Don’t Call It A Recap…

Especially when recrap would be a much better way to sum up 2020.

And since it’s 2020 we’re talking about, I’m just going to talk about the last two months – really, the last month, outside of an early November mention. The whole year would run 20000 words, I’m sure.

Truth be told, I’m just going to bitch about a few things that broke down and then express a little post-holiday gratitude. This shouldn’t take long,

All in all, I’d summarize 2020 as a year in which if it didn’t break, it probably died.

Here’s a few things that gave it up in the last weeks of the year:

My laptop. As I geared up for NaNoWriMo in early November, my laptop started shitting its pants whenever it stepped off a high curb. I’d planned a non-fiction piece about job searching in my fifties. Fortunately, after a few hours of online tutorials, I was able to coax my laptop back to the land of the continent. That NaNo project, though…never did quite manage the download from brain to laptop. The Silver Fox stood by helpfully – virtually – while also acing his best friend duties by offering up the MacBooks he saw at Costco as a potential solution. I thought about it, even looked at one online in my most frustrated moment, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Costco offering was ~$800 and an Air model. In hindsight, that would have layered in what turned out to be unnecessary excuses for not tapping out a NaNo entry this year since the Air just doesn’t have the memory for writing like the Pro does.

New Pros run $1500-2400 and a used one is gettable for around $400. That’s what I did last time I replaced my laptop. I ended up with a refurbished model that was a year newer than my old one, so on balance I’m netting up two years of use…and counting.

After that brush with disaster, it looked like smooth sailing.

This being my life, that didn’t last long. The second and third weeks of December made week one of November look like a snowball next to their avalanche of misery.

Let’s see…

This is probably a clunky segue after my snow analogy, but it started to rain in the second week of December. Hardly a surprise in the PNDub, but I mean it rained. Like, people were walking around with expressions that said, “All that pandemic home improvement we did and we didn’t think to add pontoons?!?”

That type of rain.

I didn’t really notice it outside hearing things like “two inches in the last 36 hours” on the radio.

Until…I came home from running errands one day, took off my shoes, kicked up my feet to watch some Seinfeld for a couple hours and then – when I put my shoes and socks back on so I could go drive, my socks were wet. Flipping over my shoes, I was greeted with the thought, “How long ago did I get these?!?”

Walked the hell out of them, I did.

Off to NikeTown I went.

I was shocked by a couple of things:

First, my new shoes were only $130. I say “only” because that is about what I remember paying for my last few pairs – further reinforcing my suspicion that I haven’t had these last shoes that long. In reality, I recollect it being about 2 1/2 years, so they had more of a life than old Phil and his shareholders would like.

Second, the kid who helped me with my purchase was both unnecessarily tall and flirty. I’m not mad about that last part.

Next, as I rushed to get to the Festivus episode of Seinfeld before Christmas, my TV crapped out on me. It just started shutting off after an hour or two of play. I’d reboot it and it would come back…for a couple days. Then it just stopped powering on altogether. Haven’t been able to revive it yet using the same Internet U continuing education resources I did with my laptop. I might need to actually get someone on the horn to figure it out.

Then again, the other U – as in Universe – might be trying to tell me it’s all for naught. Last night, my final ride was a pick up at Video Only, a local electronics chainlet. While I waited in front for my passenger to emerge, I had prime seating for the TVs playing right inside the door.

Also, now I know that my car will hold a 65″ TV.

But in a fit of mixed messages, the guy wasn’t a tipper, which I’d interpret as the Universe steering me away from a new TV after putting me in front of Video Only’s temptations. And this is a rather significant sign since on top of having to figure out the logistics of getting a large object into a small space (merry Christmas, Diezel) this ride was from the far north end of town – literally, the Oregon border – to the far southeast quadrant of town…over 30 minutes, thanks to an accident on the crosstown. Yeah, by all means, feel free to drag your huge TV away from that scenario with no feeling of gratitude.

Let’s see…laptop, TV, sneakers…what else?

Oh!

Angela. This would be Pat the Patriot’s replacement from last February, who I don’t write about often because she doesn’t spend an average of a week in the shop each month like Pat did. Still, the other day – Christmas Eve – I got in the car to drive a bit and my low tire pressure alarm went off. Looking at the vehicle status screen on the onboard, I saw that the back passenger tire was the issue, but it was only a half PSI off of the next closest pressure level. I chalked that up to the morning being rather colder than the more recent days and planned to monitor it as I drove and fill it when I parked later. Sure enough, as the tire warmed up, the pressure crept up but still needed an eventual top off.

Undaunted, after eight rides, the Universe tossed me another grenade.

I pulled to a stop at a freeway exit and while I waited for the light to change, Angela made a sound I’ve not heard before. Let me tell you, I love the onboard computer, but the alarms are not subtle.

Everything is DEFCON 4.

“Hey, dummy…get gas!” makes the same sound as “Low Tire Pressure”. That’s also the same sound as the warning for low outside temperature…which is triggered at an unalarming and balmy 37 degrees.

However, the sound Angela made at that off ramp made me debate running away from the vehicle. On top of that, I was treated to my dash display and my onboard console display both changing screens to tell me my brake pads needed replacing.

It was rather a stimulation overflow.

Hell, with all that fuss, I’d have thought the wheels had come completely off the vehicle.

Nonetheless, I managed to both proChristinate getting gas and filling the low tire, so when I got in my car later that day – to go searching for wrapping paper, which was harder to find on Christmas Eve than crapping paper was in March – I was treated to a deafening cacophony of alarms that lasted about two blocks.

Sweet Jesus, Germans…calm the hell down.

But, as of Christmas morning, the only alarm still regularly greeting me is the brake pads warning. It is, however, pulling double duty. I hear it when I start the car and again when I switch it off…so, someone is looking out for my C.R.S. Hoorah?

Not for nothing, I check my mail midweek, generally. Last night, for whatever reason, I checked it when I came home.

Yeah…pretty sure that’s a ticket. The city is pretty good about screaming the purpose of its mailings if you pay attention. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing the bold type that screams “City Arts Tax Statement” and others, it’s just knowing that the mailing address is the County Health Clinic just down the way. Not that I’ve ever gotten a letter from them…

The vagueness of this letter – only a “Response Requested Within Thirty Days” to guide me – made me think “request” was meant to trick me into opening it. Like I’m getting invited to the Mayor’s re-election party or something. And I do remember driving one night and seeing three strobe like flashes out of the corner of my eye. I looked at my dash and saw I was doing low 40s in a 35 MPH zone, but wrote it off as paranoia since I was also on an old state highway versus at an intersection where one usually sees red light cameras.

Heck, I don’t even know if Portland uses photo radar for ticketing. I can’t wait to find out when I open this sometime next July.

Now, just to make sure that you’re not all looking longingly at your own balconies or googling “macrame nooses” – that might just be a Portland thing – remember, I did get a pair of new sneakers out of the ordeal.

Plus, then there’s the actual good things that happened in the last few months, no wait…weeks, no…wait hours of the year. Optimistically, I’m choosing to accept these as net positives despite the fact that the Universe tends toward Lucy behaviors to my Charlie Brown existence.

For instance, when I checked my mail last week, I got a Christmas card from Little Buddy.

I know it’s hokey and completely against my typical on-brand bitterness, but just look at that grandpa playing Santa with his grand baby! It just made me tear up again!

Also mail related: when I checked my mail last night, I found that the City of Seattle had gotten its shit together and sent me some unclaimed money.

Mind you, Portland had theirs resolved weeks ago. Like pre-Thanksgiving. But on the upside, I was expecting $100 and got a check for $123, so…I’m not complaining. Hopefully that maybe-ticket isn’t too much more than that. Actually, if the maybe-ticket turns out to be a not-ticket, that check can go right into my New TV Fund!

The actual bummer here is that I don’t want a New TV Fund. I’d been hoping to have January bills squared away last week so I could maybe splurge on a Peloton-like bike for home. My 2021 non-fiction project is going to be a bit of a redux to my Fitfy blog theme. I figure that will nicely close the loop on my aging series of non-fiction: dating, working and fitness.

Anyway, I digress. Now we’re up to Christmas Day!

I’m not kidding when I – again, against my Early Onset Grumpiness brand – say that seeing my sister and her family of three for the first time this year had me feeling things. My attendance at family Christmas was (secretly) predicated upon the size of the gathering.

Our Thanksgiving had been four – mom, dad, youngest bro and I – from three households. State guidance was no more than six – pass! – from two households – fail! Those guidelines held for Christmas, too.

That said, Christmas was set to be that same group along with the welcome addition of my sister’s family from central Oregon and the unwelcome addition of Black Sheep Bro and his two teenaged sons, whom none of us have ever met.

From Texas.

If the pandemic weren’t a thing, I’d still have “put my foot down” level issues with this occurrence.

After screwing up my courage – not in an alcohol related way – I took my shot with the parents. It’s not that I begrudge them their parental – and grandparental feelings – which I will never experience first hand, but my shot was that Christmas should be a repeat of Thanksgiving.

I know. This is why people sometimes call me the Voice of Treason.

But I figured not saying anything would be the real problem. And I didn’t want the Christmas follow up conversations to be:

People: What did you get for Christmas?

Me: Dead Family. You?

So, I said it.

What I offered was to do a same day drive over and back to drop off and pick up gifts for my sister’s family…on the additional condition that we all *not* miss BSB for another Christmas. As expected, the results were like my favorite joke* and resulted in BSB being cordially disinvited but my sister still coming over.

That suited me fine enough. Although I was chagrined-ish to run into my brother in law and nephew in the drive when I arrived, on their way out to walk the dog. After exchanging greetings and getting a brief update, my brother in law says to me, “Are you going to wear your mask in the house?” I’d completely put it on out of habit before getting out of the car.

At least I’m consistent.

Now, what you should know about my family is that we are terrible Americans. At least as far as Christmas goes. We have a small family. I’d say our “core” census is seven: mom, dad, sis, brother in law, nephew, brother, me. Even adding in what I’d call the extended family – my uncle’s family in Texas and my 98 year old hermit of a grandfather – only adds five to that.

Then there’s BSB trying to add in his brood of three to our numbers now that the wife he basically left the family for has left him. Allegedly for something that comes with a cork in it. I shared a bedroom with the guy growing up, though, and I’d say the wine was a cure and not the cause my BSB would have us believe.

But that’s another blog.

The reason we are bad Americans at Christmas is that we draw names for our gift exchange versus just buying everyone gifts from everyone. However, the upside is that between breakfast and dinner, we only have to open ~7 gifts instead of four or five dozen, so there’s very little disruption to our holiday feeding frenzy.

On top of that, we make lists. Whoever draws our names basically has a cheat sheet. My youngest brother, as I gather – having not seen his list, even put down websites. That guy came to Thanksgiving prepared!

Me? I came to Thanksgiving oblivious. When I learned the routine for this year, I was stuck completely in “What the fuck do I want?!?” mode.

I vamped my way through my list of 3-5 things before coming up with something useful:

1) Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice

2) Skateboard

Here’s the explanation of those requests. Really, though, I hoped I didn’t get those items because I’m old and hips are expensive.

3) This Tee

And then my brain kicked into gear.

4) An InstaPot.

There had been an InstaPot at last year’s Christmas, but it was a White Elephant style exchange and it got stolen by mom. But I loved the Brady Bunch Inspired gift I brought home…

I present to you the real reason 2020 has been such a shit show!

Now, this year’s rules mandated that the gifts be given anonymously – which I missed, so my brother in law knew I was his Santa – so when I opened my gift, I didn’t know who to check for smirkage.

Because it’s me, and I didn’t just happen, I was completely open to my Santa being someone who knew I’d never buy myself an InstaPot and that I was disappointed to not walk with one last Christmas. Heck, I’d gone rogue and bought my nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store and debated putting it in a box with some rocks to weigh it down, so I couldn’t reasonably expect my Santa to not have had the same notion.

But, not knowing who to scrutinize for tells, I was left with opening up the outer box for verification.

Blammo!

Apparently, not only can you find one for $100 – that’s another rule – you can find one that connects to goddamn wifi and can be controlled from your smartphone. What an amazing time to be alive!

I finally found out that my Santa was my sister. When I told her I was worried my list was either entirely gibberish or over the price limit, she gave me a humblebrag about her ability to “find a deal”. Whether that meant she’s a legit Coupon Queen or threw me a bone and bought the only thing on my list that wasn’t snarky, despite having to bend a rule is unclear. I am pretty sure she honestly found a deal. She is good like that.

Now, I just gotta decide what to make and then screw up my courage to do it!

All in all, it’s a year that makes me think “I should have moved into a unit on a higher floor” whenever I stand on my balcony. Luckily, the year is nearly behind us, so I don’t think I will be worrying whether a four story drop would qualify as a landing I could walk away from or not.

Now, for all of you who waited patiently for the *, here’s my favorite joke of all time:

What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic?

Halfway.

Keep in mind, I heard this joke as a pre-teen on the friggin’ Muppet Show. That Fozzy Bear could bring a house down, I tell ya. But four decades later and I’m still carrying his torch!

Don’t Call It A Recap…

Yeah, This Tracks…

You know me…every day is just another opportunity for me to put my affairs – not that kind, Diezel – in order before I die alone.

Today was no exception.

It was a day that started out strangely well, considering a night of whack sleep. I’d fallen asleep for <30 minutes last night on the couch around 8, but was then completely wide awake. I didn’t take my new favorite weed syrup sleep aid before bed because I was meeting my parents at 10 this morning to go look at bathroom fixtures and entry lights for a few projects they have going on at Galby Acres and I didn’t want to oversleep.

Naturally, I woke up at 730. <eyeroll>

No matter, I had errands that I could run before meeting up with M&D at 10 and actually managed to overcome my usual morning torpor and get to it. Of course, my parents surprised me with an en auto breakfast – restaurants are closed to dine in customers here in Portland, so we got take out and ate in the car like hippies – and after we hit the kitchen/bath/lighting shop, they re-surprised me by letting me tag along to watch them car shop.

It was a good morning.

When they dropped me back home, mom admonished me to take the rest of the day off, like spending my morning with them had been some sort of chore. I fully intended to comply, but then decided to just pop out for a couple hours.

Mistake.

I was out for just under three hours and only had six rides. Most of my time was spent sitting on the 5 northbound since it was after 230, and even in a pandemic under lockdown orders, the idiots that live across the river in Washington – with its lower property taxes and no income tax – but come to town for our higher paying jobs and sales tax free shopping have found a way to make a three mile drive take 15+ minutes. I had one ride that took me to the second to last freeway exit before the state line and the next two hours were spent with me getting almost back to the city core before being called back to one of the last two exits before entering Vantucky.

Actually, my third ride was to pick up my second passenger, because he got nauseous being that close to Washington completed his errand quickly and I was still the closest driver. That was a first: a back to back repeat rider.

After yo-yoing between almost downtown and the state line for the next two rides, I decided to put my app on Home Mode and call it quits. Earnings were crap, since I’d spent most of my time sitting in traffic…and none of those apparently entitled bastards understood how gratuities work. Or their sense of entitlement made me driving 15-20 minutes to fetch them for a 6 minute ride seem equitable.

I’d roll my eyes, but they are still sprained from the last epic eyeroll…

I got one ride on the way home.

In true Portland style, this is my passenger’s avatar.

Well, that looks like it is gonna be an entertaining ride. If it was a cis-woman, I was prepared to be hyper aware of how easily she could snap me in half. But I suspected it was merely another queer youth expressing his gender-fluidity.

I was right.

Still, we had a nice and amiable chat during our 8 minutes together. I learned he was going to his boyfriend’s for an at home date night, which sounded super sweet. They started dating just after lockdown 1.0 and have been together a little over six months.

I don’t know why I was surprised to pull up to his boyfriend’s house and think “I’ve picked someone up here before…”

Imagine my surprise when my passenger replied.

Oops.

I vamped and said that I thought I’d given his BF a ride before. I immediately called up a mental picture of the guy – like a stoned out, slightly-too-old-for-it skater boy who was newly missing a front tooth when I picked him up. He awkwardly came out to me during our ride after bitching about how picking up an extra shift at work was better than hanging out at home with his bitch ex-wife, who he also worked with so it was not easy to manage time apart.

His words.

He talked a little about the guy he was seeing before I dropped him off at a dispensary a few blocks away.

Imagine my surprise as I sat in the driveway trying to decide whether to head left or right and a call came in, taking me to the left. A right and a couple of miles had me pulling up to my next ride…at the sister store for Mr Nice Guy.

Only me…

I think it’s because something weird like that would only happen to me, but it might also be because I’m one of the few who would notice that type of coincidence.

Still, if I dropped the woman I picked up at the second shop at the house where I’d just picked up my previous ride, I was fully prepared to laugh all the way home. Luckily, that did not happen.

Back to tonight, though, I tell the guy that I think I’d given his boyfriend a ride before and asked if he worked at a weed shop.

Me? No, I work at a pizza joint.

Okaaaay.

Clarifying I had meant his BF, while thinking that even with his tendency to capture makeover moments on film – he was not wearing any overt makeup tonight – that he should be able to do better than the guy inside that house, my young, gender-fluid passenger laughs awkwardly and gets out of the car.

Affording me the opportunity to see the Mr Nice Guy logo on the hoodie he was wearing.

Fuck my life.

Luckily, I’d ordered a beer delivery from Big Legrowlski whilst sitting in traffic on the 5 and it was presently waiting for me at home. A Pallet Jack or two oughta set me just right, allowing me to forget that a burnout type guy missing a front tooth can get a boyfriend and I’m sitting at home drinking alone with the ever disdainful Mistress Myrtle.

Because, with Myrtle around, you’re always alone. I hope she ends this game of cat and Xtopher she’s playing soon and puts me out of my misanthropy…

Yeah, This Tracks…

RIP: The Middle Ground

Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

For democracy in America.

Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

Dead.

(My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

As a Democrat.

As an American.

And even as an adult.

Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

Still.

As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

Drunk!

That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

Ask me in 28 days.

As for last night?

As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

  1. Vote for Trump
  2. Don’t vote
  3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    I’m Not Dead

    …just very badly burned…out.

    I guess that’s what you could call it.

    I hear people referring to COVID-Fatigue or Lockdown Fatigue. Maybe this is a little bit of that?

    Maybe I should do what the cool kids all seem to do and self-diagnose with Anxiety? Nah, I’m sure it’s not that…the 20-teens version of Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Which I guess is no longer a syndrome but a virus from the herpes family, believe it or not. Who knew that would end up being a real thing? Suddenly, though, I see how that could have spread as widely as it allegedly did among self-diagnosticians.

    No.

    Not dead.

    Not anxious.

    Just…quiet.

    I hope you enjoyed the respite from my bullshit.

    Self-effacing, but make it poetry.

    Anyway, in my self-imposed solitude, I’ve been getting out of bed for several hours each day. Which is good. Most days for a few hours of driving, that affords me some easy, no muss-no fuss socializing during the week.

    But I’ve also been sneaking out – under cover of darkness, for the most part…for blobvious reasons – to run a few times a week. This will be week three of that endeavor, and while it’s certainly humbling, it feels good.

    Ish.

    Notice, if you will, that no one *liked* my activities. I can tell you that I pretty much felt the same.

    Because this is me, I have some observations after my inaugural return:

    First, ow. I need new shoes. I meant to run yesterday to kick off the week – even though my brain told me that it was probably a bad idea: running consecutive days – but I got stuck in an eight hour drive hole after heading out to catch a ride in a bonus zone that just happened to land on me like a house on a wicked witch.

    Starting off innocently enough with what turned out to be a $50 24-minute ride…poof…eight hours went by like nothing. My ass didn’t even really complain, which is something it usually starts doing at around three hours normally. I blame it on my gluteus minimus getting a lil swole from running.

    Second, in a fit of what I know now to have been prescience, I woke up with a complaining ACL on my left side. You may or may not recall something which I certainly try to forget, which is my doctor retiring me from running a few – seven is “a few”, right? – years back after I fractured my tibia while training you run a marathon. Well, it took two more fractures – but c’mon, they were just micro fractures, who takes those seriously? – before I believed him. Now, seven years and about 30 pounds later, I’m revisiting the advice. Tempering my activity with a return to shorter distances, a cushiony track versus asphalt roadways and a shockingly low level of endurance that puts me in a run a half lap/walk a half lap cadence…hence the double-digit pace. So if a bit of whining from an ACL is the damage, I’m willing to pop an ibuprofen and push on…tomorrow.

    And, third and especially because it’s me, during one of my late night wheezes runs, there was a photo shoot going on in the field inside the track.

    Picture it: a perfectly dark night and a 10×10 square of the field exploding with lights set up in what I initially thought was a trap that caught a shirtless, well-oiled musclebound specimen of male pulchritude. You might wonder what kind of idiot would wander into such an obvious trap. Clearly, a muscle head, but to his credit, they did obscure the trap with several smoke machines.

    The aesthetic perils of running on the UnderArmor track. Another reason for my choice to run at night. Seriously, though, this being 2020, I shouldn’t assume he was doing a marketing shoot for UnderArmor – it could have been for his Instagram page for all I know!

    So, yeah…running. Standby on how that goes. My current goal is 2x/week until I can comfortably run a full lap consistently. This far, I’ve managed that twice, both laps resulted in an internal argument about whether my struggle was because I was that out of shape, had COVID or if this was a post-COVID long-term side effect.

    My psyche is a psychotic place. Still, I’m betting it’s option three…

    The last year or so, I’ve been commenting that I only really have three activity pillars in my daily life – aside from my number one pastime, socializing. That may sound like I’m either not living a very full existence or that I’m pretty low-functioning, since I usually follow that up with “I can really only succeed at two of the three pillars each day”.

    Work – which nowadays consists solely of my Lyft driving. It’s a definitely struggle to make ends meet, more fail than win. But I’m really not sure that a return to 50+ hour professional workweeks is in my future. It’s something I need to work out in therapy, I know. I’m not able to objectively determine if I e left my last posts for legitimate reasons. My friends and family will tell me that I had valid grounds, but I don’t know if that makes us all smart or them loyal. Neither is bad, but I need an outside diagnosis opinion.

    Exercise – which has been the first of the three to be sacrificed, obviously.

    Writing – and if you think I’ve been eschewing my blog for working on a book, allow me to dis you from that illusion. I mean, I’m kind of joking, but the reality is…no.

    So, on that note, let me wrap up with an update on my creative endeavors.

    I’ve got a first draft of a WIP sitting on my laptop waiting for edits that I’d wanted complete by April. Alas. I’ve also decided to pull my second novel off of Amazon to rework it. At 550 pages, my initial impulse was to split it in two. The feedback I got from a beta reader and a couple of folks that bought it early on was that it was fine at that length. However, the costs of self-publishing a book that size puts a hefty $17.95 price on the book just to make me a buck on the back end. I’ve decided that I’d rather be able to price my books at $9.95 to make them more easily marketable.

    Sidebar: I recently bought a copy of a friend’s book – called Gay and Tired – in a show of support for a fellow writer. Like my goal, his was priced at $10, so I figured it was an easy show of support. It’s sixty pages. It better be the missing chapter of either the Kama Sutra or How to Make People and Influence Friends (wait, that doesn’t sound right) for that price. But suddenly, my 300-ish page books for that same price seem pretty much like a steal. My initial surprise at the shortness made me a little…conflicted, so I’ve yet to read it.

    At $9.95, my royalty is about a buck – which is why my initial novel was priced at $12.95, I hoped it would be read and a potential income stream. However, I would prefer to have my story read more than build an actual income stream, which is why I decided to split book two into books two and three. There’s a super logical cliffhanger to end up book two and then start book three. And I think it will be an easier purchase impulse to enable at $9.95.

    Now, if I could just cut it down by a couple hundred pages, I could probably apparently make a 600% increase on my royalty.

    Anyway, one of the other things I decided to do for book one was to buy a few author copies to drop into neighborhood lending libraries around town.

    What? Your city doesn’t have neighborhood lending libraries?

    I love this about our lil burg. Of course, since mine has a few racy chapters, I’d probably focus my contribution to libraries in front of houses with gay pride flags hanging on them – there are plenty, trust me – versus those with toddlers standing in the front yard, like in the first picture.

    I don’t expect anything in return for this contribution, it’s just something I wanted to do when I first published the book last year – I just never had the discretionary scratch to do it before. Frankly, I don’t really have it now, but given the social climate of 2020 I felt like it was more important than ever to do it. You see, the impetus for writing this was to show an imperfect slice of life between a group of diverse gay men and the bond of friendship that allows them to lift one another up in life. Given the widening chasm between people today, it seems we may never successfully manage to “meet in the middle” on anything again.

    This decision was brought front and center again for me yesterday as I observed – and then engaged, which I probably shouldn’t do if I’m going to publish under my real name – on a Facebook thread between a local owner of a queer bar and…I dunno, the public. The issue stems from his decision to shutter the bar in the early days of the pandemic. It was a decision that preceded the governor’s own by a few days, but apparently that was a catalyst for a disenchanted group of workers to air their grievances. Without going into the specific drama, this post was his apology and affirmation of support for the queer community.

    The issue I had was how many fringe members of the community decided to shove a spit – not that kind, Diezel – up his ass a absolutely roast him in the comments. One person is a trans individual who took issue with this owners decision to call trans people brave. In a fit of biting the hand that feeds you, this person decided to speak for their entire population by saying they aren’t brave, they’re tired. Tired of fighting for equality and the right to live their lives as their true selves.

    Ok, I get that. I remember when attending gay bars was something I felt was dangerous. My favorite bars didn’t have normal windows – they were either painted over or obscured by shutters to conceal the bar-goers. Even participating in AIDS marches and Pride parades made me feel like I was putting a bullseye on myself. But I knew it was important to have that visibility to usher my community into the mainstream.

    And I felt it was brave.

    Flash forward to the Pulse Massacre and you can imagine how I feel the need for bravery in my community is still important.

    But, no…this trans person needed to provide us with an example of the entitlement of their generation by disagreeing with the praise that was levied upon them. They aren’t brave, they’re tired.

    Ok, maybe they wouldn’t be so tired if they confined their battles to actual enemies instead of making enemies within their own community.

    Just write a fucking book and shut up. Well, not shut up so much as get the impulse to attack your own out of your system. Here’s a title suggestion: Trans and Tired. Imagine how much faster rhinos would have gone extinct if they attacked their own versus just letting poachers take them out. <exasperated eye roll>

    I mean, how immature must the queer community be ~50 years after Stonewall? We don’t exactly ooze maturity based on the most visible components of or ranks. I have been referring to The Gays as Lost Boys for decades.

    Anyway, I feel like that’s veering off into a different post. Suffice to say, if I’m going to write under my own name and speak my Voice of Treason truths on social media, maybe success isn’t something I should hope for. But it did make me glad I had arranged for these author copies to spread around. Maybe someone will read my imperfect story and take note. Given the Facebook post from yesterday, that seems more unlikely than one of The Gays finding it and actually reading it, but it clearly needs to happen.

    Now, to come up with an inscription for the inside flap…

    I’m Not Dead

    Hey, You!

    Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

    I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

    Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

    Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

    Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

    It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

    But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

    Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

    Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

    Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

    And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

    Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

    Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

    Just Arizona.

    I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

    Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

    I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

    Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

    Simple pimple.

    Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

    You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

    Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

    Okay, then.

    Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

    When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

    Do you even need more than one guess?

    Arizona State.

    Why?

    Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

    “They have a great business school”.

    Wharton is a great business school…

    <crickets>

    From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

    You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

    I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

    No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

    Hey, You!

    And Then There’s Actual Karma

    Not that I particularly enjoy a karmic smack down.

    Schadenfreude…sure, that I’ll cop to.

    But honestly, the only times when I find myself truly enjoying karma are the times I see someone who has something good coming their way get their due.

    Y’know, like in the pre-lockdown days when someone would sit down near me at a video poker machine. They’d put a urine soaked dollar bill – because it’s Portland, so they are houseless, obviously – into the machine, smack toothless gums while deciding what game to play and then bet min – which is probably sixty cents of that pee dollar (aka: street value of the USD) – only to hit a bonus and win a whopping $10.

    That is an example of karma that makes me happy.

    That is not the type of karma I woke up to this morning. Let me explain…

    Or the Kenton neighborhood of NoPo, 2017…

    I was the GM for Green Zebra Grocery, a store that’s called itself the 7-Eleven of healthy grocers. A Whole Foods in a convenience store footprint.

    Great concept. One that suits my “fishbowl existence” preference – neighborhoods with everything residents need, home, entertainment, restaurants, gyms, and, yes…even grocery stores. Green Zebra – The Zeeb, as the staff nicknamed it – fit right into my worldview.

    Then I worked there.

    Then, I didn’t.

    It couldn’t have ended in a shittier or shadier manner. The founder herself fired me.

    For cause.

    Or what passed for cause in her confrontation averse universe.

    Basically, I was a scapegoat. Or whatever livestock one slaughters to appease the Harassment Gods or fake idols employees pray to in order to dodge personal accountability.

    A grocery clerk left work grateful I’d canceled his shift for the day. He’d shown up visibly impaired, barfed in the sanitizer bucket behind the meat counter, declared “Dude, I did this to myself” when I asked after him…and then claimed harassment after my response to him admitting that he was drunk and stoned at work was “That’s not ok”.

    He was relieved to go home that day.

    When he came back to work and had to face the follow up counseling, he was butt hurt.

    And suddenly, I was the problem.

    He went right to the founder with his complaint.

    He had to change his story a couple of times. First it was “inappropriate comments”, which was vague and scuttled by my counter defense of, “That’s pretty much the culture here – and I’m trying to fix it”.

    Seriously, my defense was a sticker on a manager’s work issued laptop – well, among other examples. And I offered to be the champion of continued change.

    Seriously, that was the sticker staring at me during weekly meetings during my tenure at The Zeeb. When I pointed out that I’d walked into an inappropriate environment and relaxed my own standards to “blend”, the Number Two in the company said, “It’s true” under her breath in a fit of neo-corporate inconvenience. So, basically, the founder decided to fire me after her own Number Two indicted her position.

    Of course, there was the whole, “That actually never happened” defense, which should stand on its own merits anyway.

    After his second story iteration, I pointed out that another complaint made by the same employee had ended in the termination of a meat clerk…that was also on a Worker’s Comp LOA. Apparently, he’d made an unwitnessed comment about the length of the homophobic employee’s hair relative to his gender.

    Now, to me, that’s a definite no-fly zone. But in proving it…when it can’t be proven…well, that scenario ended with erring on the side of caution and terminating the legitimately injured employee.

    However, after sending the founder into another retreat to regroup by asking how many witches she was willing to drown to protect this young man’s fragile sexual identity, she came back – after story revision number three – and fired my sacrificial lamb ass.

    Just remember, after coming to work drunk, stoned and puking in a sanitizing bucket within three feet of raw meat – not that kind, Diezel! – I told the kid he was responsible for managing his crossfade so that it didn’t negatively impact the business or the team.

    Yeah, fire me for that.

    My last words to Lisa – the founder – were, “Surround yourself with good people and then get out of their way”. She’d created a parental environment where if one of “the kids” didn’t like what (in this case) dad said, they went running to mom.

    Short story long – gotta love context – this morning I woke up to someone from my old store’s team posting Instagram story videos announcing the store team striking.

    I recognized the view from the employee side of the cash registers-slash-espresso bar.

    I recognized the founder losing her shit at the situation.

    Unsurprisingly, on camera.

    For several minutes.

    Ranting almost incoherently. The liberal dramatic throwing up of exasperated arms. The dramatic and long suffering demand that her employees abandon their posts so she can ring up customer purchases her-put-upon-self. Customers abandoning their purchases and leaving before Lisa retreated toward the offices yelling that employees win and all employees were getting paid for the day.

    The interesting thing wasn’t the karmic drama. It was in the seeking to understand – one of Lisa’s corporate values. In looking into why the employees decided to strike, I learned it was mainly over hazard pay. During the pandemic, many companies with essential workers – like grocery stores – all employers in that field seemed to offer a bump in the neighborhood of $2/hr for their employees or bonuses of hundreds of dollars multiple times. I’m sure it wasn’t universal, but I didn’t see other grocer’s employees striking so dramatically.

    It’s worth noting that Whole Foods employees situationally went out on strike despite their $2/hr Hero Pay bump that lasted a couple months. Notably, the store in my neighborhood went on strike over a lack of safe working conditions following the death of at least one of their team from COVID-19.

    Lisa apparently offered a one-time $120 bonus for employees. I’m not sure whether that was prorated for full and part time positions. Regardless, $120 for working in an at-risk environment for 12+ weeks – well…that’s $10/week at best for any employee, regardless of the number of hours worked.

    Regardless of the prior conversations, the situation I observed tells me Lisa still either can’t hire the people with the competencies she needs to support her success or she can’t get out of the way of her own team’s success. My experience is that when hiring, you get more wins than losses. There are more people who want to do good work than not. But they need good leadership to do so.

    The situation I personally experienced versus what I witnessed this morning via video shows me that Lisa not only hasn’t learned to get out of the way of good people, she’s literally actively getting in the way to try and single-handedly keep her store open in spite of their grievances.

    Karmicly, I was gratified to see that her customers weren’t any more sympathetic to it than her employees were.

    Where it goes from here is dependent upon whether old dogs can learn new tricks. From what I’m seeing in our country in general and my city in particular…it ain’t coming easy. If it happens.

    And Then There’s Actual Karma

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

    Seriously, last week was quite a year.

    I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

    Black Sheep Bro persisted in his attempts to have a conversation at me about why I should gratefully accept his return to the family dynamic. Reinforcing why I’d rather he leave me out of his notion of family.

    Coronavirus.

    Politics.

    Social Justice.

    Perhaps you’ve read something about Trunt treating Portland like his personal Operation Urgent Fury resulting more in Pinochet-esque kidnappings than anything resembling quelling the city’s outcry for justice.

    The hits just kept on coming.

    It was a tough week – I actually put myself in FaceBook Jail for a couple days just to slow the swirl.

    On top of that, multiple folks reached out to me – either checking in or chiding – because I hadn’t been posting entries on my blog.

    But instead of rehashing the long, I thought I’d recap the strange of the last week. Something lighthearted – just what Doctor Galby ordered.

    Also, “Cocktail, please!”

    After another round of self isolating, I went back to my Lyft driving last week. Probably another reason recent days had begun to feel so long and unending – not much company compared to when I drive folks around, chatting their ears off.

    The result?

    For my efforts, I was rewarded with both mask acne on the bridge of my nose and something like a pimple or a cyst or simply ridiculously painful in my ear pit where the upper strap of my mask looped over the top of my ear. Luckily, that second petty trauma is now just a bunch of dry skin working its way off my body. That mask acne, though…the outbreak on the bridge of my nose may be gone, but my swampy complexion lingers on.

    I’m not kidding – that mask has been like a sauna for my face. And it just wicks from under my mask, too, crawling up my face until even my forehead is a thick, greasy mess.

    “Hello, Puberty? Yes, I’d like to return this skin, please.”

    For whatever reason, there were two consecutive days during my isolation that I woke up at around 4 AM and struggled to get back to sleep. Even though I proactively fed Myrtle breakfast so she wouldn’t go unattended to, she’d still come into the bedroom with some sad little “meows” around 9. Since she didn’t need anything, I chose to interpret her vocalizations as concern.

    On the second day, unsure whether I’d fallen back to sleep or not and not wanting to look at my phone and risk waking my eyes up, I rolled the other way, toward the window. I pushed an eye out from under my pillow – me sleeping is quite a graceful picture – and squinted one eye open to see if there was daylight coming through the edges of my blinds.

    No sun, just one of Myrtle’s big, green eyeballs. I screamed. I think I involuntarily jerked so hard (not like that, Diezel) that I pulled a muscle (also, not that one, Diezel!).

    For her part, Myrt didn’t run and scurry for the underside of the bed or the living room, like she usually does when she gets startled. She just looked at me with those soulless cat eyes like she was willing me to get out of bed so she could have my warm spot.

    I need to get her a heating pad…

    But I got her back a few days later.

    Well, almost.

    I may have friendly-fired myself with a Dutch Oven a couple times the other night.

    A. Couple. Times.

    I didn’t even eat anything weird, so no idea where my bedtime Chernobyl came from. All I do know is that when I looked around, thinking something along the lines of, “That’s for scaring the shit out of me the other day”…no Myrtle.

    Damn it.

    But after a week-ish that was like an emotional finger trap, I’m glad I could at least still find joy in my own weird awkwardness. I decided to take it easy today. Well, I was hoping to get in a bike ride or urban hike before my Virtual Happy Hour with mom and dad – shit I gotta go get something to drink, the company may be virtual, but the liquor will not be! – at 4. Strangely, I woke up famished. After pulling myself together, I set off for my new favorite food cart for an early lunch.

    Closed.

    Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

    What followed ended up being a nice workaround to not exercising because I was hungry.

    Not bad, considering my day was turning into one of these…

    It’s only a quarter mile to the cart, but the other mile and a half was me mincing around from pod to pod searching for inspiration. I ended up at Charlie’s Deli getting what I think is the best sandwich in Portland: their pastrami on rye, extra mustard.

    And, more bright side – I didn’t even get disappeared while out walking by myself.

    Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and don’t forget…Fuck Trump!

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

    Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!?

    I was talking/texting with my sister the other day about our upcoming family vacation. Suddenly, the conversation turned back toward my favorite topic: me.

    So, what have you been up to?

    Such an innocently conversational question.

    Of course, it generated a 4″ text response from me.

    The gist was that my stupid PT job had been keeping me busy enough with 35-55 hour weeks for two months straight that everything else in my life was suffering. This is probably as good a time as any to add that my mother had pointed out to me that this was largely my own fault at lunch a few days earlier.

    You do this to yourself, you could say no.

    Oh, mom…of course I could. But that’s not how you and dad or retail raised me!

    Anyway, my main frustration wasn’t the lack of time or energy I’d had for bike rides or hikes this far in the summer. Zero, at that point…if you’re keeping track. It was more that there were two writing projects I’d wanted to make some significant progress on this summer. My second book in the No One Of Consequence series and a slightly supernatural mystery I’d begun that I’m calling GhosTed at the moment.

    My hope was to complete the first draft of NOOC in June and work on finishing GhosTed in July. Then after the break, dive into editing mode on NOOC in August so I could meet/beat my November publishing goal.

    I told my sis that I felt I had barely finished my first draft of NOOC by the end of July and hadn’t touched GhosTed at all. I was a good month behind my self-imposed deadlines.

    Not to mention my blog output had completely dried up.

    Then this happened.

    What the hell got into me?!?

    A few words of support and questions about characters from the first book and suddenly I’m suggesting that I can have Book Two ready to roll in less than eight weeks?!?

    Truth be told, I probably could. I’m going to move toward that goal, certainly. However, I’d been kicking around some feedback I got on Book One from another writer whose opinion I really value and how I could incorporate his suggestions into a version two – one of the perks of self-publishing, the drawing board is never closed! – of Book One to release in tandem with Book Two.

    A less-than-eight-week timeline for both seems possible, just not likely.

    Oh, conundrums.

    But, while I sit in my local cafe not working on either project

    …and texting with Diezel as well as my mom and sister I’m registering the relief I feel at allowing myself to drift out of focus.

    Don’t worry, though, I gave Book Two a good 40 minutes of focus before letting my laptop go to sleep. At this rate, it will be ready by November.

    Well, some November…

    Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!?

    The Simple Solution

    Homelessness.

    Global Warming.

    Opioid Crisis.

    Politicians & Lobbyists.

    Medicare For All.

    Potholes.

    The simple solution?

    Taxes.

    AOC proposed – and I think I have this right – an 80% tax on the super rich. The tax would kick in on income earned annually over, let me say that again in bold print, over $10 million.

    Pilloried.

    That’s what her plan was. Actually, I’m sure the outcry was worse because it was a woman who suggested such outrageousness.

    People were incensed that there would be a special income tax for people earning over $10 million a year. Personally, I was surprised at how not surprised I was. In my mind, I bet that there were more people making less – far less – than that threshold that panned the plan because, y’know…the American Dream.

    One day, that might be me!

    Stupid Americans.

    For some context for what “we’re” against.

    Robert Downey Jr made $75 million last year, 2018.

    He made one movie. Maybe you heard of it? I dunno. Seemed like a big deal at the time.

    But, since his payout included backend pay – calm down, Diezel – what he got paid up front for the $2 billion-worldwide-grossing movie was only the beginning. And the small part.

    I mention this for two reasons:

    First, it seems safe to assume that RDJ didn’t suit up for the sequel to Infinity Wars for a smaller up front or potential total payday. This is important because Endgame made $1.2 billion worldwide in its opening weekend. That’s 60% of what it’s predecessor made altogether in five days!

    Second, RDJ also only made one film in 2017. Spider-Man: Homecoming. He was paid $15 million for three days of work!

    And people are upset that he’d be taxed unfairly on his earnings over $10 mil.

    Hey, everyone…it’s time for a breakdown!

    Let’s see how AOC’s progressive tax may have put poor RDJ on the streets.

    2017: Let’s assume RDJ would have been taxed at the basic 28% tax rate on his first $10 mil. He’s keeping $7.2 of that. Now, for the $5 mil over the threshold, he’s gonna have to cough up $4 mil at that 80% tax rate, keeping a paltry one mil for himself.

    Oh, a paltry one mil on top of the $7.2 that was taxed at a normal rate.

    Ok, A) I don’t even have the friggin’ one mil!

    <cough, cough> buy my book <cough>

    But, then…B) His total after tax annual income was still $8.2 friggin’ mil.

    I know, I know…agents and staff.

    Whatever.

    Those are write offs that could reduce his taxable income so that his 2017 income never even breached the $10 mil threshold.

    Again…for three days of work. Out of 365.

    Now, 2018: What havoc would a socialist tax plan wreak for poor old RDJ?

    On his first $10 mil, we know he’s keeping $7.2, right? That doesn’t change. But on that $65 mil over the threshold? He’s taking home $13 million and coughing up $52 mil to the Pothole Fixing People.

    That’s a lot of potholes. Hell, it’s maybe even a small bridge. Anyone need a bridge?

    So, overall, he’s gonna be pretty ok with a little over $20 million to get through the year – just the year! He can make more money this year!

    I would imagine that’s do-able.

    And that’s just one example. There’s a lot of CEOs and people we’ve never even heard of that make $10 million plus a year. I say “a lot” thinking hundreds of our 325 million Americans. Maybe thousands. I’m for sure not even thinking this affects tens of thousands of Americans.

    Assuming that’s true, and this affects 9000 Americans – this would only be a factor in the lives of .000028% of Americans.

    Benefitting the other 99.999972% of Americans by, y’know…curing cancer.

    And if I’m wrong?

    I could be wrong by a factor of 36+ and still not be out of the infamous 1%.

    And yet, 290-million-ish aren’t demanding this be the status quo. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

    Did I say Stupid Americans?

    Ok, fine. Maybe it’s hard to stick it to one of our beloveds like RDJ, or Ellen or Oprah.

    I get that. American bravery is more of an anonymous thing these days. Looking at you, Internet Trolls.

    How about the CEO of Google. Anyone know him?

    I mean, if you do…I could use $20 mil (before the tax plan kicks in, plz) or some search engine optimization, so hook a homo up!

    His name is Sundar Pichai. And let’s be honest, is there anything that would get Trump supporters to back AOC’s progressive tax faster than that name?

    No. Because there’s an overwhelming number of racists amongst his supporters. That number – I imagine – is dwarfed only by the number of closet racists amongst his supporters.

    Personally, I’d like to watch them wrestle with their love of Trump versus their realization that a progressive tax would make coughing up $5.2 billion in federal money for a border wall laughably easy.

    Hell, tell Trump he’d have enough to build it in gold with a progressive tax and he might forget about how it would affect him personally long enough to sign the tax plan!

    Ready for this breakdown?

    We know there’s a $7.2 million guarantee on his first $10 mil, so this is really about the remaining $460 million.

    $368,000,000

    That’s how much tax money one person could contribute annually to our country and its various crisis. Let’s face it, even at the $10 million threshold, these Richie Riches potentially pay more in taxes in one year than I will in my lifetime.

    And still this nice Sundar guy would have $99,200,000 to live on personally.

    For a year.

    For my $.02 – which is becoming starkly literal in contrast – I’m thinking that more wealthy Americans would start to invest more of their super-wealth to organizations committed to solving these problems on a national or international level.

    I’m ok with that. I think this country needs a few hundred million citizens with a Robin Hood mentality instead of the current Sheriff of Nottingham dream.

    For whatever reason, Americans hate paying taxes.

    Case in point:

    If people think the government can’t be trusted with that kind of money – they could be right – then Benioff might be their role model. And, hey…it’s another guy we’ve never heard of!

    Score!

    The Simple Solution

    Not So…Fast?

    Do you ever do something or realize something and think,

    That was exactly what I needed!

    Yeah, well I’m not sure this post will technically qualify…yet, that is exactly what’s seemed to happen the last couple of days.

    You see, by the time I eat dinner tonight, I will have subsisted on only water for the last 48 hours.

    No coffee or soda.

    No Mac & Cheese or pizza.

    No booze.

    Surely, I’ve lost my mind.

    However, I met up with Diezel on Sunday afternoon and he just looked so good. He’s playing around with facial hair again, but now it’s got the best gray pattern. It looks great. He’s been playing sportsball with the gays, so he’s looking taut and toned, in addition to the endorphin glow.

    Me? I’m sitting across the table, haven’t had a haircut in three months, opted to give my hair a day off from washing, to – which is allegedly good for it. But I still looked like Step One Of Dreadlocks.

    I haven’t been to the gym for anything but cardio since before Christmas. And, trust me…the cardio I’m doing isn’t keeping up with my erratic diet of mostly beer.

    In short: my self care was in the toilet.

    I needed a change.

    Nonetheless, Sunday night I ended up eating…I dunno what for dinner and then topping it off with ice cream. I was so full at bed time, that even though I fell asleep, I woke up two hours later and tossed and turned until it was time for work.

    At work, I felt so full that I was worried any caffeine would only give me heartburn, so I stuck with water. At lunch, still feeling full, I opted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and walk the Esplanade.

    I mean…why not?

    So, all in I walked 6.1 miles that day and drank only water…on two hours of sleep. But my vitamin D intake was off the charts.

    Not that kind, Diezel.

    But, all that fresh air and lack of sleep had me in bed by 7 without dinner. When I woke up this morning, I decided to keep it going through lunch. My cafe wasn’t open yet when I walked by on my way to work – so, no caffeine.

    Again.

    It was a beautiful day here in Portland.

    Again.

    So, why not take another spin around the Esplanade? It’s a great way to kill the better part of an hour. Plus, I’d remembered my sunglasses today, so the ghostly white limbs and bare backs of the runners wouldn’t blind me.

    Side note: the Portland Police and Medical Examiner were busy fishing a body out of the river as I walked by the midway point on today’s urban hike. No idea what happened, but I cautiously wondered if it had to do with too little caffeine…

    So there’s the answer to my earlier question about why not walk the Esplanade at lunch.

    Who knew?

    Anyway, the positive here is that I accomplished what I suspect is a pretty significant fast. Plus, I didn’t even get hangry until today around noon. That’s saying something for me.

    Additionally, toward the end of my workday, Diezel started texting me and making sounds like he might want to attend the lowest key gay pride event I can find this year…so now the pounds I shed the last couple of days get me within spitting distance of being nowhere near having a pride-ready body.

    (How messed up is that? Gays feel like they can’t show their pride unless their bodies are show-worthy…)

    So, while I want spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, I’ll probably obsess myself into baby carrots and water.

    But maybe this is just the snap my mind and body need to get back in the groove.

    Not So…Fast?