The Red Shirt Diaries #33


The text I never thought I’d get:

I’ve had false hope with my unwell neighbor before. His family threatened him with eviction. His family evicted him. But he always made it back.

Under threat of eviction, he did just enough and knew who in the family to appeal to in order to avoid it. Once evicted, he caught a night patrol that the HOA hired and convinced him he was locked out. Checking the homeowner roster against his ID, the guy let him into the building, where CrazyTown broke into his own unit and stayed for a few days before getting hauled away again.

It was this skill that scared me. His breaking and entering skills. I’d had poor nights of sleep several times during his residency. The kind where you wake up and there’s an immediate sense of disease. Then you chalk it up to the preternatural quiet “waking you up” and try to calm yourself back to sleep, ignoring the fact that the silence feels like a living presence in your room.

The day he was finally evicted, my downstairs neighbor locked himself out of his unit. Being a renter, his landlord has a realtor lockbox in one of our fire exits. Only he’d forgotten the code, so he came up to ask my neighbor – the HOA President – if he knew it. Code secured, he was off to get his spare key and get into his unit before the food on his stove burned the place down.

He returned a few minutes later after the empty lockbox reminded him he’d failed to return the spare last time he locked himself out. They were discussing the urgency of the situation when CrazyTown emerged from his unit, insisting he could help.

Armed only with his Oregon Trail card – our version of Food Stamps, and remember this guy has a Trust Fund – he was off to save the day…despite the objections that I could hear in my unit. By the time the resident and the Board President caught up with him, he was moments away from having the door open. The more they insisted he stop, the more urgently he worked.

Seconds later, the door was open. Sure, the frame was cracked halfway up the side, but nothing was on fire.

In his haste to stop the burgling savior, my neighbor had locked his own self out of his unit. Irony! He was in in a jiffy, this time with no damage, too. Apparently, an audience of one is all CrazyTown’s fragile nerves can take before his helpfulness manifests as a destructive force.

That night, the day he was evicted, I dreamt I came home and found Myrtle’s litter box filled into a mound. I would never do that because she prefers a firm foundation for her business doings…otherwise it goes on the floor. Not thinking about how or why, I turn to the utility room to get the bag and return the excess litter to it. The empty bag was right by the utility room door. Of course, I had just walked by this door after I entered, but you know how your mind haphazardly throws these details out in your dreams. I scoop the excess litter back into the bag and return it to the utility room.

There’s a candle lit on the dryer. I blow out the fire hazard I am sure I didn’t light and close the laundry room up again. There’s a decorative ladder bookcase leaning against the wall between the utility room door and my front entry. Like the cat litter bag, it hadn’t been there before.

Turning away from it, I see a bunch of dark shadows lying on the floor of my bedroom and cross my dark living room to investigate. My darkened room is lined all around the bed with suitcases, including a ski utility bag. Then I notice the linens have been changed from my earth tone linens to a grey color scheme. I turn on the light and CrazyTown sits up in my bed.

I wake myself up. No more sleep for old Xtopher that night.

A few weeks pass with random stories around the neighborhood of sightings or updates from his siblings. One night, I’m walking to the bar around the corner in the hotel on my block. There’s a smashed but not broken out window on the vacant business on my side of the hotel. Instinctively, I know it’s CrazyTown.

During my second beer, while I’m chatting with the owner, CrazyTown walks into the bar with an open container and a mania you can feel. He takes the order to leave as an invitation to approach the bar and spew yeah-buts at the bartender until every eye in the place is on him. He’s standing between me and the owner and hasn’t seemed to notice me. I’m looking down and away, mentally offering up something approaching prayer.

Giving up, CrazyTown turns away from me to leave. By the time he’s halfway to the door, he’s come fully around and declares, “This guy here, though. He’s the best roommate I ever had!”, coming at me with his fist out for a broment I reject as every eye swivels to me.

Joisus feckin’ Chroist.

I order another drink and spend it explaining I never shared a home with CrazyTown – not that one, anyway – and telling the owner and bartender that was the crazy neighbor I’ve been drinking talking about for the last couple years.

When I get off the elevator later that night, I see our common area has been redecorated.

This leaves little doubt he’s back in the building.

A few days later he’s out and my neighbor has hired the locksmith that rekeyed both the building’s exterior locks and CrazyTown’s unit a few weeks earlier to come back and put a deadbolt on the once again empty unit.

The next day, I notice what I assume is one of Myrtle’s toys in the corner between my desk and hall closet. Do not judge the cleanliness of this space in the photo below!

I wonder how long it’s been there and hope it’s not new. I’m fooling myself into vaguely remembering it being there for a long while, but I know that’s just to distract me from the bowl of dum-dums CrazyTown kept on his kitchen counter.

I was never more sure that I needed to move than in that moment. I’m also not sure what’s worse, the sucker being a new arrival or one I’ve actively overlooked for months.

Sometime in all this my wallet also went missing. Luckily I had my “earthquake money” – a hundred bucks cash and a credit card – to get me by. I tore my place apart looking for it, more than once under the couch cushions, in the laundry room, bathroom, closet, dresser drawers…everywhere.


It finally turned up a few days later while I was cooking. I opened my knife drawer and there it was. I put it there when I entertain people I don’t know well enough to trust, if you get my drift. It’s a grim reminder that if shit goes south, I won’t be easily rolled and if shit only goes sideways, I have knives.

I counted the knives several times to ensure none were missing. Also wondering if my wallet being there indicated I’d had a specifically unmemorable fuck the night before I realized my wallet was missing or if someone was fucking with me.

Pretty sure I know which scenario was the reality. And. I. Don’t. Like. It.

So, color me optimistically relieved that this chapter is finally closed. 🙏🏽

The Red Shirt Diaries #33


My doctor from my Shittatle days once referred to me as a recreational hypochondriac. He had a point, since I seemed as likely to self-diagnose with any malady I encountered as an insecure white girl from New England was to walk out of a theater showing Sweet Home Alabama with a southern accent.

Not a bad get for a med school graduate whose greatest accomplishment was probably a toss up between not dropping out and not getting expelled.

Of course, not to be outdone, I upgraded his pith to wreckreational hypochondriac.

That being the case, after weeks of failing to succumb to imaginary illness following my one forced office day each week – the best I could muster was dry sinuses and mildly chapped lips – I felt like my persistent survival was borderline immortality. Plus, whoever died from chapped lips?

Then my one forced office day became two.

This week.


But I’d also won tickets to The Dandy Warhols concert with the Oregon Symphony – that’s another post – for Thursday. That meant Tuesday through Thursday I was all crowd, all the time. Surely that was lethal to someone with as imaginative immune system as me.


Cut to this morning.

I’d ducked out of work for an early lunch.

9 am…that’s not too early for lunch, right?

Don’t worry, my neurotic ass started work at 730 and didn’t log off until 645. All so I could meet a former work wife for coffee.

She’s not the most…prompt of people, so o texted her at 830 to see how timing was working for her. I figured if I didn’t hear from her by 840, I’d leave at ten til for our coffee date. I normally give myself 15 minutes to make the 10 minute walk…guess I’d really show her!

Naturally, she texts me as I’m hitting the street at coffee date minus 5 – what? I got distracted by work! – to tell me she was leaving and projected to be on time.

Knock me down with a damn feather!


Still, I wouldn’t believe she would beat me to a coffee date until I saw her there…and she beat me. By seconds. I know this because my phone vibrated in my pocket as I rounded the corner of the building the coffee shop is in and it was her, flexing her early arrival by asking what I wanted.

I might have entered the coffee shop declaring I’d like her to calm herself down.

Nonetheless, I confirm clarify my order and we start chatting while waiting for our drinks. I quickly clock her running nose, but chalk it up to seasonal affective sinuses since we had our first 60 degree day in the valley yesterday in over 90 days. This girl was leaking.

However, after deciding it was nice enough to sit outside and drink our coffee, I noticed she was blowing through napkins at a rate of about a tree every 5 minutes. Mentioning it, I’m met with a laundry list of excuses: my office at work in a basement of a hotel; by the laundry area. My fiancé was sick a few days before this started. That’s why I suggested we sit outside!

Such a giver, her.

But I left the coffee date not only mildly enraged someone wouldn’t cancel a social engagement when they are putting off mucous in Amazon River volume, but also at the weakness of her response to whether she was taking any suppressants.

No, if you were wondering.

“I just like to let my body process this junk out”, she says.

“Woman, you take birth control to stop your period!” was my instant response. Seriously, how does one not see that cough medicine and birth control pills have essentially the same function: to keep your body from producing a natural part of its biological response.

I got a demur chuckle followed by a round of hacking and another snot saturated napkin.

“You could have canceled”, I tell her.

“But then I would have missed seeing you!”

Of course I left there and felt my nose running before I was even off the block.

If I die before I wake…good.

Seriously, it seems like I dodged any the third time’s the charm BS with illnesses this week. But I’m not committing to that optimism until I wake up tomorrow.

Keep your fingers crossed for this old grumpapotamus.


Randumb Gambitches #3

Ever wished you were a cat?

There’s definitely some upside. Situations where the feline condition really pays off: sleeping 20 hours a day, watching judgmentally while someone cleans out your litter box, always landing on your feet, never needing to explain yourself.

Not sure where I fall on the whole 9 lives thing. Probably somewhere between “If done correctly, one is enough” and reincarnation.

Where is doesn’t pay off?

Cat food. In a variety of ways.

But I usually buy Myrtle the single serving cans of Fancy Feast. Not that it’s important, but the Gravy Lovers varieties and not the pâté. She doesn’t mind, but I think it’s gross.

More gross.


Her lil cans of food are 10 for $9 at my local grocery giant, so $.90/each.

The other day, I had a planning malfunction that required me to dash out before her 4 PM dinnertime for more food. That shituation was compounded by the 3:10 phone call I got from a chatty co-worker – I literally answered the phone “I only have 20 minutes”.

Cut to two and a half hours later…I’m running to the store on the corner for canned tuna before Myrtle dies from being overly dramatic. It happens. The emergency tuna, not the feline drama fatality. Based on past experience, I know that one can equals two meals.

Imagine my surprise when they were on sale two cans for $3.

Yeah. It’s situationally cheaper to feed myself than to feed my cat. As long as I don’t want eggs. However, if I put Myrt on a people food diet, her meals are $.75 each versus the $.90 if I feed her cat food.

Of course, she’d prefer cheese.

Randumb Gambitches #3

Now What?

After weeks of resisting – that manifested as me just clicking past the popup that wouldn’t die – I finally acquiesced and downloaded the much-ballyhooed Jetpack app.

And the first post I create is to complain about being forced to do so. That tracks for my grumpy old ass.

But, seriously…now what?

Do I delete the O.G. WordPress app or keep it?

Consult your nearest 20-something and get back to me.

Now What?

It’s Not That I’m Not Grateful…

But, really. The DMV has jumped the shark yet again.

First it was a fairly specific and isolated behavior I took issue with, not that I didn’t appreciate the logic behind it. States like Florida and Arizona began lengthening the timeframes of their driver licenses. In most cases it was a move from somewhere in the ‘hood of 3 or 4 year terms and they extended it to 7 years.

I get it. A lot of those drivers would die.

Good strategy for the long lines at the DMV. Not sure the practice itself doesn’t simply indict licensing people past a certain age.

Then I turned fifty-thrive.

Well, that dubious accomplishment of my persistent survival had nothing to do with it. It’s more a matter of the practice of driver licenses expiring on birthdays, regardless of the age the driver in question may be.

However, the great state of Oregon had adopted the whole extended validity practice. I knew this when I moved back in 2016 and got my license reissued. Well, learned it during that process. So it wasn’t a surprise that my license expired on my birthday last month.

Knowing this was coming down the pike, I spent some downtime in traffic researching how to go about renewing my license shortly after the first of the year – I know, such a planner, me…two weeks before it expired. Let’s not talk about me justifying using my phone while I’m the driver’s seat but not actively driving. Regardless, I went into the renewal situation fully expecting my proChristination would result in me having no license for several weeks, if not months.

Imagine my surprise when I finished – yes, still in traffic – filling out the online form and was told my license would be mailed to me within two weeks.

I was fully expecting to be required to rub some unwashed elbows as part of the renewal process. Gourd knows, my eyes haven’t gotten any better over the past 7 years. Might be worth pulling me into the office just to keep a night-blind menace off the streets, right?

Not that I didn’t appreciate being able to dodge my age-induced camera shyness. Seriously, though…I no longer – regrettably – look like this strapping young fella:

Not that I don’t admit to looking like my own soap opera evil twin in that pic. I also appreciate that my looks – evil twin or not – held into my late 40s.

But now I look more like The Dude after a long week of getting by, man.

Best part? My new license expires in 2031…8 years from now.

Is the Oregon DMV expecting me to die before my new license expires? Gourd willing. I’ll keep you posted on that…

It’s Not That I’m Not Grateful…

Happy BDay, Oregon!

She looks pretty good for 164, dontcha think? And I love how she’s not so set in her ways – unlike me, still gendering genderless things – and can make progress toward being a better version of itself. <- I did it!

Anyway…that’s what’s going on in my world today, February 14th, 2023.

What’s everyone else up to? Anything exciting going on for you all today?

Ok, ok…before I get lambasted; yes, I know it’s Valentine’s Day.

So gross.

I’ll be marking the occasion the usual way, with my annual Valentine’s Day three-way. It’s practically my favorite day of the year!

Get over yourselves you big pervs…what other possible meaning could three-way have? At least for me.

Nope, for me, a three-way is me, Ben and Jerry.

Good times.

Happy BDay, Oregon!

TIL 13: ABass

I started off my Saturday rip roaring and ready to go. Mainly thanks to a full 8 hours of sleep, brought to you by the perfectly managed cross-fade. IYKYK.

So, naturally, I stayed in bed reading for three hours. But then I was totally going to get up, exercise and then do more pre-potential-packing purging.

An hour later, I ordered lunch and settled in to watch Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Because I watch all of the Oscar nominated films, and Angela Bassett is up for her role as Queen Ramonda.

And I cannot lie, she kicked ass in that role., so good luck everyone else.

Also, I lied. I don’t watch all the Oscar movies. That would be boring beyond belief. Plus, I’ve been meaning to watch RRR for three weeks now – by all accounts, not boring and a lock to grab a few of the gold guys – but it’s 3 hours!

Don’t get me wrong, I can kill 3 hours like nobody’s business – and did, just waking up today. But to plan a block of 3 hours is another thing altogether.

Gets me in the mood to proChristinate – which is how I really ended up watching the Black Panther sequel. Not to worry, I was still able to cover all my top line goals for the day: exercise, pre-pack organizing and making some of that gig money.

Imagine my surprise when after all of that I ended up learning something!

It started out innocently enough. I wanted to relax a bit with a movie. I’ve been burning through The Mindy Project, but today wanted more than a 22 minute plot line to kind of offset that. I popped over the Amazon Prime because I thought I recalled something dropping there this weekend. Either I was wrong or just didn’t find it, because I ended up with something definitely not new.

Kindergarten Cop.

I’m always down for something filmed in my home state. And I’ve been feeling guilty with all the Goonies house news lately – because I’ve never seen it.

Still haven’t.

While not The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop was filmed in the same town: Astoria, Oregon.

Fun Fact: Astoria was named for John Jacob Astor, who famously died on the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

I have seen Titanic, if anyone was curious.

Anyway, there I am, minding my own beersness, watching an Oregon movie and out of nowhere my mom texts me asking what episode of Grimm I was in.

Well, mom, I was in a couple. I told her what episode my most visible shot was in, she said they were a ways away from that storyline and that was that.

Back to Astoria.

And, no, it did not escape me that my parents and I ended up watching Oregon-filmed shows on the same night.

I make it all the way through this movie – all I really wanted to see was the “It’s not a tumor” part, which came far too early in the show. But I was able to amuse myself with the 90s class of Where Are They Nows that popped into a shot here or there.

Park Overall and Heidi Swedberg both played school moms. As did Jayne Brooks and Cathy Moriarty. And, we can’t forget Penelope Ann Miller as the love interest!

Seriously, where are they now?!?

But it wasn’t until the credits that I learned I’d missed seeing someone whose current professional whereabouts I am well versed in:

Angela F Bassett!

Ok, the F was added for fucking emphasis.

But there she was, playing a one-line Flight Attendant on Alaska airlines in this 1990 movie.

Way before playing Ms. Turner. The novel Waiting to Exhale probably wasn’t even a draft yet. Marvel, obviously, had the Black Panther comics in print in the 90s, but the man who would bring them to the big screen was still 4 years old!

I don’t know why I needed to know this, other than idle curiosity. It amuses me to see stars in basically extras roles before they were famous. Don’t even get me started on Mary Louise Parker’s diner waitress part in When Harry Met Sally!

Regardless, now that I know, I felt it was important for you to also know. What are the odds we ever end up on opposing trivia teams?

Seems safe.

TIL 13: ABass

Randumb Gambitches #2

If you’ve followed along on these misadventures for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of that jaywalking life. But I’ve recently begun to notice that it’s not for everyone.

It’s more of a skill than I’d realized.

Definitely not a privilege.

Jaywalking is a scofflaw life.

A crime of opportunity – although, I admit to some off guard moments of necessity where I wanted to be home quite urgently. If you get my drift…

The short of it is, if the coast is clear, you go. That italicized verb was referring to the stride of Sir Jay, not the thinly veiled bathroom reference that preceded it.

Key words: clear and go.

Here’s my bitch, people are fucking up this shockingly simple transgression. They’ll dart out into the street without so much as a cursory glance in the direction of traffic. Better yet, they’ll just stand at the edge of the street or on the traffic side of a row of parked cars and wait.

And people stop and let them cross! Classic Portland. Also, classic Wrong of Way.

If I stop for those idiots, it’s gonna be to tell them that they’re doing it wrong. I’ll suggest their attempt to save a few steps is wasting their time.

Not that they’ll listen.

Seriously, though…what’s the thought process there? They aren’t making it across quicker if they have to wait. If they’d walk to the corner, they inherit a right of way, especially if there’s a traffic control. But all they’re showing me with their technique is laziness or stupidity.

Stupid Americans.

But the folks that really get me going? Two different groups, but similar imagery. Think: Beatles album covers. Here, I’ll make it easy for you:

The first group that raises my ire is the group of people who are clearly together, but can’t get together – no, wait, if I’m gonna cite Beatles references, it’s got to be come together! – to cross the street as a group. There’s the de facto leader, simply by virtue of being the only one focusing on the task at hand. There’s invariably someone struggling with a load of shopping or an over or underaged person that needs extra care to cross and then trailing the toddler or infirm entry in this parade is the person with their phace in their fone.

Abbey Road, they are not.

Even worse than this group is the group of strangers recreating the pic at a 90-degree angle, so there’s just this line of failed jaywalkers lining the side of a street. They may get an F for their misguided misdemeanor efforts, but they pass social distancing with flying colors. Inadvertently, I’m sure.

And as I pass them, I mentally mow them all down. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Except any of them that went to a corner, mind you.

Is there a Nobel non-Peace Prize? Fine, I’ll start my own.

Randumb Gambitches #2


I was out driving a bit tonight and got a split order – food from two restaurants going to the same address.

How’s that for a solution to the age old relationship struggle of agreeing on what to have for dinner?

I don’t usually take orders that involve more than 10 miles of travel or fall too far beneath my $10/order earnings expectation, but I’ve been in a bit of a Yes Game mood lately and couldn’t help myself. I don’t know what it is about the start of a new year that makes me want to affirm and confirm. So, there I was, picking up food and hauling ass across town for $14.

I pick up the first order and drive a block or two to the next place – pizza. I notice that I’m not particularly affected by my usual feelings about this place, either. They usually piss me off, so I don’t go there anymore – it’s good for my grumpy old man heart to stay away – but this is their food, not mine and I don’t really care.

“Yeah, that’s got about 10-15 minutes left in the oven.”

“Seriously, how long does it take to cook a fuc” – nope, never mind. Not my food.

I shoot the customer a message to let them know and get a “No worries” reply, then sit down to play my Words With Friends while I wait. Once it’s done, approximately one millennia later, I hop back in the car and anon my ass up to NoPo.

The order had booze with it – a six-pack of beer and a bottle of bubbles, someone knows how to Sunday a holiday weekend! – so the customer had to sign for it when I arrived.

I knock.

A small face appears behind the sheer blinds on the door a little less than 2 feet up from the floor and disappears. Moments later, a second face appears a little higher up and then pulls the same vanishing act.

I debate knocking again when a dog pokes its head through, stares at me a moment and runs away. That’s really not good for one’s self esteem, getting dissed by dogs.

Finally, a full sized human appears at the door, opens it and announces, “Epic fail!”

“Yeah, that pizza joint is always a bit of a shit show”, I catch myself just before my adjectification of the pizza place and drop my voice to a whisper to avoid accidentally teaching the diminutive humans any blue language.

The customer explains that he wasn’t worried about the food, announces that he should get me some extra cash for my wait time while walking away from the door and then careens back to his point. He has been trying to teach his kids about stranger dangers and had heard from the big one that the little one had been trying to unlock and open the door when he found him.

“Well, I hadn’t noticed”, I tell him as I trade my phone for a few unnecessary folded bills.

He signs my screen with his finger and shakes my hand after he hands my phone back.

I had noticed the denomination of the top bill when he’d handed it to me and laid it out while waiting for my salad to arrive at dinner for a lil pic for you, my abhorring public.

Like the title says – if you know, you know.

If you’re not a native of or current resident in the city with the highest number of strip clubs per capita in America, let me spell it out for you.

Stripper money.

With one exception, every strip club I’ve been to in Portland gives cash customers an inordinate number of $2 bills as change. The intent is to drive up tip income for the performers, which I’m all for. One particularly raucous (in a good way) club even has the emcee occasionally seed the crowd vis-a-vis a toy gun that shoots $2 bills into the crowd.

It’s kind of fun to watch, but I’m not much for the strip bars these days. Occasionally I’ll stop off at the lesser of the two gay strip clubs since it’s on my way home from another one of my local watering holes and open two hours later.

Shit beer, though, so I’ve got to be in a mood in order to drop in when I leave the other place.

Anyway, I have always thought that spending these $2 bills outside a strip club was indicative of one of two flexes:

A) it’s a particularly empowered performer making a declaration; or

B) it’s a client who is throwing those $2s around like au unhumble brag.

I like both options.

What I’m not as crazy about are the bills that have clearly been in circulation a while. You’ll notice my handful was fairly crisp. The alternative is – what’s an alternative to a “handful” of “fairly crisp” bills? – a crotchful of nearly dry bills?

Oh, and best part?

The customer’s wife must’ve edited the tip while he was talking to me. The order from the first restaurant was only base rate + peak pay, which came to $5 – believe me when I say that the money you make in this work comes from the tips! – so this $14 deliver ended up being $30.64 from the app and another $10 in cash.

I love when the Yes Game rewards my efforts to bust out of my grumpapotamus shell.