TransDating: Part I

Sooooo…The Facebook, right?

Coming through for me the other (early) morning when I couldn’t sleep. I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I had probably cruised through the previous 36 hours worth of newsfeed-algorithm-worthy posts when I happened upon the “People You Might Know” feature.

Probably, this is where the ZuckerDrones are looking out for me, “thinking” this is what usually makes him throw his phone down in disgust so I could get back to sleep. Little do they (or DO they?!?) know that I usually at least look at the top recommendations before throwing my phone down in the aforementioned disgust.

Today, though, today…I’ve clearly got time. It’s 5-ish am, I’ve been scrolling for 45 minutes, “Why not see who the Facebook thinks I should know?” I think, before doing a deep dive.

I was a good 10 minutes into the PYMK section when I saw it.

Ok, given the name of this post, that was a poorly chosen pronoun due to the ease of exploitation that “it” allows. Well, exploit it for humor, we got no problems…we’re obviously chums for a reason. Exploit it for its vaguely gender-vague crime-worthiness and, well, you can fuck right off and then keep on humping.

Because, what I saw was a “who” that I crushed all the way out on while I was working at the airport.

One of the Fabulous Baker Girls has probably already used her super sleuthy skills to figure out who I’m talking about, she’s that good.

For the rest of you…this is a person I used to see a couple times a week because he managed a store out at PDX while I worked there. Still does, if the Facebook is to be believed.

And, believable or not, the Facebook was giving me the profile of a super sexy fella to scroll through as I debated “friending” him.

If he’d remember me or accept said friend request…TBD.

As I scrolled, I was rewarded with those validating pics young folks post…showcasing their natural gifts and/or the fruits of their gym labors.

Oh, right. I forgot there was also significant tattoo-age. They were all spelled correctly, so the attraction was preserved.

What it took me a few extra minutes of scrolling to realize was that the muscle definition and tattoos both served to draw the eye away from some very artfully concealed scars…of the double mastectomy variety.

Well, shit-fuck-damn.

I’ve always held young people unreasonably accountable to having a better physique than I, however…where gender reassignment is involved, I give a hall pass.

Does that seem fair?

Well, I don’t care. Ask your mother if life is supposed to be fair.

Back to me.

Trans-folk get a hall pass on body stuff because they are fighting an uphill battle. Whereas young cis men have hormones helping their physical accomplishments, trans-folk have what are likely the wrong hormones working against whatever correct hormones they may be pumping into their bodies. It results in a battle of science vs nature toward physically expressing their true selves.

I’m not judging that.

No way, no how.

Plus, in the case of this fine fella, and I’m sure many trans-men…should they put their minds to it, they could kick my ass twice before I knew the first ass whooping was happening. I’m smart enough to not make enemies, let alone enemies that could actually harm my favorite person.

But my trans hall pass has always expired where the appreciation of their physical accomplishments meets the reality of my Kinsey 6 sexuality. Top surgery and potentially hormone assisted physical accomplishments aside, at the end of the day I can’t get my old school homosexuality around the “beaver in my bed” scenario. I’m an ass man, through and through…but frontside foreplay is still a part of the routine, because…well, because it is.

Enter Anachronistic Xtopher.

It’s been a decade long entrance, in case you thought this was a fresh struggle.

You see, when I moved to Seattle back in ’06, I spent more than my fair share of time getting to know my new bevy of gay bars slash neighborhood watering holes. I really loved all of them. Little did I know that a lot of this euphoric experience was relative to me being fresh meat (at goddamned 40 years of age) in a relatively small dating pool’s bar scene.

Still, by ’08, I was well past that…the blush was off the proverbial lily.

It was then that I’d found myself out for a weeknight wee bit.

<Interior: The Cuff, upper bar…because they don’t bother opening the lower dance and patio bars on a goddamned Tuesday>

I’m swilling quietly, minding my own obliviousness at the end of the bar, when a brick shithouse of a dude in all his construction worker drag walks in, sits down by me and orders a beer.

Now, we all know where this is heading, because: title spoilers, but suspend your disbelief.

Jesus. Rough crowd.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Sure, on a four-sided bar, this is the only place to sit where you won’t have an unwelcome crowd form around you”.

It’s also a Tuesday, so crowds would be a no.

It’s also the side of the bar furthest the door.

Ergo: it’s also the only side of the bar that you have to pass all three of the other (service) sides of the bar to get to.

All of this conspires to convince me that this placement is intentional…for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, there was a beer or two of conversational foreplay before I trot out this gem, “How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?”

“Well, it is a Tuesday…but still pretty damned ok”, he says, laughing.

“I was gonna offer to get your next beer, but as the second best looking guy in the bar, I realize that puts you in a tough place.”

“Drink up. I got this one, since you look smart enough to not waste your aspirations for bar dominations on a Tuesday night. But you’re definitely on the hook for the next one!”

“Thank god this isn’t a Wednesday”, I reply, thinking that this guy’s humor is right in line with mine. I’d love to have an equal in sass…not as easy as one might think since you have to factor overall disposition into the equation. I don’t mind an overly queeny sense of sass near as much as I’d run away from or flat out fail to appreciate a guy with hard up bro-sass.

That struggle? REAL.

Anyway, we chatted a bit about what afforded us the luxury of drinking on a Tuesday night in a bar people only cared about on the weekends. Some other stuff. He was a lot of fun to talk with, truth be told.

Comfortable.

Easy.

However, on beer four – my fifth, just to be completely honest – he disclosed that he was FTM (female to male, for the uninitiated). Now, sexually, my heretofore growing chub lost volume…for previously mentioned Kinsey 6 reasons.

Still

I was really enjoying this guy’s company. Obviously, having lived in Shittatle for two years and still finding myself drinking alone on a Tuesday night, I was in need of friends. If our schedules aligned to allow a regular social coalescence…that’s a good ROI on my Tuesday night of drinking.

Right?

Well, I never heard from him again, so fuck me. What are ya gonna do though? This person was – after two years in Seattle – literally within the first six people I’d given my number to.

He didn’t use it.

It’s been 10 years since that eye-opener of a night. But in a decade, I have realized that easily navigated complexities sometimes only end up being precursors to significantly more complex situations. Situations whose ramifications extend way further than the least crowded side of a four sided bar on the least crowded night of the week.

Well, when I put it that way, my ’08 encounter seems…easy. But, trust me…it wasn’t.

Not in the moment.

Reductively, it’s choosing between clams and sausage on the sexual menu. But in reality, clams vs sausage is an argument that a very, legitimately very small percentage of our population known as bisexual ever actually engages in. For the rest of us, that sexual argument is rarely ever brought front and center on a casual night of drinking. For me, dropping my pole in a decidedly gay watering hole for a drink generally results in “I got a drink” at best and “top or bottom?” in an unexpected better than best at the worst.

Having to navigate original plumbing in this fishing hole scenario made me think cats were my future.

Don’t worry, Myrtle has made me realize there’s no love to be found in a truly hopeless place.

Which is pretty much where I was earlier this year when I ended up chatting with Liz at my local caffeination station about proper gender pronoun usage. It was one of those conversations where I not only felt relief that I wasn’t the only person confused by what pronouns were socially acceptable for everyday polite usage, but also a conversation that left me thinking, “Nah, you should stay at home forever” once I realized that if a multi-unit coffee shop manager easily ten years my junior in goddamned Portland, Oregon can’t figure it out then I had – really – no hope.

Like, literally zero chance.

She was referencing customers – well, a specific customer – and in talking about them, acknowledged her confusion about correct pronoun usage.

Why?

Because she was using them – a pronoun heretofore used in a plural sense – to reference an individual. It made things…complex. And not just conversationally.

We each acknowledged the pronoun struggle by way of clarifying the actual object of her statements.

Why is this a big deal?

Well, let’s jump back to my awkward night at The Cuff. What if I happened to take my spontaneous drinking buddy’s bathroom break as a moment to confide in the bartender?

“Close me out, I think I’m gonna take him back to my place.”

Yeah, that’s how early 21st century conversation looked.

Ah, the simplicity of the aughts. We’re in the teens now, though.

Fuck simplicity.

Nowadays, I’d have to say, “Close me out, I’m taking them back to my place for a night cap.” Of course, I’m referencing an individual while using a plural pronoun…this is confusing!

Not to mention, unsafe.

Sure, we’re a decade back for this example. Nonetheless, what if this happened while I was talking to someone that the bartender knew to have a chain smoking boyfriend that never made it into the bar? I suddenly end up looking way cooler than I ever was in my original 40s. But I also end up probably equal parts likely to have an unplanned three way as I end up being rolled by an unexpected third or beaten up by a jealous, unknown boyfriend.

There’s a lot of downside to these vague, politically correct repurposing of existing pronouns.

But, by all means…let’s put personal safety aside for recreational contrariness of a sexual minority. Whatever happened to the pre-turn-of-the-century s/him for men veiled in feminine dress?

Was that so offensive, somehow?

My money is on the difficulty in creating the gender appropriate version of a pronoun for a woman out and about with her masculine flag flying. I’ve been semi-thinking about this for over a decade. What would that new pronoun be?

I think that – in a very weird turn of events in gay-phobic America in the second decade of a new millennia – that an inverse Crying Game scenario based on gender appropriate pronoun confusion would create a larger kerfluffle than Jaye Davidson could ever imagine.

That said

Of course I get a text from Diezel a few weeks ago asking if I’d ever date a FTM guy.

<eyeroll> “Why is life so hard?!?” – Me

Still, since I adore Diezel and also kinda try – as long as it doesn’t put me out too terribly much – to be a good friend, we chatted a bit about it. I knew this wasn’t one of those random questions, rather one borne of a specific circumstance – this wasn’t a random Monday Night Supper Club conversational topic like Intersectionality was – after all.

But our little chat took us through this whole decade-long arc of mine.

In mere moments…

The crux being, “What’s the point of plumbing, anyway?”

Honestly, for me, in about ten minutes…nothing. I think we get to a point where the sex is secondary to the connection.

Sexondary – Chrisism!

But as humans, as sexual beings…that secondary connection doesn’t happen until the sexual connection is either satisfied or mitigated. There’s a simple statement. Mitigating that sexual connection is simple…give it a few decades, then who cares?

BOTH OF YOU! That’s who. Since you’ve now both lived through a relationship where neither of you got your rocks off. Obviously, that scenario doesn’t necessarily or easily work. However, it might work if you’re in a post-sexual time of life.

Mind you, I’m <cough> in my sixth decade and my best friend is in his seventh…not sure when sexual compatibility moves to the back burner. But, goddamnit…I hope that this is a thing. Maybe these much maligned – at least in this blog – millennials will figure it out, this sexual conundrum.

<belly laugh interlude>

Better? Maybe you need another minute…

How’s it going? Oh, still wheezing?

Walk it off.

Focus on taking deep breaths through your nose, out through the mouth.

Sometimes Millennials figure things out!

Oh, gawd. It’s gotten worse!

I really feel like I should apologize. I’ll try and warn you before I say something like that next time.

Ultimately, I decided the friend request that motivated this whole blog-thought-exercise was a bad idea, since my desire to know him was initially sexually motivated. That seemed like a recipe for butt-hurted-ness…somehow.

So, for now? I’m leaving it with “I don’t know”. But I’m still thinking about it and trying to work my way through it correctly…

Stand by.

Lordy, I feel like this is gonna need a Part II…

TransDating: Part I

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

“You know what? Take a hike, don’t ever talk to me again.”

This was the reaction from Captain Can’t when I’d apologized for unintentionally offending him about eight months before I left my last job.

Very mature, right?

Well, The Boss had cleverly manipulated me into being the adult, setting a good example and taking the high road with my jag of a peer. While it worked poorly for me in this particular shituation and The Boss never re-addressed it with Cap’t Can’t, I am happy to report that upon quitting that exercise in daily frustration of a job, I have embraced Cap’t Can’t’s unintentional wisdom.

Frequently.

And will later today, I’m sure. I’m actually writing this as a motivator after failing to get outside yesterday…it was a “too cold”, overcast 65 degree day here in P-Town West.

Today, I need to find my motivation and a trail.

It’ll just be a city trail in Forest Park, but I’ll manage to make it new by inadvertently getting lost on my 10 mile urban sojourn. Unlike last week’s Hood River adventure with Little Buddy.

LB and 2.0 are in the process of buying a house across the Columbia from Hood River and we swung by their title company for a quick errand on the way to our trail. There we were…conveniently adjacent to Aniche Vineyards, where BreitBarb had a case of wine in need of transport back to town.

So, when in Rome…

Not a bad way to loosen up before a hike!

We crossed back over the Columbia and dog legged over to a speck on the map called Mosier to hike a short trail there…

It’s a 3.5 mile switchback path that screams “Live in Mosier!” on behalf of what I’m sure is a nonexistent Mosier Chamber of Commerce. We’ll get to the views, but the houses you can see across the ravine the trail skirts as you climb the backside of a hill are incredible. As much as I appreciated the real estate views during our climb, I was also well aware of the fact that if I lived there, I’d appreciate a much better view facing out past the Mosier Plateau trail and over to the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge.

So, speaking of ravines, Little Buddy and I learned something about each other that day.

She learned that I didn’t like heights and I learned that she didn’t know that about me. There was occasionally a few feet between the path and that cliff. It wasn’t bad, mostly it felt vaguely reminiscent of the hillside Buttercup throws the Dread Pirate Roberts down in The Princess Bride. And there were plenty of wildflowers growing alongside the trail.

But as you can see in the swimming hole pic above, the situation wasn’t all fun and games.

That newfound fear amused us on the way up. I think LB was a little relieved to find that I had a more normal fear than the previously shared fear of sharks…in any body of water. She had brought her new family pooch, Barley, as well. At just under 4 months, this was his first hike and he was a well behaved champ of a hiker, so that was a fun distraction on the way up, too.

He was much better behaved than the two dogs we encountered on the hilltop after we did the turnaround loop. I was leading, so I saw the first of these off leash pooches playing amongst the wildflowers and knee high wild grasses before LB or Barley and excitedly exclaimed “Goat!”.

LB told me to get a pic because our friend BreitBarb hasn’t met a negative emotion goats can’t banish. Now I’ll always be the boy who cried goat.

These dog’s owner had very little control of his animals. I learned both of their names, but can only remember Peter, the first one we met, now. Of course, I remember it because the owner yelled it a lot during the back half of our hike in lieu of actually leashing his exuberant pup. He also yelled the name with some fey accent, so it didn’t come out “Peter” as much as it did a plaintive and eventually annoying “Poitier“.

Still, the view from the top of the trail was simply awe inspiring.

And windy!

I really should have taken a selfie of wind blown old Xtopher, but while I really wanted to see what the never ending, cooling mountaintop gorge winds did to this shaggy mess of hair, I still don’t selfie as often as I could as an American citizen in good standing should.

I’d be a lousy Kardashian.

The top of the trail wasn’t even the top of the mountain, either.

I couldn’t imagine the view being any better from the top, but I was still a little curious about the eastward view from the top since we could only see westward and across the river into Washington state from our trail.

I had all the friends I wanted on the trail with me. Little Buddy and I chattered easily away during our hike, occasionally breaking to get Barley’s take on a topic. Still, this didn’t prevent a few children of the wilderness from trying to introduce themselves to me on the way back.

Lizards…do. not. want.

They kept getting bigger and bigger as the trail descended, too. Weird. Shortly after we passed back by the swimming hole, they stopped appearing, which was good because if they had gotten any bigger I’m afraid I would have been sharing the path with a Gila Monster.

The return trip also afforded us a longer stop at the little pioneer cemetery that we’d passed on the way up.

That second pic is of an 8 year old’s grave. She and I share the same birthday so it was an exciting and eerie discovery.

There weren’t a lot of grave stones in this tiny memorial. There were a lot of depressions in the ground around the trail that made me suspect there were some unmarked graves with wood caskets that had caved in on the trail side. Many of the visible graves were young people, 20 and under…so heartbreaking to imagine the pioneer experience of losing any family on their trek west, let alone losing a child and having to leave them behind.

I was pulled out of this morose imagining on the way up by the appearance of hikers trailing behind us. They stopped in the little cemetery, too, and we moved out. It felt too crowded with our party of three and their party of five. Three moms and two infants.

The Mom Squad.

In addition to feeling crowded, I also didn’t want to be around moms and their babies should the realization that these were largely kids’ graves dawn on them.

Why did I feel guilty about this company?

Anyway, the path being largely switchbacks, we got not far from the Mom Squad. Their chatter was…incessant. I’m sure our own was equally distracting to them, maybe. For me, the semi-valley-girl-esque tone of their talk distracted from the rest of the amazing environs.

Still

I was appreciative of their active lifestyle and unwillingness to be limited by their children.

However

I also judged the safety of strapping your infant onto a front-facing backpack and toddling off on mountainside paths that made me uneasy. I was fearful that mother and Child were only a loose stone away from going over the side.

It made me a little uneasy. I was glad when our little party returned to the viewpoint from the turn around loop and discovered that they had left for the trailhead without doing the loop.

Still, kudos to getting the kids out in nature early. I believe it will create a solid connection to the beautiful PNW wilderness for these newly minted S.N.O.B.s (Society of Native Oregonian Born) and that’s the type of person that keeps the PNW spirit alive!

Little Buddy and I had originally planned to grab lunch after our hike, but we were running late and she needed to get home to get dinner going for her boy and also allow Barley to relieve himself. He’s one of those pups that will only pee off leash…

So, no lunch.

Still, there was time for a teensy wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards on the way home. LB is a member, so the tasting is gratis. And they had my favorite wine back in stock, so I could pick up a couple bottles of the good stuff to hold me over.

Not driving or having a car makes it hard for me to get out of town, so I love having friends that will take me along every now and again and try to make the most of every chance I do get.

This is my type of high road.

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

BikeTown Chronicles #3

How do I get myself into these shituations?

Oh, yeah…I’m stubborn.

And…competitive.

Fine, but I can still whine about this stuff, right?

After a gorgeous weekend through which I suffered through what The Fox likes to call bubble guts, I was feeling pent up. And, yeah, a bit frustrated that I hadn’t managed anything active during the good weather.

Sunday was our most beautiful and warm day of the year thus far and Monday was projected to be the same. So, I’d committed to getting outside after coffee. I was a little torn about completing some actual responsible tasks before my ride, but talked myself out of it since I was only planning a 90 minute/20 mile ride.

I’d be back in plenty of time to get to the FedEx/Kinkos to print out some documents for my unemployment hearing next Tuesday and get them in the mail.

Then as I was leaving my neighborhood coffee shop, the barista asked what my plans were.

“Bike ride! It was touch and go between bike or hike, but the ride wins out today!”, I told him.

The Fox had told me that our barista had been telling him about a 70 mile ride he’d done recently. “Told me” as in “I interpreted it as a dare”.

So, I leave the cafe after vocalizing my intent to take off on a little 20 miler. Saying it out loud makes me accountable, right?

Then I go home and get sucked into Netflix for an hour.

I end up leaving the house around 12:30, still plenty of time. Home by 2, showered and planted in Kinkos by 3, probably done by then, realistically.

My usual short ride out the Springwater Trail ends at the 6.5 mile mark, preventing me from having to cross any real major thoroughfares on my urban trail ride. It’s a 1.5 mile trip through the waterfront to the trail, so I come up a couple miles short of my 20 mile goal. I’ve offset that by taking a loop over the Tilikum Bridge and back around the waterfront to make up the difference.

I noticed my water bottle hitting my leg as I ended that loop and thought that I hadn’t placed it completely back in its cradle after my last drink.

Wrong.

I’d somehow lost a screw and that was causing the whole contraption – including my bike pump – to pivot on the remaining screw. I pulled over to tighten shit up and got back on the road, satisfied that I’d gotten the situation secured.

I get to the 6.5 mile mark and am feeling pretty good. My butt is tolerating the seat pretty well and I think, “Let’s just go to 30”. This is where my competitiveness and mild OCD kick in. I get to the 30 mile turn around point and it’s in the middle of the path, versus one of the park areas or major intersections. I decide to ride on so that I can fill my water bottle at my turnaround.

That happens at the 35 mile point and I think, “35 miles? That’s not a ride. No one does 35s”. I haven’t done a 40 since last year and decide to push on, thinking back to a conversation Little Buddy and I had during last week’s hike. She mentioned that most of her and 2.0’s rides were 40-60 mile affairs…so, why not?

I get to the 40 mile point in Gresham and think back to last year, when I was last here and decided not to push further to the end of the path. I also recall last weekend’s ride where I’d run into my friend, Casey Adler, and we’d rode along for a bit together toward the end of his ride.

He’d gone all the way to the end of the trail in Boring.

I was going to go, too.

This mentality is how I get myself into these situations.

The path out to Boring was lovely. It’s newer than the rest of the Springwater, so it’s also in really good shape, which is nice because my bum was beginning to ache.

At the 45 mile turnaround point, I do question my rationale for completing a ride that is 60% longer than my prior ride. Then I ignore myself and keep going because I’m gonna need to refill my water bottle, right?

I arrive at the Boring Trailhead Park and stumble off my bike in need of a little stretch. I walk it out around the little bathroom hut and realize that I’m not alone. There’s a “serious cycler” on the other side of the bathrooms getting ready to ride out. I decide to stretch until he leaves, not in the mood to be passed by a fit someone that is just starting his ride.

Once he leaves, I go to the water fountain to refill my bottle before getting under way.

Broken.

Ugh…I set my sights on refilling at Gresham City Park and gingerly head out. GCP is kind of new, I think maybe it was added when the Springwater was extended, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that there’s no water fountain.

I get back on the trail. I’m beginning to resent the overt associations the Springwater Trail has with…water as my thirst gets real. I think this as I’m cycling past signs telling me that I’m in the Johnson Creek Watershed.

Water, water everywhere.

Somehow, I manage to catch my fit serious cycler as I peddle toward the next park – a baseball field – in hopes of hydration. I’m in a mid-range gear in sprint mode because my knees are beginning to complain. I decide to follow him for a bit and ratchet my effort back to avoid overtaking him.

Yes, I’m judging him while also telling myself that he’s probably still in his warm up mode.

Then I see he’s wearing dress shoes.

Chuckling – and rejudging – I think that maybe he’s a bike commuter and forgot to pack his cycling shoes. It is Monday, after all.

No, I tell myself…

A) Who lives in town and works in Boring?

B) He’s gotta be on his way home at this time of day, so he rode to work in the same shoes.

Now I’m curious.

And passing him.

I pull into the baseball field and begin cruising around for a functional water fountain.

Jelly legs.

As I’m refilling my bottle for the second time after immediately draining the first refill, fit serious cycler guy cruises past and I mentally say farewell, absolutely setting my sights on not catching him again.

I succeed!

But I do run into a couple of other curious characters on my ride back in.

The first was a motivationally fit fella out on the path in just bike shorts.

Well, spandex shorts. When he’d passed me heading toward town, I’d appreciated his bare torso and turned to appreciate the rear view after he passed. No pads in his shorts!

This time, as he passed me on his return to whatever outer region of town he called home, I wondered, “Where the hell does he put his keys?!?”

Or his emergency $5?

Or his ID?

My parents raised me well. My zippered back pocket held all three.

Sexy and dumb. Maybe I should chase him down…nah. Peddle, Xtopher.

The second character I passed on my ride back into town was resting shirtless on a bench by my 30 mile turnaround viewpoint. He made some vague hand signal as I passed by that appeared to me to be an offer of oral sex but I convinced myself was some cycler code greeting.

He should have been wearing a shirt.

After passing him, I reach down for my water bottle.

Gone.

I’m not totally surprised, because it never fit snuggly into the cradle. Then I notice the cradle, too, I’d gone. As is my bike pump.

Fuuuuuuuck!

It’s ok…I’m inside the final 15 miles.

That optimistic thought evaporates as I pass the perpetually wet spot on the trail that I always amuse myself by thinking, “Here’s the spring the trail is named for” as I pass through it.

I pull off to stretch and rest my bum for a few minutes. Shortly after I get back to my ride, Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy passes me. I think that he must have been riding pretty hard to catch up after so long just as he drops his hand and makes yet another weird, finger waggly hand gesture to me.

What the hell is this guy on about?

I’m approaching the segment of the trail called Tres Bridges because there are three bridges in relatively short succession taking riders over some industrial land, train tracks and Hwy 99. After my prior four rides this season, I’m remembering the rhythm of the bridges’ uncomfortable bumps so I can stand to avoid the ass abuse they create. I don’t need that this far into my ride.

I’m in the final ten miles.

I come off the last bridge and the shirtless guy is there, pulled off at a bench again. This time, as I pass, he laughs maniacally at me and laugh tracks me from my approach until I can’t hear him any longer.

“Oooooh”, I think, “He’s a crazy”. Ok, that tracks.

It’s Portland.

As I come out of Sellwood and get back onto the last leg of the Springwater before it becomes the Esplanade, I begin to feel…crispy. It’s now that I realize my spontaneous 50 mile ride is going to come in at a smidge over four hours.

Without sunscreen.

In a sleeveless tee.

“It won’t be that bad”, I think, considering the base tan I’ve developed on my bikes and hikes from earlier in the season.

That thought was wrong.

Oh, well…might as well get my sunburn out of the way.

Plus, now I’ve crossed a half century ride off my summer bucket list. I’m also well prepared to talk myself out of future aspirational endeavors.

And, hey…there’s always the two-day mail option to get my unemployment hearing stuff in before the weekend!

Oh, btw, my fitness tracker is convinced that I somehow burned 1300 kcals on my ride. That’s 1.3 million calories. However, since I woke up still fluffy today, I’m going to choose to believe that my fitness tracker is either broke or crazier than Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy.

BikeTown Chronicles #3

Too Soon?

Is it too early for me to be experiencing the Dog Days of Summer?

Regardless, it’s been a lazy day here at Chez Galby. So far, I’ve accomplished two things today:

First) Fed and watered the plants, which are angry about the recent Portland sun…curling leaves and droopy blossoms. Quite a protest happening on my balcony.

My plants are so passive-aggressively Portland.

Second) I made my way to Powell’s. I’d been intending to go tomorrow after the weekend crowds died off, but I read about The Samurai’s Garden on a blog I follow and was motivated to go sooner. Even though their inventory thought they had three in stock, none were locatable.

I rewarded myself with the original reason for my trip, so the swarms of people were semi-worth it.

Oh, and the menses (Chrisism) that were there.

Woof, I say.

Isn’t that picture just an OCD nightmare?

Somewhere in there, I managed to feed myself.

Chipotle.

I think I’m done eating for the remainder of my life.

I went into the weekend pretty excited and motivated. I’d been alternating walks/hikes and rides all week and was looking forward to maintaining that through the weekend. Friday was a 10 mile hike and Saturday I completed a 20 mile ride before having drinks in the afternoon with a new friend.

I went to bed excited about seeing Major Barbara tonight with a group of friends. While I was out and about today, we were able to finalize our pre-show meet up.

Show-nanigans, if you will.

Still, a fairly low key day so far when compared to what my intent was for the day. My original list included:

– Completing a mini-workout at home this morning.

– Afternoon hike.

– Dishes.

– Filing my unemployment claim.

– Perusing open jobs.

– Writing.

I got word from the Oregon Unemployment Division last week that my claim was rejected, which I expected from my employer. I wasn’t expecting it from the state itself, though, but am not surprised based on the lemon of a state employee I got to explain my situation to a couple weeks back. Nonetheless, I’ve put in my appeal and am backpedaling on some future financial plans I had been making…it’s just put me in an ambivalent funk about the whole work thing. It bothers me when inept people have jobs and I don’t.

Sadly, the lottery was no help last night.

There’s a pre-draft-notion I’m mentally kicking around about my departure from my last job. I think I’m not quite ready emotionally yet, so if you’re curious about that…just wait longer.

My laptop has also chosen this moment in time to go tits up, making the job search more challenging since I’m doing it from my phone. Writing is fine on my phone – blogging, I should clarify. I’d just started a new folder on my laptop fleshing out a book idea. I don’t think I could successfully scribble out a novel on my phone, so that’s on hold, dropping $800-1300 on a new laptop definitely is not in my immediate financial future.

I feel like I owe myself more of a blog post for the day than this in order to really consider that last point checked off my To Do for the day. I’ve been kinda burned out on writing lately, I’m up to 20 drafts again and that always erodes my motivation. But then I got some really encouraging praise in a comment on my BikeTown post and my motivation began to stir.

Maybe after this lil missive, I’ll listen to some music to recharge my mojo, knock off the few dishes, do my unemployment claim and take a peek at open jobs while my phone charges and then head out on an extended walk around the Esplanade before meeting up with Little Buddy and the gang.

Wish me luck!

Oh, gawd…the Chipotle is starting to kick.

Better really wish me luck now!

Too Soon?

Happy Anniversary ME

Today in Music History: Melissa Etheridge released her first album 30 years ago.

I am not this old.

I remember hearing about her from my Hair Guy in SoCal. Well, my aunt’s Hair Guy. He was one of those people that visually made you stand back, shared stories that made you worry about his judgment and was probably stoned whenever and wherever you saw him.

He kinda looked like Gregg Allman.

But once you got to talking to him, he was one of those guys that ended up being insanely charismatic. Punctuating his stories with “dude” and “man” in a way that drew you in and then pulled you along for the ride.

Somehow, this generated a credibility, too. So when he told me about this singer after I complimented his choice in music, I knew I had to hear the whole album. He’d effused about the weight of her music, inadvertently bringing to mind The Band and Robbie Robertson for me. Stopping himself midcut to repeat the song Bring Me Some Water and then again during the song to feel the music.

Yeah, he was that type of guy. But it worked for him because he was so genuine with his expressions.

I picked up the disc and proceeded to annoy my roommate playing it on repeat for just about ever.

Somewhere along the line, I learned she was “from” Leavenworth, Kansas. Having spent some of my formative years in Atchison, which is just an hour-ish northward, my connection to her deepened.

What’s that fauxnomenon (Chrisism) called?

Never mind.

Each new release after that disc was an event for me. Seeing her in concert was an equally rewarding experience. I’ve seen her at least a half dozen times, and that seems like a low estimate.

She’s a story teller.

If you listen to her music, the lyrics will bare that out. Still, listening to her chat up the audience between songs as she casually strums her guitar is an added layer of intimacy to the feelings she evokes with her natural raspy voice.

I saw her post-cancer tour when it hit Portland and the connection to the audience was palpable. My desire to perform is nil, but in this situation I wondered what it must be like to stand alone at the front of the stage in Portland’s Schnitzer Auditorium and feel the love and gratitude rolling in from the crowd like a damn emotional tsunami.

She gave us plenty back that night.

Just like she had in every show and album. So, happy anniversary, Melissa Etheridge. Many happy residuals…er, returns!

Happy Anniversary ME

Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

I was reminded yesterday that sometimes dating is good.

We have all heard – and probably lived- the nightmare stories of dates that go awry.  The types where you walk away from the shituation thinking, “At least I’m not that person” or even, “I’m too good for them”.

This is not one of those stories.

This is one of those dating stories that reinforces ones worth.

I know, right?  Not the blog you thought you’d find words with that kind of pep, eh?

First, an admission: DIO episode 3 is conspicuously MIA.  It happened.  Also, it happened in the usual way, a one hit wonder that ended up more along the lines of Mating Into Oblivion, so I wasn’t in any big hurry to blog another notch into my bedpost.

Look at me, all humble.

Second, episode 4 is largely the same except I walked away from the encounter appreciative instead of further embittered.

Disclaimer:  That was not an admission of my specific bitterness, I still maintain that my grumpiness is just a reasonable response to the realness of our world and that I’m secretly happy…just judicious about where I expend my happy capital.

So…Felipe.

Aaah, Felipe.

We first met a few years ago – maybe just two – when I was looking at a potential business to buy down by Portland State University.  I was wandering around the South Park Blocks, contemplating.  

We literally bumped into one another.

One thing led to another and, well…that was the first time I’d had sex in student housing in a while.  I might have been MIA myself for most of the rest of the afternoon.   I felt a little like Shirley Valentine without ever having left my own town.

Naturally, nothing happened. Me, being my charming self, said “We’re never going to see each other again after today, are we?” as we lay they chatting away the golden hours.

Not showers, Diezel.

It was a good chuckle and reminded us to make the most of our fleeting opportunity.

Of course, this being my life, my snarkiness ended up just being foreshadowing in disguise.

Flash forward to the following summer.  I spot an attractive young man while walking home through my Park Blocks – the North end version – from work.  He’s wandering without purpose, distractedly sipping one of those fancy iced teas from his reusable Starbucks cup.

I’m appreciating the guy candy and simultaneously judging his coffee shop choices.  He turns and catches me and we both recognize each other.

“Well, that was awkward”, he smiles.

“Aren’t you in the wrong Park Blocks, little boy?”, I tease in return.

“We don’t like to be called ‘boy’”, he says.

“Ouch!”

“But I wouldn’t mind being your sex slave again”, he says, locking his arm in mine.

“You never got to see my apartment, did you?  How rude of me.”

We go upstairs and I put his Starbucks cup in the fridge and open a bottle of wine.  We drink a little, shower and productively waste the rest of the day.  

This isn’t a bad ritual.

The next morning, as I’m putting off showering as long as possible, I find his Starbucks cup in my fridge, rinse it out and put it away in case he ever uses my phone number.

He hadn’t given me his.

Yesterday, he did.

Getting out of the elevator, he moved to go into my old unit.

“A few things have changed, I told him”, guiding him toward my new unit.

“Anything else change that I should know about?”

“Only the obvious”, I say, patting my belly.

“More to hold onto”, he laughs.

As we’re heading into my new bedroom, he fingers the bracelet on the doorknob that the star of DIO episode 3 left behind and comments that it doesn’t seem to be my style.

“I can’t just wait around for you to text”, I tell him.  “It’s called a leave behind, and it used to be a thing”, I tell him as I shut the door.

Later, as we’re dressing – no time to waste today, I have dinner plans – he tells me that he’s kind of surprised that I managed to show him something new again.

“Experience has to happen with age, this isn’t The Matrix”, I joke.

I’m just watching him dress and can’t help but express my awe at how well he’s maintained his physique as a student.

He shows some obvious pride and brushes it off with a quick, “I really don’t even exercise, this is just from swimming.”

Our eyes lock in a dare-stare as he awaits my comment.  Channeling my inner Lucille Bluth, I withhold.

“Well, it works.”

He tells me that I really shouldn’t be self conscious and I assure him that I’m still grieving over my retirement from running.

“It’s just been one injury after another since I turned…46?  No, it was the year before.”

“You are not that old!”

“It was 46”, I decide, “And that was several years ago.  My doctor told me ‘No more running for you.  Do something else, like swimming!’”, I tell him.

“Except I never learned how”, I admit.

He laughs and then goes there.

“I thought all you people knew how to swim!”, he laughs at me.

“Oh, did you want to take your Starbucks cup from last time with you?”

“Ouch.”

I grab the cup as he retrieves his jacket and he gives me a little kiss goodbye, “I cannot believe how old you are.  I oughta card you to make sure you aren’t telling me lies!”

As I’m heading to the shower, I smile and think, “Same time next year, Felipe.”

And I can’t help but feel improved by my casual familiarity with this young man.  His playful yet naive judgments remind me that sometimes what we perceive as our own faults aren’t even visible to others…and sometimes those judgments are just acceptance wrapped up in their own disguise.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

The New American Psycho

Surprising no one, the way we behave toward one another bothers me.  As the voice of treason, I am not silent about it…pleasing no one.  I’m not any happier about it than you are, trust me.

But you’re either a part of the solution or you’re a part of the problem, right?

I’ve been looking for and ruminating on a root cause for this shift in behavior.

What is the bogey that enabled this new sense of…blithe disregard for each other?

Was it our increasing Short Attention Span?  Were we or are we becoming too SASsy for our own good?

Fidget Spinners, for instance.  I think most of us acknowledged the idiocy of this it toy from last year.  However, did you see parents explaining to their children that this was a stupid toy and a waste of $10?  

No.  No, you didn’t see that.  Because: shut the kid up is more of a parenting agenda than reasoning with ones child or developing critical thinking skills early on by making a child articulate why they want a toy.  Hint: it’s because everyone has one.  How about just making them earn their treats anymore.  

Definitely a part of the problem…but just a symptom, not the cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using this as a tool to soothe a child or adult that pings hard enough on the autism scale that they can actually count the spins.  But face it, that wasn’t the target customer here.

But adults – parents included – have their own fidget spinner:  Pop Culture.

How about that Hozier guy?  Remember him, the Take Me to Church guy?  Good for him, being the “it” artist in 2014/15, replaced midway through ’15 and well into 2016 by Ed Sheeran.  

Poor Hozier…sold some records and then what?  Our collective OCD saw something else shiny and new to distract us.

Poor Ed, too.  Stealing the pop culture crown – only to learn that pop culture is basically a wood chipper when the mob learns you’re a great singer with a mild personality and not the Kardashian-monster-type personality we’ve come to expect of our pop icons.  All this from a guest turn on Game of Thrones, no less…speaking of pop culture run amok.  I don’t watch, but The Fox does and I spent the better part of two years waiting for the GoT shoe to drop whenever I was with him.  

Not just in movies or TV shows we watch or discuss.  The GoT obsession followed us to our local wine bar where somehow we learned that the co-owner and Som extraordinaire dated Jon Snow when she lived in LA.

But it’s not pop culture, again…that’s still just a symptom, methinks.

Ten-ish years ago, a friend of mine said this about relationships:  Relationships happen in the moment – which I believe.  However, he went on to say that you meet someone and hang out and hook up then never leave or nothing happens.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I’ve definitely experienced the back half of that assertion, a lot.  But the first part sounds so easy.  And not in a slut shaming kind of way.  The hooking up immediately part is pretty much The Gay Way, but the never leaving part sounds more like a relationship of comfort for a 20-something. I think that is sweet and helpful for providing security while one finds themselves and that these relationships can create some great gay adults – talk about an oxymoron, emphasis: moron – but what about the folks that doesn’t happen for?

Lol.  Ed Sheeran just came on the radio at my coffee shop.

Eventually, I think these people become institutionalized by the hook up and get used to nothing happening after.  They forget their hopes and expectations of more.

Wait for it

Enter asocial media.  The dreaded dating app.  By our gay 30s, we’ve been bred – hush, Diezel – to expect less.  And we’re Americans, so we want as much of whatever we can get as we can get.

Basically, we’re all a bunch of whores self medicating our loneliness with meaningless sex.

But that’s not good enough.  We’re still gay, so we’ve got to make it fabulous and then, beyond reason, this hook up culture of ours becomes aspirational.

JFC.  

Now straight people have hook up apps.  Whoopee!  Everyone can now experience a life of nothing happening.

Great, deep, connective virtual conversations with the one.  The one that you never end up meeting in real life.

Or the one that scratches your libidic – warning: that word has high Chrisism potential – itch and then you never end up hearing from them again.  

These realities happen over and over again and more than people finding reward from this cycle, I hear people giving up.  Returning to a focus on the friends that have been there time and again after either scenario.  That becomes their focus, and it’s not a bad one.  It’s just that – as a too longtime frequenter of bars and clubs…it’s their sole focus.  People are with their friends and they aren’t open to outsiders breaking in.

So…what’s the right balance?  I’d seriously like to know, because suddenly, the only thing happening in the moment is sex with no expectations.  We are becoming hopeless, as hopeless as any other addicts:  either we get our fix and that’s fine, or we go on the wagon and tell everyone about it in an innocently judgy-slash-superior fashion. 

I blame Vegans for that behavior taking hold in American discourse.

While I think this is another symptom of the problem, I think those that break the cycle and change their behavior bring us closer to the cure.

Enter my early morning reading today.  I read this article about a woman who thought she was confronting a Neo-Nazi in a restaurant I’d challenge a Neo-Nazi could scarcely afford.

She wasn’t.

She just didn’t know what the word Luftwaffe actually meant, which was what our alleged Neo-Nazi’s tee shirt was raping her snowflakey eyes with.  Jumping to conclusions – assuming the worst, if you will – she said something.  

Now, im one for saying something.  Kudos for that.  It’s what happened after that leaves her short in my ledger.

As this was happening, the husband of the owner was doing some Snopes-worthy googling and learned that while this is associated to Hitler’s Air Force, the term literally only means “Air Force”.

Not Jew Bombers.

Not Air Hitler.

Just…Air Force.

End of story.

He goes out to soothe the still unfolding shituation, barely getting a couple of words in before our erstwhile Nazi hunter storms out of the restaurant and takes to social media to decry the unfair treatment of our self-appointed hero, being thrown out of Katchka, and all.

Which was barely partly true.

There was a dude there in a tee shirt with a German word on it.

The rest is dramatic hyperbole.

But maybe this isn’t exactly the psychotic behavior that’s been bugging me so much as it is just telling of our decreasing national character.  Maybe it’s just another symptom of the problem that is eluding my pointing finger.

But then, no.  

I check myself by asking, what if we applied character to all of these situations above?

Parents being responsible and shaping their children into good humans instead of placating them and essentially creating a race of entitlement instead of a generation that understands the cause and effect of earning things for oneself.  Bonus points if they also teach them to think critically for themselves instead of simply following the crowd of consumers.

Adults taking that same critical thinking to analyze their in-the-moment self gratuitous acts and determine what the potential ripple effects could be before acting: swiping left or jumping into bed with a stranger.  

“Will this make me a better person?” – No One on Grindr, Ever.

How about our Katchka Failed Hero?  What if Deavon Snoke has stuck around, I posited this morning at coffee.

The Fox – probably spot on – asserted that she’d have endured furtive glances and whispers of other diners for the rest of her meal,

However, I challenge, what if she’d stay-a culpa-ed and bought our Neo-Not-zi dessert or a shot of Katchka’s much lauded horseradish infused vodka by way of apology?

She’d have demonstrated courage and character.  That’s what.

Alas, the only courage she possessed was publicly shaming what turned out to be an innocent person, then cut and ran to play victim on social media, likely damaging the restaurant in the process of showing up her ego.  In doing so, she showed herself to be more bully than hero, a designation that requires no character.

That’s the new American psycho, in my opinion…that right there.  Fuck everyone, so long as we look good.

Katchka by the way – the restaurant from this morning’s readings means “duck” in Ukrainian.  The restaurant’s owner never wanted to forget the word that saved her grandmother’s life.  In fleeing her home in Belarus as the German Exterminators stormed her hometown, she was stoped by a soldier.  She claimed to be returning home to Ukraine and definitively not a Jew. The soldier was skeptical but challenged her with a random test, what is the Ukrainian word for duck?

Luckily, it happened to be the same word in both languages, katchka…and life and death literally became a matter of a trivial coincidence.

The New American Psycho