Incredible Fortunes.

You ever wake up and just briefly consider the reality of your situation could simply be that Pam Ewing is really out there somewhere, dreaming nightmare versions of people’s lives?

To refresh memories or fill in pop culture voids…Pam Ewing was Bobby Ewing’s wife on Dallas. No, the original version. Season one ended with Bobby being killed. Season two was a shit show and season three started with Pam waking up to find her husband showering after a particularly vivid dream…of the entire second season.

The audacity!

Or that maybe you are her, and one morning you come to wake up to find that the worst was all in your subconscious?

Absolutely insane. It was almost enough to wipe our collective consciousness clean of Fonzi jumping a shark on water skis. Almost.

Anywho. I swear that’s me lately. And, frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t made time to buy a lottery ticket.

This life that I deride and take for granted…well, it’s serving me constant reminders lately that while the bad stuff may not be going on in Pam Ewing’s dreams, it’s not the star of The Xtopher Show that I call my life.

Cases in point:

I think I mentioned I was going to another free concert a week or so back. I was incredulous to have notched another free pass onto my 2022 entertainment belt.

And it was incredible…despite a rocky start.

The Shins were playing two shows downtown and I had won tickets from a local radio station. I had said I wanted tickets to the Friday night show, giving them Thursday night to warm up. I got my winner’s waiver the Monday after winning my tickets and was told further info would follow. It did not. Well, by the day before the show, I finally double-checked that I’d submitted the waiver correctly and then sent an email to the station that I’d won the tickets from using the “contact us” link on their website.

Several hours later, at around 2:30, I got a BCC email from the station saying “Congrats Winners!”, leading me to believe someone was having a really long Monday at the station. It went on to tell us that our tickets would be at Will Call and the gates were at 5, show at 6…that evening.

My mental needle skipped.

Luckily, I live about 9 blocks from the venue. I worked until 4:45 and then set out on foot for the show.

Turns out, the venue is all General Admission. Still, when the guy asked if I needed both tickets – after watching me walk up alone and casually scanning my area as he went through my info – I said “Yes”.

What? I wanted them both. I was definitely going to find a way to take up two spots in GA. Plus, that was just rude, right? It’s not like I had a bogey hanging out of my nose and he asked if I wanted a Kleenex. No, this was him rubbing my nose in my solo-ness. Boo, sir.

Because it’s Portland and this venue is a public plaza when it’s not a venue, there were food carts on the periphery of the fence. I hadn’t eaten, so I grabbed a huge sandwich for $12 and a 16 ounce beer for the same price. That amphitheater where I saw Styx can shove it’s $18 beers right up it…area.

I sat on the brick wall at the back of the venue and ate my sammie and drank my beer while the opening band did its thing. It was another Portland band (I know, The Shins are from New Mexico, but they’ve been in Portland long enough to be called locals) named Joseph. Two sisters with a third woman make up the band named for the Oregon town the sisters’ grandfather was from. I’d heard a couple of their sons on the radio before and liked them, but their 45 minute set was amazing. It’s really just guitar with the sisters’ amazing vocals and that’s it.

I was so mesmerized that I barely noticed the Guy Candy that was obviously hitting on me sat right next to me to nosh on his own sando from one of the carts.

Joseph’s set ended and the roadies started prepping the stage for The Shins. I figured I better grab another beer and stake out a place to take up two places near the stage. While I was in line, a true Portland weirdo native offered me a picture of her cat out of the blue.

My guideline when dealing with Portland’s kookier kooks is “humor them, they might be dangerous”, so I took the proffered pic. It’s now hanging over Myrtle’s food station, just to keep her on her toes. A reminder that there are other cats in the world – versus mine, who seems to believe a week isn’t complete without at least one protest poop or other non-litter box evacuation.

This was me, sipping my fresh beer in my taking-up-two-spaces space by the stage; reflecting on the Guy Candy, the Crazy Cat Lady and watching the sun set while nervously eyeballing the 20,000 crows flying around looking for a place to roost when someone tapped my shoulder.

No, it wasn’t Guy Candy guy. I’m lucky…but not that fucking lucky.

It was Sarizzle, someone I’d worked at Sur la Table with when I lived in Shittatle. I ran the market’s hero store in Kirkland (yes, it’s a real place!) and she ran the original store in the Pike Place Market. I knew she’d moved back to our mutual hometown, but we’d never managed to connect. Just two natives catching up on social media now and again. We hugged and caught up in real life a bit – while I behaved awkwardly because I was still in all my WFH glory and now turn into that person who runs into people they know wherever they go. Eventually, she said her goodbye to go back to her husband as the roadies started wrapping up and the stage hands started turning instruments.

Actually, after running into not one, but two groups I knew at the Bonnie Raitt show…maybe I am one of those people who runs into people I know figuratively everywhere I go.

Not long after Sarizzle left my to my own devices, The Shins took the stage and didn’t give it a rest for about 90 minutes. Their music has a pretty chill vibe, but the lead singer’s voice is haunting, something I figured was a product of some sort of modulator. I still think that, but was impressed that they were able to replicate it in real life.

Their set was so good that for about the first half, I was convinced at a minimum the lead vocals we lip synced. Joseph had come out to sing back up after the first few songs, so I knew it wasn’t the whole setup, but just how was it possible to recreate the lead singer’s otherworldly vocals?!? I enjoyed clicking off the hallmarks of live music that occurred in the set to disprove my suspicion that the lead was dubbed. Just crazy little tics, like singing toward Joseph at the back of the stage and losing the mic’s pickup briefly – nothing too overt.

I enjoyed watching the crowd really get pulled into some of their bigger hits and take over the heavy lifting of vocals or just get caught up in a call and response with the band.

But I’m a native Portlander and I go to shows to watch the show, not be a part of them. To that end, I stood there and tapped my foot, swayed a little and clapped after every song. That’s it. A true Portlander would never risk diminishing someone else’s experience by being overly enthusiastic. I’ve actually been to some fantastic shows where virtually all the crowd did until the end of the show was sit there and clap between songs.

Playing Portland must be an interesting experience for musicians. Well, not as weird as it was back in the day…there’s so many transplants now that the overly polite Portland crowds have been somewhat diluted. Sarizzle and her husband eventually crept closer to the stage and I saw her being true to our concert-going DNA, too. Her husband would occasionally throw an arm toward the sky or do that rhythmic hopping that people do at concerts, but she was doing pretty much the same low key sway in place as I.

The tour was basically a 21st birthday party for the band’s first breakout album, and they played it all, with a few extras sprinkled in here and there. At one point, the band riffed on Rod Stewart’s Do You Think I’m Sexy for a few lines between songs. Just, out of nowhere fun – for them as much as us. No one knew where the idle strumming was going until it careened into that pleasant little surprise.

Another fun moment happened during the encore – unlike Bonnie Raitt, I stayed for this one. No dogs to walk, no parking mess to get ahead of, so I just stayed and watched them completely blow the non-existent roof off of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The next little fun nugget was working a couple refrains of Tom Petty’s American Girl into the middle of one of their songs. I didn’t recognize the song, but I was definitely in the minority.

The following Sunday, I had to set an alarm to wake up and drive out to Hood River – by far the more scenic piece of our wine country. Little Buddy had two tickets to an event at one of their wine clubs called Reds, Whites and Blues. No, we haven’t started making blue wine in our notoriously blue state – the event featured a blues band to listen to whilst stuffing your face with BBQ and sipping on the vineyard’s reds and whites – not in that order.

Sadly, her husband, 2.0, had been tapped for a two-week trip to Germany for work and had to leave that morning, so Little Buddy had a – wait for it…free ticket. Fuck yeah, I went! I even set an alarm to make a day of it – we got a hike in before the event, which was just idyllic.

They set up the event beneath oak trees that are hundreds of years old in the middle of their vineyard and we drove up, parked by some vines and sat under those trees stuffing our faces and listening to blues in the middle of a sea of vines. Not even a barely visible Mt Hood through the smokey haze from our minimal forest fires could dampen the epicness of being immersed in such gorgeousness.

I’d love to sit around and let more of these experiences wash out of my memory and into my blog, but my drinking buddy’s buddy backed out of their plans to go to The Doobie Brothers show tonight this past Thursday. Luckily, I was sitting a barstool away when the text came in, so I’ve got to get ready for another show.

Another free show.

Second row from the floor on the stage side of the second section from the damn stage. It is going to be…epic!

Incredible Fortunes.

Shrinkflation

Gas prices have fallen for about 90 days in Portland. I’ve heard that in many parts of the US, gas has dipped under $4 for the first time in six months.

Here, it’s still averaging well over $4 for a gallon of regular, but I’m happy the mid-grade I use is under $5. That’s still about a buck more a gallon than I was paying in January.

However, I’ve noticed a couple of amusing returns on my gas investments recently.

First, when I was being a pre-vacation grump and refusing to put more than $20 worth of gas in my tank at a time – not sure if that’s denial or self-preservation. I had done just that and was headed out to mom and dad’s for a smoker-q.

Side note: I’ve been thinking about drugs lately. Specifically that moment in drug history where cocaine had faded from popularity and made a resurgence in a smoke-able versus snort-able form that everyone called crack cocaine. I think we really missed a portmanteau opportunity by not calling it smocaine.

Anyway, I remember doing the mental math on my round trip with my almost half tank of gas. I figured I’d come back and park Angela with a quarter tank. I enjoy these mental math games of speculation. Especially when it pits me against technology – like gas gauges and “miles to empty” projections.

This particular instance was a draw. After my ~60 round trip, I was still around 3/8 tank. Saving me face, though, was the “mikes to empty” reading had only dropped by 12 miles.

When I went on vacation and drove to the high desert, I had to give up my grumpy old man ways and fill up for the 168 mile trip.

I remember the mileage between here and Sunriver because it’s my birth month and year. Another thing my brain likes to pass the time noticing. Anyway, I figured filling my tank would be a cathartic exercise to start my vacation. I was shocked when I looked at the “miles to empty” as I pulled onto the road.

Angela usually teases me with 500 mikes to the tank, delivering somewhere closer to 430. I’m not sure what she was trying to pull telling me I’d actually get my money’s worth for the $100 I’d just coughed up.

Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better.

Of course, that projection ended up more like this…

More so than normal, that is. Surprising no one.

It was, in my mind, a pleasant turn from the shrinkflation I’d been confronted by daily throughout the summer, though. I’d noted my reluctance to pay retail prices to water manufacturers in the past instead of something closer to wholesale prices.

I mean, where do they get off?!?

So I was proud of my La Croix loyalty because I could get a 12-pack for $4.

Not anymore. Welcome to shrinkflategate!

Now I can’t find a 12-pack to save my life.

It’s 8-packs or nothing these days, my friends.

But don’t worry, it’s still $4. If you’re lucky.

My mind – noticing the patterns it does so naturally – reflexively does the math and can’t quite find where inflation is 8%. I mean, at best the price is flat. But the damn package is 1/3 smaller!

I’d like to speak to the manager.

At least Angela has my back. The prices all around me are rising. Groceries, restaurants, services…everything is going up. But Angela tries to make it all better by giving me hope that a tank of gas will magically stretch further.

Shrinkflation

When Your Ex Calls…

Call me what you will: cynical, crazy…whatchu got? But when my ex – Rib – texted this morning asking if we could talk, my mind immediately went dark.

It’s been a few years since we’ve talked outside of random social media interactions. Even longer since we’ve caught up in real-time.

Note to self: chill that white burgundy I got on their wine tasting trip to Portland. That’s gotta be 6 years old now?!?

Anyway. Out of nowhere came the thought, “His mom died”, and I was immediately sad. Thinking about her in the past tense. Thoughts like “She was the same age as my dad!”

Was.

Welp, I’m happy to report that guess was wrong. But the dire spirit was warranted.

He’s getting divorced.

That was in my top two reasons he’d want to talk, but by all (observed) accounts, they were strong.

Despite the reason Rib gave for them getting married – he needed insurance, which is a typical Rib dodge to a question he doesn’t want to answer – they seemed pretty solid. They’d bought a house together a year or so after getting hitched. They recently sold it for $400k more than they bought it for and had an offer on a million dollar build.

They were able to get out of that with less hoops to jump through than Elon trying to get out of his Twitter deal.

But the benchmark of our relationship was that we ended as friends. I figured breaking up with someone 18 years my junior when I was in my mid-40s was gonna be it for me, relationship-wise. A prediction that has held up, but I thought finally having an ex that became a friend was a good high water mark.

Or I had inadvertently strayed into lesbian tendencies territory. I did avoid buying a Subaru when I went car shopping, so I think I’m not in any danger of losing my Gay Card.

Using it is another, less likely story scenario.

Another moment of…not pride, but, y’know…something pride-adjacent was that he wanted to talk to me before he spoke to his family.

Especially his sister. Ironically, she’d gotten married for the same reason. Hey, I never said Rib used original material. That union also ended in divorce. After living in separate states for most of the marriage.

When I’d ended my relationship with Rib, I’d laid out my view of his worldview pretty plainly: he’d moved from his mom’s house, to his sister’s to mine. He needed to figure out who he was before he could be a real partner for someone. “You need to get the shit kicked out of you by the world for a bit” were my exact words.

We found an apartment for him and got him settled in his new life. Two weeks later his sister fixed him up with his soon to be ex-husband and they were immediately inseparable.

I was pissed at her, not him. He was just doing what he knew. She should have known better.

Anyway, a decade later, hearing his plan for his fresh start and then him finishing with, “That’s what you told me that I should do when we broke up. You were right. I don’t even know who I am right now, much less what I want!”

He was a real brat when we were dating. Fun, but a brat. But when I told him I was t dating someone with no job, no education and living with his sister, he batted down my objections with actions. Well, two of the three, he got a job a few days later and a few weeks later was asking me for help filling out financial aid paperwork for college.

I was really impressed by what this guy could do when someone expected something of him. There wasn’t much I could reasonably expect from him on the housing front, but four years later, we fixed that. At least for a few weeks.

Now he’s closing another circle in his life and I gotta hand it to him for having the insight to be able to look at his actions the last time he found himself single and decide what he wants to do differently this time.

I may not have had kids of my own to release into the world, but my MO when dating younger ‘mos had been to leave ‘em better than I found ‘em. I’m happy that I was able to see the results with Rib not once, but twice now.

Here’s hoping I get to witness the rewards he reaps for the work he’s signing up for, too. But I’m not taking my chips off the square that says “Takes his half of the house money and moves away” either.

When Your Ex Calls…

Non-Practicing

You know how when you meet a lapsed Catholic and religion comes up in conversation? Eventually it comes up as, “Oh, you’re Catholic, what are your thoughts?!?”

The response? Well, obviously, it’s varied. They’ve left the cult and can now exercise free thought and expression. But it usually starts with a clarifying variant of “Non-practicing Catholic” before any deeper response is given.

It’s like “Let me be perfectly clear, here…”

Well, that’s me and my sexuality.

People usually want to know if I know their gay friend when they are introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance. “Oh, Chris-Chris?”, they ask. our mutual friend like my eyes and ears aren’t connected to my brain.

Mentally I add, “Non-practicing” before they even finish their sentence. But I have managed to perfect the mental eye-roll. A few of those made it awkwardly out into the wild. I wasn’t the first to realize it, either. Not even always the second. I had to ask myself a few times whether the person-I’d-been-introduced-to’s eyes widened before or after my friend’s overly dramatic coughing fit began to figure out the appropriate level of chagrin or combativeness to display.

I say all this by way of introducing my topic tonight: I deleted the sole dating app on my phone a couple weeks back.

Sidebar: This is dating not mating app I’m talking about. I rarely act on the opportunities that prostrate present themselves on the mating app, but I enjoy opening it to “see who’s around”. It used to be fun to surreptitiously open up Grindr while shopping or at a show with plenty guy candy present just to see if there were other gays around. Now, though, it’s so much easier to profile gays in a crowd. Well, queers in a crowd. What with the rise in visibility of gender fluidity over the past 5-10 years, I’m no longer wondering if that hot guy is gay so much as I’m curious if that guy wearing nail polish isn’t gay. This is what I lived through the AIDS crisis for? Seems like a lot of trouble in retrospect.

So, yeah. I deleted OKStupid a few weeks back.

Not like I was actively using it. But at least I could tell myself I had a line in the water, right?

Sports analogy!

Don’t get me wrong, I was completely fine letting them app linger, tucked away in the social media folder on my Home Screen. But a while back, they sent me this bullshit:

Yeah, GoPuff knows a lot more about marketing than the folks at OKStoopid. If I wanted manipulative behaviors like that, I’d date. So I ignore it thinking, “Save me the trouble, will ya? But, just like dating, they kept coming back like they hadn’t thrown down a failed ultimatum.

“No, they don’t.” It’s just the same Lost Boys I encounter in the bars or on the truly asocial media apps trying to assuage their shame by having an actual dating app on their phone. Poor stupid, stupid dears.

Or, channeling my inner Groucho Marx, riffing on not wanting to meet anyone who would want to meet me. In case you missed this the last 100-ish times I’ve used it…

The thing I didn’t like about this app experience wasn’t the caliber of the offerings – I’m sure it would surprise no one to hear that my expectations were set appropriately low and we’re still unmet. It was that the app was just a gaslighting shit show.

I’d keep seeing the same guys. My mental conversations would be something like, “I know I’ve swiped left on that train wreck before.”

Being <ahem> situationally charitable, I’d assume the best. About the app, not the person. When it came to the people, my thoughts would range somewhere near the “Who is this hard luck case (from me) trying to fool with a new profile?”

Turns out, it wasn’t the people trying to juice interest with a fresh profile, it was the app recycling people I had no interest in by presenting them as potential matches again. Like “It’s been 3 months and you haven’t met anyone, are you sure you can afford to be so choosy…at this point?”

Yes, I can. 1000%.

I finally gave them a hand and deleted the app myself after getting another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email from them.

Yes, please.

I’m not kidding, the next day I got two emails from them. The first was another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email that briefly made Gilbert Godfried my dominant personality.

The second email almost earned Apple a repeat sale on my phone. Check it out…

Two hours after a “WTF, I deleted my profile, why are you still sending me emails?!?” email, they’re trying to lure me back with my epically useless Super Like.

Hey, OKStoopid, I kinda super like myself – at least compared to any of the people you actively call Users. I think I’ll be ok.

That’s not a declaration I make capriciously, as I admit I am wont to do. Nono, this comes years after the 50th-birthday-party-turned-dating-intervention. That led to a year of focused dating effort – also where the loathsome OKStoopid app earned its place on my Home Screen.

That led to this –

Still active on Amazon…<hint, hint>

And it’s all been diminishing returns since then. Turns out, if I want oddly unsatisfying entertainment, I can binge watch a quirky series on one of my many streaming services. Cheaper than dating, less frustrating and much less potential for follow-up therapy! Plus, unless the internet goes out, binge watching always shows up.

Non-Practicing

Mourning…Glory?

When Olive died during last year’s heat dome, I wasn’t prepared for – or even thinking about – how that would hit me. I was surprised at the number of the stages of grief I could identify. But yesterday, I finally reached Acceptance.

For the record, Olive was a plant. Obviously an olive tree.

Olive was the first plant I acquired after moving back to Portland. Even that took a while to accomplish, since I got her in 2016 and had moved back in 2014. She was the product of an in-store event I’d hosted for a local Olive Oil company who had brought a couple trees as set decor for their booth. The owner of the company had offered me one of the three they’d brought up to the event and without hesitation I accepted.

Anyway, I lost her – and everything else on my balcony during our three day heat dome last year. Y’know, the one where our temps in the PNW were the hottest on the planet. That should never happen in Portland, OR. Even watering twice daily didn’t do the trick because the temps never went down at night, there was just no respite. I think that instead of providing relief, watering just changed the heat from baking the roots in their clay pots to steaming them…

That was some Denial right there. Anger was reserved for the climate change deniers and people who helpfully told me that my plants could have survived with even more watering. Bargaining was the ridiculous habit I had of still watering her stick figure remains in hope the roots came back this past spring.

I think what was hardest for me was the throwback memory I have of my first post-relationship gay friend here back in the early aughts. He was only a friend, but we’re really got to know each other deeply since we were both navigating traumatic waters at that point in our lives. He was in recovery for sex addiction before it became a fashionable excuse for misconduct among our powerful and famous men. But something he told me was that one of the steps he had to complete before he could date was to keep a plant alive for a year. It was an exercise in caring for another’s needs.

So, yeah. Losing Olive affected me. I don’t believe I will have another relationship in my life, but I want to know that I still could vis-a-vis successful plant husbandry. How’s that for a new twist on the old “It’s not me, it’s you” trope?

I didn’t replant my balcony for fall as I usually do. Nor did I plant anything this spring. I just kept watering Olive’s carcass.

The Silver Fox picked up his own Olive on one of his trips to Trader Joe’s. Sensing my interest when he told me, to promised to remain on the lookout for me on subsequent trips. But their plant inventory rotates so quickly that timing is critical.

Which is why I was excited to share this pic with him on my way home from a walk to my local TJs for cat treats yesterday.

Lil Olivier. They were out of the cat treats, BTW. The next best option – fried salmon skin – seemed like a sure thing, but Myrtle turned her nose up at them. My current mental exercise is debating whether to risk Olivier on my balcony or keep him inside where I only have to worry about Myrt.

The interesting thing to me is how my inside plants have benefited from my undivided attention over the last year. I went from a roster of four to fourteen in the past year. That’s including a pothos that I propagated a second plant from. There’s a third rooting out now and a jade that has two plants in one pot that I need to split out. My spider plant is throwing off some babies I need to trim and root out soon.

I need to split this jade into two pots, but I’m afraid of damaging them in the process
The pending plant parent

I’m starting to wonder where I can keep them as I look toward a plant stable approaching twenty by year-end. My apartment has limited window space. My living room wall is basically 16 feet of floor to ceiling window. My bedroom on the other hand has only two panes. Plus I’m pretty bad at opening the curtains, but I think that will be one of the next steps.

Right now, I’m using dense clustering as a defense against Myrtle’s rubbing them to death. She loves scratching her cheeks on them, but that’s generally to their detriment. To that end, when I started putting plants on window sills, I learned that I had to arrange the sill so there was no room for her to sit on the same sill.

The climber that’s in the corner was a 4” rescue from the local grocery’s nearly dead section.

Likewise, since my dracaena sits at the end of my TV console, I need to find a way to limit Myrtle’s ability to get to that end since she’s already snacking on it.

And the unsnacking all over the floor.

But enjoy the last few pics of my lil therapeutic plant farm while I resume my mental debate over Olivier’s initial home…

The Christmas cactus on the upper sill was from a cutting from mom.
Cornelius, also a gift from mom.

If you’re in the states, enjoy your extra day off on this three day holiday weekend. I’ll be potting at least one plant today or tomorrow!

Mourning…Glory?

Austerity…and Everything After

Feel free to cue up some Counting Crows while you read along, if you’re inclined to give a nod to this post’s title inspo – August and Everything After.

If not, no worries. It just popped into my head last night in a near-literal fit of frustration.

I’d gone into the weekend feeling victorious, namely over finally getting paid the balance of my last week of work before transitioning to a Core employee with the company I’d been assigned to for nearly six months.

Knowing the rhythm of their processes, I know when I get an email saying my paystub is available, my direct deposit hits the next day. Since I got that Friday, I was expecting the deposit Saturday morning. I was just a little surprised when it didn’t land, and left curious as to whether that was a systemic issue or whether good, old RH had one more petty fuck you left for me.

Regardless, I’d planned this weekend to finally get some real time in with DoorDash for the first time in weeks. I think the two weeks I’ve been back from the desert, I’d averaged about 4 hours a week. I just don’t like it!

Just disregard all that foreshadowing.

Admittedly, I’ve been letting the looming of my grandfather’s estate settling allow me to shirk my 35 delivery per week goal. And the damn thing never seems to close – despite the original June estimate back in January! Last I heard was almost three weeks ago when dad told us the attorney said it was time to write checks. My inclusion and my siblings’ is strictly a matter of my dad’s generosity, him committing to share his share with us. For me, it’s moderately life-changing money, regardless of whether it’s equally divided or something just under the reportable threshold.

Anywho. Not having expected Robert Half-Ass to find its wallet at all, let alone in a conveniently timed fashion, I knew this weekend was going to be a rather austere one. In past similar instances, ie: pretty much the beginning of any month this year, I’ve pretty much lived off my Apple Wallet. That’s where my DoorDash earnings deposit. Unfortunately, no ATMs in my area seem accessible via their card-less technology. Go figure.

But I manage. I can always order food and grocery through my Apple Wallet, there’s just no real going out in that first week situation – although, I did discover that Regal Cinemas of all places has a functional card-less point of sale. So, that’s nice. If there’s no movie showing that I want to see, then there’s always new movies I can rent/buy through Prime if nothing grabs me on the streamers.

What I’m saying is, even though it’s tight sometimes, it’s still pretty good to be me.

This weekend, of course, I’m finally motivated. I know I’ve got another week to go before my first two-week paycheck arrives. Further, I was kind of daunted by the prospect of having to budget for two weeks versus getting paid weekly, having just adjusted to that weekly schedule versus the daily pay I’d been used to the last three years.

It wasn’t my strongest beginning. Friday night was tough, after a longer than normal Friday at the day job. When I saw the pay was just base-plus-$2, versus the usual base-plus-$3 I get when I drive, I decided to save my mojo for Saturday night. Why? I don’t know…at the end of the day, it was a $5-10 issue, depending on how long I stayed out. But I stayed in.

I hit the road last night at 6, after buying myself a pop and a lottery ticket. My first order was a two-fer with a total of 3.3 miles for $19. I usually like to stay over a $10 per-delivery average, but it was such a short distance, I took it as a win and shagged it.

Plus, these things usually net up a bit when all is said and done. Especially when an order comes through a secondary app. Even if it didn’t, though, I’d be on my “second” order in about 20 minutes since these first two deliveries were so close.

Except…forgot whose life I was living.

The first pickup was a block from where I accepted the orders and they said they needed a “couple minutes” to finish up. Not surprising, since I’d been so close.

Twenty fucking minutes later…I’m finally on my way. I pick up the next order in less than 90 seconds and am on my way to the drop offs – which are conveniently around the corner from one another. Unfortunately, what I hadn’t realized was that there was a Portland Timbers match last night. These two apartments were two blocks from Providence Park.

What I’d assumed would be the start of a $50 hour finally ended 40 minutes later. As I ended the second delivery, I was accepting the reality that I’d need another delivery set up like my first to finish my first hour in my usual $30-35 range.

Except the app kept reverting to the prior delivery instead of completing and taking me to the Home Screen.

That’s more like my usual life. After I’d crossed the Willamette River that divides the city’s west side from the east, I had pulled over to call support. I’d unsuccessfully tried to complete the order for 10 minutes – Portland is small, you can absolutely cross town on a Saturday evening in 10 minutes – so it was time to get some help.

After 15 minutes on chat waiting for someone to get to me, the chat had ended itself. Fine. I called in to the driver support line. That call started with a recording telling me there was high call volume so they were prioritizing active deliveries. Also fine, since I’d been unable to end my last delivery.

Then the system ended my call. So much for getting into the queue based on a technicality.

Worst part? I didn’t even get paid for the deliveries I did until hours later when I was comfortably stoned on the couch.

That prompted me to try signing in again, not that I was going anywhere. It still failed, so I put it away for the night.

I tried again this morning. Still nothing, and the only troubleshooting I can get to without signing in says, “Just keep trying!” Thanks, Dory.

The support line is still hanging up after the same pre-recorded message, so I’m sensing it’s a bad weekend for a lot of people.

And DoorDash.

But that’s all had a rather disabling effect on my day. This weekend I came into feeling motivated is ending with me not showering or brushing my teeth today until 3 pm.

I did somehow manage to whip up a concoction and eat a 1/2 pound of pasta – but managed to hold off til noon before diving in.

Eat your feelings, Xtopher.

I’ve watched two Harry Potter movies today – save your TERF comments, I’m watching the movies to feel good, not endorse the author’s anti-trans mentality – and suspect a third is coming.

And while I feel like I’ve survived a hardship and tomorrow I’ll wake up with more than $15 in my primary checking account, I’m not feeling a strong sense of relief. Most of my bills are “late” or actually late at this point. I prefer to pay them as they come in if they aren’t on autopay. Autopays are bouncing back – thank gawd they aren’t considered overdrafts! – and the balances on the bills I haven’t paid yet are now larger than the check I’ll get on Friday, so I’ve got to prioritize bills instead of clearing them out.

And given the time of month – I swear I didn’t mean to riff on TERF bullshit there – were in, my next check has to be for September rent. On top of that, I suspect it’s time Myrtle saw a vet, given the size of the puddle I came home to after last night’s abortion of productivity. That couldn’t possibly be a good sign. Or a cheap fix. But at least I’ve talked myself back from my comments to the Silver Fox last night – something along the lines of “Myrtle lives outside starting tomorrow”. And, no…I do not have a yard.

Grandpa’s probate attorney needs to find his damn checkbook. At least this slog of a weekend is almost over. Take that, Sunday Scaries. I’m looking forward to Monday!

Austerity…and Everything After

The “Literal” Treatment

BMW has entered the chat.

A chat I don’t want to be involved in, anyway.

Certainly a chat I don’t want brands I value to seek to be involved in, either.

But this is America. We ruin everything.

And as hard as we fight to not be inclusive, except when it comes to money, there are exceptions. Companies in America gotta get everyone’s money – so they’re gonna at least act inclusive.

One of my favorite examples of this is corporate rainbow-washing every June for Pride month. And then the month ends…

It amuses me – this observation, but it doesn’t bother me. Not because I think The Gays, collectively, have become unworthy of anyone’s support or pride (which is true) but because it’s also such an stupid American cultural reality. It’s the End of Christmas Morning Phenomenon: “Is this all I got?”

So, yeah. Complain, please…that you got a spotlight for a full month, you ninnies.

Anyway, then there’s BMW entering into a courtship with what is arguably America’s largest and most diverse subculture. Actually, it might be the unacknowledged dominant culture.

Idiots.

The “sub”culture, not BMW. They might be geniuses.

What are they doing?

Pandering to the group of Americans who ignore the squiggly red line under words they type…because spell-check is wrong, not them.

Those idiots.

How? Just how does a multinational – global, even – manufacturing company target an audience like this?

Believe it or not, it likely didn’t involve anything as spectacular as running head-first at full speed into a wall or ripping whip-its before sitting down to develop content. Very likely, I’d imagine it was rather organic.

Picture it. The setting: HR. Aaand…scene!

That’s it. Can you picture HR without the mental image of the employee it conjures being a ubiquitous Karen?

That’s all it takes. Someone who embraced the rampant misuse of the word “literally” so long that a dictionary gave the fuck up and rewrote its definition to align with the misuse.

You think they’re gonna hire people who would demand a high level of detail from themselves in their work? I’m talking in any department, too, not just in advertising.

I just don’t want you walking away from this post laughing at stupid creatives in stupid corporate America. I want you horrified, chagrined and slightly frightened of how pervasive the problem is.

Oh, you want to actually know what got me going on this? Not that the pic at the top of the post didn’t bury the lede, but…check it:

The caption says “Your BMW Has Our Undivided Attention” – italics are my addition, for emphasis…in case you’re one of them and don’t know it.

Call me crazy, but to me, undivided implies focus. Presumably, that guy is wrist deep in my BMW.

His hands are inside my car.

Where are his eyes?

Where?!? What are his eyes focused on?!?

Not watching what the fuck his hands are doing, that’s where.

So the collateral that BMW sends me to earn my business by demonstrating their attention to the service they provide is a picture of them not providing a commensurate level of attention to the service they provide.

Got it. Yeah.

Don’t mind me. I’m just over here observing shit.

What really bugs me is that I got this in the mail on a Saturday. My day off. Well, the one that overlaps with USPS service.

My day off from running payroll for a laser manufacturing outfit.

That’s five days of me seeing people that manufacture lasers but can’t manage to remember to punch back in from lunch. So I spend a good deal of time each week being surprised lasers work as intended, given the poor performance our employees have at such an entry level job expectation: making sure they get paid accurately for their time by punching a damn time card.

But, hey…if our lasers work on potentially nothing more than dumb luck, maybe that BMW tech will manage to not fuck up my car while giving it what passes for undivided attention while working on it?

Or I’ll pop the hood on Angela one day and find a windshield wiper where there should be a dipstick. Which scenario seems more likely?

Figuratively more likely, by the way. I know a windshield wiper would never literally fit where a dipstick belongs.

The “Literal” Treatment

This Is My Life…

I’m bellied up for a lil post-Thor: Love and Thunder beer at my usual watering hole. Just, y’know, minding my own amidst the flyby conversations that happen to me here.

The perk/curse of being a regular.

I’m not complaining – this time.

But that ancillary type of conversation has its hazards.

For instance, when I walked in, the bartender asked how I was doing.

Me: Oh, y’know. Holding steady.

Him: <looks confused>

Me: <waits>

Him: <laughs awkwardly>

Me: <purses lips…here we go>

Him: What?!? You are not. <laughs again>

Me: What do you think I said?

Him: You’re not old!

Me: I said, “Holding steady”, not old and steady!

Him: <laughs raucously and minces off>

Hey, at least he didn’t question my sure-footedness.

But with that…we were off to the races. Before I even finished my first beer

Still working on #1, and yes…that’s Him in the background. 🤭

…we’d had another incident.

He has a habit of nattering incessantly verbally processing while he works. He was making a drink for someone and telling himself that something was missing. After his second verbal prompt, I jumped in to help.

Me: What are you on about?

Him: It’s missing something and I can’t. quite. <looks at me> Bitters!

Me: Glad I could help.

Him: <cackles> Nono, it wasn’t…

Me: Just. Don’t.

To be fair, there is a cluster of six bottles of assorted bitters just on the other side of my beer. I’m still taking credit for the alley-oop, though.

Im convinced that this would not happen to anyone else!

This Is My Life…

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I got a call from my boss yesterday afternoon. She gets me. Here’s how the pre-call planning went via Microsoft Teams chat:

Boss: Hey!

Me: Quit screaming at me.

Boss: Call me.

Normally, my neurotic ass would immediately spiral with that enigmatic command. But like I said, she gets me. We have a…rapport.

She starts our conversation off with “Guess what?” Even though her tone suggested good news, that opener is cryptic enough that mentally I replied, “You need me to bring back my laptop?”

It was just the opposite, though. She told me that the CEO had finally signed off on my Offer Letter.

I probably added a “finally” retroactively where there was not one in reality.

Seriously, though, it had taken three months to get my Offer Letter put together and approved. I know this because I found it hard to take her seriously when she asked if I was interested in converting from a contractor to a core employee…since it was April 1st.

When I pointed that out a couple weeks later during our weekly touch base, her response was, “Wait, did you mean it when you said ‘Yes’?!?”

And this is why we get along.

I probably could have shared my thoughts on this surprise (to me) development with my boss. Thoughts like, “Thank gourd for The Great Resignation making employers desperate enough to hire a grumpy old bastard like me!” or “You could hire millennial or Gen Z folks for less than me…if you could actually hire anyone from those generations”. (Sorry, Vee!) Actually, I’m confident she would have beat me to the punch on that last part.

Anyhoo…she’d warned me it was gonna take a while. “We move slow”, she had admitted. She did not undersell that.

I just never imagined it would be a longer process to complete than the tenure I had as a temp with the company at the time she had issued that warning. I’d gotten the exploratory offer at two months.

Two weeks later when she’d “updated me” about my salary expectations, I’d told her that was faster than I’d expected. Two weeks after that, she’d confirmed that HR was starting on my Offer Letter.

Ok

Five weeks later I hear that my Offer Letter was on the CEO’s desk for his approval and I’m all, “Eureka!”

Three weeks go by. Mind you, a week after I heard the CEO had it, his Admin called me to check on some expense reports “he’d” submitted.

I had patted myself on the back for not quid-pro-quo-ing his expense reports and just told her that I process expense reports on Fridays. It was Thursday…so the next day I reimbursed his $25,000 from four months worth of expense reports. Before the day ended, the Admin was back in my inbox telling me “she’d” completed the last two months of reports, so I added another $15k to his reimbursement before beer:30 that day.

You know how you know someone makes too much money? Not just that they can get by submitting expense reports only twice a year, but that they can do it by letting an average of $7k a month ride.

Oy.

Anyway, I’m glad I coughed up his dough because it took a scant two more weeks for the Offer Letter to find its way back to HR. No telling how long it would have taken if timing hadn’t worked out like it had!

But someone was impressed enough with me to throw a couple extra percentage points on my salary from what my boss had said she’d try to get for me – which was less than I’d asked for, but more than I was making as a contractor, so I wasn’t mad. But seeing it come back just a shade off of what I’d asked for made me feel it was worth the wait.

Mind you, this is still a 45 hr/week base at about 60-65% of what I made last year driving with Lyft. I’ve been doing some DoorDash deliveries to help bridge the gap, too – but that’s another shituation. I can max out at about a dozen hours on a good week with DoorDash, that’s about half as many hours as I drove for Lyft and on a good week I earn about a third of what I made driving for Lyft.

All that boils down to me working more than twice as many hours this year over last and maybe making 75% of what I earned driving <30 hours a week for Lyft. Since it’s July, I don’t think it’s premature to declare that this is gonna be a financially tough year.

But the first six months of this year have helped me get back into a budget mindset. Between that and the 16% bump I’m getting converting from contract to core, I think I can stare down the balance of the year without having to steal from my parent’s present retirement fund.

Anyway…here I am, the guy who swore he was done working for Da Man back in 2018. Didn’t quite make it five years before I found something that appealed enough to me that I could sell myself back to an outfit long-term.

Maybe this company is the conversion therapy I needed to take away the shitty taste my last few professional roles left in my mouth.

I don’t want to shock anyone – I have more than a few older readers – but, yes…that was me sounding optimistic. I apologize for not warning you ahead of time.

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I’m Tired of Always Running

Dark title, eh?

Worry not.

I promise, it refers only to an earlier post I was working on that I accidentally discarded instead of saving. Apparently, that means something else in WordPress-land than deleting. There’s articles dedicated to recovering deleted posts on their FAQ page – which boils down to “go into the trash tab and hit ‘restore’”, however, nothing on recovering something you accidentally discard versus save.

And why are those two buttons so damn close, anyway?!?

Anyway, that post was depressing, hence this post’s title.

Well, that and the subject matter.

I recently heard an interesting factoid about how much Kate Bush has earned off of streaming royalties since her 1986 hit Running Up That Hill was featured on s5/ep1 – or is it season 4? Can you tell I’m not watching?

In two months she has earned $2.3 million off of streaming royalties. For that song alone.

Ok, let’s set aside that that is probably more than she earned in a year during her heyday and focus on the reality that her most recent 60 days’ earnings is only for streaming royalties! It does not include actual sales or what Netflix paid her for the usage rights originally.

And I couldn’t be happier for her. I think it sets an example of what talent and fame are for a new generation. Or two. Generations who are increasingly conflating talent and fame with pervasiveness and infamous.

Which reminds me of a conversation from earlier about an invasive species of snails, but that’s a different hill.

I’ve been on Kate’s hill in some way, shape or form for about three years now since Meg Myers released a cover in ’19. I thought at the time that it was an impressive homage, staying true to the original – and I loved that about it. Hearing the original now – when the remake had barely faded from my local station’s rotation reinforces that faithfulness and also the reality that it was still just a copy.

I love that the world has lost its mind for this song like a certain college-aged person I used to know. Although, not everyone agrees…

From a chat with a Gen Z musician on Social Media…

I love that this song is number 1 in 2022, eclipsing its number 3 performance in 1986.

I love that Meg Myers didn’t just pay homage to the original by staying true to it in her remake, but also that she and Kate Bush look like they could be related. And that their photographers clearly studied with the same professors…

Kate.
Meg.

Maybe that’s just me.

But after the massive step(s) back our country has taken in the last 10 days from 2022 to 1972 or 1950 or 1868…maybe there’s hope of at least dragging us back to the late 80s. Because reading the news anymore makes me yearn for a life that modern-thinking.

I want my MTV.

At a minimum.

I’m Tired of Always Running