Black & White

A while back, I was challenged on the Facebook to participate in this Black & White Challenge thingy.

The rules were to post one black and white photo each day for seven days, no commentary, no people.  Just photos.

I suspected it was just some elaborate ruse to get me to shut the hell up for a week and considered ignoring the challenge.  But, since my inner child is very much alive and well, I simply couldn’t resist the dare.

So I did it.

Mostly.

The final part of the challenge was to pass it on to one of your Facebook friends each day, but I’m lucky enough to have the friends I do…best not risk pushing them away any more than my sparkling personality (read:  EOG) already does.

Plus, it took me nine days to post my seven photos.  

Needless to say, it’s been bugging me ever since, the lack of context or comment on these posts.  Fortunately, I have a forum where I can basically say and do just about anything I want.

Take that, everybody else!

Now let’s see if I can not only recall these in order but also remember what struck me about them enough to include them in the first place.

Day One:  I go to work too damned early.  Sure, we had recently survived the idiotic annual shift to Daylight Savings Time once again, but seeing street lights on when I leave for work in the morning is a little much.

I think this was my Sunday shift, so I’m up at 3:45 and out the door by 4:30.  On my way to the MAX stop in Old Town I pass a gentleman’s club that’s still open, further reinforcing my belief that it’s not actuall morning.

Day Two:  This is where I do it, Portland International Airport.

Not “do it” like a wide-stanced senator, I actually work at PDX.  I love the environment and the carpet makes me happy.  This is version two of the world famous PDX carpet.  It was replaced two years ago after a couple decades of wear and tear.  And at about 50,000 travelers a day, that’s a lot of wear and tear over 20 years!

Day Three:  After a couple of days at the old Salt Mine, I’m ready for a drink to blow off a little midweek steam.  I actually stopped on the way home at a shitty little Old Town restaurant with good beer called Silver Dollar Pizza II.  I have no idea how this is related to Silver Dollar Pizza on NW 21st, but I do know that this is owned by the same jag off that formerly owned one of the three second-worst gay bars in Portland.  He sold it s while back and suddenly its not a gay bar anymore.  I guess you could say, <poof!> no poofs.

So, there I am, having a couple of beers and when I walk out, darkness.  Goddamned Daylight Savings.  But I walk around the corner and here’s this sign to brighten my night!  Nothing like blowing a few bucks in quarters and blowing away your day’s frustration with some Galaga!

Day Four:  This building.

I always lament my move to Shittatle by saying, “If the Pearl would have looked then like it does now, I never would have left”.  Truly, I would have taken the severance being offered and suffered through the remaining years of the W presidency in the happiness of my hometown.

When I left, the Pearl District was just starting it’s redevelopment phase and there were blocks of in-redeveloped warehouse space and abandoned buildings.  There were lots of galleries, a few co-ops and some new high rise buildings.

This is one of the co-ops. It’s someplace I could never afford to live, but a place that’s always been one of my Pearl aspirations.

C’mon lottery…

Day Five:  I’m pretty sure this was one of the days I missed posting because I was traveling, sue me.  I took off for my company’s annual leadership seminar midweek and took a little light reading for the trip.  Of course, if I’d forgotten it, the hotel had me covered with its own good book.  

I love the act of holding an actual book while I read.  It’s such an analog feeling.  The weight of the book in my hands, the smell of ink and paper.  Imagination engaged and senses engaged…I was off on an adventure that was simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic.  If you have a chance to read this before the movie comes out, do.  If not, the movie will be pretty good, I’m sure.  Spielberg at the helm?  Pretty good indicator, right?

Day Six:  And then I missed another day.  But it got me back home where I was greeted by some wet foliage when I walked through the park in front of my building.

Actually, I was pretty impressed that I didn’t slip on this leaf as I traversed these sometimes treacherous bricks.

Day Seven:  It’s my weekend!  And I was lucky enough to meet up with the Filipina Fox for a drink while her hubby was traveling for work.  Also, she got me into this challenge, so it’s only fair that she was with me when I snapped my last entry.

It’s a statue of a giant whisk.  Because: Portland.

And then there’s this gem.  I snapped this selfie in my elevator afterwards.  All this black and white nonsense made me nostalgic for the work of Herb Ritts or one of those super gritty Rolling Stone covers with the pop culture icon viewed through a haze of exhales cigarette smoke.

Obviously, I’m missing the smoke.

And some professional lighting.

And the pro photog.

Gawd.  What if this is what I really look like?!?

Black & White

My Jimmy Buffet Life

Usually this theme manifests itself in a Margaritaville or Cheeseburger In Paradise kind of way.  But last night, Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw took the wheel.

Aaaand…Mom, stop reading.

It’s ok, she’ll make Dad read on and give her a synopsis.

I’m hardly bragging about this feat.  It’s only the second time I’ve had sex this year.

My undoing?  The irresistible Wallpaper.

You can do the legwork and figure out the key to his blog name yourselves, but I will tell you that several times in the course of this year, he’s hit me up on Facebook: The Messenger and several times our conversation has turned toward last night’s   activities.

The short of that is that it didn’t happen cuz we wanted different things.  Him: an itch scratched, Me: something more.

Plus, we were friends.  Randomly occurring friends, not close.  But we’d run into each other out on the town and sass each other on The Facebook often, so I valued the current level of our friendship.

Call us life extras for each other.

So, last night, he posts on Facebook that he’s at a bar a few blocks from my house celebrating his Friday…at around 3 pm.

I sass him.

He sasses back, demanding my presence.

I capitulate – foreshadowing! – on the grounds that I’m only keeping him company until his real friends get off work. He’s a super sweet and adorable as fuck guy, I don’t need a reason to see him socially, just a circumstance.

This was it.

I get there and he’s talking to someone at the bar.  I order a beer and say hi, meeting his new acquaintance Keith and then sit at a table behind them.  The Wallpaper joins me a few minutes later.

We start in on easy conversation, very nice.  Small talk, but it has substance.

“Oh my god!”

I look around.

Someone hugs him and says, “I can’t stay, but couldn’t leave you alone here!”

Heath, I learn.  I amuse myself with the alliterative quality of his bar-quaintances.

Keith.

Heath.

Precious.

We all talk.

They go smoke.

Five beers and four hours later, we’re at my place, Heath having made me promise not to let him drink too much and The Wallpaper telling me that he was staying over.

“Obviously”, he says.  And I’m glad for his good impaired judgment.

I’d recently – couple weeks – heard of a motorcycle rider being killed on highway 30 and my mind suggests he’s been quiet on social media lately and he has a motorcycle.

The math is obvious, my inner voice suggests.

I check his Facebook page.  Nothing new since the last time I called him out for drinking in my hood and not calling me.

You see how I had to go when he said “Come”?

I mean, nothing new since then except he now has a boyfriend…the guy he was drinking with last in my hood.

That explains The Facebook silence.

New.

Romance.

I never begrudge someone that.  Quite the contrary, I encourage others in the pursuit of that which has eluded me.

Yet, he tells me that it just happened.  He asked, The Wallpaper described his thought process as, “Well, it’s been a few years since I dated anyone…why not?” and Bob’s your uncle.

Dating.

Except.

The Wallpaper isn’t getting boyfriend behaviors from this guy.  He’d come to realize they hadn’t communicated in 30 hours and acknowledges that a) that doesn’t feel right; and b) he’s not upset by it.

I enjoy seeing these young people I’ve known grown into pretty good humans.

Smash cut to us not watching a movie on my couch.

I said pretty good!  And I’m only human, too.

Luckily, I’m past my operational BAC and we just go to bed.

I don’t sleep, but enjoy that he cuddles into me while he does.

Three hours later, something wakes him and he ends up somehow – charming and sexy soon to be 33 year old that he is – astride my favorite person, cautioning me, “Don’t cum inside me.”

I’m debating leaving to buy a lottery ticket since somehow – gracious host that I am – I haven’t shown him where my lube is yet somehow he’s got as many inches in him as I have beers in me.

My response is to think that I’m an almost 50 year old buzzed man who was pushing rope three hours ago and now my decade-plus randomly occurring fantasy is happening.

How many times does 50 go into 33?

As many as he fucking can.

For my second sexual encounter – nope! third, I just remembered another – of the year, I’d rate us a 7.

He was a smoldering 10.

I was a 4, at best.

He rolled off of me after with a resigned, “I guess I’m single again!” to which I had no reply.

I want to give that another go.  With less beer in me and less bloat on me.  Maybe lightning will strike twice.  I promised myself I wouldn’t play hard to get if I got another crack at this beautiful man.

Meanwhile, I slept 0 hours last night.  Left work early for a movie date with The Filipina Fox, which I fell asleep during…after being awake for 29 hours, then had a big cheeseburger for dinner.

Thus restoring the order to my normal Jimmy Buffet Life.

My Jimmy Buffet Life

Dry Week: Update

I talk a lot about being a procrastinator. 

“I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate”, I say.

The flip side of that personality is spontaneity.  As in, “Hey, me…let’s do a Dry Week!” without considering the implications.

Like, I decided this on a Saturday night.  Without considering that while Saturday is my Monday, that would mean I have an entire work week ahead of me versus beginning my Dry Week on my Friday or Saturday and ending on my weekend so I can celebrate my success.  Now I’ve got five days in and a work week behind me…and I want to detox with a drink.

Alas.

Who knows?  Maybe it’ll be a Moist Week.

Another unseen ramification of a spontaneous Dry Week is pain.  One never really considers the slight medicinal effect of alcohol.  After a rough day of schlepping around Portland International, I can relax sore muscles with a beer or two or a glass of wine.

Additionally, I’ve had a visit from this recurring mouth pain.  I consider it an indicator of a cold or allergy episode.  Or my one wonky wisdom tooth coming out of dormancy.  So, maybe I’m getting sick and my sinuses are putting pressure on my upper jaw; maybe my teeth are doing the Macarena; or maybe I just don’t have my usual painkiller on board.

Makes a decent argument for situational medicinal marijuana, though.  I know I’ve got a honey stick around here somewhere.

The final side effect of not having a sufficiently elevated B.A.C I’ve encountered this week has been the niggling – and surprisingly spontaneous- urge to join up for NaNoWriMo.

National.

Novel.

Writing.

Month.

It’s every November, the challenge is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Ok, first, when I write, I describe my process as Hemingway-ing.  Having this thought in a Dry week ought to be enough of a disqualifier for the idea.

Second, I’ve got my company’s annual seminar this month, so that’s five days of work functions from dawn to drunk, effectively making my ~1675 daily word average a straight up 2000 words in order to meet the challenge.

Sure, I can bust out a 3500 word blog entry or two per month, but my other entries tend to be in the 1200-1500 word range.

And I don’t write every damn day!

This past month, I think I wrote 14/31 days for 16 or 17 posts.  It was my biggest volume month ever.

What the hell is sober Xtopher thinking?!?

Someone wrestle me to the ground and make me shotgun a keg.

Dry Week: Update

Dry Week!

I’ve been working on this little project at home for the last couple of days.

Finishing all my beer.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, there was only eight to begin with.

I was inspired by a couple of factors:

– Recently, on my weekend, I read a blog entry of this blog buddy of mine about his month of dialed-back-drinking.  

It was the second friend-quaintance to tell me about their Octsober.  If they can do a month, I can do seven-ish days.

Probably five…

– I’ve got my company’s annual leadership seminar coming up in two weeks.  Wouldn’t hurt to shed a little bloat beforehand.

– This weekend starts the Gay Christmas celebrations and I – once again – have no plans or intent to celebrate the gay high holiday.  But I do enjoy my casual glimpses of the festivities.

– There’s this drunk kid on my MAX into work that is pretty lit – his word – who is escorting his two female friends to the airport.

When I first boarded, I thought it was The Wallpaper, actually.  Mexican, mad-dimples and I’d seen on The Facebook that he’d also been out celebrating last night with several female friends, so I was kinda attenuated.

Oh, plus we totally screwed when I got on.  He locked eyes with me and while I mentally processed that it wasn’t The Wallpaper, I could tell exactly what was going through his overly-relaxed mind.

It’s not as daunting a task as I made my Dry Week prep sound.  I had three beers last night, the final one with my melatonin so I could sleep through the Halloween party in the first floor courtyard of my building.  

Then I got a solid six hours of sleep.  

Two hours of sleep per beer.  That ain’t bad.

Saturday, though…phew.  That was a crazy night.

Five.

Whole.

Beers.

My big nights recently have been four beer maximums.  So, that fifth beer was a total party at Chez Galby.  But it was a late night, too.  I got home from an impromptu bike ride at 7:30, cracked a beer and stretched.

Healthy, no?

Then I showered, made dinner and over the next several hours I watched two movies, drank four more beers and went to bed at 1:00.

Wild times for Myrtle and me.

Then I was awakened at 6:00 by a work phone call, making my sleep:beer ratio one.  

Boo.

BTW, The Wallpaper’s doppelgänger is 20.

Jesus.  Inappropriate sexual frustration.  What a way to start a Dry Week.

Oh, he’s a college sophomore…that sounds less letchy.

Dry Week!

Fitfy 49:39

Missed these little check-ins from the final year of my fifth decade?

Fret not, they’ve not been pushed far from the front of my mind…they are only a trip past my bathroom mirror away, as a matter of fact.  But, this final week of the third quarter of this trip around the sun for me seemed like a good time to check-in again.

First some obvious accountabilities:  exercise and diet.

Exercise:

I’ve quit my gym.  That may not seem like anything but a big step backward, but I think it’s not.  Sure, this was initially a financial decision, the money I spent on gym membership could be better spent on wine, after all!  

I kid.

What I came to realize, though, was that at this time in my life, lifting weights was problematic.  More of a tether or a crutch for my old fitness mindset of recreating or restructuring my physical self…making it into something it’s not.

I have some 4-25 lb dumbbells at home that I can use for a variety of toning exercises when the mood hits.  Overall, that’s what I want to rediscover: tone.  My arms were as thick as my neck in my 30s – don’t get excited, I’ve been called pencil neck before. My chest and ankle measurements might make you wonder if my “father” was, in fact named Frankenstein.

What happens to that forced physique when you stop feeding it iron plates is not pretty.  Over the past three months, as I’ve changed my exercise regimen up – mostly changed it to “rest” – is that those muscles have softened.  My chest does not have as much in common with a 35 year old man as it maybe does with a 50 year old woman.

And that’s ok…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want either of those racks.  But it’s a stop on the way to slimming down.

So, what’s this new regimen?

It’s more intense cardio based, as far as structured exercise goes.  Spin class.  God bless RevoCycle and the Filipina Fox for getting me back into spin!  I really love it…it’s prohibitively expensive, so I’ve been on a little break for the last few weeks, but the time commitment vs results impact is exactly what I want as I try to return to a slimmer silhouette overall.

The remainder of what I’ve been doing outside of mini weight workouts at home and spin class is lifestyle exercises.  Things designed not to get me out of the house and into the gym, but rather to get me out of the house and outside.

Hiking, mostly.  I live in the Pacific Northwest…God’s Country.  I have 40 miles of trails in Forest Park, a quick two mile urban hike away.  I live on Park Ave – between 8th and 9th St in Portland’s Alphabet District.  My stretch of Park is between Everett and Flanders – do not  stalk me…you’d be gravely disappointed.  Forest Park has an entrance at about 28th and Thurman.  That’s 14 blocks over and 19 blocks up.  

Easy.

Until you see this, anyway.

We all need a little touch up now and then, eh?  That’s what this year-long theme is about!  But I found an alternate entrance a few blocks further up the hill and have had myself a couple of nice 10 mike hikes over the last few weeks.  It rained almost all of last week, but today on my weekend agenda…yeah!  More hiking!  

Now

Diet:

Ugh.

Remember, what I didn’t want to do was overcorrect here and go radical self-deprivation by only allowing myself chicken and broccoli for dinner.  That usually leads to chicken and broccoli for most lunches, too.  And that leads to Unhappy Xtopher.

Also, I didn’t want to not drink.

I wanted to eat real food, have real junk food and get my drink on when I wanted to.  Be that when hanging out with friends or doing a little self-soothing after work.

I’d say the one thing my diet is missing right now is protein.  In eschewing chicken, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that I’m not chewing enough of anything that used to be alive.  Almonds, peanut butter, lunch meats and tuna ain’t cutting it.

Non-Dad-Bod Xtopher needs some red meat.

Shut up, Diezel.

Other than too much pasta in my diet, I’ve been happy with my intake.  Oddly, I’ve found myself craving kale lately.  I should definitely give into that, I bet my body is feeling less nostalgic than it’s actually trying to tell me it needs something.

My alcohol consumption is steady, I know you were worried.

I find that my drinking has become less…binge-y and more consistent.  Neither in a bad way.  When I was drinking before, I’d drink for several hours, ignoring the fact that I was setting records with how many drinks I could consume in an hour.

I’ve gone from drinking 2-3 drinks an hour for several hours to drinking 2-4 drinks a night.  Maybe I drink 5-6 nights a week versus 3-4 nights a week, but I’m not waking up groggy after and I find myself deciding to have another beer versus just giving into habit or simply being handed one by an attentive bartender.

All this came to the front of my mind during last week’s acupuncture appointment.  My Needle Man had been diagnostically probing my abdomen and when he was done, instead of quickly pulling my shirt back down and making a comment about covering my shame, I began absent-mindedly playing my belly like a drum.  He smirked at me and when I realized what I’d been doing, smiled sheepishly and apologized.

He made a comment about enjoying seeing such self-acceptance in today’s body shaming culture.  Someone just innocently enjoying their body without realizing it – literally, in my case, he said – was refreshing.

I told him that I planned on enjoying my body in not so innocent ways later, which gave us both a chuckle.  That may sound a bit depraved to you, but we talk about my sex life almost as often as we talk about my digestion.

If we’re gonna talk shit, nothings off the table.  Plus, there’s a couple of treatments he does that have a great reproductive side effect.  It may not be strictly necessary in my case, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be appreciated!

The conversation eventually led to – well, directly led to – how self-acceptance was kind of the theme of 2017 for me.  I described how nothing I did physically replaced running in my life, how I could run in the rain but cycling and hiking in the rain were no-goes for me.

“Why don’t you run anymore?”

So, I gave him the back story and then short-handed it to “bone density issues in my lower legs”.

I’ll short-hand his response to “There’s a needle for that”.

Me:  Do not get my hopes up.

Not at all, he told me, cautioning me that it will take time and be something I have to build up to, but there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t count on running again.

So, as I enter the last quarter of this Fitfy (mis)adventure, I find myself looking forward to an unexpected and welcome gift for my 50th birthday…an evening jog to close out my work day.

It’s just what I wanted.

Fitfy 49:39

My Huge Confliction

Who knew the Chrisism confliction would have legs as a blog theme?

We’ll see…

I realized this morning at 4:30 that I was the Old Mother Hubbard…I’d failed to remember to pick up dry cat food last night and my kitty cupboard was bare.

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

When I get home, she gets a few more Dried Salmon cubes to tide her over to her 6:00 wet dinner.

Wet dinner is at 6:00.  Do not make the mistake of missing dinner time.

Running out of kibble is not a situation I want to find myself in when the only thing keeping me alive is that I provide the food that The World’s Most Dangerous Feline loves to hate.  Fortunately, I was able to double down on the wet food…”Look, Myrtle, it’s dinner for breakfast!”

She was not as excited about this as I’d hoped.

So, this evening; after changing, playing a bit and giving The Mistress her salmon snacks, I beat feet to the RiteAid for dried food.  I also figured I’d pick up some beer and chips to inspire my dinner making creativity.  I’d pulled some beef out of the freezer this morning and put it into a water bath in the fridge to thaw.  When I got home, the whole damn thing was frozen.

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

All this is pointing toward me having chips and beer for dinner.

Since this is my life, the RiteAid was out of dried cat food.

Looks like my last meal would be Nacho Cheese Doritos and some Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA.

At least the beer was on sale.  A 12-pack for $13.99 ain’t all that bad.

None of this in any way has to do with my confliction.

I get to the checkout, wait for Shaky James to complete his transaction and then step up.  The very disaffected young lady – aka: millennial – ringing me up scans the beer and says, “ID for the beer”, which I guess passes for a complete sentence in her universe.  I pass her my ID, she types something into her register, pulls her phone out of her hoodie pocket, answers a text, scans my Doritos, mumbles something about what I owe her and stops.

Then she answers another text as I ask her if I can put in my Plenty number.

She puts her phone down on the counter and makes a minimal fuss about forgetting about the store’s loyalty program, replying, “Sure…if you want”.

I want.

Then she tells me my total.  This time I can hear her clearly.

$3.43

I start to question the total as she answers another text, so I shut up and give her a $10.

Am I a bad person or just a grumpy old man?  Surely being a grumpy old man is a condition that’s exacerbated by bad service, right?

The funny thing is, is that lately I’m scoring on buying beer.  Over the weekend, I picked up a 6-pack at the Brodega.  It was on sale, too…$8.49 from the $10.99 regular price.  It rang up at $12.49.  When I questioned that, the cashier asked if I was sure…so I went and checked.

Seriously.  

By all means, don’t take my first word for it, let me verify that for you.

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

Me:  The funny thing is that this is ringing up for $1.50 more than the non-sale price.

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

Me:  <thinking> Because you don’t want to charge me the $.10/can tax on this…right.

So, it’s been a pretty good week for this old beer hound.

But now my confliction is, do I just complain about this cashier’s over-the-top poor performance?

Or

Do I also complete the survey for a chance to win $1000?  I can’t tell which way the karmic winds are a-blowing here…

My Huge Confliction