It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

I dunno, maybe it’s more of a torpor…but I couldn’t come up with anything to play off of that, so here we are, stuck with a lane riff off of “It’s kind of a funny story”.

A quick backstory:

My first “good” boyfriend died back in…late ‘96 – Jesus, he’s been dead nearly 25 years, that’ll take some time to absorb – anyway, we were separated by more than half a country by then. It’d probably been a good four years since our relationship had ended, too, which was a pretty good percentage of my 28 years.

Naturally, having a dream about him was unusual at that point. Nothing compared to the actual dream., though!

It was one of those moments where you know you’re just about to drift off, then suddenly there he was, floating near the ceiling of my bedroom. He’s gesturing toward me, as if to get me to somehow move closer to him, and I’m all, “Sorry, buddy…me no floaty” without registering that it’s weird that he could and was. Then he starts telling me to come with him, but without telling me where he was off to. Naturally, I was all, “Nah, I gotta, like…work in the morning”.

It was the next evening that a friend called to tell me he’d died. I knew why he was calling the second I heard his voice and preemptively announced the reason.

One of the more surreal moments in my life – for sure – because who am I kidding, saying that was a dream?

Present Day:

It happened again a couple nights ago. I can’t tell you who it was beckoning to me. I just remember the disembodied, plaintive invitation. So far, no news on any deaths in my present or past circle of friends and intimates. As far as I know, I never met Charlie Watts, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him, despite the timing.

What struck me this time was my response.

What can I say, it’s been a rough couple weeks.

Really, though…a “Meh, why not?” attitude from a seemingly non-corporeal invitation? It’s a wonder I haven’t been abducted by now.

What bugs me isn’t the potential surprise of waking up dead the next day. No…it’s the resignation of the situation.

I joke often about the randomness of death. How an accident or sudden illness can take any one of us unexpectedly. Usually, I’m pretty blithe about it with some response along the lines of, “I don’t really have any plans, so…”

But this felt different. Like if ghost grandma showed up one night and offered her hand, I’d just toddle off alongside her into the great unknown.

Like I said, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Making headway (or not, as the recent results show) on my condo savings goal and trying to wreckoncile – Chrisism – the Black Sheep Bro situation (and failing) are taking a cumulative toll on me. But…I’m actively counting the number of days I consecutively leave the house now, so I take that as a good sign that I’m coming out of this torpor or ennui or tailspin or whatever you want to call it.

Maybe if the voice comes back anytime soon, I’ll send Myrtle off with it.

It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

So Hungry!

I don’t know what it is, metabolism or simply a mental fixation, but when I eat before bed I usually wake up famished!

For instance…right now!

I’ve been up since 630, too. Sidebar: That’s another fun little game my body enjoys. “Oh, you’re going to bed at 230? Let’s just set that internal alarm for about four hours, then…”

Anyway, I started out thinking I’d just read a bit and then get up to workout. One of those things happened before I ran up against a time wall – I have the building’s annual fire system testing beginning at 930 that I needed to be ready for. I’m waiting for that right now. It starts in ten minutes, so I’m sure they’ll be here right around my 1100 phone interview.

Meanwhile, I’ll just quietly starve to death.

I could message my HOA Board President and tell him I’m leaving my unit unlocked to “run an errand”. That would be fine with him. But I’m still a little traumatized by the $30 sandwich I had for lunch yesterday.

No, it wasn’t a food delivery surcharge surprise. It was just me being so classically…me.

And it all started so innocently. I’d been chuckling during my last visit about my neighborhood sandwich shop’s tendency to run out of bread, resulting in them posting a “Sold Out” sign while also remaining open. Turns out the reason for that is online orders. The associate making my sammie recommended I try it. She told me that that was why they stayed open, people picking up orders they scheduled for later pick up times.

So I tried it.

I walked in at 115 and there it was, sitting there ready to jump in my belly. Of course, since this is me, I had special instructions for my picky ass eater self…

I find “special instructions” to be a great place to showcase my sense of humor. Also, I’m a native Portlander, meaning that I hate to be a bother…so making it funny makes it seem less like I’m ordering these folks around with my demands.

Other faves for my mustard tastes include “Make it like a you’re Jackson Pollack” and “Give me Rorschach level mustard, please”. It’s a far better abuse of the open fields in their ordering platform than my other thus-far-resisted temptation: the name field. Even though I’ve resisted the impulse, I still have the thought every time I use the in-store ordering kiosk, “What name shall I have them call out when my sando is ready?” Mostly I consider “Baby” or “Daddy”, but this is generally only when the cute guy is working the counter. No doubt my life would be much enhanced by the presence of an attractive man saying, “Baby, your sandwich is ready”. Alas.

The sandwich turned out pretty well. The crusty bread was a little soggier than usual, suggesting it had sat a little while. The risks one runs when demanding copious condiment application.

Don’t you worry…that mustard found its way onto my bread.

But how does using the shop’s online ordering system and picking my $12 order up equate to a $30 sandwich?

Hyperbole, obviously.

You see, I usually pick up a drink while I’m there and then eat at the picnic tables located on the next block of park. It started out as a kombucha, but evolved to a maté from the same company that is rather tasty. It’s also usually accompanied by a warning about the intensity of the drink from the staff. I guess it packs the same wallop as about three to four cups of coffee.

I highly recommend it…assuming you can find it outside of Oregon.

Anyway, they were sold out of it yesterday when I ordered. Thanks to a past unpleasant experience at the Brodega across the side street from me – I’d walked in to get a bubble water after an earlier venture and the cashier tried to charge me for the maté since they sell it, thank gawd I had my receipt! – I knew that they carried it. In an unusual twist, the Brodega sells it for the same price. Usually, their prices are far more dear.

So, yeah…I pop in on the way to the sando shop for my $3.50 maté. Then I remember they sell these chips that I’ve absolutely loved since I had a functioning metabolism was in my early 20s. They are actually quite hard to find, so I treat myself every now and again.

So tasty. And this lil Brodega is smart! They put the queue for the registers in the aisle that has chips and chocolate in it. Knowing that, I’d accepted my fate and embraced that $2.50 temptation.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the little end cap of local cookies I stood next to as I waited for the next open register.

It wasn’t until I was on my way home – this much food for lunch mandates shame eating at home versus enjoying a temperate afternoon in the park – that I wondered why my grocery store total had been $16. I’ve bought the chips and drink often enough to know that they came to about $6 together. That means that my bag of five cookies was $10!

Fhat the wuck?!?

I’m sure you’ve corrected my use of the word Brodega for the corner grocery to the correct bodega, but I prefer my portmanteau of “Bro” and “bodega” to reflect the overpriced nature of this little neighborhood market. Still, though…$10 for five cookies?!? C’mon.

That’s what I get for being weak, I guess.

Yet here I sit, absolutely famished – and now with bonus klaxons blaring – because after my big lunch, I had a late night snack of cheese & crackers – and wine, natch – and finished off my cookies at the same time. I went to bed full, woke up absolutely starving.

Now that the alarm test has finished on my floor, I can decide if I want to go get something for breakfast before my interview or wait until after. Seems like risking low blood sugar and a hangry old Xtopher might not be the optimal way to show up to an interview, so I’ll likely eat. But I’m still wearing shorts to it!

So Hungry!

Pro*Chris*tination

You know the old saying, right?

Hard work pays off in the future…procrastination pays off today!

Well, in my universe, occasionally there’s a psychotic eclipse type thing. Then both parts are true!

Case in point: I’ve needed new wiper blades since our February snow storm. Not much to bitch about, considering Texas. Heck, even my 99 year old grandfather was alone and without electricity just across town for three days! (Yes, dad insisted he go to a hotel, but since my grandfather isn’t about to take orders from some punk 75 year old…🤷🏽‍♂️)

So, yeah. My wiper blades getting gouged by ice and leaving streaks smack dab in my field of vision didn’t really merit a mention. I checked our local big box grocery for replacements, but it was $30 for the pair! After converting that from dollars to beers, I walked away.

Then I found myself at an oil change and figured I might as well get it done. They were out.

Fine!

But every time it sprinkled, there was a visual reminder of my overdue task. Usually accompanied by an audible screech from the blades skipping across the windshield.

Luckily – for me not future generations – this past April brought not showers as we learnt in nursery rhymes as children. As a matter of fact, Portland’s April was the driest on record…by one-third. We had only a half inch of rain versus the prior low record of three quarters of an inch.

No, that isn’t an invitation to book travel to PDX. You keep your germs local.

May was pretty much the same story. Low, but not a record low like April.

Until this week.

Frankly, I was happy to see rain in the forecast. At the same time, I figured I oughta get my act together, butch it up and get the deed done.

For safety.

I made the Silver Fox – yes, he finally put in a leisurely visit! – take me when we went to coffee the other day. Lo’ and behold…

On sale, you say?

40% off, no less?!?

Don’t get too excited, though. They are proving tougher than my fingertips and are still awaiting installation from the front passenger footwell.

Tomorrow’s another day, Slugger.

Next up, returning Angela to her chancellor-esque stature from the Lisa Left Eye Lopez situation some ne’er do well left her in a few weeks back.

It’s tough to see, but scroll down. After the curious incident of the fog light poking out of the bumper, The Fox ceded his parking spot to me until his return to city slickering. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather it was sooner than later, but poor Angela! Just look what those philistines did to her!

Buncha bastards. Luckily, I’ve got friends like the Silver Fox to provide refuge and Diezel, who looks at it and says, “I can fix that” like the “in my sleep” doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Nor does the “you limp wristed ninny”.

Those are good friends to have in your corner.

Pro*Chris*tination

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

…say it with me, people.

Americans.

So, Disney made headlines again recently. Apparently, there’s controversy over the Snow White ride.

Disney just revamped the ride, including changing the end of the ride from the violent death of the Queen. Now it ends with a non-violent kiss from Prince Charming to break the spell that cast Snow White into an enchanted slumber.

The issue? Well, for all you tl;dr folks, there are group(s) complaining about the kiss being non-consensual.

Ok, a) wow…b) fine, sleep forever, bitch – kids gotta learn that you don’t always get what you want in life, like to be in control of your own consciousness; and c) screw feminism – because remember that this was a Queen and a witch that cast this spell on a younger, prettier woman.

So much for the sisterhood.

I’m all for consent.

Also, all in on feminism…for the wreckord. Chrisism.

But I’m also all in and for active parenting and accountability.

And that’s where this Stupid American Shark Jumping argument and I part ways.

I don’t know why I let myself be continually surprised by new achievements in unaccountability by a group whose credits include redefining the world “literally” so that we no longer have a word in the English language that literally means “literally”…but here we are. Why should I be surprised that their next trick is conflating “romance” and “rape”?

A brief timeline:

1937 – Snow White is released

1940s-60s – assorted examples of men and boys being dicks to women and girls and getting in trouble for their efforts. Think any Katherine Hepburn movie or representation in TV/movies/comics of a schoolboy dipping a girl’s ponytail into an inkwell before getting into trouble.

1990s-2000s – teachers lose the secret war parents have been waging against them, effectively turning schools into daycare facilities. Even worse, when a teacher needs a confab about a problem child with the parent(s), the parents approach the meeting more with an attitude of “I’m very busy” or “how dare you accuse my child of wrongdoing”, leading to…

2015 – Brock Turner rapes an unconscious woman at a party, he is convicted of three counts of rape and assault and is sentenced to six months in prison. He serves three months. Three.

2021 – Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo pull the mask off the problem and it’s…Disney. Who knew it was Disney’s fault the entire time.

Not shitty parenting.

Not a lack of empathy toward others.

Not selfishness.

Fucking Snow White was the problem the whole time. Anyone see that coming? Better yet, anyone follow that logic train right off its rails? Because, if you did…you probably won’t be happy reading this blog.

In completely unrelated news, virtual reality devices are slated to be the it gift – once again – this holiday season. Because instead of teaching our children about respecting others, we’re gonna give them a device to provide them a safe space to misbehave so no real people get hurt.

This fucking country.

How about this: let’s take a page out of the CSNY playbook and Teach Your Children Well!

Let’s go back to teaching consequences for one’s actions, cause and effect, critical thinking and all those high-minded concepts about living in a society. Let’s limit the amount of time kids spend playing video games where blowing shit up and killing people is the path to victory. All that seems to produce is an adult culture that can’t articulate offense or apologize for transgressions like decent human beings.

Ok, I don’t know what I did with the pic where the book was titled “The Little Engine That Literally Can’t Even”, so here’s your substitute.

There’s an answer for what’s wrong with American Culture. The problem is…good people are letting shit people get away with wagging the dog on this issue.

Why? Probably because we’ve let the shit people linger too long under the delusion that willfully being an idiot is ok in America. Compounding that misjudgment is the reality that now these same idiots are very well armed.

Greeeaaaaat…and people wonder why I’m grumpy.

Here, have some homework: over the next week, try respectfully calling out a poor behavior you witness. Let me know how that <cough, cough> cancel culture <cough, cough> – woo, excuse me! – goes for you.

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

Groceries With Galby

Some have infamously noted that I possess the palate of a seven year old.

I might say I’m simply a victim of my own lack of planning, spontaneity and the resulting impatience that the hunger those qualities engender.

Let’s ease you into this…

Gross Out:

Because I don’t know when I shop on Tuesday what I’m going to want on Friday, I’ve learned to just shop more frequently. Odds are, if it sounds good Tuesday, I’ll probably still have a taste for it Wednesday. No guarantees beyond that.

Therefore, I’ll shop Grocery Outlet for staples like wine shelf stable pantry items. That way, they are there when I have a hangry moment and don’t have time to spare to run to Freddy’s, Safeway or the lil Brodega across the street.

Nonetheless, since being urged to eat more veggies and fiber, I’ve been making an effort to have a salad several times a week. Gross Out has the same salad kits as the big chains, usually for a buck less (we’re talking $3 versus $4 at the chains), so I’ll pick up three or four when I pop in for wine other supplies.

The other day, though, I went specifically to grab a couple bottles of wine Caesar salad kits to go with my pizza leftovers from Wednesday night. I’d gotten a Caesar with the pizza, but ate it all, worried that the concoction wouldn’t age well once the dressing was on…and I’m a weird one with leftovers, so just accept that was my logic and be happy I’m eating salad.

I pop back to produce, breaking the Gross Out rule of hitting every aisle so you don’t miss a deal, avoiding the wine department temptation and intent on my mission.

Plus, it was past Myrtle’s dinner time.

When I hit the produce corner, I see that I’ve also hit the jackpot. There are several “Reduced For Quick Sale” options. But, hey…I made a point of stopping here to save a literal buck, so I decided I could do a chop salad instead on a Caesar and save another literal buck.

Right?

Save $2 on two salads: good

Save $4 on two salads: great!

I’m beating feet back up front and my inner seven year old palate demon steers me down the pasta aisle.

Maybe there’s Mac & Cheeeeese!

Ugh.

Fine.

Luckily, the Velveeta Deluxe that was 2/$1 were long gone, which made me sad but happy. A good deal is a good deal, but I’m not paying for my eventual coronary by saving $4.49 on a box of food I shouldn’t be eating anyway…Plus, I still had a dollar’s worth at home. Plus-plus a box of some strange broccoli added version that I’d picked up last time…

Proud of my situationally forced ability to resist temptation, I remained on mission. Until

Look, I’m just a man with a child’s tastes, ok? I haven’t had Velveeta in probably 20 years. And it’s not like I’m going to eat this like a college kid would – by peeling it like a banana and going to town.

I’m getting some damn crackers and a good bottle of wine. Because adults compensate.

Speaking of college kids…

GoPuff:

These bastards.

They are my new Stoner Cafe.

And they most certainly have my number are out to get me.

Usually I can ignore their marketing emails. Generally, they are either of the “redeem points and save” variety or the “Ben & Jerry’s BOGO” variety.

Admittedly, that last type is harder to ignore.

But then I saw one that was too intriguing to resist.

Something like, “Try Something New For A Nickel”. Let’s be honest, I think we can all agree that my seven year old palate is not adventurous. But for a nickel, I could explore.

Especially when the “something new” ends up being spiked seltzers! I’m not sure how they got this promotion past the iron fisted OLCC, but I jumped on $.20 worth of a new seltzer called Basic. The flavors sounded…safe fine.

Not wanting to look like a cheapskate, I figured I should order something else. Since it was right there in my “Buy It Again”, I added a 12-pack of White Claw.

New problem: now I just look like a booze hound.

So I added in some energy drinks. Since they didn’t have my go-to brand/flavors in stock, I – wait for it – tried a new drink called G.O.A.T.

I could live with the delivery person assuming I was on a liquid diet.

Now, a Pro-Tip: when putting away your “groceries” do not put energy drinks between alcoholic beverages.

That was a close fucking call this morning.

So, despite the opening assertion, I’d dare say that I’ve somehow refined this seven year old palate that I seemingly possess.

Crackers and wine with my cheap cheese?

Boutique spiked seltzers and energy drinks?

I should have a Pinterest page for my culinary embarrassments…

Groceries With Galby

Betrayal!

…and other petty nuisances.

Just thought I’d pop by and demonstrate my innate – and inane – ability to offend pretty much everyone.

Effortlessly and equally, because I’m all about equal opportunity. Or aboot for my fine amis Canadiens.

See?

Anyhoo…or anyhooha in this instance, I’ve already seen one vagina today. From behind, no less.

I’m not bragging. Not by any means. But that is basically one whole vagina more than my daily average. I would barely have to round up to drop the qualifier on that…whatever opposite form of “brag” would work here.

My rolling 12 month cumulative total is two. Well, three – if you count Sharon’s moneyshot in Basic Instinct.

Which was far more palatable than my in real life misfortunes.

Somehow, these real life occurrences seem to happen while I’m driving. If this trend keeps going, I may consider quitting. Or running for public office and doing something about/aboot Portland’s homeless and mental health crises. I mean, surrealiously, if Matt Gaetz can get elected…

The first occurrence was last Fall and I was driving up SE 7th where it turns and becomes Sandy. I saw a woman waiting to cross the street. As I slowed to let her cross, I had an abortive thought about why women wear skin toned leggings.

Oh, Gawd…those aren’t leggings!

…and I decided to punch it instead of letting her cross.

Back to today, it wasn’t yet noon and I’d decided that I needed a caffeine hit. Because I’ve been exercising on the reg and pulled two driving shifts yesterday that were long enough that the app cut me off, I decided to be a lazy pants and drive.

I’m undecided on whether that was a blessing or not. Pretty sure it had to be a universal kindness for my old, gay eyes since if I’d walked, I’d have taken the same route and not had the ability to floor it when I registered what was happening.

Suffice to say, even a homeless person should have the <ahem> “wear with all” to decide to change anywhere but a parking space. I mean, she was one block over from the Park Blocks, where there were plenty of hundreds of years old trees to provide at least some privacy.

But, here she was, shielding her…modesty? Sure, we’ll call it modesty, by turning away from traffic while she changed. Bending at the waist, mind you, so I got the full “fur diaper” experience, as my beloathed Black Sheep Bro used to refer to his lovelier-than-he-deserved girlfriend’s preferred natural state.

For my gay ass – careening away from this visage at, frankly, rather unsafe speeds for a surface street – I couldn’t imagine how society’s misogynistically imposed feminine grooming norms would have improved this experience.

At. All.

Now, to balance my offense…with a more personal touch, no less:

I realized this week – on successive days – that I have two pair of undies that have reached a level of wear that I like to call “blown out”. I’m honestly afraid to shower snd dress today, lest this become a three day streak. For the unfamiliar, I usually refer to a ripped crotch seam as a blow out.

And, let’s all take a moment to admit that – unless it’s happening to you – the sound of a crotch seam ripping is a rather soothing ASMR- type experience.

Because I’m me, and because my mind is an amusing sort of defective, I view these two instances differently:

The Betrayal

My panda print briefs are ripping at the waistband. A particularly heinous betrayal – despite the reality that I bought these a couple pant sizes ago.

Hey, I’m working on it, ok?

The tear is in a place that makes it too easy to make the shituation worse, too. My damn finger finds that hole every time I wear them and I can feel it getting bigger.

For my mental health, I should probably throw them in the trash instead of the laundry, but: pandas!

On the other hand…

The Contorted Flattery

The other pair of undies that have blown out are a pair of…boxer briefs? I dunno. There’s no real inseam to speak of, as you’d find on an actual pair of boxers. But the style is definitely an homage to 70s era gym shorts. Well, except the backside is a tasteful mesh.

No, I’m not a pole dancer.

And I’ll have nothing to do with tasteful on this blog post, damnit!

The blow out on this pair is on the “pouch”. Ok, that was semi-tasteful. Apologies.

Once again, these undies are two pant sizes old, but I’m not letting that reality get in my way. Obviously, Big Ed and The Twins are simply too much for this pair of pants to contain.

Again, I should toss these. But since they are cute and no one sees them but me, you know I’ll wear them in a fit of “why I’m single” defiance until one of The Twins fully escapes.

You. Are. Welcome.

Betrayal!

Monstrous Mash

You ever have a moment where you feel like you should say something, but you just don’t feel like you have anything to say?

No?

Just moi?

Blogger problems, I guess.

Anyway, with nothing really to say in particular, I am undaunted. I also have this ginormous glass of wine to keep me company

So…yeah.

And other than a productive weekend for mine truly, I wasn’t celebrating anything. I just like to distress my doctor whenever he asks how my diet it.

I’ll be adding cheesecake to the lineup before this bottle goes into the recycler.

Wondering why I underlined that passage about celebrating? Because I wasn’t until I opened up my WordPress app to tap out this…whatever it becomes. I had a push notification, so I clicky-clicked it to see what was up

…which is really just code for WordPress telling me my annual domain hosting fees are due again.

Mmm. That’s tasty wine.

A blog buddy of mine – who I’d love to link to, but she has two blogs (one public and the other anonymous) and I don’t want to fuck that up for her – does this weekly recap she calls a Chex Mix post, I generally find that slice of life writing fun to read and hers are quick snd easy reads.

So, given my nothing-to-talk-about-ness I thought I’d try something in that style. Of course, I’m a tad verbose, so what she typically accomplishes in a few hundred words will probably run upwards of 2k knowing me.

Buckle up.

Seriously, you’ve been warned.

Writing

A while back I lamented that my writing mojo had mogone and I hadn’t done any work on my work-in-progress novels since last April when I completed a first draft of what I hoped to be the third installment of my No One Of Consequence series. After that admission, I tried to jump start my writerly vibe with daily entries for a week.

The end result seemed to be that I was at least back on the blogging bandwagon. That’s not nothing.

But it don’t pay the bills.

Not that the $20 or so that I rake in from book royalties each month puts much of a dent in my bills. But it usually covers my Natural Gas bill.

By the way, when I say “rake”, I meant one I found in my junk drawer from a desk top Zen Garden I don’t have any more…

I floated the notion back then that I didn’t have a writing spot at home, and that’s why it was hard to get motivated to write at home. Usually, I decamped to the corner cafe for a couple hours several mornings a week to get my productivity juices flowing.

Anyway…after a particularly profitable evening of “socially distanced” drinking a couple weeks back – read that as: I sat at a video lottery machine by myself and swilled beer – I was feeling a little flush and decided to shop around for a desk.

Notice at the top where you can barely make out that it says “redeemable at lottery offices”…yeah, bars typically only cash out winning tickets up to around a grand. So the next day, I drove down to Salem to pick up my winnings.

But due to the pandemic, the offices are closed snd I just had to drop my ticket snd claim form into a drop box. I’m still waiting for that lil check to arrive.

Feeling…unfulfilled after that experience, I decided to treat myself to a few beers. And since no one likes me we’re still socially distanced drinking, I went to another of my regular dive haunts.

Lighting doesn’t strike twice, so I figured I would give Kelly’s a break from my shenaniganery and hit Yur’s.

Too busy.

I decided on Marathon Taverna, which is on Burnside and 18th, so pretty much the farthest edge of my “a good stumble” roaming habitat.

Plus, neither Yur’s nor Marathon have Pallet Jack, so being further away that Kelly’s really works against them. The fine video lottery machines at Marathon seemed interested in making amends, though.

Like, really interested in making amends…

And I kept on winning. I felt bad after about my third trip to the bar to cash out, so I actually switched machines…my lightning strike logic and all.

By the time I left – three beers in – I figured I’d easily pulled $2500 out of the bar. At one point, the waitress told me she’d called the owner to come replenish her kitty.

Don’t get my wrong, I was tipping her well, at one point I left a $150 winning ticket as a tip for my beer instead of my pandemic normal $5 per beer tip.

I guess karma was pleased with my attitude of gratitude.

On my was home, I stumbled up a couple blocks and made three $500 deposits at my bank’s ATM. I woke up the next morning with $350 still on me, which felt nice. I was also strangely proud that that meant I’d payed over $500 back into the machines, too, according to my mental math.

Until last week…when I found $1000 I wasn’t expecting in a coat pocket. I’m not 100% sure that was a leftover from this particular night, but I can’t really think of where else it could possibly have come from.

Loathe as I am to admit my math skills may not be up to snuff after three beers, that is.

Maybe it was dad.

He can be sneaky. My family is quasi-obsessed with making sure we have “walking around” money. And the last few times he’s asked, I’ve proudly assured him my boat was afloat. A pleasant departure from earlier inquiries during my unintentional semi-retirement where the confidence of my responses was more like, “Sure. I’m ok…”

Still, I could see him getting the money in my pocket without my knowing, but not him getting the zipper up.

Blackout Mysteries.

Short story, long? Here’s the desk I ordered

Nice and simple, should be here by Wednesday.

I don’t know why I just said that. Now there’s a potential accountability expectation from you all.

<grimace emoji>

Homework

I have a small…apartment. When I moved back down to Portland from Seattle in 2015, I kept my condo up there and AirBNBed it for about 18 months. Meaning…that once I finally sold that place, I had two homes worth of furniture to fit into one 700 square foot unit.

First World problems.

I divested myself of several odd accessory furnishings at the time, but have since just dealt with the excess.

One big difference between my homes in the two cities is that my Seattle bedroom was huge.

Like, really big.

It was like a suite. I had a king sized bed (now gone), an eight drawer dresser, matching nightstand, a bench (also gone now) and a corner chair that used to belong to my grandmother.

To highlight the Portland home’s less-than-palatial bedroom, I know sleep in a queen sized bed, which is fine. But there’s not enough room in my bedroom for my dresser! I use it as a TV console in the living room…not that the clothes in most of the drawers fit me anymore.

Where is that cheesecake?!?

My unused mountain bike sits up against my kitchen bar because my utility room is too cramped to hold it and still be usually as a laundry room.

I mention this because creating a writing area by adding a desk was basically Furniture Thunderdome.

Something had to go.

Given that I eat in front of the TV, my pub table was the likeliest candidate. Plus, it was also the most reasonable position for a writing space.

I’d gotten this in about 2007 in Seattle after moving into my permanent Seattle residence. I wasn’t entirely sure that a 14 year old pub table would sell, but gave it the really old college try.

Girding my grumpy old man loins, I waded into the pool of CraigsList fuckery. Y’know, where you list something for sale and get responses like, “Can you hold that until I get out of prison?” or “Would you be willing to accept 20% of your listed price?”

That type of crap.

After a few hours and not even a pain in the ass response, I debated lowering my price from $75 to $50. Then I got a response. He wanted to look at it this morning and didn’t see why he wouldn’t take it home with him today.

No muss, no fuss.

Of course, Portland had my back to ensure shit got weird.

When I went down to get him, I opened the door…no one was waiting. I look around the column, homeless man standing there in what would be tighty whities on someone 50 lbs heavier than him.

And he was yelling at his shirt. To his credit, though, he seemed to only be changing clothes versus wandering around in a fat man’s underwear.

That was when I noticed a guy squatting down on the other side of the column, smoking crack. As glad as I was that my buyer wasn’t just showing up in underwear for this transaction, I hoped there was a third guy somewhere nearby.

My phone buzzed. It was the guy, boldly hiding out in his – wait for it – Subaru on the corner. I scared the guys down the block and my Subaru driving Vantucky neighbor came in.

And bought the damn thing, just like he said he would. No dickering, no hemming or hawing…he even had exact change.

You’re not from around here, are you?

Remember what I said about lighting not striking twice in the same spot?

Yeah, me, too.

Still, I was also still remembering living with too much or out of scale furniture for the last six years, well, four – I should my condo in 2017. That’s when shit got crowded.

That memory is far more ingrained than a gambling (for entertainment purposes only!) winning streak a couple weeks back.

Since I had some space, I figured I would do a little front room gerrymandering to see how to fit my writing desk into the equation. I moved my couch off the wall opposite the TV and positioned it facing the balcony. That meant the chair needed to go into the corner by the balcony doors…which I liked overall.

It even left a nice wide walkway between the living room and kitchen bar. I’d ordered a wall bracket for my bike, so it can stand against the wall on its rear tire, which I’d hoped my allow me to put my console table or desk behind the couch. The problem was, though, that my coffee table and side table were…redundant in my small living room.

So, I put ’em on CraigsList and two hours later was loading them into a Prius. Now, I could push my couch in almost a foot without my space feeling crowded.

Plus, I got to go buy a new coffee table – which I kind of love.

The hairpin legs make the space feel so much more open than my old side by side bases for the glass top coffee table I divested myself of a few hours earlier. My only regret, though, was not finding a matching coffee and sofa table. I’d wanted to use the sofa table as a TV stand and move my dresser back to the “blue wall” where my console table is presently.

Sadly, just like my console table, the matched sets I found while shopping today were about a foot too small for my TV. Well, there was one…but it was $700 for just the sofa table.

No, thank you. This fool wants to hold onto some of his lottery winnings. Or at least have some left over as seed money for my next socially distanced drinking outing.

The Green Loop

I know…you’re all dying to know how the three-quarter Wrong of Way intersection was resolved. Well, maybe just the Silver Fox.

Well, the other day, I saw a city worker carrying a stop sign on Flanders, heading toward the intersection in question on 9th! Mentally declaring victory, I went inside and, I dunno…opened a bottle of wine?

Seems like a safe bet.

The next day, I saw this as I was coming down 9th, preparing to turn onto Flanders for my preferred parking space.

Say what, now?

Cross Traffic Does Not Stop

Surrealiously.

After all that – at least three different days of dickering with signs, they’d finally put in the missing stop sign at the four-way intersection…and then removed the original two signs from when it was a two-way stop.

I can’t believe that I can’t get a job and whoever is running this shit show is getting paid with my tax dollars.

This should have taken a couple of “road closed” signs and an afternoon to move the existing signs 90 degrees. But, no…this is Portland, we had to make it weird.

Well, whoever had that bright idea needs to know that “weird” and “dysfunctional” are not synonyms.

They also, as of today, have yet to sandblast the white stop lines off of the new through traffic lanes, too.

Adding insult to civil injury, they removed the stop sign I used to park behind and moved it 90 degrees so that Flanders has right of way all the way down my immediate three block stretch of road. Not that big a deal, really, since the idiots going down my street usually yielded their right of way at Flanders by stopping on Park to let people who were required to stop for cross traffic…cross traffic.

Ugh.

Is that enough of a download to constitute a mash?

Nailed it…that’s 2300-plus words. But in a breath of fresh airness, only a minority of them were typed in a rant tone of voice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a refill and some cheesecake!

Monstrous Mash

The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

Singledom vs. The Aging Brain

I’m no hoarder, let’s get that <ahem> straight from the get-go. So last year when everyone else was buying a garageful of crapping paper, I was blissfully going about my own days.

Such as they were, in lockdown.

That said, household supplies in my household exist on only two par levels:

1) A nine month supply, easy; or,

2) Oh, shit…I should have bought toothpaste yesterday!

If you want to know how much coffee you have to drink to cover morning breath, don’t ask me. My neurotic ass is convinced that I’ve never accomplished this feat. But I’d guess the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “a lot”.

All that being said, I took my CRS riddled brain on a little shopping trip yesterday with the mantra “Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwasher detergent” playing on repeat in said brain.

I knew I needed other things, but the mantra covered what I knew was urgent to remember. The rest of my shopping trips usually amount to grabbing go-to staples like Mac & Cheese and hamburger or assessing whether I’d eat something before its pull date (broccoli and salad kits are the primary aspirational purchases in this category) or actually eat it at all (anything else that’s borderline healthy or with a risk of too many leftovers).

So shopping with me is pretty fun. If you lose track of me, I’ll be wandering through the beer and wine aisles until someone comes to get me.

As opposed to shopping with the Silver Fox on one of the many times he’s allowed me to coattail on his Costco membership. We hit the cart corral and he’s off and running on his familiar shopping routine while I’m still standing by the roll up doors wondering aloud to no one about a pallet of electric toothbrushes.

Next time I look up, I see only the smoke and dying flames that his feet left. And that cagey bastard expects me to keep up, actively preventing me from retreating to my safe space.

All this, of course, is just my attempt at lede-burying.

I went to the fridge today and grabbed my last cold soda. Not wanting Future Xtopher to be caught without an appropriately chilled soda, I went to the pantry to grab another 12-pack: none.

No worries, I have back up 2-liters for just this…oooooh, fuck.

So, yeah…this is that second par level I mentioned earlier.

I even looked at soda yesterday as I grabbed a cart. Specifically, I recall thinking, “3 for $13.99, that’s a crap deal” and pushing on.

Toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, dishwashing detergent!

Oh, mania…my steadfast companion.

Back to this morning, having finished my one measly soda, I showered to be ready for an interview. Then I debated running out for a soda, energy drink or coffee; ultimately deciding there wasn’t enough time.

There was time, however, to do last night’s dishes. It seems most of what I used for meal prep last night was too big for the dishwasher, so…dishpan hands, here I come!

Except

I was also out of liquid dishwashing detergent.

Ooooh, fuck…

The only bright side here is that I know I would never have remembered six things in a mantra. I’d have had to write it down…and then find it in my coat pocket next fall.

You think I’m being too hard on myself? Well, my brain, at any rate.

When I went to get my first COVID shot on Tuesday, I took my coat off so they’d have access to this skin. As is my habit when removing my jacket in public, I checked my pockets to make sure they were zipped.

You don’t want something falling out of your pocket as it gets tossed around a coat rack or bed by others. Learning this the hard way, if you watch me in public, you’ll see me surreptitiously checking my zippers – coat pockets and pants fly, can’t be too careful – often enough you’d think I should be medicated.

Probably, I should.

But that’s not the point.

One of my zippers was open, so I zipped it as I was shirking off my coat. The other one was zipped. But, what’s this? There’s something in it!

I love little prizes from Past Xtopher.

I open the pocket while the nurse is readying my dose, boom…$1000.

Thanks, Past Xtopher!

The C.R.S. Chronicles #3

Small Comforts

We all need them, whether we acknowledge – and even more importantly, appreciate – them or not.

Doris Day parking.

Someone paying your coffee purchase forward.

A rain break when we forgot our hooded jacket or umbrella.

Chocolate.

A familiar face in a crowd.

Or, in my case…warm socks.

Yeah, turns out that’s what really does it for me.

As we leave winter behind and look toward spring’s arrival next week, I’m reminded of all the times I cozied up at home with a big, fuzzy pair of socks. It’s a great cure-all, especially after downing a couple in a tent on the street outside of a favorite bar – while it rains and cold radiates through your shoes and up your legs.

It’s a chilling, but necessary evil to maintain some sort of mental health self-care these days. But luckily, these days are becoming warmer!

Another thing that struck me as I was cleaning up my pics, deleting things I didn’t need and putting others into folders that make them no easier to find in the future, was that the women in my life were much better at providing this small comfort to me than I was at accomplishing it for myself.

Go figure, once again women are better people than men. Thank gourd mankind is not limited only to the male of the species or we’d really be rogered, but good.

Case in point: here are some $25 Keen socks that I bought myself five years ago. Wool, tech weave, lifetime guarantee…

…holes in both big toes.

Compare that to these Gas Monkey socks my sister gifted each of her male relatives a few Christmases ago.

Stop judging my chankles. Chrisism: chicken ankles.

Knowing my sister, she’s not dropping $25 on a pair of over-marketed hoopla socks like her frivolous brother. She’s got the money to, but she’s more shrewd than that. These were three-packs, and I bet she got them for $20 or less.

She’s proud of her ability to find a deal. I think this perfectly highlights the Hunter/Gatherer difference between the sexes, too. I find something and jump on it because it looks good. Or good enough. She, meanwhile, looks around and finds the best option.

Maybe it’s not fair to state that as an absolute difference between the traditional caveman era gender roles. Maybe she’s just smarter about her love languages than I am – and mind you, I’m just talking to myself when it comes to love languages. My sister is kind of Oprah, by comparison. At least where socks are concerned.

And then there’s the Crocodile Dundee of warm socks and love languages: my mom.

‘At’s not a warm sock, *this* is a warm sock! – Crocodile Momdee

She used to work at the local Kroger, Fred Meyers, which is an early inspiration for the present day Target and Walmart concept of adding grocery departments to their Big Box everything-but-grocery stores. Only Freddie’s did it the other way: grocery to everything else.

Anyway, over her 20 years there, all us (adult aged) kids looked forward to our annual Christmas stocking stockings. You see, as part of their Black Friday offerings, they did a crazy half-off all socks from some crazy early hour until the store’s normal opening time.

Mom stocked us up.

Because that’s what moms do.

The pair pictured above were part of one of my Christmas care packages during the time in my life when I lived away from my hometown. I remember these particularly well, since they came with a very mom-usual card:

For Those Cold Texas Nights…

Aw, mom.

So…yeah, my Texas misadventures were back in ’93, which I think must be pronounced 19-friggin‘-93. Meaning these socks that were maybe $9.99 regularly priced, that mom likely got for $4.98 and paid $4.49 for after her meager employee discount have lasted me 28 years.

Twenty-eight-motherfriggin‘-years!

The secret quality control ingredient is mom.

Jesus, I’ve had these socks over half of my life.

And these stupid socks that people who love me have bought me over the years make me feel as loved and cared for as anything I’ve ever been told or shown. Even knowing they’ve probably long forgotten the gesture, I remember it each time I go to my sock drawer and pull on a pair of chunky heavy socks for an evening in.

It really is the little things.

Small Comforts

The Haircut Saga: Fín

I’m sure I placed that diacritic backward. But I’m not here to talk about important things.

This is about me.

That came out wrong.

My neglect of my own hair maintenance is fairly obvious – in person – and just one facet of my ability to proChristinate that I’ve low key bragged about on this site. But given that this is my life, there has to always be some sort of Nth factor.

Finding that second link made me realize that I inadvertently lied to my new barber when I told him it had been 15 months since my last haircut. It has been two full years!

See also: how long my parents quietly suffered.

So, yeah…I got a haircut. Here’s a before:

Level of Neglect: Jesus

Level of Entendres: Double, speaking only about the hair. Sadly, no Jesus Level Abs detected in recent inspections.

Getting a haircut in this circumstance wasn’t just an accomplishment. It was a victory.

My old barbershop closed recently.

(Seriously, read that second link for why it was such an enjoyable victory for me. We’re talking layers of icing on this cake!)

It is a local chainlet, so don’t feel bad for them. It’s just one location. I’m not sure if the decision was pandemic related or if it’s more of a strategic business decision. For all I know, they got better lease terms in a nearby new building and will open a new shop in the area. But I’m still claiming the W on behalf of my stubbornness and self righteousness.

I’d recently been driving past a new shop on Broadway that opened in a couple of friends’ old gift shop location. Initially, I was curious that a barbershop using a single gender noun in its name could fly in liberal Portland, Oregon. Eventually, though, I decided to give Menspire the honor challenge of making something out of my nest of a mane.

Plus, you know I love a good portmanteau. And, really, Themspire is just confusing.

I wasn’t crazy about the $40 price tag, compared to my old shop’s $30…but think of all the money I’ve saved in my haircut budget over the last two years. Assuming I resume any sort of regular manetenance – boom, Chrisism! – with Menspire, I have a $240 cushion to pad my budget, or about 6 years of haircuts that I can offset with my “savings”.

Still, you know me…I went in dubious. It’s a hangover from the last two barber chains I’ve been to, here (Bishops) and in Seattle (Rudy’s). Also a nod to the whole, “if it looks too good to be true” trope, since both Bishops and Rudy’s are rather stylized. Menspire presents with a rather severe yet austere decor and I was wary that this would be a same old everyone gets the same stupid haircut schtick like Rudy’s and Bishops only with different aesthetics.

I learned that it’s a U.K. chain, complete with a training academy. Lil ol’ Portland is their first U.S. location.

Sure, appeal to my hometown pride, why don’t ya.

As I talked with Brandon the Barber, I realized several things:

A) The appointment lasted a full 45 minutes – and that’s normal, not a byproduct of my hair volume. Bishops appointments are so fast, the barber’s chair doesn’t even warm up.

2) They seem to default to razor cuts! I gave up on asking elsewhere because the answer was usually no. Additionally, I wouldn’t necessarily trust this particular old fuck buddy turned Bishops employee with a razor, so why trust anyone who associates with him?

C) Welp, in a fit of C.R.S. I’ve forgotten my third realization…<shrug emoji>

Neverthemess, I’d been debating my course of action with this cut: wade in with some shaping and styling or go balls out and return to a clean cut like this

I figured going all the way was overcommitting. So I waded in, figuring if I didn’t like an intentional long style, I could drop another $40 in a month or so and Bob’s your uncle.

I didn’t think to snap a pic of the fallout – probably because I was literally light headed – after the cut. Trust me, though, my follicular fallout was a good 8′ in diameter.

The cut ended up shorter than I’d imagined – explaining the debris field around me – and it felt…weird. I liked the look, though, and left with a smile.

Of course, then there’s the next day.

I wasn’t sure after sleeping on it and showering what I’d gotten myself into.

Was this some sort of resurrection of my junior High cut, the bi-level? Because I’m not sure that something that morphed into the dreaded mullet with all of its incarnations is worth the effort to resurrect.

The razor cut creates a lot of texture organically, probably by traumatizing the hair. But my hair has a natural flip when it gains any length. Otherwise, it’s pretty stringy and straight.

Looking in the mirror that next day I didn’t know if I loved my new style or if I looked like I’d scalped a young Meg Ryan and then had shock therapy. I felt like maybe I looked like a psychotic pixie and just hadn’t realized it.

Fortunately, things settled down up top over the next couple of days. While I was no longer accidentally ending up with the ends of my hair in my mouth while eating, those first few days required my eyes to adjust to the new length, which routinely had the tips of my hair poking me in them.

But things did settle down and I’m feeling pretty secure about the decision to stay on the long side. For now.

Of course, that confidence was rattled when the Silver Fox visited last week and said nothing about my cut. I had to passive-aggressively thank him for noticing on the second day of his stay.

I don’t know why I don’t have more friends…

Anyway, here’s a couple pics of the new ‘do. My selfie game is pretty weak, so…tough.

Now, back to the battle of the nose and ear hair! I’ve lost my ear hair camouflage and I suspect masks may go away soonish thanks to vaccinations, so there goes the old nose hair cover. Maybe I’ll try having those areas waxed…

The Haircut Saga: Fín