The Grimm Reality

I assure you, my days of secretly hoping to be discovered and become famous are well behind me.  Courtesy of the Narcissistic Death that comes with persistent survival – oops, aging.  That said, even knowing that phenomenon, I must admit that I’m not exactly aging with any substantial degree of grace.  Or dignity.

That journey from young buck in his prime to my present day is fairly wide when measured in years, unless you are a planet and I was recently beginning to feel a bit like Pluto in all its mass and rejection.  I promise, there is a draft diving deeper into my aging disgracefully forthcoming, but for this morning I just want to focus on something that happened over the last weekend.

I had committed to myself to do a bit of a cleanse to shock my metabolism over the weekend.  My Dunlap was unacceptably over-inflated.  OK, fine…the plan was for the weekend before last, but that somehow derailed fairly early on and I had scrubbed that mission by 10:00 Friday morning.  I am fairly permissive with myself…when the Fox challenges me that I’m too hard on people, my stock reply is that “People aren’t hard enough on themselves”.  Well, for the sake of argument, let’s consider me one of the “people” in that scenario and I have the body to prove that I am not nearly hard enough on myself.

By a wide margin.

Also, by clothes that breathe a sigh of relief when I take them off.

Cider Con was also last week, so I had hoped to get a jump on the calories I would be recreationally adding to my diet over the course of the week, thanks to a tempting event line up the guys at Cider Bite had created.  That being said, I knew that I wouldn’t be starting my cleanse until Saturday morning of this past weekend because Friday was going to be a bit of a blowout between the final event of Cider Con and dinner with my Junior High friend, Ms Vermont.

As expected, I overindulged on a level that would make Henry VIII’s gut clench.  Three pints at Cider Bite followed by a margarita – of course, with salt! – and an mole enchilada dinner at Verde Cocina that was so big I could scarcely finish it.  I thought it would become literally to die for as I grew concerned that my gut could possibly bust.  Dodging that bullet, somehow, by 10:00 pm I was still completely stuffed!  I think part of my overindulgence wasn’t just the good company of Ms Vermont, but also a little self soothing I was doing after having to turn down a potential two-week casting as a Stand In on Grimm the day before.  I was unavailable for the call times due to interviews for jobs I doubt I will get anyway.  Case in point, I was due to drive to Seattle today for a hopefully final interview for a position up there.  I’m 90 minutes into my drive and the EVP calls and cancels because his subordinate that I was due to meet with is sick.

Yay, getting up at 5:00 am for no reason.

Oh, who am I kidding…my bladder would have had me up.

So, I come to Saturday morning and begin my Frankenstein-ed diet.  I call it Frankenstein because it’s a blend of two mentalities:

The first is a complicated alleged “Star Secret” diet and involves two days of water and specific vegetables.  Those I can remember from the list are:  broccoli, carrots, celery (all of which I like) and onions (which I appreciate in a nice mirepoix but certainly not as a stand-alone food).  You can eat as many of these veggies as you want, but I have learned from experience that sometimes, just sometimes…it’s better to feel hungry than bound up inside.

Also, black coffee.  As much as you want.  I – of course – consider that a dare, as should any self-respecting Portlander.

This particular program is designed to run for seven days, and on day three you start adding in proteins again with two eggs at breakfast and I forget what else after that.  I have done this step before, but not this time around.  I just wanted a bit of a shake up to get my body burning the soft stuff around my middle more than the tasty lean stuff it had developed an appetite for over recent years.

I miss the days of having arms almost as big around as my neck.

The second bit of advice I used to cobble together my plan was from the owner of X-Gym in Seattle, who had twice over a five-year period gotten me into the best shape of my life at ages 40 and 45.  The results as I celebrated my 45th turn around the sun being even better than those we accomplished for my 40th.  His advice was “Don’t eat anything after 6:00 pm” which earned him a nice side eye from me as I asked if he understood the schedule of someone in retail management.  Once he understood that I simply was generally not home until after 6:00, he regrouped with the suggestion that I stick to chicken and green beans or broccoli if I had to eat later than 6:00.

That I could do.

So my weekend was basically looking like black coffee, carrots, broccoli and celery in abundance with a dinner each night of chicken and…more broccoli.

And the gym.

No booze.

No Monster Energy Drink.

No bagels.

No Diet Coke.

No popcorn…

Apparently, no razor blades or pills around to just end it quickly, either.

But I was recommitted, and kind of in a big way.

My motivation?

I had gotten a second casting opportunity from Grimm – two in one week is kind of a big deal – and this one points back to that whole I’ve no desire to be famous opener up top.  It was for the Wednesday following my weekend of under-indulgence.  The call came in the form of an email looking for someone to play a character named Black Claw as an Extra.  The hook, if you will allow the pun, was that the same character comes back to shoot again next month in a featured role, although I’m sure it’s still non-speaking since they were putting this out to non-union peeps like me.

That would have been fun, something more than just standing around in a crowd, pretending I knew what I was doing.

The catch?

They were looking to cast off file photos only and were looking for someone who was “tough and in good shape”.  Well, I don’t exactly think I have ever been one to be able to pull off “tough”, no matter how hard on people The Fox claims I am.  And “good shape”…well, the person who I had been seeing in the mirror for the last month was becoming less and less of any shape other than round.

Ethically, I had to pass.  Even at the scoffs of my mother when I shared that with her – she has my last appearance on the show saved onto her DVR.  She thinks.  Could be some other Extra with a build like an olive stabbed through with toothpicks.

So, having to say no to that part – where potentially my name would flash by at the end of the show – was tough.  Not that I was a shoo-in to get it, but just that I couldn’t even put myself up for the satisfaction of the rejection.

The results?

Yes, I did go to the gym both days and lifted some moderate weight before submitting to cardio.

I ate three pounds worth of carrots and two pounds of broccoli, as well as two severely hefty chicken breasts.  I think I had a protein shake after the gym Saturday, too.  Otherwise, I stuck to the liquid allotments for my plan and consumed two-and-a-half gallons of water and 60 ounces of Cold Brew, from beans The Silver Fox brought me back from Cuba…so there was that indulgence!

And some jitters, to be sure…

At the end of the weekend, I was waking up feeling more svelte – a common trick of the body in the morning as you are both laying down and dehydrated, which will both skew the reality.  Visibly, once I was up and around, I noticed that I was thinner through the middle, from below my chest to my slightly-less-overinflated Dunlap, by about an inch.  While I may not have lost a figurative ton of weight, I know that I lost a good deal of fluff.

For which my pants thanked me.

Motivated, I adhered to the regimen through dinner on Monday – when I met my parents and we went to Merriweather’s for some small plates.

And a couple glasses of red, red wine.

Walking away from that meal, I decided to reinvest and see what I could do to maintain that diet for the remainder of the week.  I’d effectively given myself a cheat day at Merriweather’s so I should mentally be able to remain disciplined for the next four days.  Maybe with a small slip here or there for a drink with The Fox.  I am stocked up with veggies and chicken thanks to a Costco run he made, so being flexible for a drink here or there with him seems like a reasonable trade.

 

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The Grimm Reality

Adventures in Yes

The birthday yes.

Not “Yaaaaassss!!”, just a simple exercise in counter-curmudgeonliness.

I had a full day of amazing celebrating with friends and family stacked up with well wishing socializing tighter than the evening commuter push over O’Hare on a Friday night…until my evening date cancelled.

Two things:

– First, maybe don’t schedule a date on your birthday with someone you haven’t known for three months.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Well, it’s a recipe for normal flaky gay behaviors, but it happened on my birthday so I’m taking some license with the hyperbole.  Sue me.

– Second, he didn’t know it was my birthday.  That means there was no pressure to crumble beneath.  I was actually quite torn about withholding that information from him…obviously, my gut instinct served me far better than my neurosis.

The thing that pissed me off most about this was just your basic run of the mill Narcissistic Death bullshit.  I was the guy you could count on to get some Thanksgiving ass.  Before apps.  When we had to do it in real time.  Or any holiday.

Now it’s just snowing in my bedroom.

And uphill.

So…what’s an EOG gay to do with a few free hours on his birthday.

Hello, Scruff.  You dirty, disappointing bitch.

One thing leads to another and it’s suddenly 9 pm…which I suppose is late for my gay twilight years.  But I’ve begun this interesting chat conversation with a recent – as in one week prior – Portland transplant from France.  Is it wrong to nickname him The Frog?  I hope not, because it’s just happened.

He’s been out and about shopping-slash-exploring in his new city.  Hopping on and off public transportation in order to do so, like a good European.  Chatting with people he encounters around town or on the bus – as inadvisable as that sounds, I actually encourage it…conditionally.  Some of that exploring was situational, some accidental as he hopped on a wrong bus or train here or there.  He tells me that he’s going to pass through downtown to make a connection to his place in the South Waterfront and suggests a meet up for a drink.  Turns out he loves cider and I had told him about Cider Bite earlier in our conversation.

Of course, I pass.

It’s, like, late.

Or something.

But, time wears on and he and I keep chatting and I remember my commitment to say yes more often.

And “Say Something” by A Great Big World had just come on my Sonos, so I said “Yes” and met him at his stop in Old Town.

We traded a couple of texts on my way to meeting him, he told me that he was in a black jacket.  Helpful information, that.  I warned him that I was in a too lightweight jacket for the weather and that I hadn’t shaved in a week and hadn’t showered for an evening out.  He tells me that he’ll keep an eye out for a homeless person approaching him.  Sassy.

He was a tall one, wasn’t expecting that for some reason.

And it was raining, I mentioned that, right?

And I had loaned my umbrella to the Fox for his trip to Cuba, just in case.  He’s a planner.

I hadn’t planned on rain during his vacation, it seems.  Nor do I own a jacket like the Frog was wearing…one with a hood and also happens to be waterproof.  Soggy, I got.

It’s getting on to closing time at Cider Bite, so we hoof lively and make our way there.  The home of 24 taps of delicious cider-y goodness.  I arrive, dripping.  Planting the Frog at the bar, I introduce him to one of the boys that owns the place before sneaking off to the loo to give myself a good toweling off.  I’m calling a 33 year old bar owner a “boy”, FML – incidentally, said “boy” promptly gives me a side eye dripping with “a little young for you” judgment.  Knowing I have zero romantical type designs on the Frog, I don’t give it a second thought, past enjoying that he thought that maybe I could.

Bless his heart.

We go on to chat and make some fun small talk as we sip.  We discuss the origins of the ciders with the owner.  All very interesting info to the newb.  Most tend to be Pacific Northwest by design, but there happen to be a few from the east coast that you simply have to have if you’re gonna open a cider bar and please the masses by passing their low-bar street cred criteria.  Woodchuck cider lurches into the conversation.  I explain that it’s from the New England area of the east coast.  He asks where and I tell him it’s right by New Hampshire, making my hands into the parallelogramish shape of the state for him and only add to his confusion.  Trying to clear that up, I proceed to make it worse by saying that it’s south of Maine, north of Boston like it’s a question.

This all earns me the teasing of a European because I don’t know my own country’s geography like the back of my hand.  Defensively, I counter that it’s not like I thought that Portugal was in South America, but can’t fault him for putting a dunce cap on America as a whole.

He saves my unhurt ego by telling me that some people he has met in America think that France is in Australia.  Sweet Jesus, people are dumb.

I also learned that the prior day – 1/20 – had been his birthday, so that was fun.  

We’ve tried a couple of ciders and it’s time to head out as the guys close up for the night.

Deciding it’s never a bad time to not end fun conversation and also always a good time for food, we head over to Hobo’s for some later-night grub.  It’s a great choice, because:  food.  But also because it’s a good introduction to a neighborhood with a little cluster of gay bars that a newbie gay will undoubtedly frequent, but a bar that we can easily still talk comfortably in.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s food.

I know he’ll find CCs on his own, so I figure this is a better choice.  I introduce him to Uncle Dave, who is frequently behind the bar at Hobo’s.  My friend, frequent bartender, occasional caretaker and always good guy.

I have some chicken wings – I’m always ordering the tenders and Uncle Dave is always serving me the wings.  Silly man.  The Frog has a burger.  Having just introduced the him as a recent transplant from France, I’m not surprised he wants to try a burger.  I am surprised at the rapid-fire-fucking-with that Uncle Dave engages him in around his order…I try to stop it as my stomach turns over, but an enthusiastic immigrant is running amok, enabled by a bartender suddenly turned auctioneer:

I’ll have the Hobo’s Burger

You want cheese on that?

Yes!

Bacon?

Yes.

Guac?

Yes.  (in a tone that suggests he isn’t entire sure what that is…)

Egg?

Ok.

Jalepenos?

Yes.

<barfs in mouth>

Fries or a salad?

I say something about how ridiculous a salad would be on top of that order and suggest the French Fries then laughingly comment that he’s not going to be able to lift that monster of a burger and then order us a couple of hard root beers.  Uncle Dave skulks off to the kitchen to start our order and if he’s not chuckling about what he just did to this poor kid…well, I would have been.

We talk more about what he wants to do for work.  He’s a trained in environmental ecology and I congratulate him on picking Portland.  That leads to how the hell he chose PDX in the first place.  Turns out that it’s really just a marriage between convenience and flight of fancy.  He knew he wanted to live in the US and on the West Coast but between here and SF this was where his father had a tenuous network connection to help get him started out.  A colleague whose niece or daughter or something – it’s France, I really wanted it to be “former mistress” – lived here and needed a roommate, voila!

His burger comes and I tease him about what his eyes did when Uncle Dave put the plate in front of him.  Uncle Dave lays down on the floor to rest after carrying the burger out.  I kid, but he deserved to wear himself out after trying to kill this kid with a hamburger.  Hehehehe.

I ask him how he settled on Joe for his Americanized name.  He explains that it’s just JO, short for Jean Olivier…his first name.  I explain to him why that might be awkward.  He seems aloof and/or indifferent.  He tells me his middle name, another hyphenated tongue twister for my American pallate.  Then his last name, which I am sure is the French equivalent of “Smith”, but I’m distracted by the overwhelming number of syllables in his complete name.

Oy.

Glad he chose JO.

Having finished my 6 wings, I go to the bar for another root beer as he chokes down the last of the first half of his burger.  This second half might take a minute to finish.

Uncle Dave starts off with some conspiratorial muttering about how cute the guy is and whether I’m intending anything he’ll want to hear about later.  God bless everyone who thinks I’ve got the kind of game it takes to be the object of any random 20-something’s affections.  When I am, I consider it a viable reason that I won’t win the lottery.

Like any reason for not winning the lottery needs to be realistic.

I mean, I had just “lost” $1.5 billion (potential) dollars in the Powerball…but, no.

He had told me his bus schedule home when we were chatting earlier, and it occurs to me that we have about 20 minutes to get him on a bus.  See?  I’m not even maneuvering toward getting him to spend the night at my nearby place.

He chews and stuffs faster.  I’m actually a little worried about how much he is consuming.  He’s visibly struggling to swallow and I think his forehead is beginning to glisten with a light sheen of the meatsweats.

Undeterred, he paces out his last bite just in time to get our change and head out to the bus stop.

Into the rain.  Portland’s weathery breach, once again.

I walk him down to his bus stop, not just to make sure he gets there but also to ensure that the bus actually arrives.  Midnight buses in Portland have screwed me more than once.

So, we stand there and wait.

In Portland’s sliver of a remaining skid row.

In the rain.  Did I mention it was raining?  Oh, I did?  How about my lightweight jacket?

Naturally, the bus is late.  I spend the time showing him what apps I use for transit and discuss Uber with him as a back up to have handy.  I’m wiping down my phone frequently, since any bus shelter in this neighborhood would ultimately just be shelter.

His bus finally arrives and we part, committing to another meet up soon.

Flash forward a week and we’ve chatted a few times.  He actually scored a job over the last few days.  I’m jealous…but it was a good story.  Some random stranger he said “hi” to on the street during his explorations.  That guy’s company was looking for a French-speaking reviewer of some sort.  You can’t fight the universe on random encounters.  He’s disappointed that it isn’t in his field of study, but that is actually not surprising for my American sensibilities.  No one seems to work in their field of study any more.

Still, this whole story about his job just kind of falling into his lap reminded me of why I started my Yes Game in the first place.

He’s a good guy.  Maybe I’ll make him take me out for a congratulatory cider when he gets his first paycheck.  I mean, I didn’t even mention the Coneheads…obviously, I have to see him again!

And all because I allowed myself a birthday yes…I wonder what else this game will yield.

More friends?

A job?

It certainly seems to like doing that for others – why not me?  We’ll see!

Adventures in Yes

Writing the Rails

I’m flattered to have friends tell me they like reading my blog.  Even more so when I get a *like* from a random reader.

Yesterday I woke to one such text from a friend since my high school days, the eldest of the Fabulous Baker Girls.  She went one further, though.  She told me that she thought I should apply for a Writer in Residence position and sent me a link to apply.

Prior to this, I’ve been the Writer in Residence of Chez Galby, and doing a pretty poor job of meeting the “requirements” of the position…which is to publish one measly post per week.  To be on trend to make that goal, I should have 40 published posts and this will be #31, so I am behind, but gunning to make it up with a renewed discipline…maybe that will make my dick boss happy.

This renewed discipline also affords me a “reason” to procrastinate working on my other writing projects:  a couple of novel ideas I have been kicking around.  It’s a task that daunts me to the point that thinking about it just made me roll my eyes.

So, I read up on this Writer in Residence opportunity and decided to take the plunge.  It meant answering a couple of short essay type questions and submitting a writing sample.  So, I scrubbed a couple of blog posts for foul language and sent them along.  An earlier post and one that was more recent so they could see the progression in my writing voice as well as get an idea for some of the themes I discuss.

The program is for Amtrak, hence the title for this entry.

It’s weird to consider them sponsoring a position like this, then again, it isn’t.

It’s basically a short term position.

Like a four-day trip across country on a train and my job would be to write about the experience.

And that’s why I was excited to apply.  I’m sure nothing will come of it, my portfolio is still too meager to warrant a paycheck like a $500 cross-country train ticket, but…who knows.  Anyway, back to being excited to apply.  The reason I was so excited was because in researching the program, it occurred to me that one of my most common themes – starting way back with The Seattle Thaw and continuing into a lot of my posts about dating and relationships – is how people interact and treat one another.  My observations on social behaviors and preferred manner of treatment are somewhat anachronistic, just like train travel has become in America today.  This would be an exciting exercise in comparing how travel evolved from trains and buses to planes and automobiles and what we traded away experience-wise in favor of convenience while also highlighting the conveniences our technology now affords us and how that has impacted our cultural behaviors and social norms.

I think there is an interesting parallel to be drawn.

Maybe I’ll do it anyway, just for myself.

Flash forward a couple of days and I’m meeting up with FBG1 for some happy hour drinks and grub at Henry’s in the Pearl – hey, I had a gift card from New Year’s Eve at Cider Bite just burning a hole in my pocket – and we started talking about cruises.

This was one of my favorite games in college.  OK, it wasn’t a game so much as a necessity when sitting around with my roommates drinking beer from our BeerMeister and eating enough guacamole that I can barely stand to look at avocados anymore…but it’s basically retracing the conversational steps we took once we realized we had gotten off on so many tangents that the original point was lost.

So, let’s see.  We were talking about…Alaska?  That can’t be right.  Food?  I dunno.  Rest assured, she’ll let me know once she reads this.  That woman has an impressive memory.  Anyhoo.  I think we both agreed that we didn’t really care for the concept of cruises and whatever the objection she or I had was basically true for every cruise except a gay cruise.  Not that I would want to go on one of those!  I have heard horror stories, let me tell you.

She had a story about a gay couple that she or a friend of hers had met during a traditional cruise and said that they were just the best folks.  Really enhanced the cruise experience.  I think this was her personal story, but I’m old.  I get confused.  And this was after one whole beer, so obviously I was out of my mind.  Remember, beer makes me loopy.  I don’t know why I still drink it.  Oh, yeah…it tastes amazing.

But!

That gave me a great idea for the cruise ship industry:  Gays in Residence on cruise ships!

It would be perfect.  When gays go into a neighborhood, everything traditionally improves.  Why can’t that work with cruise ships, too?

And suddenly, I’m rethinking my stance on cruises.  I could go be the Truman Capote of the seas.

Writing the Rails

The Salad Tosser

Here’s a glimpse at my creative-slash-procrastination process:

I’m polishing up a year end/resolution type post.  One that I’ve been kicking around for over two months – since my last trip to Seattle, where I had a conversation with an old friend in late October or early November.  And by “kicking around” I mean, “please see the above note about my procrastination process”.

It’s been on my radar in particular this week because:  NYE, right?  Kind of lame to post a year end blog at the beginning of a year.  So, this week is the week.  Naturally, that means that I posted a completely different blog (Asocial Media) earlier this week versus working on the post with the expiration date.

Last night, I tell the Fox as we nightcap at the Big Legrowlski that I need a few hours this morning before we do coffee to review some job posts and work on the year-end post.

Or not. Continue reading “The Salad Tosser”

The Salad Tosser