-ish pages. I hardly consider myself a gay George R. R. Martin, so I sought out opinions from a few beta readers. They all told me it was fine.

But that length made printing costs pretty high and I think the lowest price I could charge was $19…and that was with me making less than a buck a copy. I knew there was a logical plot break that I could use as a kind of cliffhanger if I chose to split this into two books, I just hadn’t.

But with one half finished draft from April’s NaNo making me feel guilty, I decided this was the perfect time to tackle that split.

Obviously.

And I did it!

Well, “did it” so long as completing the split and edit of the first half. I knew I needed to flesh out the second half to beef it up a bit. It had originally suffered under the pressure of me knowing the page count was running high for one book. This was my chance to flesh it out.

But my first goal was to get the newly shortened second installation in my No One Of Consequence series back up online. Then I hit a formatting snag. Just a teensy one, but it proved to be overwhelming to my lockdown self and I never went back to finish it. I couldn’t imagine jumping to the third installment to get that story wrapped up, it just seemed wrong.

Four frustrating months go by. I spent a lot of that time considering the optics of dying during a pandemic with unfinished works. I thought it looked pretty good. Other artists somehow pull it off.

Margaret Mitchell.

Elvis.

No, wait…Hemingway! That’s a better comparison. I’m a drinker, not a druggie. And we’ve established the fact that 500+ page books are not my style, so…yeah. Hemingway.

That was probably my biggest self-soothe of the pandemic.

It carried me through the next three months. Right up to the next NaNoWriMo event, the big one in November. Now I can finish!

Or…start another work.

The following April?

Ok, this was pure motivation. And adrenalin.

I had just gotten my Peloton and was jazzed to pick up the autobiographical trilogy I’d fancied when I wrote Dating Into Oblivion. When I wrote that, I was nearing the end of a year long blogging theme that had resulted from a friendly intervention at my 50th birthday party.

Rude.

As a result of the collective will of my well-intentioned friends, I leaned into a blog theme I had just finished that I hashtagged fitfy. It was a play on fifty, an age I had been determined to reach with some progress toward accepting my aging self with a healthier attitude toward diet and exercise.

I’d been having trouble forgiving myself for not being able to eat and exercise like an idiot twenty-something. Naturally, my 51st birthday had involved me tapping a keg of my favorite beer at my then-favorite bar.

Anyway, knowing I had that “fitness in my fifties” notion in the back of my head, I decided to tackle dating in my fifties. It gave me something to do, at any rate. I figured the trilogy could round out with working in my fifties. It was a notion I rather fancied.

The problem was, there wasn’t much I could actually do since I’d just gotten my bike. I considered harvesting stories from my year of fitfy blog posts, as I had when I put together Dating Into Oblivion. But I considered that would have been only a portion of the project. I needed new content to complete the story.

Another partial credit NaNo for old Xtopher. PaCreNaNo? Kind of sounds like a pancreatic medical crisis.

Maybe that stripper was right.

Shudder.

Possibly, but improbable. Maybe what I needed was the motivation of writing something people might be attracted to en masse. My current accomplishments and WIP library all featured what I call gay shit – and I hate to break it to you, but The Gays aren’t known collectively as big readers.

It’s the pandemic – everybody else was pivoting, why not me? That sounds like a riff of a Cranberries album.

I picked a theme close to every Portland NIMBY’s heart: the homeless. Came up with a mystery plot. I even created a nom de plume based off of my parents middle initials and old world naming paradigms – JT Robertson.

Finally…in November of 2021, I completed a NaNoWriMo! Have I published? No. I’m mentally kicking it around, polishing it up. Completely retooling the voice. Flipping the plot 180 degrees.

Y’know…the basic writer’s nightmare.

April’s NaNo is weeks away.

Weeks.

I’m determined to finish something from my WIP list before adding anything else to it. I figure at this point, if my goal is to have a WIP library consisting of a prime number of works – it isn’t but I need to set boundaries of some kind – then I either need to finish one or add four!

I think seven is enough of a library. Let’s see if this Facebook Memories shaming is enough of a motivator to get NOOC2 published and back online. Lord knows that providing airplane reading material for a friend’s trip to Africa last month wasn’t it, so fingers crossed.

Sure enough, I woke up this morning, uncovered my laptop…and started organizing my tax receipts. Then I got this text

RUDE!!

So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.

To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.

Well, Now I Feel…

Conspired & Expired

Someone once said about the wilderness that everything in nature was trying to kill you.

Another someone said that it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you

Well, readers…I am where those two potentials intersect. I’m going to leave you to look up sources yourself, because I have a short tale to tell.

For years, my dad has – as is his way – quietly espoused the virtues of soup. More recently, the Silver Fox has hijacked that same bandwagon – as is more his way.

The other week, The Fox and I bellied up at Tanner Creek for a dinner and some drinks. His – and potentially my one day – neighbor and I ordered the radicchio and apple salad, which we both love. The Fox opted for…soup. He does this occasionally, he likes soup.

Fine.

I can take that low key degree. He’s no soupaholic after all. But just before his soup arrives, the chef comes out and says hi to us. We’re all three chummy with her, so we expect a drop-in if she’s working.

Cookie: Did they tell you about the special?!?

She’s glowing – which as a newly in love person, isn’t big news. This night, however, it’s because said special is a soup.

The Silver Fox is beside himself. Losing more marbles over this disclosure than I thought he had remaining in inventory. Immediately, he orders it.

Me: You ordered the other soup, are you switching?

Him: No, I’m ordering a second serving!

I could see he was shocked I would seemingly suggest two were too many soups.

Him: I don’t care. I love soup!

Yeah, yeah…a septuagenarian right of passage, it seems. Although, one he seems perfectly willing to pretend has been a constant in our dining out universe.

It hadn’t.

Cookie: Our soup of the day is gaslight.

Not to be outdone, mom and dad show up a few days later on the calendar for lunch. They have cleaned grandpa’s “non-perishables” out of his cabinets. I notice because when I climb in the back seat, there’s a ripped paper bag still trying to be full of canned goods sitting next to me.

After commenting on the condition of the bag, knowing the embarrassment of paper bags at grandpa’s and wondering why someone wouldn’t double-bag canned goods, they are proffered to me: the favorite child and also the least likely to take an interest in my own sustenance.

I demur, despite the box of Kraft’s finest nestled into the pulpy gash.

After lunch, they take it up again. This time, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach them the consequences of being too polite. No part of me thinks they thought it mentioned “Hey, let’s bag this shit up for the oldest disappointment boy!”

So when they insisted, I decamped the backseat and too the bag. I looked positively homeless or hapless walking into my building with this bag of canned goods cradled in my arms like a stolen child.

Later that night, when I unpacked the bounty, I felt guilty and sent this text to mom.

Yeah, I’d taken a bag of soup out of my dad’s backseat.

The guilt!

Of course, that passed the next day when I made the purloined Mac & Cheese…

November of 2017?!?

Turns out that was a box of Kraft Karma & Cheese!

I’m not complaining, I figure this event has two benefits:

First, balance. As much as the older generations cling to their passion for all things slurpy, I reach back to my Mac & Chz like Linus and his blanket.

Second…resilience. My toddler-in-college diet hasn’t killed me yet and 5+ year old Mac & Cheese didn’t manage the task. For all I know, this is what kept grandpa going until just weeks shy of his 100th. Obviously, I’m not done suffering meant to be here. I’d like to see a cockroach do as well against that aged box as I did. It would die before ever getting it opened…and I ate the whole damned yellow-dye-#7-including thing in one sitting.

Come at me, karma!

Please?

I shouldn’t tempt fate or beg…you just know that means I’m going out Elvis-style – sans drugs, of course! I’m a good boy.

…and since I’ve mentioned all of that, I may as well tell you that I’m 40% of eating my way through those soup cans! With my dad and The Fox as role models…I never stood a chance against them!

Conspired & Expired

Touched…Appropriately

As I mentioned in my last post, another year of my life recently expired. I believe I may have also mentioned that January has been a crap month.

Where. To. Start…

Let’s see, for those members of the TL/DR club who don’t get the above references or click on the links: my car, Angela, spent a week in the shop getting a surprise two-day repair completed. A week. The repair was $2500 and the extra time in the shop cost me another $1500 in driving income. Additionally, I forked over several thousand dollars to Multnomah County for unpaid business taxes that I was unaware TurboTax did not file. Note to self: start a GoFundMe.

In the middle of all of that, my grandfather died. We’re saying he pulled a Betty White, kicking it just seven weeks shy of his 100th. In my mind, I’m choosing to believe he either A) likes older women and wanted to keep his afterlife opportunities with Betty open; or, B) was taking a shot at teaching his family one final life lesson about getting our hopes up since I think we were all looking more forward to him becoming a centurian than he was. Either way, well played, gramps.

He died on the ninth and my birthday was on the twenty-first. We buried him on the twentieth.

You know where this is going…

When the year starts off like a twisted version of a John Hughes movie plot, it can’t be a good harbinger. Is this the theme for the coming year…Sixteen Fifty-four Candles?

If that’s the case, then this year better end up with something like this

Sidebar: The burial was pretty sweet for as fucked up a thing as death is. Back in the 70s, in a fit of post-divorce adulting, grandpa bought two cemetery plots – one for him and the other for his mother. Well, in ‘74, his older brother passed himself away committed suicide and grandpa gave up his plot for him since his wife and kids basically disowned him after that final act. His thought was that he’d pick up a neighboring third plot at some point and they’d all lay there together until the next asteroid. Well, after his mom died in ‘7…8? – maybe ‘76, I’ll lean on that old memory trope as a scapegoat – he pretty much forgot* to do it. So my dad and uncle decided to have grandpa cremated and then buried over his mother’s grave. Aaaaw. Now the three are together, almost as planned.

It’s a good thing he was cremated, too, because in a fit of communication breakdown between my sister and I, we listed several of grandpa’s non-epic-mid-century furnishings for free online – don’t worry, we’re selling/trying to sell the epic stuff. Sis took CraigsList and I went to Facebook Marketpkace. The breakdown came in regards to grandpa’s bed. When sis said to list it for free, I assumed she meant with the mattress, since the other two bedroom sets were similarly listed.

Wrong.

The spare room beds were used for days each year, while grandpa’s bed was used daily a lot more. But I listed it as a headboard, frame and mattress…and someone was happy to take it for the low, low price of $0.

Lesbian someones.

They picked it up one day before the rest of the crew arrived. When the fam eventually did arrive, I tried to steer them into grandpa’s bedroom for a nice surprise. When they didn’t bite, I told them. My sister went and looked – I don’t think she didn’t believe me, but it was still funny that she chose then to go down the hall.

Sis: Where’s the mattresses, did you move them to the garage?

Me: (laughing) No…they took them.

Sis: They did?!? Chris! Why did you let them have them? They were so old and gross.

Me: <cough, cough> Things grandpa’s last date said! <cough>

It was then that I told her that the takers were lesbians.

It may help to know that for a couple decades, I openly referred to my grandfather as The Grand Dragon for his backwards thoughts on minorities. While everyone else in the family seemed content to write that off as “the way he was raised” I couldn’t. Especially after coming out myself – something I feel the need to state as fact since there’s almost literally no evidence at all to support it aside from a moderate and only randomly occurring lisp. I wasn’t convinced he would change, but I wasn’t going to give bad behavior my tacit approval by granting him my presence. Lo and behold, the man shut up. I have to credit him with that, whatever prompted the change in behavior.

Me: Good thing we had grandpa cremated, because if we hadn’t, you know he’d be spinning in his grave right now!

Mom: (out of nowhere) Christopher!

Damned Mom Ears.

Ok, back to me!

My family didn’t go full Sixteen Candles on me – probably because I mentioned the fact that this timing was drawing potential attention away from me, but since it wasn’t a big birthday, that was…ok. My sister suggested she and her hubster take me out for drinks after we put grandpa in a hole the service and that I should invite the Silver Fox – yes, that’s what my family calls him, too.

Then they showed up to the service with my mom and dad in tow. Apparently, dad wasn’t feeling super the morning of the burial, so they came together. Fortunately, he rallied and we all went for drinks after, with The Fox meeting us.

That’s plenty for me. I joke about wanting attention. It’s only a joke. Let’s not remind me of what my traitorous mirrors refuse to let me forget.

But my sister being the nurturer that she is, brought me a lil something to commemorate the occasion

Plus a couple of beers from a local brewery where she lives – but photo evidence of that is not available for whatever reason. Now, it would help to know that she put on her Hints From Heloise hat during our vacation after seeing the white paint scarring my Angela’s bumper – she’d been attacked by one of the posts in the Silver Fox’s parking garage. Unbeknownst to her, I had listened to her and gotten the Magic Erasers as she had recommended. They worked great…and then I apparently forgot (see above) to mention it to her, so now you’re up to date.

On top of that, and either because of the timing of my birthday and grandpa’s service or just because he’s awesome, The Fox had enlisted Diezel’s help in a Sunday night dinner to celebrate my birthday. They took me to Farmhouse Kitchen – which was highly recommended by another blogger Dr Maria – and we filled up on ridiculously good Thai food. And drinks, of course, who’s style made me wonder if this restaurant chainlet was owned by a K-Pop group.

I mean, seriously…a drink in a disco ball glass. But it was amazing. I just tried to not think about the poor bastard who has to wash these glasses! And just take in what you can see of the decor in the background…I told you it looked like a tax shelter for a K-Pop band!

Plus, cake!

Obviously, I’m well cared for by my friends and family. And remember from the above- referenced post that I was too busy with family stuff and driving that I didn’t have the bandwidth to check in on the birthday goings-on on the FB, which I felt bad about. Turns out, there was no need for guilt as I’d forgotten that I’d made my birthday private sometime during the pandemic…if you’ll allow me to lean on the old brain trope once more. Last time. I promise. Today.

Despite hiding my birthday on social media, I still got several calls from friends and former colleagues – that I ignored, because how dare they! – and texts from acquaintances. Not to mention this lil package that showed up late one night last weekend.

It was from The Kids. At first I thought it was just some cute Christmas treats, but then opened the card. It was a Sorry For Your Loss card and just said the sweetest things. Made me all mushy inside. They’d also included a very flat, very smooth stone that they suggested I rub my worries out on (don’t go there, Diezel) and a $20 to have a couple of drinks on them.

Can you fucking believe it? I was certainly surprised.

So much for the pity party I had planned to throw myself. Fucking awesome friends…where do they get off? The gall!

Now, I feel like I should do something to live up to the attention I’ve had heaped upon me…maybe some Xtopher New Year resolutions – yes, I have my own New Years. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that.

*Side-sidebar: Things grandpa didn’t get around to doing in a century of life; A) purchase third burial plot; B) notarize his will. So this is fun times, but now you know my proChristination comes hard-wired into my genes.

Touched…Appropriately

Three Act Plays

That’s what they all are, right?

Plays.

Three acts is the norm. Sure Billy S did some shit back in the day. Then there was the occasional epic endeavor, like Angels In America, that had so many kicks to the heart balls to deliver that it needed to be broken up into two three act plays.

But overall, three gets the job done. Two, and people feel blessedly cheated. Four, and no one likes you.

Plus, there’s the whole “I can nap at home for free” chestnut among reluctant theater-goers. Four acts seems less like a nap than an entire damn night of sleep.

At least for my nearing-geriatric sleep patterns.

Why is this on my mind tonight?

Well, I just poured my third glass of wine. Emptying the bottle.

Heavy pour.

But it is in deference to a Silver Nugget – a phrase coined by Little Buddy about the secrets people started sharing with me when I turned 50. She – Little Buddy – is not yet 50, but enjoyed my sharing of privileged information here on this blog, and felt compelled to come up with a name for these aged secrets.

Being the Little Buddy that she is, this process involved an evolving train of thought on a text thread.

It was impressive, and I know I’ve failed to retrieve the best of her efforts from the impenetrable vault that is my memory. The fallout is mine to deal with.

The Silver Nugget in question came from my sister, who was not yet 50 at the time of this nugget’s disclosure. It was more of a hybrid wisdom: things of a life hack nature combined with parenting perks.

In this case, it was my sister pulling the epically resonating parental sacrifice offset of having my tween nephew refill her wine glass for her. He comes back into the room heeltoeing his way to her throne chair in order to avoid spilling anything from a glass that was filled so full, its meniscus existed only on a theoretical plane.

Being a highly decorated and multi-faceted snob, I had to make mention of the situation. It was also helpful – and I credit my Catholic upbringing for this skill – in deflecting my own uninhibited imbibing. An ongoing situation – clearly – for another time.

Being a mother, my sister coolly spared my judgment a total of zero fucks and set me straight.

“Why waste the trip?”

Fair point, but my snobbery was feeling robbed of a Karen moment.

Being in high end kitchen retail for several of my career years, I knew things.

I knew that a bottle of wine held five pours.

I knew that a proper pour was five ounces.

And I knew that wine glasses came in varietal sizes, designed to enhance the drinking experience by combining the sinuses and the palate for an optimal flavor experience. Overfilling the glass defeated these design endeavors.

Adding a total of zero additional fucks after hearing my objections, for a total of…<carry the none>…yes, zero actual fucks, my sister completely poo-pooed my criticism of her life choices.

I now know that was a mom life hack.

And now embrace it.

On a Monday morning, approaching 2 A.M.

And as I watch crappy movies from the earliest of aughts featuring the best of actors, I find myself wondering if I’m enjoying my wine in three acts better than these movies in their own three act efforts.

I think I am…but now I’m on my last glass and still have an hour and a half of Under Suspicion left to go. I think I should have made sure to have some backup spiked seltzers for this crisis.

Here’s one of Little Buddy’s bronze nuggets – which evolved during a fit of pandemic drinking: anything under 5% ABV is hydration.

So my spiked seltzer backup is…health food.

Technically?

Don’t argue with your elders.

Three Act Plays

Only Sad, Lonely Deaths In The Building

I promise you, this post will be nowhere near as good as Steve Martin & Co’s show on Hulu. But…I think my neighbor died in his apartment.

Anecdotally, he’s quite the candidate for the style of anonymous death that I’m sure I’m fated to experience. He’s middle-aged, at best. He’s not at all fit. He doesn’t entertain – at least not in the several months he’s lived here since buying the unit next to mine.

A + B + C = ☠️ / one healthy jump to conclusions.

My only actual evidence to support this?

Those two packages have been sitting there for three days now. What type of American buys something online – with two day delivery, no less – and then isn’t there to pick it up?

Oh, and my floor started smelling weird today, too. But not like I imagine decomposition smelling like. This was more like…wet paint. And there was a painter’s van outside today, so I think I really have to write that minor piece of evidence off.

The big question, though?

How long do I have to wait before I open those packages? Actually, I’d kind of like that doormat, too.

Only Sad, Lonely Deaths In The Building

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

And I mean, again. Of course, there’s the OG puberty. However, I’ve joked throughout my adult life about countless other random puberties – like the ear, nose or back hair growth puberties.

Well, with the return to indoor mask wearing a month ago, I’ve got another puberty to report. My old friend, oily skin puberty.

This is no joke. It goes beyond the casual maskne that many of us have complained about over the past 18 months.

My face is, at best, an oily swamp after wearing a mask for a couple hours.

Oily. Shiny. Tacky to the touch. It’s disgusting. I actually bought some facial cleansing wipes to give myself a lil refresh while I’m out doing a driving shift. Truth be told, though, by the time I use one, the oily mess my face creates has started to wick into my mask, so that feels gross when I put it back on – effectively negating my attempt to give myself a refresh.

Needless to say, I’ve tried to start carrying a spare mask with me when I know I’ll be out on the road for a bit.

When my scruff gets too long, it’s even worse.

You know I’m a talker, right? Well, all the hot air I expel creates even a more intense swampy feeling – my face feels like the inside of a car window with two teens going at it inside up on Lovers Lane.

It’s been enough to make me regret what I’ve been putting “The Boys” through all these years by wearing briefs instead of boxers.

Sorry, Boys.

And: sorry, Readers…that imagery will have you waking up screaming. Or moaning, ya bunch of pervs.

This maskne on steroids puberty has swelled my pores and created those gross, dense underground pimples that have all the “benefits” of visible pimples but never break through.

I try to resist picking at them – with mixed success. If I pick at them, I end up with a swollen and visibly irritated area of skin on my face. If I don’t, the pimple is eventually reabsorbed, but the skin over it dries out and becomes a bit crusty in the process, so then I’ve got some sort of soggy, oily pizza crust kind of thing happening on my face.

It’s great. No…really. So great.

I can’t forget those oversized pores, either. They put Portland’s potholes to shame, size-wise. I survey the damage in my mirror when I get home and see patches of black dotting my face, especially on my nose as it takes most of the contact brunt from masking up.

To amuse myself, I imagine planting some weed in the larger pores and starting a little grow op. Y’know, putting that hothouse effect from my mask to good use.

It’s a thought that bore some semi-therapeutic fruit yesterday while I was buying cat food. I ended up walking out of the store with this haul…

So, yesterday afternoon was a cathartic – and mask-free! – plantathon here at Chez Galby. It needed to happen, the balcony pots had never really recovered from our hottest-temperature-on-the-planet heat dome days from earlier in the summer. I’m trying to grow that Rosemary you can barely see in the pic above indoors…we’ll see how that grows goes.

I could get a better pic, and a snap of that third plant, but Myrtle is being uncharacteristically sweet and snoozing on my lap at the moment, so you only get underexposed evidence. Sorry, not sorry.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, writing this has given me the urge to give myself a facial mask.

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

I dunno, maybe it’s more of a torpor…but I couldn’t come up with anything to play off of that, so here we are, stuck with a lane riff off of “It’s kind of a funny story”.

A quick backstory:

My first “good” boyfriend died back in…late ‘96 – Jesus, he’s been dead nearly 25 years, that’ll take some time to absorb – anyway, we were separated by more than half a country by then. It’d probably been a good four years since our relationship had ended, too, which was a pretty good percentage of my 28 years.

Naturally, having a dream about him was unusual at that point. Nothing compared to the actual dream., though!

It was one of those moments where you know you’re just about to drift off, then suddenly there he was, floating near the ceiling of my bedroom. He’s gesturing toward me, as if to get me to somehow move closer to him, and I’m all, “Sorry, buddy…me no floaty” without registering that it’s weird that he could and was. Then he starts telling me to come with him, but without telling me where he was off to. Naturally, I was all, “Nah, I gotta, like…work in the morning”.

It was the next evening that a friend called to tell me he’d died. I knew why he was calling the second I heard his voice and preemptively announced the reason.

One of the more surreal moments in my life – for sure – because who am I kidding, saying that was a dream?

Present Day:

It happened again a couple nights ago. I can’t tell you who it was beckoning to me. I just remember the disembodied, plaintive invitation. So far, no news on any deaths in my present or past circle of friends and intimates. As far as I know, I never met Charlie Watts, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him, despite the timing.

What struck me this time was my response.

What can I say, it’s been a rough couple weeks.

Really, though…a “Meh, why not?” attitude from a seemingly non-corporeal invitation? It’s a wonder I haven’t been abducted by now.

What bugs me isn’t the potential surprise of waking up dead the next day. No…it’s the resignation of the situation.

I joke often about the randomness of death. How an accident or sudden illness can take any one of us unexpectedly. Usually, I’m pretty blithe about it with some response along the lines of, “I don’t really have any plans, so…”

But this felt different. Like if ghost grandma showed up one night and offered her hand, I’d just toddle off alongside her into the great unknown.

Like I said, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Making headway (or not, as the recent results show) on my condo savings goal and trying to wreckoncile – Chrisism – the Black Sheep Bro situation (and failing) are taking a cumulative toll on me. But…I’m actively counting the number of days I consecutively leave the house now, so I take that as a good sign that I’m coming out of this torpor or ennui or tailspin or whatever you want to call it.

Maybe if the voice comes back anytime soon, I’ll send Myrtle off with it.

It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

I Joined A Cult

What? I’ve had free time, what did you expect an unsupervised, grumpy, old Xtopher to do…watch Mrs Doubtfire until 3 AM?

Ok, I did that, as well.

Phair warning, Fill – wait, that doesn’t look quite right – you might want to stop reading now. Just this post, though…tune in again next week.

I bought it. I’ve talked about it a little here before with mixed to neutral reactions…but I bought a Peloton.

Because it’s me…well, several things:

Alpha) I bought it used, because I’m cheap – which goes well with me being poor. Well, poor for a gay white guy. Privilege acknowledged.

Beta) I picked it up and took my first ride on April 1st…again, because it’s me and my fucked up sense of humor wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gamma) Crap. I’m having a C.R.S. moment…hopefully, it comes back to me in proof mode.

I’d planned this post for the first of July, just to give it a quarter to get some results under my belt. Then I lost 20 lbs in my first month of riding and could barely hold back posting about it then.

Luckily, my natural apathy and proChristination allowed me to resist that impulse.

But I really felt I needed to give myself a full quarter to develop consistent habits. Seemed fair enough, since I’d been holding the purchase out as a reward for consistency on my New Year’s Resolution of being more active and eating better.

Oh, it’s back!

Gamma) Since I am a grumpy, old man, I wasn’t going to wait 60 days for delivery. I was low-key scouring Craigslist for a used bike to jump the line. Like hell I was joining a club with a waitlist. I don’t do lines.

Anyhoo…slap my ass and call me a meteorologist, because I manifested a perfect storm. I got my bike without waiting and saved $800 by getting it second hand. The poor schlub I bought it off had decamped to his house in Hawaii over the pandemic and couldn’t find a moving company to take his bike from the she-she West Hills to Hawaii…so he just bought a new bike to be delivered there.

Glad I don’t have his unmitigated gall problems.

So, like I mentioned, I dropped 20 lbs in the first month, which I was very happy with. Month two got me to the right (for me) side of 200, which made sense as I started putting mean mass back on in my lil toothpick legs.

Definitely a trajectory I wouldn’t mind holding. That, of course, put me at my colonoscopy month. If you know the prep routine, you know…if you don’t know, I won’t ruin the surprise.

I didn’t expect to hold this weight – again, if you know… – but I could see it on the horizon. Today’s weigh-in put me right at 195.

Not a lot of wiggle room. But I’m getting plenty of salads and veggies – by comparison to the Before Diet, I’m sure my doc and mother would still happily see me eating more – so I expect between that snd continued consistency, sub-190 weights are within reason over the next 2-3 months. It would be great if I could get into the 180s by the six month mark.

See, we shall, hmm?

It’s been a fun <ahem> ride this far. I’m still excited to get on my bike, whether it’s participating in the monthly challenges, following specific crushes instructors, taking Artist Series rides or just the dreaded schlep to the scale that gets me there is a variety I can appreciate. Keeps my motivation from stagnating.

For instance, the first month I rode, I focused on getting Gold Medals in the Miles Rode and Days Active challenges. The thresholds are 50/100/150 miles ridden and 10/15/20 days active. Even taking Bronze in either is a win for anyone, regardless of one’s fitness level.

Month two, I was focused on streaks. In April, I managed a couple low streaks of active days. This was mainly due to my focus on riding versus other classes offered. They offer strength, stretching, yoga, boot camp and…probably some I forgot. In month two, I made sure to add in some strength and stretching classes. And I really needed the stretching! This also enabled longer active days streaks. I set a goal to get to a 10 day streak, and then took a couple days off and went into a 20 day streak.

Which took us to month three. And I’m just gonna say that a 20 day streak may have broken my mojo a tad. My active days dropped by half in July. But like I said, a Bronze Medal in my monthly challenges is better than nothing.

But after a month of “rest” – ie: active 14 days instead of 26 – I relearned something. Rest is a good thing! For the first week of August, I PRed four times out of four active days.

Apparently, not resting on my laurels equated to…

And, yeah…

So, between joining Peloton and doing an Artist Series ride featuring Justin Bieber music…I’d say I joined at least one cult. But considering I’m a native Oregonian, I could have done worse.

Again, if you know

Alright, now that I’m “out” about it, I’m accountable to people other than my own inner voices – who are also totally real people. Even if that also means getting filleted by Phil in the comments. Hehe…I’ll take it, because that also comes with the Silver Fox telling me that if I lose any more weight, I’m gonna need new clothes. Better that than the reality that I had one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts that fit at the beginning of April…and a whole drawer of tee shirts that didn’t fit. Still working on the fit looking good, but I’m enjoying the “fresh” wardrobe options after burning 30 lbs.

I Joined A Cult