Mental Venn Diagrams

I’ve been taking some deliberate time lately. Grabbing back what I can of “me” time versus running from work (from home) to social engagements immediately after. Or making a point of taking a lunch to workout and shower before the back half of my day instead of working from 8-5 (or later, many days) without taking a lunch break at all.

I’m not mad that the job I ended up signing on for keeps me engaged at that level. I’m just forcing myself to remember, my work is only one part of my identity and happiness.

To that end, sometimes I’ll leave work (from home) and meet friends – or not – for drinks, maybe dinner. Others, I’ll leave work (from home) and go do dinner deliveries for a couple hours to get out of the house for a bit.

The thing that was missing there wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Just really revealing itself last week – the week before my vacation.

Me time.

All of my activities involved being a participant with someone else. Not that I know the intent wasn’t there. I know I would intentionally set out take myself out for a solo drink often. Sometimes neighbors would drop in to the local watering hole. Others, just the staff would pull me out of my solo time to just be at zero, thinking Xtopher things and recharging my spirit, if you will, so I was ready to put my best self out into the world again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad about being world famous on my block. I just remember from my days of career management, I always had my me time.

I was missing it.

Since my usual activities weren’t providing the recharge I needed, I ripped a page out of the Silver Fox’s playbook and just started staying home. There’s a bit more to that, which I’ll get into later this week or this weekend, but I looked at what I was doing and made a conscious change to change my results.

Like a damn smarty.

It’s kinda hard to stay home. I don’t have a big place, and there’s literally a bookshelf dividing my desk from my couch. Ergo, if I’m looking to get away from work, and “get away” isn’t physically executed…what’s giving me that perceived distance?

Since I’d joined HelloFresh, there were two nights of cooking built in as that get away. That was nice. Keeping the kitchen clean from its newly increased full-function usage versus the usual fridge and microwave abuse it was accustomed to could provide a nice transition one night a week. Can’t say I was keen on turning that critical cleanliness as an escape mindset loose on the rest of my home, though.

It’s a mess.

Last night, in a fit of semi-boredom, I cleaned to metal light fixtures that hang over my kitchen bar. The years of cumulative dust and cat hair since their last cleaning – lacquered in place by kitchen grease now that I’ve taken up cooking again – made it quite a task. I’m not lying when I say each fixture took closer to ten minutes than five to clean. Since it was hands over shoulders work, that added some extra humility to the exercise.

But I needed it last night.

Why? Why did I need a couple 5-10 minute tasks?

To give my mind time to make decisions in the background while I was focused on something else.

It’s a good trick.

And there are just too many TV show options to be able to decide!

If I were a younger gay man – or just one interested in blending my DNA in with the rest of the Gay Herd – I’d have opened up the loathsome Grindr and used that to kill time. But I’d still bet that I’d stand out from the other livestock there by thinking about something while there…

Are you shocked my dilemma is essentially nonsense? What TV show to watch…this is a first world problem of the highest order.

Here’s the deal, though. Last week I’d watched My Policeman – more on that in another blog – and had seen Don’t Worry Darling available to stream on another recent scroll through my entertainment options. In that moment, as the credits rolled, I was able to ask myself, “Self, do you want to watch both of Harry Styles’ current cinematic offerings in one night?”

I quickly responded – reflexively, even – in the negatory. I also dismissed switching to Disney+ to watch The Eternals as some sort of Harry Styles Plan B (he’s in the end credit scene).

Somehow, my addled brain ended up watching the first Kelvin Universe Star Trek movie to scratch the itch I was feeling. It’s Harry Styles adjacent since Chris Pine plays Captain Kirk in Star Trek but also co-stars with Styles in Don’t Worry Darling. As an extra Venn moment, the teaser at the beginning of the film – the moment that we later find out was the break from the standard Trek canon to Kelvin Universe – is Kirk’s birth. Kirk’s dad is played by none other than Chris Hemsworth, known for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which The Eternals is a part.

Exhausting, right? And I didn’t even mention that Zoe Saldana plays Uhura in the Klein Star Trek films and Gamora in the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. See? I pulled a punch for you in describing my insanity.

It took more effort and time to type that out than it dI’d to process and execute in real time. And I mention that because yesterday I finally got around to watching Booksmart.

Amazing movie. It did a fantastic job of presenting a story that should be relatable across multiple generations. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

As the credits rolled I found myself thinking, “Should I watch Don’t Worry Darling? Wait. Didn’t I just watch it a while back?” You see, Booksmart was Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Darling is her sophomore effort.

This is why I needed to B-reel the question. I couldn’t recall whether I’d watched Don’t Worry Darling recently and I also wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate an afternoon/evening geeking out on one director. It’s neither star Trek nor Wars, so giving something multiple movies in a day elevates it.

So I cleaned light fixtures.

Ultimately, the media drama – not buzz, drama – surrounding Don’t Worry Darling made me decide to give it a watch. It was time to see the thing that created the opportunity for all this other stuff people were talking about to exist.

Couldn’t find it.

I was goading myself in an attempt to sharpen my focus or resolve to succeed because I knew I had seen it available recently. Did I need to rent it to play out my plan?

Nope. Wasn’t even available for rent on any of the streamers I have.

I popped over to IMDb to see where I could watch it. HBOMax. I don’t have that one, and I wondered if I’d seen it advertised to watch while watching House of the Dragon with the Silver Fox at his place. Didn’t seem likely, the last time we’d watched TV together was too far removed.

Maddeningly, I couldn’t find it.

Gave up, I did. Watched Star Trek: Into Darkness instead, I did.

And, no…it wasn’t because of the Uhura thing since the overlap didn’t exist. But since Benedict Cumberbacht plays Khan in this movie, it was enough to derail the fleeting impulse I had to pull up Disney+ and watch an Avengers et al movie – because Xtopher definitely does not watch one Marvel movie, it’s “Sayonara, rest of the week” if I start down that rabbit hole. So the MCU crossover double casting in Into Darkness satisfied the Marvel impulse while also finishing up the two best Kelvin Universe Trek films. Sorry, Star Trek: Beyond, you were…fine.

Interestingly enough, Beyond also dips into the MCU casting pool with Idris Elba as the bad guy. Crap. Guess now I have to watch it. It’s not like I have to get up early tomorrow, so…why not?

I guess this blog was tonight’s B-reel activity. How nice you got to experience that realization in real time right along with me.

Mental Venn Diagrams

The Blight

It started at the north end of my indoor garden, with my dracaena – Ming the Merciless. At the time, I attributed the yellowing and now darkened leaf tips to the attention Ming was getting from a truly merciless creature: Mistress Myrtle. She was quite keen on sitting on the edge of my TV console and rubbing her cheeks on Ming’s point tips. Eventually, she worked herself up into enough of a frenzy to take some live bites off the tips – which she then unate somewhere else in the house for me to clean up when I stumbled up (read: slipped on and nearly fell into) it.

But then that yellowing and darkening phenomenon spread to the side of Ming that Myrt couldn’t reach. Soon after, water just started running through the pot when I watered him – so I think the roots died and the plant is surviving off cannibalizing itself. If that’s something plants even do.

Then it started its spread south, this blight. It arrived at the other end of the TV console and hit Moppet.

At first, it – Moppet was <sniff!> agender – just dropped a couple leaves from the base. Again, Myrtle was my first suspect. I definitely allowed for some wildcard causes like trauma caused when I watered it, since the base leaves had to be moved in order to avoid water simply running off them and onto the floor; or, I’ve never seen a plant like Moppet before so maybe this was part of its growth process – dropping lower leaves and having more of a canopy of foliage.

Then I came home one day to find Moppet’s top half had broken off and fallen to the floor. There were some new leaves popping out around the base, but they are withering now, too. RIP: Moppet. I barely knew ye.

Still, these two situations I can accept. Either as the result of a simple numbers game at work or the likely more accurate result of my blind luck with plant keeping situationally running out. I’m not avid gardener, I just water the things, chat with them every now and again about world events and try to keep Myrtle from molesting them too aggressively.

Sure, every now and again I’ll take a stab at advance actives like repotting a plant or propagation. That’s definitely an exception to the daily routine.

But then this blight became a true curiosity. A phenomenon – and one that was not welcome.

It jumped from the TV console to Spiderella.

Spider plants are a curiosity in and of themselves to me. As a kid I could grow them like nobody’s business. As an adult, they die. Makes me wonder if mom was giving me an anonymous alley-oop in my youthful endeavors. She absolutely would because she wanted her kids to have confidence and accomplishments they could take pride in. A little behind the scenes assistance while I was at school wouldn’t surprise me – although, I’d like to know where it was when it came time to clean the gerbil cage.

Anyway, Spiderella was hit and declined quickly. Her crazy Liza inspired ‘do looks like it’s had one too many colorings applied in too short a time. That’s almost an overnight change…nearly as sudden as hair color changes themselves, no? This morning I trimmed off “The Kids” and put them in water to see if they’d root. Maybe something positive can still come of the sitch.

The weird thing is that if this would have started with Spiderella and moved north, I would have attributed it to changing temps. You see, my south wall is all windows and notoriously drafty. As the temps cooled – now dropping often into the 30s at night – it would have made sense for those closest to them to suffer a bit.

That’s not what happened, though.

Plus, it’s not like the inside temp in my place ever gets below 65 degrees. Still, maybe cool air from one direction and warm from the other just fucks unnecessarily with these poor plants’ sense of season and they don’t know what they’re supposed to do – so they die.

I think I just somehow blogged myself into moving when my current lease expires this coming spring. Luckily, I’ve been chiding the Silver Fox in an attempt to manipulate him into permanent residence in town by telling him I plan to move into his place during his Tahitian vacation in January, so…I’ve already got a plan! Plus, that would give me three months to proChristinate my move out cleaning. That’s a win-win.

I kid, of course. Except I really should think about moving at the end of this lease.

The issue with my drafty windows affects the whole stack, so the fix needs to be covered by the HOA and no one has even brought it up with the Board yet, so the solution is years away.

On top of that, I learned last Saturday night that I have a new upstairs neighbor. At midnight. Because he was singing in his bedroom loud enough to wake me up in mine.

The HOA Prez sent out an Unknown In The Building email that ended with us both learning he was the new renter above me. His email handle is Jeremy4Christ for Christ’s sake. The song he was singing loud enough to wake me in those wee hours was about his gun, so this is bound to be a shit show.

Pass.

I think I’ll just take my plants and myself – and, yes…even Myrtle – and find a new place. It shouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere with better weatherizing and peace of mind.

Y’know…where I’m the craziest person around. That I can live with.

The Blight

Grim ‘Rona

That’s as close to a portmanteau as I can promise y’all at the outset of this post. But even though I dodged it while it was all the rage – just like my refusal to watch Game of Thrones when everyone else was watching it – the coronavirus finally landed at my doorstep.

The weekend before Thanksgiving.

Because the universe likes to play for extra credit, it arrives on the first day of my vacation.

But I shall not be reapt, so Grim ‘Rona is what you get.

And you think I’m bitter. What kind of force of nature plays that dirty. So petty.

Like I said, in true “This could only happen to grumpy l, old Xtopher” fashion, it happened on a national holiday week, so I spent Thanksgiving alone, which should make the universe happy.

I’ll make a joke about dodging a Grim Reaper’s best efforts, but in reality, this was a shockingly low key event. So much so that I didn’t even think to take a home test until Sunday. By then my symptoms were nearly a memory.

Two days. That’s all the longer I suffered. I joked with my doc when we spoke that the side effects from my second vaccination were worse. Those lasted a full, miserable week. My symptoms consisted of two nights of fever and the dreams that too often accompany them and a cough so intense, I’d have believed I had consumption over COVID.

I’m also willing to chalk those dreams up to being my own pharmacist those first couple of nights. I’d been taking DayQuil that Friday afternoon, thinking I was just getting a cold. That evening, I switched to Tylenol. Then NyQuil around 8 pm.

None of these doses seemed to last through the window their directions prescribed. There was a lot of overlap in the efficacy potentials…which could explain what happened next.

I was in bed at 830 that first night. I may have (most certainly did) back up my NyQuil dose with a Tylenol PM before turning in. I left my radio on versus setting a fader to shut it off after an hour or two like I normally do. That ended up being the catalyst for a truly lost weekend.

Seriously, it was the radio, not the drug cocktail I had on board at bedtime – that was supplemented every time I got up. Remember, Friday nights my local station plays a program of 80s and 90s music from 8-midnight so I was thinking that would ease my fever tortured mind.

Nah.

I slept like a champ. My consciousness was still drifting in and out, but my body was dead to the world. My mind would come nearly to briefly and overhear my parents talking outside my bedroom door in hushed tones.

This absolutely did not happen. It was an excellent throwback to my childhood illnesses, though, where id overhear those hushed tones from the hallway and swear my parents were discussing things like what to do with my room after I died or whether the other kids were dumb enough to fall for my parents just pretending I never existed versus explaining a dead sibling to them.

That happened to everyone, right?

I also briefly experienced a moment of near lucidity where I was listening to the DJ who does the station’s Sunday Brunch radio program from 7-noon on…Sundays. I thought “Damn! I slept all through Saturday!” before drifting out of consciousness again.

So that’s where my brain was when I finally acknowledged I needed to use the can. I remember thinking it was super dark for 2 pm on Sunday when I saw the clock on Myrt’s automatic feeder. Also acknowledging a moment of gratitude that I was sick on a weekend of shitty weather. When I came out of the bathroom – yes, I washed my hands – I had to stop and look out the windows because it was such a dark afternoon.

It was 2 am Saturday morning and I’d been asleep for less than six hours. But I’d managed to convince myself it had been closer to 42.

Lucky for me, I thought to pop another Tylenol PM as I crawled disbelieving my back into bed.

You cannot imagine my surprise when I woke up at 730 Sunday night and realized moments later I’d only been asleep an additional five hours. I may not have been able to believe I’d been asleep less than 12 hours at that point. But I felt rested.

To celebrate, I took a dose of NyQuil, went back to bed and slept another five hours.

The rest of the day felt like the week after setting my clocks back an hour on the Fall Equinox.

On meth.

But one more night of that nonsense and I finally mustered the wearwithal – or is it wherewithal? I never know, but “wear with all” seems to make more sense than “where with all”, so I’m sticking with it regardless of what spellcheck thinks of that decision – to take a COVID test.

Not shockingly, it was positive.

More shockingly – and in true what-the-literal-fuck-ness that my life requires like oxygen – I immediately started to feel better.

Like, symptoms gone.

I wondered if the combination flu shot and MPOX vaccination I got at my doctor’s office on Tuesday could have created a false positive. I actually requested a phone consult to ask just that question. Sure enough, Monday afternoon my doctor was talking to me in that measured tone of his that he uses while trying to get me to accept both reality and his credentials as a medical professional versus asking questions like how far from the bottom of his class he graduated.

I don’t feel bad. He’s highly compensated and it’s a legitimate question.

But his calm tone lured me into believing that I should accept the Rx he had called in for me for Paxlovid. He assured me that if nothing else – given my weak ass symptoms – the Paxlovid was likely to reduce the chances of me drawing the Long COVID card.

You’re sure this home test couldn’t just be like a false positive on s pregnancy test?

Instead of answering that question, he asked me if I had someone who could pick up my scrip. Well played, doc…we’ll played.

Fortunately, the Silver Fox was in town.

Through that afternoon., when he had to leave to pick up his son at the airport for the holiday visit.

Despite my pharmacy’s efforts to derail his plans to leave by telling him my Rx wasn’t ready and then never following up as he seethed in the waiting area for 45 minutes.

Paxlovid might reduce the risk of Long COVID, but someone should really warn you that it leaves your body like too much garlic.

My mouth tasted like I’d been chewing iodine tablets like candy. The aftertaste was tangible. I was actively secreting this foul taste from my salivary glands.

When I woke up the morning after my first dose, I regretted the cozy night I’d spent sleeping in a sweatshirt under my weighted blanket.

Well, not instantly, mind you. It hit me – literally – when I crossed my own scent chemtrail on the way back to the bedroom after taking a whiz on Tuesday morning. In a fit of bad judgment, I tucked my nose into the collar of my crew neck to double-check and my legs buckled.

Not my wisest moment.

But I stuck it out. Five days, two three pill doses per day. All the smells to make you ungrateful for not losing your sense of smell or taste as a result of COVID…but I took every damn one of them. And you know if anyone is gonna not fall in line with the “helps reduce the risk of Long COVID” that it’ll be me.

So there’s that to dread not look forward to.

I have to say, if I had to lose the COVID lottery, I feel like I still won my figurative ticket money back. Sure, it might have hit me on my vacation causing me to isolate for five days and then mask another five on my nine days away from work. Yeah, it meant not spending the holiday with my favorite people who have no choice but endure me.

Most regrettably, it deprived them of the holiday tradition of heckling me while I make them gravy for their Thanksgiving meal.

Seriously, they insist it takes me 45 minutes, but you know how women (and bottoms) complain that sex only lasts three minutes when you know you go well into double-digits?

Well, this is the inverse phenomenon.

Gravy doesn’t just happen, beloved family.

But I’m sad that this year it didn’t happen at all. Next year, I’ll take twice as long to make up for it.

Unless I die.

But as I learned in Thanksgiving, if I die it won’t be from COVID, because…not COVID, just fat.

Grim ‘Rona

My Type of Double-Header

Don’t make it dirty. I know that’s hard if you’re at all fagmiliar with my shenanigans, so I don’t blame you.

Maybe I should title this Bookends? Nope. That doesn’t work either.

And really, this turns out to be a surprise triple-header, anyway – if we carried the analogy through to the end. Does that ever happen in sports? I don’t know anything about it, really. I went to a double-header baseball game last summer, but that was just for my dad…and after a couple innings, meh.

Boys in stretchy tight pants only go so far as far as my attention is concerned. It’s like, how many times do you want to consecutively have the same thought as Bill Murray in Caddyshack?

Wow. I’ve wandered rather far afield. Shocker.

What was I saying?

Oh, yes. The double-header.

A couple months ago, my local radio station got a new DJ – Iris. She does the 8-midnight. At 9 pm she does a new music feature where listeners are encouraged to give it a thumbs up or down vote and maybe you’ll win a pair of concert tix for your effort. This particular night she was giving away Barns Courtney tickets at the Wonder Ballroom.

While I was there, I decided to enter my name into the guest list drawing for the band’s appearance in the station’s Live Music Lounge, figuring my chances of being one out of ~100 winners was better than the one out of one winners for the show at the Wonder.

Remember, this is all happening against a backdrop of the country losing its mind over a Powerbottomball jackpot that built to $2.04B, so odds and chances were on my mind.

Well, a day or two later, I get an email from the station.

That’s right. I was the one of one winner!

And if the title hasn’t clicked into place yet, a couple days later I got the email telling me I was on the list for the lunchtime show in the Live Music Lounge, too!

Double-header!

Well, the on-air talent that hosts the events in the LML usually warm the crowd up with a little trivia, prizes are…concert tickets.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the first couple bands because I don’t really know them. The Barns Courtney show was enough adventure in expanding my musical palate since I couldn’t name a song of his off the top of my head. I always like them when I hear one, but it’s just not in heavy rotation. Musically, I’d put him somewhere between Cage the Elephant and The Heavy.

Unintentional entendres.

The third question offered tickets to Arcade Fire, which is a band I’d love to see…but it’s in Shittatle. But the fourth question offered an opportunity to stay home and see a great hometown band: Modest Mouse. So up went the hand, and – thanks to my knowledge of arcane news from New Mexico circa 1947 – I won.

The answer was a weather balloon incident, by the way.

Turns out, they would have also accepted alien crash-landing, but c’mon.

Then it was showtime.

These guys took the stage and I found out that they don’t fuck around.

Barns Courtney came out last wearing all off-white, down to him platform boots. Even the sunglasses, long beads and scarf he accessorized with were off-white. Only the (hopefully faux) fur betrays the color scheme – but it really brought the outfit together.

This guy definitely dressed like a rockstar. And his mouth looks like proof that somewhere Steven Tyler’s or Mick Jagger’s blood line has mixed with Carly Simon’s.

This is a small venue. Smaller than small. Barns Courtney filled the space with his persona.

Physically, the stage barely held the four of them and their drum kit and took up an entire wall of the room. In Barns Courtney, apparently if you don’t play drums you’re required to play guitar – so add three of those to the mix.

Seriously, this is at least 20% of the space –

This band is everything you want from a rock band. Literally, sex (look at them), drugs (you had to hear the interview to understand) and rock-and-roll (obvs).

Here’s a dump of the other pics I snapped during the show.

I have to say, this five-song set left me both sated and ready to finish out my work day and eager to see what they could do in a full venue. As showtime drew nearer, I debated not going to the show. I had a friend lined up to go, but they’d backed out – no doubt for a chance to get dicked down if their current track record is any indication. Indickation?

There was another friend who’d accepted an invitation I hadn’t extended who I knew was disappointed to not be going, but I just opted to go alone. I’ve been in a weird space lately anyway, so being in a crowd was likely going to overwhelm my tolerance for people without adding in the feelings and needs of someone I know.

I forced myself out of the house. First the the local watering hole for a pre-show drink. I shocked everyone there by closing out when my beer arrived, which only made me want to stay. But I’d had my motivator-slash-reward, so across the water I went, entering the venue about 815 for the 830 show.

An opening band. Who knew? I was not expecting that. I honestly didn’t think Barns Courtney was big enough to warrant an opener. So that was my Today I Learned moment.

They were a foursome of kids from Oakland. I mean kids – I swear they weren’t old enough to drink, even though I also swear I saw one of them tipping back a beer as they broke down the stage after their set. He was also doing it while carrying the pad from under his drum kit under one arm and the stool he’d been seated on, which had a water bottle balanced on it.

That right there is a dexterity that barely outlasts one’s teen years: first you’re all gangly and uncoordinated as you recover from your puberty growth spurt, then you’re running around doing impossible feats that lead to the words “Hey, watch this!” escaping your mouth and then you’re dead. Either because your last words were “Hey, watch this!” or you hit 30 and life is figuratively over.

Anyway, these kids were surprisingly good for an opener. Kinda a one-key sound, but the drummer and guitar players put on a show to offset the lead singer’s narrow range. I’m not complaining, that one-key was reminiscent of some Deathcab/Postal Service songs.

Nothing to complain about there.

But the highlight of their stage presence – and further indictment proof of their youth was the statement “Thanks to Uncle Kevin for letting us stay at his place tonight”. These kids aren’t even old enough to rent a hotel room. Haha. Ha.

Then the headliners room the stage.

Well, first their stagehand spent 40 minutes dicking around with equipment, making sure everything was just so. Their name – intentionally keeping pronouns neutral for them, dressed masculine-ish, but if I learned anything from Shakira, it’s that hips don’t lie – is Sexy Patrick. I’d been introduced to them at the afternoon show when they brought out a guitar for Barns Courtney and picked up their discarded sunglasses from the stage floor and got a load of what I hope was good natured teasing. Sexy Patrick demurred the attention, but it’s hard to know why. The nice thing is that you got some insight into the process behind putting a show on. Maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as dicking around, but I was getting a little antsy as the venue filled up with people who apparently knew there was an opening act. I had chosen my spot intentionally.

I think it’s there so people don’t accidentally get pushed down the stairs right there. Maybe it’s there to provide grumpy old men like me a place to stand alone amongst strangers – without being too amongst. Who knows?

For the second time that day, I watched Barns Courtney take the stage for a show. Well, the band took the stage. Drummer and the two guitar players proceeded onto the stage and settled in. As soon as they beat out the first couple of notes, Barns Courtney exploded onto the stage. Seriously, from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, he leapt in a seemingly blind fashion onto the stage.

“How does he do that without falling?!?” – Me

It’s not accurate to say that this was the least dangerous thing he or the band did all night, but my curiosity for how or what they could do with a full-sized stage was definitely answered over the next 60-plus minutes.

And I’ll tell you now that my camera skills are not fast enough to catch the antics. As if the quality of my photography didn’t make that obvious. I did manage to catch one of the guitar players on top of a speaker, though.

It doesn’t come through as well as when they were both on speakers at opposite ends of the stage. Or when Barns Courtney stood on the drum kit. Stood. This was a sustained position, not a hop up and get pulled back down by gravity moment. He maintained position until he was done with his musical moment and then leapt back to the stage.

In platform boots.

Pretty amazing showmanship from these fellas.

They’ve got the talent and presence to have a long career together – like the potential father of the lips bands. But who knows what the future holds? I don’t see 20-something musicians (or any Gen Z-er) having the discipline to maintain a lifelong relationship of any kind, even if it involves fame and fortune. But I’ll definitely remember these shows for a good long time.

I’d had a good enough time, and even though I’d gotten Doris Day parking – I was ready to go. I’d heard every song I thought I knew, so I started heading for the back when what felt like the final song began. I don’t know if they did an encore or not – but I had to stop in spite of my grumpy old self before I hit the doors just to appreciate how this guy whipped his audience up.

I don’t see how this larger than life persona could be brought to you by anything but exactly the right amount of cocaine – but I’m glad o got to witness it.

Twice.

Two weeks until Modest Mouse – with a potential for a short set by Noah Kahan next week in the Live Music Lounge. I’m eager to see how this year of mostly free entertainment wraps up!!

I know. Me…excited about life.

My Type of Double-Header

114

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm literally forever because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express me feelings on this issue…

114

114

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm “literally forever” because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express my feelings on this issue…

114

Literary Ills

Luckily that’s not ill literally, given some of my other recent posts. But I have had lab work Monday and I’m sure that means a COVID booster and flu shot (I was wrong!), so don’t give up!

Anyway, I was reading a fellow blogger’s post about book stewardship and was inspired to do in 1500 words what he did in 200 – tell my story about my relationship with books.

My affair with books started young. First, with summer reading challenges from school where I read non-stop throughout the summer break – although, I admit to some sandbagging with some pretty thin books. But, hey…systems are made to be gamed, right?!?

From there, things got a little more personal. It started with a Sherlock Holmes omnibus that my parents got me for my birthday one year – I can only imagine the relief they felt at finally being able to buy a gift for me with confidence. I was their only non-athletic child, so it was clothes or nothing up til that point.

I was a child when giving cash as a gift was poor form. Now I’m a man-child and if you’ve got any spare cash, ask me for my CashApp handle. Haha.

Anyway, I quickly learned I needn’t wait for books to be gifted and by the time I left for college I was lugging around boxes of books that I couldn’t possibly part with. By the time I left college, it was even worse. Besides the textbooks I felt I should hold onto, I have two words for you: Anne Rice.

What? I was basic before being basic was a badge of ignorance. Plus, I’ll take being basic about books over being basic about boots and PSLs any day.

Anyway, I’m not sure when my blog buddy started doing the book purges he wrote about, but he at least sounds like he makes a consistent – if not slightly Sisyphean – effort. Shocking no one, I cannot say the same.

Eventually, the few boxes of books I hauled around from apartment to apartment in my 20s became random walls of bookshelves throughout my residence. Then stacks of books by the bookshelves. After that, it was a resigned lack of control over my environment.

Strangely, I live under the same circumstances now, just due to a single feline versus the presence of too many books.

My purges were nonexistent in my college years and throughout my 20s – despite my cross country moves every 1-5 years. When I transitioned from an apartment renter to homeowner and my moves became the mark of a decade versus annual affairs, things really got out of hand with my book situation. A bedroom of bookcases overflowed into a situation where I had end tables and plant stands whose bases were stacked books. My second to last move was from 4 BR house to 1 BR condo 200 miles away and that forced a huge purge. It wasn’t until my return move a decade later that I – and I mean my back – finally said “The hell with it” and I consolidated back to a single bookcase. All this is to say that if my Blog Buddy’s wife is the reason he purges books the way he purges, then my spine is apparently as close to a spouse as I’ll ever have.

For now, I’m kind of in limbo. Any of the recent books I’ve started lay unfinished around my place. Most have been either given to me by their owners or impulse items I’ve picked up as I passed by a neighborhood lending library.

I’ve bought exactly one in the past two years.

So purging these days would be easy – I’d just like to finish a book before I condemn it to its next home. Before I can “ethically” do a purge, I’ve got to figure out what my book husbandry funk is and get myself past it!

Literary Ills

Falling Apart

I have to admit that this could be it: the best I’ll feel for the rest of my life.

That might sound dramatic, but compared to the thought I had the other day about houseless people and warmth…maybe less so?

What prompted my musing on this age of slow decay?

Well, my toothache last weekend, for sure. Then, the other night I was sitting on my couch watching Mythic Quest (highly recommend!) and casually rubbing my face. Unsurprisingly, I found the usual psychotic puberty-era throwback oily skin. Along with that, though, were these oddly placed patches of dry skin. Not the usual T-zone dry patches…these were weird.

This, mind you, is on top of the still randomly rampant maskne. Why that needs to be hanging in a year after mask mandates dropped, I’m not sure. Probably karma.

Anyway, this new facial geography kinda felt like it would just flick off with a little lift.

So I did.

I don’t know why it made me feel better to accomplish something as small as removing dead skin cells, but there I was. And because the universe is a sonofabitch, there it was.

I’d explored the area under and around my eyes – and then was just kind of tracing the outline of a nostril with my fingernail and found something I’d never have seen. It was right there where the nostril meets the cheek, so the curve of even my unflared nostril would totally obscure it – if it were even visible to my aged eyes.

All thoughts of the randomness of these flaky, dry skin cells completely and instantly disappeared as blood started cascading out of my face.

And that’s only borderline hyperbole.

So, y’know, I get up and go get some tissue, dab it, drop it in the toilet and make my way for the couch.

Oh, no…that’s pure hubris. That fucker bled and bled and bled.

Nothing like these little shaving accidents that throw out a perfect orb of blood and then clot or are satisfied being staunched by a scrap of one-ply TP. No, this was more like – well, have you ever had your ear (the pinna, not the lone) accidentally nicked during a haircut? Yeah, it was like that.

I didn’t entirely rule out bleeding to death.

It took a return trip to the bathroom – I waited this time – applying pressure until the tissue was saturated. I waited during the second application of direct pressure instead of returning to the couch because it wasn’t slowing.

Finally, I opted for a double wad of TP to staunch my not-life-threatening wound and went back to the couch. I finished my episode of Mythic Quest before tentatively removing the pressure.

Finally.

I mean, sheesh. That was a lot of blood wasted. And wine! Well, not wasted wine, but wine drinking time wasted. Still, I wasn’t going to risk spilling or spoiling my wine, so I waited.

Seriously, though. Should it take 20 minutes for blood to clot? And that’s when it hit me, that this was probably the best I’d ever feel for the rest of my life. I’m sure the best age related physical shenanigannery (Chrisism, boom!)I can expect is massive bruising when I casually bump something.

Fun!

Falling Apart

Abducted

Seriously. That is the only possible explanation.

So, on behalf of Original Xtopher, I – Replacement Xtopher – will tell you what I’ve done since wresting control of his body from his pickled grey matter.

Soto vocce – it was stunningly simple.

Don’t get me wrong, in an effort to blend in, I’m having a glass of wine at my neighborhood spot as I tap this thing out. Apparently, ordering wine was an unusual act for OX – at least judging from the shocked reaction from every employee who has happened by since it was delivered.

Oh, well. Partial credit.

But after a wildly productive day, I needed to get out of the house for a minute. Just a glass or three. Y’know?

Why? Let’s start here: I’ve managed two days of longer and more intense workouts than the rest of the week.

That’s my only two 30+ minute workouts of the week – on top of my awesomeness as a pinch-hitting dog walker for my friend who left town late morning yesterday to spend the night in San Francisco with her man lover. I negotiated that transaction from two nights to one. Apparently urban canines require four walks per day. Who knew?

But I can’t brag too much about that feat. First, because if they get four walks a day, how did I still end up doing five walks after talking her down a night?!? But secondly, my entire “I don’t have two days of dog walking in me” gambit was supposed to result in them not going at all, not falling back to one night versus two.

Oh well, at least I won the unmentioned-until-I-resisted third dog situation! That would have been a trip to the pound, for sure! Apparently, her man lover has a dog, which I was just supposed to know when the question first came up. No, thank you. Also, wrong!

So, on top of actual exercise, go ahead and pile on 13 miles of walking in a 24 hour period. One of those dogs likes to hustle!

Yeah, yeah…only 3.2 miles of walking per day on average, but that number absolutely rose dramatically within a 24-hour period of Dog Uncling.

Regardless, I would have been active in some way, shape or form this weekend. It is, after all, our last weekend of 80 degree weather of the year. Allegedly.

That said…today was a day of – I’m gonna say it – epic accomplishment.

Exercise and self-care: check

Good friending (ish) and doggie day care: check

But! On top of those accomplishments I:

Wrote (am literally writing something right now).

I cooked – for myself! And that’s literally my least favorite person to cook for.

Just put a pin in that problematic statement. I’d say my therapist and I will get into it eventually, but they’re in their early 30s, so it’ll probably be whatever partner eventually succeeds them. In 25 years or so, once we’ve worked past all the hide-and-seek traumas of growing up in the suburbs in the 70s and 80s.

I mean, seriously…why was I never caught before the Ollie-Ollie-oxen-free?!?

Neverthemess…

Going into the weekend, OX still had both of his HelloFresh meals to prepare. How he survived this long before I managed to take over, well, frankly…it stuns.

Replacement Xtopher to the rescue!

I managed a riff on Portland’s brunch culture today by jarring OX into consciousness at 8 am on a Sunday – no easy feat – to walk the adoptive doggos. After that, I came home and worked in a workout consisting of two 10 minute strength workouts, a 20 minute climb ride, 5 minute cool down ride and at last, a 5 minute stretch.

Very nice, very nice.

But, of course…I was famished! Somehow, though, it was also time to walk the doggos again. Once I returned though…food!

I’d had a banana pre-first walk. A coffee on the way back, iced…duh. And was quite excited to kill one of my two HelloFresh recipes of the week. I figured preparing one today would give me food now and lunch Monday. Preparing the other tomorrow – or Tuesday – would give me dinner one other night and an additional lunch.

My next HelloFresh box arrives Tuesday. So, yes…I’m behind. Also, out of nowhere today I made a pork loin and red potatoes. Now I have four additional meals in the meal prep pipeline for the coming week!

And I notoriously loathe leftovers. These all just happen to fall into a starch and protein loophole, though. Huzzah!

On top of that late-in-the-weekend productivity, I also repotted some plants that needed a freer range. I’d recently mentioned this in a post winking at my viability as a mate – having succeeded at being able to keep a plant alive for a year and whatnot.

Low bar.

This was a “low key/thought I’d finally knock it off my to do list task going into the weekend” type of task. Repot some jade plants and a Christmas Cactus that so needed it. Y’know?

However, after answering an assertive knock at my door last night, I ended up with a more pressing repotting candidate. My neighbor – in what I’m assuming was a coke-fueled bit of gregariousness – had knocked at my and my immediate neighbor’s (who just happens to be the HOA President) door. Upon answering, I was greeted with a three foot money tree plant and two smaller plants and told to choose one.

Being a listener, I heard him say the money tree was for his girlfriend. Of the two remaining plants, I chose the variety I didn’t already own. Logic, right? Here’s a pic of the new boy in his for-now home:

A lovely palm, no? I assume it must be highly desirable, since Myrtle immediately knocked it over and tried to eat it.

You can just make out the spider plant babies I need to root out above the new palm. Since I had gone into the weekend planning to repot my Christmas Cactus and two jade plants who have shared one pot long enough, I wasn’t surprised to find myself reporting plants.

That said, I managed to repot my Christmas Cactus and this palm – into a heavier pot so Myrtle didn’t trample it – late this afternoon.

Christina Cactus makes me happy. My mother first gifted her to me in this mug five or six years ago:

Beary cute, right?

After a couple years there, Christina needed to move into bigger digs. She ended up here –

But only for three years or so. Today, she graduated to the big pot you see above.

All that said, I can’t brag – and I assume this is an OX throwback – about the plantings I accomplished without self- owning those I did not. You see, I should have repotted my Jade Twins –

– who desperately need extra space. Currently, they share a spot in a pot. But, given my mixed bag success with 3” potted plants I buy in a grocery, I am somewhat surprised by these two plants’ success. Still, it’s time they get to stretch their roots. Time to repot. The thing is, after repotting Christina and the new palm, I only have one more size-appropriate pot for the jades. It didn’t make sense to repot one and not both.

Ergo…proChristination wins!

Not that the current repotting-palooza didn’t require some plant relocations that make me…nervous:

Olivier and another 3” near-death Freddy’s purchase – who has resurrected quite nicely – has to move into my bedroom window to facilitate the new plant and new home for Christina Christmas Cactus. Mind you, the space around the inverted pot propping up Olivier will eventually be obscured by a repotted jade and who knows what else!

Stand by for that.

In the meantime, I’ll run by Freddy’s and find a second pot for the second jade plant at some point this week. Until then, they are just gonna have to chill and allow me to know what’s best.

But that’s Future Xtopher’s problem. Just like all this abwork I did yesterday and today. That oughta make getting out of bed tomorrow…fun.

Good luck, Future Xtopher!

Abducted

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Did I put that apostrophe in the correct place? I wonder if I’ll change it – or more to the point, how many times I’ll change it – before I post this.

See? This was gonna be a quick post because I feel bad that I haven’t written in a while and here I am, letting my neurosis dither on and on for 200 words. <face palm>

Anyway, one of the things Portlanders do well – especially natives like me – is passive/aggressive behaviors. Case in point, my building has new plantings around its front entrance.

Olive trees, no less. RIP: Olive. Update: Olivier is doing well, although Myrtle is munching his leaves like she’s part goat.

How is olive trees at my front door passive/aggressive? Well, you have to pull back the curtain – or column, in this case – a bit to understand.

You see, those plantings were strictly passive/aggressive self-defense. Specifically, the plants take up a fairly private camping area for our randomly occurring houseless neighbors. The cute little bike sculptures attached to the bike rack ensure no one opts for the “close enough” next best option.

The inspo for this idea is becoming more and more popular in the urban core of the city. There’s at least a dozen that have popped up on or near the three to four blocks framing the park in front of my building.

Go another block or two away from the North Park Blocks and there’s even more. An art gallery on the corner of Broadway probably has the oldest – and most successful – crop of planters. They’ve been there for over two years and the plants are thriving on the busiest N/S street in downtown.

Go another block further across Broadway and you have businesses on the Transit Mall lining their sidewalks with planters to keep the tents away and the foot traffic customers coming.

It’s not always successful. The art gallery – what, it’s Portland…we have a lot of art shit around here, ok?!? – on the corner diagonally from me has some cheaper looking planters that have largely died off. Luckily, the weeds are thriving. The gay strip club on the other side of the block from the park lined its outdoor area with plastic fig trees in 55-gallon drums, as if they’re campaigning to prove not all gays have taste.

Then there’s the corner of my cross street –

– at least they’re keeping the big tents away? The other side of this street is an empty storefront and there’s a solid row of tents from the corner to a driveway halfway into the block.

While it’s all a pretty flower icing on a crap cake type of a situation, I’m glad that this is how our civic displeasure manifests over this situation versus anything more aggressive and less passive in nature. Oooh, foreshadowing!

But it’s not for lack of “trying”.

One of our old money family scions has loads of empty real estate holdings downtown. His first attempt to keep people from lining Broadway with tents in front of one of his empty buildings was to install bike racks.

A very Portland solution. Except it was twenty-six bike racks. Even if that building was leased at some point, there are likely not going to be enough bike commuters stationed there to create anything close to a reasonable bike-to-rack ratio.

Plus, he hadn’t checked permitting, so our local weekly rag did it for him. Willamette Week has taken down our current governor’s predecessor, at least one state senator – anyone remember the Bob Packwood skit on SNL? – our first gay – and shockingly couldn’t keep it in his pants or ID his paramours – mayor, local congresspeople and god knows who I’m forgetting; so this bike rack thing was just them passing the time between scandals or the upcoming midterm elections. Oooh, more foreshadowing!

Undeterred, our scion switched gears and leased some of his empty downtown office space to a city council candidate – that’s who I left out of WW’s hit list! – for $250/month. When they broke that story, the guy claimed he couldn’t rent it for market rate, which was probably true. Still, you don’t have to know commercial real estate to know that if you can’t rent a space with a $6800/month market value that your fallback isn’t $250/month.

I can’t believe they could put that press release out with a straight face.

Worst of all? It was a conservative candidate for city council. I’d say it simply isn’t done, but that’s kind of where the City’s dysfunction over the past 2-3 years has led us. Not that I’m opposed to more middle ground and less extremes of one side or the other.

Let’s do it.

But if you have to lie to do it, you can fuck right off. That’s both my hardline and my $.02.

And it’s not just at the city level of politics, either. Our Governor is term limited, so that job is up for grabs. It wasn’t, but now it is a literal tossup.

That’s thanks to a rural congressperson refusing to let the heir apparent just have the nomination – leaving the Democratic Party to run as an Independent against our lesbian Speaker of the House who we’d all thought was a like it or not shoe-in.

I gotta tell ya, she made me think about voting Independent this cycle, just because she’s been such a centrist Democrat her entire career – go figure, a Democrat from a timber family is centrist. The big surprise is that she wasn’t a Republican. But like I said earlier, I’m not opposed to more middle ground and frankly, at the local level, the far lefties have not gotten things done.

Anyway, that was all well and fine to consider…until the Republicants somehow managed to avoid nominating one of their usual milquetoast-perpetual-loser candidates like they normally do. Usually it’s like they are either not trying to take the top job in the state at all or they are strictly trying to please/fleece their base by running on crazy shit the red counties with more cattle than people care about, candidate be damned.

Well, not this time.

And it’s a perfect storm.

Because it’s not a normal election year. We’ve already got the opposing Democratic split vote candidates issue.

Then there’s the whole the Republicants didn’t run a non-starter candidate from their usual roster of losers. They ran a newcomer, who’s quite a firebrand. With only three years of experience holding public office – so there’s no record to run against.

And to make it all just perfectly awful…it’s another woman. Don’t be surprised if our ballot drop box is only located on Themyscira.

Go ahead and Google that. I’ll wait, non-nerds.

Yup. It’s a three-way, all-female race for the governorship between a lesbian, a septuagenarian and a fair-haired Sarah Palin.

Hold onto your goddamn hats, people, because I can’t tell you what’s about to happen in the Peoples’ Republic of Portland. In a state where the GOP can’t get a job holding doors, one might be holding the top office for the first time in 40 years come January.

If that’s the case, I’m thinking the best thing we can expect – and, surprise…it’s not getting tents off the sidewalks – is the second coming of Portland’s “Dream of the 90s” heyday following the Ds retaking the governor’s manse. Because without our last round of Republican governors in the 80s, we wouldn’t have had the collective spirit or financial incubator that created the environment that made Portland such a unique place to be.

Plus, the tents will be gone. I don’t know how, but I’d put even odds on it being chartering a plane to fly any of them with Texas or Arizona IDs back to their home state.

Whatever the solution is, won’t it be great that we have so many cool sidewalk planters?!?

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland