Dating Into Oblivion ep5

The Masseur

It won’t surprise longtime friends – or readers, for that matter – that I was attracted to my massage therapist.

This goes back a couple of years. I’d just moved back to Portland but had not yet given up going to the gym, despite my cascading physical degeneration.

The offset to the injuries wasn’t restraint, it was massage! This was in my pre-acupuncture days. I’d go every two weeks, occasionally treating myself in an off week.

It took me a while of trial and error to find a guy here. I’d resigned myself to joining Massage Envy up in Seattle, but the closest one to me here in Portland was about 35 blocks and one river away, and I just couldn’t get there. I mean, physically, I could. It was mentally that I couldn’t get there. It’s too far to walk, really, and I think people who overdo it on fragrances and take public transportation are the devil’s dingleberries, so I couldn’t be that guy that got on a bus or train smelling like I’d just had sex with a coconut. So…I had to make other arrangements.

You remember Columbia House?

Yeah, you want to know what’s harder to quit than that? Massage Envy. I think my last conversation with them included the words, “Do not make me come up there!”

Anyway, I find this freelancer that works well with what I need and is actually affordable enough for me to see him every two weeks. Perfect!

As is my habit, I became attracted to him. I don’t know what it is about me – yes, I do – but I can fall in love with just about any guy in a service industry job: baristas, waiters, bartenders…remember Richard? Yeah. It’s a curse.

But I was surprised in this particular case, since it wasn’t an instant attraction and it wasn’t an attraction that developed over the course of me having nothing else to look at as I swilled a beer or two. This was a massage, most of my time was spent face down and when I wasn’t, my eyes were closed. So, no. This wasn’t a physical attraction, strictly speaking.

Now, I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m kind of a chatter box.

Right?!? So imagine me laying there, head jammed into a horseshoe shaped headrest just chattering away like my jaw isn’t restricted at all. We pretty much talked throughout every session.

That’s what got me.

He was such a good guy. That’s what attracted me to him. How reasonable of me.

Another thing that won’t surprise anyone that knows me, is that I didn’t act on this attraction.

Why, you justifiably ask?

Well, if I’m going to be reasonable in my attraction, not falling for a pretty face but a good human instead…you know I’m going to inject that with my more predictable weirdness.

There are two reasons I didn’t act on my attraction:

First, I really don’t want to be the creepy guy that hits on people in their workplace. Fair enough, right?

Second, though – and I think this is less reasonable than it is neurotic – is Reason I’m Single #74…I don’t want to see my friends naked. Ditto, my friends seeing me naked.

(Sorry, Roger!)

I’m not moving from a clinical nudity scenario into a frivolous situation like dating or recreational sex. That’s a weird boundary I struggle to cross. As a matter of fact, I ran into this guy on the street a few times while I was seeing him professionally and was dependably awkward.

Outside what turned out to be our mutual coffee shop.

Well, you look like you’re on your way somewhere, so I won’t keep ya!

Because the presence of a paper coffee cup clearly implies he doesn’t have time to stand around and talk to me.

The other time I ran into him was at a First Thursday. It’s the monthly art walk in the Pearl District. As a Pearl District resident, I try to avoid it at all costs, but it usually sneaks up on me.

In one such unguarded moment, I ran into Brian on the street and we made casual hellos before I said,

Well, I don’t want to keep you from your friend

…and gestured to the unidentified woman standing a few feet away.

“Oh, that’s just my sister!”

“I heard that,” his sister deadpanned.

“We were just going for a drink, want to join us?”

Oh, no…you go. I wouldn’t want to take time away from your sister!

Because I’m so polite and concerned with a stranger’s vacation experience.

Flash forward to this past Spring. I’ve run into him randomly on the street again while wandering around downtown. Having discontinued our therapeutic relationship when he left town on the ground of vague family matters, it had been at least 18 months since I’d seen him.

Turned out, the reason he’d left town was he had somehow ended up with custody of his child – I can’t remember why because my mind was reeling over how I’d missed this little nugget of personal information. Usually, I hear “kids” from a guy and see this in my head

But I guess that mental imagery also prevents this information from lodging into long term memory,

I tuned back in somewhere around he’s “back in town and practicing again” along with an invite to come back and see him. I explained that I was doing acupuncture nowadays and without missing a beat, this smooth operator suggested we grab a coffee.

Apparently, he had some time to kill before he picked up his…daughter?

Yeah, I wanna say daughter.

Anyway, I talked myself into it – the whole dating a guy with kids thing – because I really liked him.

Of course, it was all academic anyway.

We walked and drank coffee and then ended up at my place. We were in the Park Blocks and I really had to pee!

Friggin’ coffee!

I ran up to my place and when I came out of the bathroom, all I saw was his bracelet on my closed bedroom door. Myrtle likes to spend time on my bed, so I usually leave the door open.

I saw a lot more when I opened the door.

I thought I should level the playing field, since I’ve seen you naked…

He didn’t even roll onto his back to talk, just cocked his chin over his shoulder.

“And it looks like I’ll be starting with you on your stomach this time?”, I playfully added.

Seems fair, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, you’ll definitely finish with me on my back!

This is not how I’d envisioned this cup of coffee ending. I’d like to say that I reluctantly joined him, but that wasn’t the case.

I did reluctantly let him out of my bed when he reminded me later that he had to go get his…still going with daughter. My reluctance was borne from a general disease with my own experiences in sleeping with people so soon after meeting.

I managed to not say, “Call me”, as I closed the door. But he did volunteer it…not that I felt any better hearing it. There was a brief internal optimistic struggle when I saw his bracelet was still on my bedroom door handle.

Gotta love the Leave Behind.

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss me announcing that I was no longer single. He never did call. Which, really…that’s a good thing. It saved me having to break up with him because of his…I still wanna say daughter.

News flash: I don’t like to share my toys.

Dating Into Oblivion ep5

Oh, Bother…

I think being bothered is a good thing. Keeps you present.

That just fell out of my mouth earlier this week while The Fox and I were at coffee.

The cafe manager had stopped by to talk while he grabbed a quick break. We always have enjoyable chats when he can take a moment like that with one or both of us. He and The Fox have actually had beers together a few times, too. When I get the download from those conversations, I’m not jealous of them…but I can appreciate that I missed something good.

But, to be clear, my bother in this particular conversation isn’t the same as our childhood pal

…and while I have friends and colleagues who have referred to me as Pooh’s human friend, I think over the years we’ve known each other that has congenially morphed into Grumpy Old Xtopher.

Since that moniker doesn’t lend itself to Pooh’s famously mild expletive, you can call me Whiny the Pooh for this post.

Because that’s more my style!

While I think my state of botheredness fluctuates depending on my real or perceived infraction, these moments really do keep me present. Both in my surroundings, but also in my own behaviors.

Who knew being the non-violent version of Hannibal Lecter would actually not only help me be a better person personally but also hopefully help me to be a better part of my community? Hopefully, if I’m bothered by someone else’s behavior, I don’t go on to become guilty of the same thing.

Sadly, as low a bar as that statement represents, I think more often than not, that’s actually what enables others to validate their own poor behaviors. Welcome to the United States of Kindergarten.

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store with my parents to get help with my mom’s new iPhone. They had an appointment for 2:10 and we showed up around quarter to 2:00 to check in. The associate checking us in told us that their appointment was actually 2:20…but said we were welcome to wait. We asked if that would end in us being seen sooner and when getting an uncertain reply, decided to go across the street for coffee and come back.

For as smooth as the process of checking us in and getting us staged went – maybe we just didn’t really care since we had coffee – we ended up at the Genius Bar just about on time.

I guess not so for the woman next to me. I heard her complaining to an employee she shanghaied about their wait, and “how much longer it would be?” The associate checked his iPad and said, “Looks like your appointment was at 2:30, and we’re only a little behind, so it shouldn’t be too much longer!”

I checked my phone.

It was 2:35.

Really, lady?!?

“Ok, well my son has another appointment across the river at 3:00, so the sooner the better!”

Nonono.

This is not ok. Now, we were only about seven blocks from the river, but our evening rush hour starts as early as 2:00 and we were smack dab in the middle of downtown. Even if her son’s appointment was literally just on the other side of the water, the bridges become a pinch point during the evening commute.

A half hour drive time would not be unreasonable.

What was she thinking?!?

I don’t know, it probably sounded a lot like “me, me, me”, though. Now what she was doing was making this someone else’s problem when it was completely her own doing. Even worse, in taking an appointment slot that was unworkable for her, she took a slot that could have worked for someone else.

Now she was trying to manipulate this poor guy into jockeying around the customers so she could go first. To his credit, he held firm with, “Well, it looks like there’s just one iPhone ahead of yours, so it shouldn’t take too much longer!” in a cheerier voice than I would have given her.

At least mentally.

This reminded me of another instance from earlier in the week. It actually made me take a picture as it came hot on the heals of my quote at the beginning of this blog post.

This basic is demonstrating what it is to be not present.

Which, in turn, bothered me.

The sign she is standing right next to says, “Please Wait Here…” as I’d been watching her, two people had walked up and asked her if she was waiting – one of them was the Silver Fox, who was excitedly awaiting his flu shot – and I’d only been watching her for a couple of minutes. Now, she could have certainly chosen to sit in the waiting area while she waits for her Rx to be filled. She knows the chairs are there, she set her tablet and handbag in one of them.

Having chosen to stand in line instead, you’d think after enough people asked if she was in line, perhaps – just maybe – she’d think to herself, “Self, I think I should get out of the way”.

No…not our girl.

She’s so unpresent that she didn’t even notice me overtly taking her picture from about 5 feet away.

This seems like a good moment to check in with my Drag Queen Spirit Animal.

Now you know why she’s my Spirit Animal. Every other homo – of a certain age – remembers her infamous cameo/quote from the pre-turn of the century gay film festival darling, Trick. She shared her wisdom with us there, giving that entire generation of gays the 411 on the perils of getting semen in your eye…

So, yeah…that’s good to know if you’re some run of the mill Stupid American. But this gay guy didn’t need to be told that was an experience best skipped.

What can I say? I have uncommon knowledge as it turns out.

So, as entertaining as Coco is, whether in a cameo in Trick or Will & Grace or even my beloved Arrested Development…my love for her was cinched the first time I saw her “That bothers me” schtick on stage. There was a mental click when she stated it, so simple. It’s when it hit me that shit is gonna bother me, but screaming and yelling about it – tilting, if you will – is just gonna make me look like a crazy Don Quixote type. I can be bothered and still lead a relatively normal life.

Shut up, Everyone That Knows Me.

Moving on…

Oh, look! A story about the least present people on the planet! One whose headline tells me that basically, I already know everything that story has to offer.

I’ve long lamented the influence those people have over American culture and the direct influence they have in making our culture an increasingly frivolous and anonymous one.

They have simultaneously taught us to be vacuous while managing to keep us incessantly keeping up with them.

Not me, just to be clear.

I wouldn’t watch them hold hands and jump off a cliff…because, they bother me and could even prove annoying to me while doing something that was inherently a net positive for the world.

But, an unexpected side effect of the bother they add to my life is that they keep me present in not ignoring the things that matter in life like they seem to as a family. When I say “the things that matter”, I mean everything beyond their “me, me, me” behavior.

Meanwhile, back in WordPress Land, I just barf these amusing yet niggling annoyances of mine into the void and walk away. And it’s not like them there Kardashians…for me, it’s not about “the likes” here. WordPress is a group of people that want to write for the sake of creating, or educating, or entertaining…or, yeah, like me: therapy.

That said, I do like the likes and comments because they enhance the experience of writing for me. I tend to try – how noncommittal was that? I need a Yoda, “There is no ‘tend to try’ only tend or not tend” – to participate and interact with other writers that I follow to show them the same support and encouragement they show me. But since I follow about five dozen other writers, I often get behind and visit my half dozen favorites more than the rest.

Which is why seeing this today on one of my favorite writer’s blog posts kind of bothered me.

What’s missing in that red circle was the feedback buttons. This is another recent entry from her that demonstrates the usual set up:

This woman is a funny writer. She has a great voice and style and usually spells everything correctly. Isn’t it nice of me to blank out her name so you can’t go follow her?

What’s great to me is that she writes about being a mom and living in suburbia – two things that are far afield from my life experience – in a manner that draws me in and amuses me. She makes me understand and sympathize with her struggles…and chuckle along with her as she does her own screaming into the WordPress void.

The post that she turned off feedback buttons for was one of her funniest yet, in my opinion. It involved an improperly stored “lady’s little helper” that her son discovered next to her as she woke up.

Ok, we haven’t all been there, clearly. But just imagine the shargrin that people could have contributed in the comments. Because there’s for sure plenty of fun anecdotes out there, this I know.

Also, shargrin = Share + chagrin = Chrisism. It’s like the opposite of schadenfreude. Instead of enjoying someone else’s embarrassment, you empathize with them and share a similarly embarrassing moment.

Since shargrin is – basically – most of my life, I’m bothered to not be able to participate in this post. But also, it bothers me that she deprived herself of the opportunity to salvage her parental dignity by closing off comments. It’s like she tossed her story into the void and walked away from it.

That’s not very present.

But I still liked the post…I just think that the feeling of forgiveness she cost herself by not hearing her readers’ shargrin ultimately sold herself short. For the record, though, she was present where it counted most: helping her son understand his feelings about what he witnessed.

I guess, ultimately, that makes her a lot like me: not perfect, but present and accountable enough to bother trying to be better. The kids I had coffee with today gave me something that was an unexpected gift.

Try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday.

“Like…every day?”, I asked.

Yup!

“But that’s – like – a 400% improvement over the course of the year”, I whined.

Yup!

These two cheery motherfuc…I don’t need that type of positivity in my life. Do you know the damage that could do to old Whiny the Pooh?!? Later, they set me back in balance by sending me this

I got a good chuckle out of that. And that’s what motivated me to sit down and tap this out. We don’t have to be perfect or put on a show of false happiness to be good people. We just need to be aware enough of our own shit to be able to know the difference between how our actions affect others and the world around us.

Are you the shit or a shit?

Oh, Bother…

Free Money = Best Money

The Silver Fox started my day off with an email about National Coffee Day and I was off to the races. Like I needed an excuse. But, having slept a full eight hours off just one Mellie last night, my options were dwindling as far as execution on drinking coffee at 4 pm was concerned: f&b, my normal neighborhood outlet for coffee was closing at 4 and I’m low grade mad at most of the other coffeehouses for a variety of manufactured offenses…so Nossa Familia was the only option.

An option I’m not even upset with. Somehow, they moved two blocks further from me – literally from Johnson to Lovejoy in the Alphabet District – without raising my hackles. Credit their awesome coffee and baristas that are largely either tolerably hipster, cute Portland guys or brash and sassy young women. I’m ok with all of those things.

I’d showered at 5 when I got home and then watched the disappointing Wrinkle In Time movie while my hair dried, which was a fine way to end my work day. Still, my quasi urgent need for coffee to end my melatonin induced zombie walking fog meant a courtesy brushing of the teeth and a ball hat to hide my bedhead was the maximum effort I was willing to expend in getting presentable.

Even with that minimal prep time, I arrived at the cafe three seconds after the family of three trundled in the door to Nossa. I could have not picked up that penny I saw on the street to give myself the edge, but my grandmother taught me better than that! I could have also sped up in order to beat them in the door, but I hate for my competitive streak to be obvious.

I ended up slowing down for them to complete their entry maneuvers and silently – I think – groaned.

I stood back and waited for the inevitable “expresso” as two things became immediately clear:

First, this family of three had never ordered coffee in Portland before. Triangulating the cafes location compared to any nearby hotels – the closest is probably either the Residence Inn at 9th and Overton or the Canopy At 9th and Glisan…6 or 8 blocks, respectively – I decided that these people had just gotten off the streetcar that stops outside the cafe on Lovejoy.

A Canopy guest would just inherently know how to order coffee and something told me that the ~$100/night difference in room cost between the ResInn and a hotel five blocks away, across the river and by the Convention Center was a reasonable trade off for a family from – I’m guessing – a flyover state.

Forgive me, the caffeine hasn’t fully kicked in yet – I’m only about two shots into my quad- shot mocha – and I’m still grumbly from the Kavanaugh shenanigans on Cap Hill this past week…for which flyover state folk get a lot of credit. Nonetheless, I have no problem imagining why someone casually passing by this cafe would want to come in. It’s adorable and serves great bean juice.

But these people were not casually strolling by.

The cute appropriately hipster barista was giving me some serious empathy from behind his La Marzocco as the sassy young woman taking orders tried to not be sassy to these folk who would not get it.

Second – you thought I’d forget I was enumerating, didn’t ya? – the Dad was driving this trip to the cafe because he had to take a whiz.

He ordered a 16 ounce drip and then quickly started looking around for the bathroom while his wife and son ordered. It’s upstairs and through the shared vestibule, but I wasn’t going to volunteer that information.

This was about the time the cute, appropriately hipster barista decided to recreationally fuck with these people. Dad had ordered a drip and pretty much ran off, returning and trying not to look desperate about the time mom finished ordering a decaf iced mocha for their son and starting in on her own struggle of a coffee drink, so he missed out on the being fucked with.

There’s a sign at chest level telling you the current bean offerings for drip and espresso.

Poor mom was fixated on the drink menu above and missed this detail.

She ordered a light roast latte and our bored bean slinger asked her which bean she wanted since they don’t stop at light, medium or dark roast here in Portland. Shade grown or farm altitude can affect how beans taste, so can overall region or continent on which the farm is located, then the roasting enhances – or obliterates, in the case of Charbucks – the bean’s natural flavor.

This poor thing gave up and desperately decided to just get a drip, probably mentally chastising her husband for not going before they left the motor inn. Still, there’s two drip options, so the cashier got in on the fun and asked which she wanted. And, this does make a difference, especially with drip. If I’m getting drip, I want nutty and chocolatey notes over fruity in my cup.

I imagined I could see her skull pulsating as it built up to a regular old explosion – blindly picked a bean, from the espresso assortment.

I questioned whether that penny was really worth this experience.

“That’s the decaf, do you want decaf?”, the barista clarified.

Oh, no…I’ll take the Guatemala Timoteo.

Good job, mom! You picked the “light roast” that you originally wanted on your second guess. Unfortunately…it wasn’t a drip option.

I was actually beginning to feel bad for this woman as the barista offered to make her an Americano – which she would have loved. The hubby helpfully pointed out the two drip offerings as she picked the third espresso option. When the barista – I think feeling a little guilty now – offered to make that an Americano, too, she just collapsed and said, “Just give me what he had”, utterly defeated.

While this was spiraling, the barista had gotten my 16 ounce iced quad-shot hazelnut latte order and was starting it as he presented the son’s iced decaf mocha. I decided to throw her a bone and said, “Oooh, the chocolate whipped cream here is so good!”, providing her and her son with a nice shared tasting moment to take the sting out of what had just happened.

“Do you want some on yours?”, the barista attentively asked me.

I declined, excitedly declaring that that would be like a Nutella latte while mentally warming the boy about the dangers of paying me too much attention.

I’m old, I get confused.

So, what does all this have to do with free money?

Well, while finding the penny on the way over was a net zero experience – since in my idle time watching this coffee house drama unfold I was lamenting the good old days in Shittatle when I would find random $20s blowing across the street – I was getting a free drink today. On my last visit, our appropriately hipster, cute barista had “punched me up” on my punch card for no reason, so my next – this – drink was free.

Oh, no! I accidentally made you a mocha!

Earned me this

I can re-pull the shots!

“No worries”, I told my cute little barista, “as long as it’s a quad-shot, everything else is just a delivery system!” I don’t know why I was so chipper.

Oh, yeah…a cute boy was paying me attention. That is apparently better than any number of espresso shots.

Finally tally – and the day has just begun for me: one cent, a free coffee and two tokens for free drinks in the future. It’s not a $20, but at $18.01, including tip, that’s as close as I’ve gotten in Portland. A penny is still better than nothing, right?

Somewhere on the web is a post from my original blog called Rolling Twenties detailing my lucrative wanderings in Seattle.

Good luck finding it.

Free Money = Best Money

Too Dumb To Function

I was watching a lil Anderson Cooper this morning while disabling my ability to get out of bed. It was only a seven minute video – and I was waiting on a response from the Silver Fox, re: coffee.

Andy’s video was titled Tower of Lies.

Guess what it was about?

Go ahead, I’ll wait while you wrack your brain.

Ok, fine. It was about our Idiot in Chief. Well, Idiot, Jr at any rate. Specifically, Andy was describing the story arc of the Tower of Lies surrounding Jr’s 2016 Russian meeting at Trump Tower.

First, there wasn’t a meeting.

Then, there was a meeting, but it was about adoptions.

Next up, it was a meeting about dirt on Hilz…but they didn’t deliver any dirt, so it’s ok.

Ok

That’s just Jr, too! His idiot father had his own story arc that was basically the penthouse in this Tower of Lies.

Don’t forget the servant’s quarters in the Tower, though. Getting drawn in to their own arc were each of their legal teams and Fuckabee Slanders to either spread and validate their lies or demonstrate that they were also lied to.

Almost like they were fluffing the lie filled pillows for their guests in the Tower of Lies.

There, there…see how easy it is to get comfortable on top of this bed of lies?

“Hold up…I thought it was a pillow!” – Idiot Supporters

Oh, yes…certainly! But when you think of it, a mattress is really just a really big pillow!

“But wouldn’t it take really big lies to fill an entire mattress with lies?”

Ssshhhh, ssshhhh. There, there. MAGA.

Anyway, my story arc while watching Anderson Cooper try to intelligently describe such a mind-bendingly stupid situation was a tight gamut.

How stupid are these people to think we won’t see through this?!?

How stupid are the people that get paid to back this shit up?!?

Are the people that voted for him stupid enough to continue…oh, yes, yes they are.

Getting out of bed, my thought was, “These idiots are just too dumb to function.” – at least, I don’t think I said it out loud.

Anyway.

I’m tired. Stayed up til midnight watching Lord of the Rings and woke up tired at 6:30. The Fox has since indicated he’s out for our regular coffee date, so I’m debating going solo as I step into the shower.

I wash.

Get out, dry.

Dress in the tee and undies I’ve carried into the bathroom.

Play with Myrtle.

Feed the murderous feline.

Take my vitamins and then check the fridge for at home coffee alternatives.

“Out to coffee it is, then”, I say to Myrtle, closing the fridge.

I go to the couch to put on my sneakers. At the door, I pick up my keys and wallet…realizing at that point that I’d never put my shorts on!

Who’s too dumb to function now, Galbs?

Still chuckling after donning my shorts – and on my third attempt to leave the house after forgetting my phone – I decided that maybe Too Dumb To Function should be an irregular series on my blog. I like the Mean Girls riff on the “Too gay to function” line, so the series title has a good natured origin.

Being the responsible and good sport that I am, it seemed only fitting that my inaugural TDTF entry should star my own dumbness.

And to think, when I went to bed last night trying to organize my day between my coffee, blogging, spin and job hunt responsibilities…I had no idea what inspiration I would find in the morning before even getting out of bed. My intent was to blog about my Washington Park excursion yesterday.

Look what the universe had in store for me instead!

Too Dumb To Function

Motivation Monday

There’s a reason I include “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” in just about any conversation that I can.

It’s hilarious. Even if only in a What About Bob way.

However, there’s a very real answer to the question, too. As I found out today, shortly after leaving the house all amped up to check a few errands off my to-do list…my goals:

Get my recycling dropped off and go to the bank.

Simple, right? I just wanted to get them done before it got too hot.

What.

Could.

Possibly.

Go.

Wrong?

I’d slept amazingly well after popping a melatonin – courtesy of the Silver Fox – around midnight last night. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 9:00!

Seriously.

I’ll take those results.

The Safeway where I drop my recycling and the credit union I bank at are equidistant from my house. In completely opposite directions, of course. I’ve been procrastinating these tasks for close to a week each, so after a great night of sleep, this really seemed like the day to tackle them right off.

I was even leveraging my coffee against completion of the task.

I could go to OnPoint first thing and then stop by f&b – my usual coffee haunt – on the way back. More than likely, I would run into someone outside f&b on my way to the bank and get sucked in, derailing everything.

With that in mind, I was leaning toward recycling first. Originally, I planned to take my recycling with me before my lunch time spin class and drop it off beforehand, since the Safeway is right next door to RevoCycle.

There’s no lunch time class today.

See? This is one of those many possible answers to my question-slash-mantra.

Deciding against putting off my recycling until tomorrow, I bribe myself with coffee fresh from my favorite roaster – Nossa Familia. It’s what they serve at f&b, but they just brew better drinks at Nossa. It’s across from the Safeway in the opposite direction from my spin gym, so very adjacent to my errand running.

I slap my ID label on my green BottleDrop bag and head out.

I have an ongoing struggle with recycling through BottleDrop.

It’s easy, since I don’t have to jockey for position in line with Portland’s homeless to use a reverse vending machine to redeem my bottle and can deposits. I just label my bag, hoof it across the Pearl, scan my card, drop my bag and wait 3-5 days for them to process my redemption refund.

It’s about $.01 per can or bottle, but it’s not too high a premium to not have to do it myself.

I think I made myself dizzy with that last sentence.

Here’s the wrinkle: they lose track of bags all. the. time.

Seriously.

I think they’ve correctly counted and credited three of my bags this year! The rest, I’ve had to wait 7-10 days to make sure they weren’t just behind, email them, wait about 5 more days for a reply and then – like this morning – get an email saying they credited me for my “average bag” value.

I didn’t say it was convenient, right? Here’s what bugs me, if they’ve only credited three of the dozen or so bags I’ve dropped this year…doesn’t that dilute the accuracy of my “average bag”?

I think it does.

I also think one of their processors is stealing bags and selling them to homeless people. I have a jaded, criminal mind.

So, that’s what can possibly go wrong when using BottleDrop.

Also, in a new twist, this can go wrong.

Ok, that I did not see coming.

Also, I just said “not see”…

I pulled a Basic White Girl move and went inside to talk to the manager. Turns out, the drop door is somehow broken. I decided to believe someone tried to break in. He offered to do a manual count for me and immediately followed it up with “I’ve already called someone to do a hand count for another customer”…so, not for me, then.

I decided to accept his co-op offer, knowing the other “customer” he was referring to…the homeless guy I passed on the way in. Then I decided to go across the street to Nossa for my coffee, knowing from prior experience that I had time. If the employee that the manager called to help the other guy showed up while they made my coffee – iced, as always – I’d go back over. Homeless guys, I also know from experience, usually only have about 50 cans at a time to recycle. I learned this during my time working in grocery.

I was telling this to my barista, who then wondered aloud what my plan was if the associate the manager allegedly called didn’t show up.

I told her I’d just run up to Freddy’s – our local branch of Kroger.

To understand why she was amazed, you have to know two things:

First, remember that I don’t drive, so I’m literally hoofing across town,

Second, the Pearl District is part of what Portland calls the the Alphabet District, which is pretty much all contained in the NW quadrant of town.

East-West streets are named sequentially from B-Y, excepting for X and Z, which have no streets. “A” – Ankeny – is on the other side of Burnside, which is in the SW quadrant of town since Burnside divides Portland’s North and South sides.

The North-South streets are pretty much numerical. There are a few standouts like Park, which I live on. My street is between 8th and 9th on Park at Everett.

So, my barista – who is hipster versus lazy – was standing behind her La Marzocco espresso machine at the corner of 13th and Lovejoy. I’m five blocks West and seven blocks North from my place. Her amazement is in my declaration of intent to go from 13th and Lovejoy to Freddy’s which is at 20th and Burnside.

What’s that…seven blocks further West and 10 blocks South? Remember, hipster not lazy. I chuckle and laugh as I grab a napkin to wipe the sweat off the head three feet over my fat gut.

I can use the exercise.

I take my iced, quad shot hazelnut latte and head out, noticing the homeless guy is still waiting for his hand count. Plan C, it is!

I am buoyed by the recollection that there’s an OnPoint Credit Union on the same block as Freddy’s, so this isn’t all bad! I won’t have to hike into SW to do my banking.

Bright side, right?!?

Riding my frustratingly endless wave of no income, I don’t have much reason to visit my credit union these days. But last week, I decided I wanted to rearrange my furniture to open up my lil one bedroom condo and make more room.

The only problem?

I have too much furniture. Well, technically, I probably have just enough furniture. Unfortunately, my bedroom has these really user unfriendly built ins that displaced my dresser to the living room.

It’s a TV stand now.

Luckily, I have – had – two dinner tables. One folds down and converts to a side table. I figured I’d sell that one initially. Once I started rearranging, though, it made a better flow to get rid of the other one.

So, I did.

Then I finished rearranging my living room and went out to treat myself to a congratulatory beer. I actually only had time to do this since one of the Fabulous Baker Sisters had had to cancel our plans to get together that afternoon. Since I was flying solo, I went to a gay club in Old Town I don’t get to too often. CC Slaughter’s is one of the closest gay bars to my home – 3rd and Davis, in case you want to do the math – and the least douche-y. It’s also home to an acquaintance of mine, one of only three drag bartenders in the country, Madame DuMoore. This was her look the day I visited.

But, she changes it up every damn day, so you never know who you’ll run into when she’s behind the bar.

And she’s just an amazing person and persona, so when she’s not busy, she’s fun to talk to, too!

That wasn’t the case this visit, left with no one to chat with while I drank my beer – I went into the video poker lounge. Truth be told, I was chatting with the guy sitting next to me, my usual MO…only this ‘mo was starting to get a twinkle in his eye, so I decided to make myself scarce.

I had a $50 that my table buyer had used as part of his payment. I mentally waved goodbye to it and slipped it into the machine.

I won $300.

I celebrated with another beer.

And then another.

I had paid myself back my $50 and kept playing with the rest.

I.

Kept.

Winning.

Feeling full, belly and pockets, I left the bar with $1200. Being slightly – what’s the word? – buzzed, I made it a block toward my place before thinking, “Hey, $1200 is almost my rent money! I should keep going.”

Drunken Logic is so prudent.

I leveraged my “wisdom” with a limit of one beer and headed over to a dive at 5th and Couch.

Well, that beer turned out to be too expensive, so I stayed for another. Boy, that beer was all over the map. I ended up only managing to leave with $1000 still in my pocket, but still presenting me with a too rare reason to visit a bank.

Long stories for two tasks, eh?

Well, this is my life…I can usually find something funny in even it’s most mundane tasks. Or something to grump about…while still chuckling at my frustrations.

Feeling accomplished, I decided to keep my Monday motivation going. At 20th and Burnside, I was pretty close to Washington Park, where I don’t get to that often. I know it somehow connects up to Forest Park, though I’ve not managed to get lost enough to figure out exactly how or where. Since I’ve only been there once this year, I decided on an urban hike.

I cracked out a nice lil sweat and a five mile hike. But that’s s blog post for another day. Time to fold laundry!

Motivation Monday

Portland Pride

I said I wasn’t going to go.

I wasn’t in the mood, borderline depressed.

It’s not my crowd, I’m too old.

It’s not safe, why put myself in a place where I’m a potential target?

My “Pride” body is in mothballs.

I went.

…and came away friggin’ renewed!

Don’t get me wrong, when I first showed up, I was mad. Since this outfit sets up in and around the North Park Blocks, I’m immersed in the Pride parade going-ons.

Even the day of, I left my house and went to my coffee shop for my morning joe, coming out my front door when it was just early bird parade prep stragglers.

I was convinced that sitting in my coffee shop perch would be the extent of my participation. However, as I watched the Park Blocks populate from straggler-status to party-mode, I kinda got inspired.

Then I left the cafe and went home.

Ugh…so people-y.

I sat on my couch and booted around the interwebs and the Netflix for a while before convincing myself around 11:30 to just go watch the Dykes on Bikes. They always kick off the parade and their ability to get the crowd pumped in a great boost.

The parade started at 11 this year.

C’mon!

I’d missed the Dykes.

But there I was, in the same spot I always occupied when I went to the parade. Standing on the edge of the parking lot across from the former Embers. Sun beating down from directly over me and radiating up at me from the asphalt I was standing on.

Convection Cooked Xtopher.

I missed the opportunity to go across the street for a quick beer to cool off. During other Portland Pride parades, I was amazed to walk into Embers during the parade and see how nut-to-butt packed it was. Post-standing-room-only, whereas I usually felt like I was the only non-homeless, non-employee, not wearing a dress patron there. But as everyone else waited in their best guess as to where a line was for the bar, I could usually count on standing still and getting a beer handed to me.

Ah, the occasional perks of being a regular.

I’d only been at the parade for 15 minutes, but could already feel myself deciding to stay. The frustration at missing the opening act was wearing off. And even though I couldn’t wander across the street for a beer, Portland’s local pubs had floats that at least refreshed me with the idea of a beer.

It was fun – as usual – to see the local businesses participating in this show of community. Not too long ago, these parades were really just processions of floats with go-go boys from the local bars, support organizations for our community and the occasional business from a city’s Gay District. It really reinforced the theme for the parade.

While “LOVE” is indeed the word, the participation by these businesses demonstrated that love is a word with many definitions. Obviously, for the parade overall, romantic and familial love was the primary meaning, but this participation by the community reinforced the less specific, global definition of the word.

They loved us.

Because love is also simply about a degree of acceptance. Taking the whole – don’t make it dirty, Diezel – good, bad or ugly.

Even our sports teams got in on it. Naturally, there were the local gay teams, like the gay soccer league team. But seeing our Blazer organization representing, that felt good for some reason. Not that I’m a sports fan or participant. But maybe because I’m not…having spent much of my youth feeling ostracized from my peer group because I didn’t have a head – or physical aptitude – for sports.

Of course, not everyone loves “us”. I had decided to make my way from my perch toward the head of Broadway.

This year’s Pride haps were pre-marred by the ominous yet vague threat that alt-right Proud Boys would be lurking outside Pride sponsored events to harass attendees as they left. Basically – Pride being an unapologetic party – they were openly declaring that they were gonna beat up drunk gays.

Proud Boys ruining Pride.

I can see why they’re so proud.

There were a couple of dust ups in the week leading to Pride weekend – most notably, three guys pulling their small penis mobile over on Broadway in broad daylight to beat up a gay – or at least gay enough looking – guy.

Profile much?

But that still lent credibility to their menacing promise. It kept me in. Maybe that was their real purpose.

Still, I was happy to hear about increased security, including the Portland Police, at Pride functions. For the second time in the years since the Pulse massacre, I was glad to see the parade head at Broadway and Burnside blockaded against vehicles.

Two heavy duty dump trucks were there to prevent any vehicular menace. A sad statement to have to make, but heaven forbid these alt-right people read a newspaper and figure out what terrorism in Europe is looking like these days.

Of course, dump trucks keep out cars and whatnot. But not all of the refuse.

As always, the “God Hates Fags” crowd was there. I think they really did a great job of rallying the three remaining members of their hate group for the parade.

My photography leaves a bit to be desired, but it really was three guys, two signs and a bullhorn.

They really weren’t a match for the horns and sirens of every emergency service provider in the Portland area, who blasted them and drowned their hate-speak out as their vehicles rounded the corner of the parade route.

Do you see the vehicle ID on that ambulance?

Awesome!

Eventually, the haters gave up. More accurately, they probably moved down to the waterfront festival ahead of the parade’s end so that they could be ready to assault the crowd as they entered the festival after the parade. I don’t know who writes their stuff, but what I heard in between siren blasts makes me suspect one of their group is a self-hating homo.

“Instead of getting down on your knees to suck dick, you should get down an pray to God!”

“God hates you, you cum gurgling homo!”

…hearing them was really starting to make me feel proud to be a part of a community that has an annual party to promote love.

Surprisingly, dovetailing nicely on that feeling were at least a dozen religious groups sending delegations to march. Usually, I expect the MCC to be there since it’s “the gay church”. This year, though, I really noticed the participants from other religious denominations.

Because it really reinforced that with mutual love and respect for one another, we are all taking part in a global community and by extension, family.

I swear those balloons spell out “FAMILY”. A nice throwback to the Marriage Equality slogan, “Love makes a family”.

I decided to keep moving backward along the parade route to short-hand the remaining floats in the procession. Partially because this was turning into an all day event for me when I’d originally committed to viewing one entry. Notice how ungrumpy I’m seeming as I write? The same was also happening in real time as I watched the parade.

Catharsis!

I also wanted to head back toward my coffee house to see if they were still open. Normally, they are closed on Sundays. From what I’d witnessed earlier in the day, today was looking to shape up as one of their best days ever. I like seeing my local businesses thrive…even if a constant line to the door means I might not get a timely refill on my cold brew coffee.

Remember what I said about being a regular at my neighborhood gay bar? Yeah…well, it worked with coffee, too! The Fox had joined late, not believing the cafe would be open. He’d walked in – amazed – to a line to the door. Liz set him up with a cup, but was so busy that he didn’t get a chance to pay until the next day. It’s these local businesses with such good people working there and investing their personalities in the community they serve – these relationships – that I want to see thrive. I’m proud to be their customer.

Even still, it’s nice to see big business participate, too. Nike, Adidas, T-Mobile, even Wells Fargo…despite the road apples their crew didn’t manage to get entirely removed! It was odd that a few companies were conspicuously absent from prior years: Macy’s and Alaska Airlines being a couple of the standouts.

Maybe I just missed them, but then again…they do set up right in my front yard. Macy’s kind of makes sense, having shuttered their downtown store this past year. But Alaska would be a strange absence, given that they are a local PNW company.

But none of that is actually why I brought up the big business participation.

In order for these large companies to have a delegation in the parade to represent them, they’ve got to have employees that want to represent them. These global behemoths like Nike and Adidas, for instance. Sure, they both have Portland World Headquarters, but internally they have an environment of inclusion…specifically for their LGBT+ employees. That effort to make their employees more than just a minion helps them to attract and retain good talent.

But it also gives me hope that no matter how big the company, they are striving toward that scrappy small business value of their individuals being what drives their local success, like my friends that work at my favorite caffienation and inebriation stations.

By this time, I’d actually made my way back to the corner that f&b is on just in time to see the final floats heading into the route. Led by the Human Rights Campaign and Portland’s own Gay Beards, whose procession had a ball playing red rover under their huge flag.

Not to be too Portland about it, but the Witches Against Capitalism were well represented. As was our local Rocky Horror Picture Show enthusiasts…whose group presented zero g-rated picture opportunities, so enjoy the witches.From witches to Red Dress…I’d have a tough time finding a dress for the actual Red Dress Party – although I don’t since I’m not a size 12 anymore. These guys trotted out a dress for the Pride Parade…and you know they can’t wear the same dress twice!

That’s commitment.Sure, let’s have a float for sex workers, too.

Actually, while I don’t disagree with their sign – that looks like it was made at breakfast and they just spontaneously decided to be in the parade over brunch – the reason I’m including these pics is two-fold:

A) there is a guy dressed as Deadpool wearing a straw hat right behind that blue tutu…WTF? Like I’d put it past Ryan Reynolds to show up for a random Pride parade appearance.B) I’ve had a “real” job my whole life…where’s my fucking boat?!?

Maybe I need to re-examine my vocational trajectory.

Oops…maybe that ship has sailed. (See what I did there?)

Then there’s random unicycle dude outfitted in pink and pulling a bike trailer with a giant “?” on it as if to say, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here…”

But that pink curly thing? Not a tail on his costume…it’s a whip.

If only I had a good action shot of it.Which brings us to the end of the parade. Since Dykes on Bikes open the procession, it seems only fair that’ll white guys on motorcycles finish things off, right?

Call it Dawgs on Hawgs…

Luckily, my backward moseying had brought me back to Big Legrowlski.

And this adorable little fella!

I was actually pretty parched, so I stopped in for just one.

Good old Silver Fox joined me for a second round.

Then Liz and the f&b crew stopped in for a quickie to cap off a huge day of business for their cafe. I had to stay and help celebrate that success!

Right?!?

The Fox being the reasonable person he is chose to duck out at this juncture. That turned out to be a good call since moments later – swigs later? – the gorgeous 80 degree day gave way to a biblical friggin’ rain storm.

Drops the size of my head.

Thunder!

I decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the only rain break was awkwardly situated in the middle of a beer.

What’s an out of date Frat Boy to do?

Me, being the optimist that I am, stayed and drank until I’d hit six. Then I began to wonder in those God Hates Fags guys were right and worry that a flood was coming.

Not really.

But it was getting on to Mistress Myrtle’s feeding time. I asked Alex if she had any lost and found umbrellas. She jokingly provided me with this

which I proudly escorted back to my place while wondering how a bar ends up with a child’s umbrella.

The days that followed Pride have been fun exercises in immediate nostalgia. One of the best things about Portland Pride is that it’s always in the middle of Pride month – the worst thing is that it’s on Father’s Day. What this means is that we have a lot of pre-Pride festivities to warm us up and that we still have two weeks left in Pride month.

It’s like foreplay and afterglow.

My favorite part of this reality is that I have little reminders of Pride – like glitter all over the road in front of my home or this sticker I saw yesterday in front of Powell’s.

This whole surprise Pride participation has been just what my waning sense of self-pride needed.

Gay-men to that!

It was just the necessary kick in the butt to stop feeling worthless in my unemployed-ness and get my ass off the couch and back into the land of the living. More of that to follow!

Love and pizza, yo!

Portland Pride

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