Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

I was reminded yesterday that sometimes dating is good.

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

This is not one of those stories.

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

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

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

Look at me, all humble.

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

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

So…Felipe.

Aaah, Felipe.

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

We literally bumped into one another.

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

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

Not showers, Diezel.

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

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

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

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

“Well, that was awkward”, he smiles.

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

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

“Ouch!”

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

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

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

This isn’t a bad ritual.

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

He hadn’t given me his.

Yesterday, he did.

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

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

“Anything else change that I should know about?”

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

“More to hold onto”, he laughs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, it works.”

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

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

“You are not that old!”

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

“Except I never learned how”, I admit.

He laughs and then goes there.

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

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

“Ouch.”

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

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

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

Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

TIL 8: Dad Crying

Did you know there’s such a thing as Dad Crying?

No?

Me, either!

And I’m not even a parent.

It’s so humiliating.

Definitely not cool.

Or grumpy.

But it’s a thing, and I think I fucking have it.

This isn’t what I planned on writing about today.  You’re just going to have to wait to hear Myrtle’s latest attempts on my life.

Soon, though.

Because right now, I gotta get this out of me.  I think it’s been a thing I was aware of for quite some time, dating back to Rib’s accomplishments in Culinary School.  It was a slow trickle then, these feelings.

But it’s getting worse.

Mostly, this phenomenon occurs in darkened theaters, thank gawd.  The last three movies I’ve seen have opened the tap.

Speaking of taps, no…I wasn’t drinking during these shows.  Well, soda.

It started with Love, Simon.  This gay teen coming of age slash love story made a reasonable case for my tearing up.  

I wrote about it, and that link above will take you there.  But one of the comments I got on that entry made me think – which I like.

The point made was that Love, Simon Glee-coated thisbperson’s coming out story and wasn’t representative of the traumatic experience coming out can be for many gays…check that, many LBGQTI peeps.

It’s a valid point.

Totally.

But I think why I liked it was exactly that.  Sure, he struggled with coming out to himself and then his friends and family…and then it wasn’t that bad.  He’d – or the writers – had built his fears up to something larger than they were and the process was resolved in tidy fashion.

I know the feeling.  Luckily.

But I know that’s not always the case.

Given the political climate in America, even the world, where equal rights for LBGTQI people aren’t the default, the stories of bravery and struggle need to be told.

At the same time, I think part of what got me emotional about this flick – besides that I’m a total sucker for a good chick flick…key word, good – was that it was Glee/washable.

Acceptance isn’t the default, not by a long shot, but the work of previous generations has gotten us to the point that at least this type of movie can be made without being relegated to the LOGO network or an art house only release.

But then Ready Player One got ahold of those same heart strings and played me.  It had to be a fluke of nostalgia, right?

Testing that theory, I went and saw it again when I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Nope.

Played those same strings.

Harder.

Fighting those same urges to go see it again, I went today to a matinee of Blockers.

John Cena was brilliantly funny in his role as a stay at home Dad with hair trigger water works…and I left the theater with a name for my affliction: Dad Crying.

I also left the theater with a salty residue on my cheeks that wasn’t  from the popcorn I shame ate.  Don’t make that dirty, Diezel.

Thank gawd I was in the theater alone!

I have prepared for and accepted two truths about the back 9 of my life:

First, I’m going alone; and,

Second, I’m going to get grumpier as I go along.

EOG paradigm: shattered.

And this after being reminded that my “only” nephew graduates from high school this June.  I hope that takes place in a dark room, too.  Just in case, I better go sunglass shopping.

TIL 8: Dad Crying

The New American Psycho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait for it

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

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

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

JFC.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She wasn’t.

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

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

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

Not Jew Bombers.

Not Air Hitler.

Just…Air Force.

End of story.

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

Which was barely partly true.

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

The rest is dramatic hyperbole.

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

But then, no.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New American Psycho

Blocked!

Ok, it’s not writers block, per se.  It’s more a conflict of decisiveness.

What to write.

Whether or not to indulge my natural procrastination.

Subject matter.

My will

When I get stressed, I want to write about my stressors to therapeutically get them out of my head.  However, some of my readers are familiar with some of the sentient stressors in my life and I don’t want to put them in an awkward position of loyalties.

So, what am I to do as I sit in the coffee shop on my Saturday while the Silver Fox reads the interwebs and asks salient questions like, “What does ‘FFS’ mean?”

Get a refill, of course.

While I was up at the counter, an old co-worker popped into my mind.  Not because he stressed me out like some of my current work associates.

He was hilarious.  Mostly for the same reasons that he thought he was hilarious, so that was a nice confluence of opinions.

Mostly.

Dave was born in the Philippines, moving to the US for college. I worked with him at a hospital in Pasadena, CA after my boss – Mother Mary – moved there from Hoag.  She got me a job in procurement.  My new boss, The Hairpiece heads our four man team housed out of the bowels of the hospital.  The door to my office was literally a ramp.

I think I worked in the former morgue.

Anyway, The Hairpiece had an assistant who I replaced when he got promoted to whatever he spent his time doing…I never did figure that out.  I think he mostly spent his time sucking up to The Hairpiece while looking like a cat in a Rocking Chair Factory.  Quite interesting to watch since he was a fey man with a good case of nerves.

Understandable, since The Hairpiece was know to have a short fuse as well as Short Man Syndrome.  And that frigging rug fooled no one.

Who has a convertible (Le Baron) in SoCal and  never puts the top down?

His hairline used to sweat…all 360 degrees of it.

Rounding out our team of four was Dave, the Filipino.

And that, that right there was what I remember most about Dave.

Philippines.

Filipino.

Dave’s accent used P and F equally interchangeably.

He was in charge of distribution, my counterpart to procuring.  Really, I’ve no idea what The Nerves did.  I bought stuff, Dave passed it out, The Hairpiece randomly screamed around the sectioned off concrete pit we called an office and The Nerves just stood meekly in a corner with darty eyes.

Because Dave’s lair had actual owned product in it, his area was locked and controlled access.

My office – literally at the bottom of the ramp, versus around a corner like everyone else’s – was unlocked, usually with the door wide open.  I would keep my door closed during the SoCal so-called winter, but didn’t like having to, I weighed comfort against comfort.

Closing the door kept me a tad bit warmer.

It was a door with a frosted glass insert – no name on my door – on the top. This was pretty much headlight level for vehicles pulling up to the procurement office, I liked to see what was coming my way since having a glass topped door made it impossible to pretend I wasn’t in.

Plus, the water cooler was in my office.  If the Arrowhead man lost control of his load – shut up, Diezel – coming down the ramp,  I wanted to know how many 5 gallon water bottles were careening my way.

Because the water cooler was in my office, and because Dave the Filipino’s office was always locked, the coffee pot ended up in my office.

This made me the de facto office Coffee Bitch.

Which brings me back to my refill this morning, which is now half gone.

Dave was a coffee drinker.  Seriously, he had a problem.  The Nerves started out high strung and Dave the Filipino started out with an urgency I could appreciate.  A good quality in a co-worker, unless he’s an occasionally over caffeinated Asian.

Occasionally I would be off my game in the morning or he arrived early, he’d storm into my office with his usual urgency for his morning hit.  Finding the pot empty, he’d bring the empty vessel to me and shake the carafe at me screaming, “Chris, Chris!  Where the puck is the pucking copy?!?”

Of course, I’d have a few minutes of fun with that.

Depending on my mood, I’d engage him in friendly conversation while the coffee brewed, substituting as many Fs for Ps or vice versa as possible.  If I was feeling more devilish, I’d pretend that our copy machine was missing, asking The Nerves if it was here when he arrived or The Hairpiece if we should file a police report.

The latter usually earned me a fading litany of “Puck you, you pucking round eyed pucker” as Dave retreated to his office.

I’d always deliver him a fresh cup as a peace offering afterward.

Blocked!

Fitfy 49:49

Well, I guess this would be my golden post? 49 weeks into my 49th year…

Some different things have been going on lately, too.  It’s been kinda nice to experience these last few weeks of the Galby existence.

I’ve been pretty consistent about exercise recently, pulling off a steady three workouts per week.  My shoulder tried to register its complaint initially, but slow and steady got me through my ramp up without actually re-injuring myself.

A while back, I also commented that I needed to start getting my legs more involved in my workouts.  I wasn’t sure how to effectively integrate this opportunity into my home-based exercise regimen, until it hit me:  stairs.

Talk about two bird(leg)s with one stone.  I’m running 30 flights of stairs three times a week as part of my regimen.  30 flights up, 30 flights down.

Running.

That carrot my acupuncturist dangled a while has actually inspired me to find a way to re-incorporate my favorite form of exercise back into my routine.  Little warning twinges from my foot and knee reminded me to take it easy at first.  Warming up to the fresh movements after a three year absence with 10 flights initially allowed my grumpy old joints to get accustomed to the idea of this repetitive motion again.  Taking the stairs has actually been less stressful than plain old road running.

At the end of the day, I’m feeling great about this addition to my routine.  It provides that ballistic movement to my exercise once again.  I finish my workouts feeling like I’ve accomplished something.  Not just getting sweaty, but also shaking off some of the mental drama of my day.  Stuff that would have carried through with me to bedtime is just gone.

Once again.

This is the part of running that I missed most. The piece that retiring from running most significantly impacted me, the mental benefit of this physical fitness.

I’ve missed it so.  

Happy Galby.

Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still the grumpy guy I’ve always been, but I find my grumpiness has more perspective now.  

Or, again.  

Whatever.  

That’s helpful, like I said, less important stuff doesn’t remain with me.  I’m clearer about what actually bugs me and can focus better on more significant frustrations…hopefully in order to actually be able to effect change.

All while quitting soda and significantly curbing my caffeine intake.

And no one died.

It happened quite by accident.

I was out of soda and it was cold, so I remained out of soda.  

People were getting sick around me at work, so I started hydrating at work instead of grabbing a soda or coffee to drink absentmindedly.  

After a few days, I didn’t want soda.  I found myself at the grocery grabbing some bullshit hipster bubble water to satisfy my carbonation craving instead of grabbing a Diet Coke.  Bad news for Coke stockholders, good news for me.

Before I knew it, I was five days in without coffee or soda.  On my days off, of course I indulged in my weekly coffee time with the Silver Fox.  Walking away from that with the thought, “Two days a week for coffee ain’t bad”, which was all the impetus the universe needed to dangle temptation in front of my nose.

It came in the offer of coffee from a co-worker.  I love the message that I take away from offers like these, that I’m not an entirely evil boss.  If someone that reports to me wants to take me out for coffee?  I take that as a good sign.

Way better than someone that reports to me simply wanting to take me out.

Of course, I accepted – albeit with the admonishment to not spend their hard earned money on me.  Hey, that’s still only coffee three days a week.  It’s an average I’ve been able to stick to, too.  At most, three times a week.  It makes coffee a reward versus a ritual.  That’s a good thing, in my book.

Also, sorry to you people with money in coffee stock.

But wait…there’s even more!

I was eating well, too. Don’t worry, that couldn’t possibly last.  But it’s – once again – pretty much due to me being out of food and it being cold.

For those of you keeping track, the cold has officially dealt me a triple whammy:

1) no soda

2) ran out of healthy food

3) you should see my Double Oh C recycling.  “Out Of Control” is the Chrisenese to English translation you were looking for there, BTW.

But I’ve come off of that week-plus of solid healthy eating with a sense of moderation when approaching things like hamburgers or pizza.  That ain’t bad.

All this led up to two solid days of exertion when I moved last week.

Alone.

Naturally.

My family were all out of town at the ‘Phew’s basketball thingy.

The Fox was helping his some move, and also being sick.

So I just did it.

I am a SNOB, after all…Society if Native Oregon Born.  Home of Nike, so I just do it, naturally.

Hush, Diezel.

Bed?  Moved.

Sofa?  Moved.

Bookcases?  Moved – or sold.  The new place is slightly smaller.

Dresser?  Moved.

Ok, that last one was a bitch.  But, just done.

After all that, I expected to hurt.

For a while.

But I just didn’t.

I’ll chalk that up to doing a lot of little good things for myself consistently.  And that’s what this year has largely been about.  That and accepting my present physical situation for what it is and fixing what I reasonably can while accepting – forgiving – what I can’t.

Honestly, there’s still room to fix or improve.  And I will.

But The Brazilian made another guest appearance in my life the other night, and when he complimented my butt…I didn’t correct him!

“Alex, I’ll take Self Acceptance for priceless, please” – Me!

I can live with this.

Fitfy 49:49

Fitfy 49:39

Missed these little check-ins from the final year of my fifth decade?

Fret not, they’ve not been pushed far from the front of my mind…they are only a trip past my bathroom mirror away, as a matter of fact.  But, this final week of the third quarter of this trip around the sun for me seemed like a good time to check-in again.

First some obvious accountabilities:  exercise and diet.

Exercise:

I’ve quit my gym.  That may not seem like anything but a big step backward, but I think it’s not.  Sure, this was initially a financial decision, the money I spent on gym membership could be better spent on wine, after all!  

I kid.

What I came to realize, though, was that at this time in my life, lifting weights was problematic.  More of a tether or a crutch for my old fitness mindset of recreating or restructuring my physical self…making it into something it’s not.

I have some 4-25 lb dumbbells at home that I can use for a variety of toning exercises when the mood hits.  Overall, that’s what I want to rediscover: tone.  My arms were as thick as my neck in my 30s – don’t get excited, I’ve been called pencil neck before. My chest and ankle measurements might make you wonder if my “father” was, in fact named Frankenstein.

What happens to that forced physique when you stop feeding it iron plates is not pretty.  Over the past three months, as I’ve changed my exercise regimen up – mostly changed it to “rest” – is that those muscles have softened.  My chest does not have as much in common with a 35 year old man as it maybe does with a 50 year old woman.

And that’s ok…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want either of those racks.  But it’s a stop on the way to slimming down.

So, what’s this new regimen?

It’s more intense cardio based, as far as structured exercise goes.  Spin class.  God bless RevoCycle and the Filipina Fox for getting me back into spin!  I really love it…it’s prohibitively expensive, so I’ve been on a little break for the last few weeks, but the time commitment vs results impact is exactly what I want as I try to return to a slimmer silhouette overall.

The remainder of what I’ve been doing outside of mini weight workouts at home and spin class is lifestyle exercises.  Things designed not to get me out of the house and into the gym, but rather to get me out of the house and outside.

Hiking, mostly.  I live in the Pacific Northwest…God’s Country.  I have 40 miles of trails in Forest Park, a quick two mile urban hike away.  I live on Park Ave – between 8th and 9th St in Portland’s Alphabet District.  My stretch of Park is between Everett and Flanders – do not  stalk me…you’d be gravely disappointed.  Forest Park has an entrance at about 28th and Thurman.  That’s 14 blocks over and 19 blocks up.  

Easy.

Until you see this, anyway.

We all need a little touch up now and then, eh?  That’s what this year-long theme is about!  But I found an alternate entrance a few blocks further up the hill and have had myself a couple of nice 10 mike hikes over the last few weeks.  It rained almost all of last week, but today on my weekend agenda…yeah!  More hiking!  

Now

Diet:

Ugh.

Remember, what I didn’t want to do was overcorrect here and go radical self-deprivation by only allowing myself chicken and broccoli for dinner.  That usually leads to chicken and broccoli for most lunches, too.  And that leads to Unhappy Xtopher.

Also, I didn’t want to not drink.

I wanted to eat real food, have real junk food and get my drink on when I wanted to.  Be that when hanging out with friends or doing a little self-soothing after work.

I’d say the one thing my diet is missing right now is protein.  In eschewing chicken, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that I’m not chewing enough of anything that used to be alive.  Almonds, peanut butter, lunch meats and tuna ain’t cutting it.

Non-Dad-Bod Xtopher needs some red meat.

Shut up, Diezel.

Other than too much pasta in my diet, I’ve been happy with my intake.  Oddly, I’ve found myself craving kale lately.  I should definitely give into that, I bet my body is feeling less nostalgic than it’s actually trying to tell me it needs something.

My alcohol consumption is steady, I know you were worried.

I find that my drinking has become less…binge-y and more consistent.  Neither in a bad way.  When I was drinking before, I’d drink for several hours, ignoring the fact that I was setting records with how many drinks I could consume in an hour.

I’ve gone from drinking 2-3 drinks an hour for several hours to drinking 2-4 drinks a night.  Maybe I drink 5-6 nights a week versus 3-4 nights a week, but I’m not waking up groggy after and I find myself deciding to have another beer versus just giving into habit or simply being handed one by an attentive bartender.

All this came to the front of my mind during last week’s acupuncture appointment.  My Needle Man had been diagnostically probing my abdomen and when he was done, instead of quickly pulling my shirt back down and making a comment about covering my shame, I began absent-mindedly playing my belly like a drum.  He smirked at me and when I realized what I’d been doing, smiled sheepishly and apologized.

He made a comment about enjoying seeing such self-acceptance in today’s body shaming culture.  Someone just innocently enjoying their body without realizing it – literally, in my case, he said – was refreshing.

I told him that I planned on enjoying my body in not so innocent ways later, which gave us both a chuckle.  That may sound a bit depraved to you, but we talk about my sex life almost as often as we talk about my digestion.

If we’re gonna talk shit, nothings off the table.  Plus, there’s a couple of treatments he does that have a great reproductive side effect.  It may not be strictly necessary in my case, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be appreciated!

The conversation eventually led to – well, directly led to – how self-acceptance was kind of the theme of 2017 for me.  I described how nothing I did physically replaced running in my life, how I could run in the rain but cycling and hiking in the rain were no-goes for me.

“Why don’t you run anymore?”

So, I gave him the back story and then short-handed it to “bone density issues in my lower legs”.

I’ll short-hand his response to “There’s a needle for that”.

Me:  Do not get my hopes up.

Not at all, he told me, cautioning me that it will take time and be something I have to build up to, but there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t count on running again.

So, as I enter the last quarter of this Fitfy (mis)adventure, I find myself looking forward to an unexpected and welcome gift for my 50th birthday…an evening jog to close out my work day.

It’s just what I wanted.

Fitfy 49:39

Something Is Missing

This blog post’s title could cover a wide array of potential topics in my life:

Structured exercise.

Work/life balance.

Vegetables.

But in this case, it’s personal belongings and transitively, a feeling of my personal security.

I began this post at the first of the year.

Too raw.  Set it aside.

I came back to it about six months ago.  Couldn’t finish it.  Too embarrassing.

But now that I’ve uttered the words, “I think I could be open to dating again”, I feel like – at least therapeutically – I need to wrap up some of my old dating and relationship posts.

Since I’m on vacation, I’m trying to trick myself into writing more and wrapping up those dating drafts by also finishing up old vacation stories.  Like…hiding the hard stuff in between some fun memories.

There’s cumulatively eight drafts in this mix…only two of them are vacation stories. Three if you add in a ninth draft, but that’s a guest post I set aside for The Fox to share his Cuba adventure from last year.  

That’s 1/3 fun and 2/3 dating-trauma-drama.  That sounds like my life.

But nine is too many for a vacation week.

The Silver Fox is about to set off for a month-long Spain adventure…maybe his return could be my more realistic deadline.

Maybe I could just delete a bunch of drafts about painful stuff that I can sometimes make funny but am clearly telling myself on a subconscious level that I don’t want to process.

Except

My most read posts are my romantic misadventures.  You people are quite an unsavory lot, aren’t you?

How could I say no to that level of depravity?

So, here it is.  The worst, first. 

I’m just gonna skim through it and make sure it’s quasi-intelligible and post it.

Do you see that?

Right there, between my tool storage and the TV antenna The Silver Fox gave me to give to my parents to help get them off cable.

Yeah, on the shelf over my under-utilized spice rack and my cat treats.

Pay no attention to the stacks of Mac & Cheese.

There’s something missing.

And that freaks me out.

Not because I can’t recall exactly what it was.

Not because it was something so germane to my daily life that I can’t go on without it.

Because it’s simply gone.

And I didn’t “gone” it.

Someone else did…and that someone didn’t have permission to be here.

So, an unnecessary recap:  I’m pissed and maybe also just a tad scared.

I’m not scared for my safety.  

I’m scared because this isn’t the first time this has happened.

This year, sure.  Maybe.  I’ve been ignoring it, hoping it would go away.  The last six months…definitely not so much.

I’m scared because whatever used to be here was of no value.  Not to me.  It just was.  But to the person who disappeared this item?  It is a symbol.  A middle finger to me.  An eye-level eye opener that this is still happening.

Oh, mom…stop reading at the beginning.  Sorry.  I was distracted and forgot to warn you.

But since we are talking about – or, to – MomDonna, you should probably know that the last time she and dad visited, she walked right up to my door, looked at me side eye over her shoulder and opened the door as if to suggest that I should not be leaving my door unlocked.

Well, sure.

Kinda.

I purposefully live in secure buildings.  For the security, sure.  But also by chance of living in cities and in condo buildings where the security is part of the amenities…because I like to leave my doors unlocked.

Sue me.

Or – in this case – fuck me over.

Early in December, my Earthquake Money went missing.  I didn’t notice right away.  I noticed after my landlord texted me on December 29th and told me that my rent hadn’t been deposited yet.  

This was a week after her text wishing me a Merry Christmas.  You’d think she would have known then.  But, hey

Ok, that struck me as odd.  I usually write out my rent check and then fail to succeed at a few opportunities to deposit it.

I am a procrastinator, after all.

So, when my landperson told me my rent check hadn’t been deposited, I had to confront my assumption that I had completed the transaction as normal.  I don’t actually retain any of that in my long-term memory.  Sure, I recall snippets of the interactions I have with bank personnel.

And Chipotle meals…Chipotle being one block away from my landperson’s financial institution.

My assumption that I completed the transaction lies in the absence of the check from my entry hall table.  That’s my checks-and-balances system.

Luckily, I save the deposit receipts.

December was conspicuously absent amongst the other 14 receipts from past deposits.

So, what happened?!?

Fuck if I know.

What I do know is that I have a drawer in my hallway console table where I keep my Earthquake Money and miscellaneous financial shit like my rent check.

Right there, under the tray where I keep my wallet, keys and the coffee can with loose change.

The drawer is a hidden drawer.  You have to know it’s actually there and then touch it right so that it swivels open.

All this, of course, points to something of an inside job.

My missing rent check could be the result of the obvious culprit of an inside job, who likes to greet me coming home from her perch atop the table.  But I pulled the table away from the wall – careful not to disturb the wine stored beneath it.

Sunglasses.

Wine corks.

Other, less favorite playthings of Myrtle’s.

An epic dust bunny.

Fortune cookie fortunes – speaking of unwritten blogs, this one doesn’t even have a draft!

No. Check.

The easy solution is to grab some of my earthquake money and rectify the situation with great immediacy.  The awkward reality is pictured above.  My secret stash drawer was giving me Old Mother Hubbard vibes.

I keep bundles of money in that drawer that I win when I gamble.  Last summer, in a fit of discipline, I imposed an embargo on the drawer:  money goes in, it doesn’t come out.  It was an attempt at moderation.  If I won when gambling, I put it in the drawer. $500 denominations were the buy-in for a “deposit”.  I’d accumulated several $500 bundles of $20 bills.  The $50s and $100 bills eventually collected into a $2000 bundle, the $500 bundles of the bigger bills were too insubstantial and would bunch up.

Terrible problem to have.

What was an actual terrible problem to have was being confronted by an empty drawer that should be full.

I sat down and thought about it.  I examined the real possibility that I’d broken my rule in a drunken moment and blacked it out.  I went to a couple of bartenders and asked if they’d recalled any particularly egregious moments of drunkenness over the past few months.

That was a cold moment.

But at least I was accountable enough to my behaviors to blame myself first.

One of these fantastically fun and patient people looked me square in the eye and said, “I’ve served you off and on for two decades.  If I thought you were doing yourself damage, I’d tell you myself.  This one’s on  me…you look like you need it.”

The second and third were on me, and the $20 tip I left him on my $12 tab was the least expensive therapy co-pay I’ve made.

Back home, I went to my original earthquake stash…a drawer in the kitchen that I’d used when I first moved into my condo.  It got too full of wraps, foils, baggies and back up chefs knives to be a viable storage spot, so I’d moved my stash.

Plus, back up chefs knives…another first-world problem.

But there was $700 and change in there.

Which was a help in paying my now-two-months of rent due.

Not much of a help in figuring out my pricier mystery.

I had to set aside my deer-hunter cap for the moment to solve my rent problem.

Back to the hall table.  I kept other important-yet-homeless things in there, including my e-trade debit card.  

This is the account I had loaded with $25,000 of the proceeds from my Seattle condo sale.  I’d been Day Trading with that money to subsidize my existence while failing to find a professional landing pad.  I’d been wire-transferring $5k/month for bills and living expenses and calling any month that I walked away from with more than a $25k balance a win.

Well, this was my “break glass” moment.  No time for a transfer, I was gonna need my debit card to cash advance two months of rent.

I think we all know how that ended up.

Social Security Card.

Fake $5000 poker chip.  If only.

Passport.

Another fortune cookie fortune.

My almost full punch card from a coffee shop I stopped going to after The Broken Poet.

My actual checkbook.

No debit card.

WTF?!?

I had been digging through the drawer on my knees and rocked back to rest on my heels as I processed what was going on.

I felt gut-punched.

I looked slowly to my left, toward my front door.

I got up and adjusted the lock so that it was locked from the outside.

Davey.

When we’d broken up the previous Fall, I’d gathered up his left-behind things, borrowed The Fox’s car – ironically, an Escape – and delivered them to the boy who’d ghosted me.  He wouldn’t come to his door, so I just left his stuff on the porch and left.  The only thing I’d asked of this guy was to return my spare entry door key.

Yeah.  That was too much of an ask.

However, I’d not given it much thought.  He lived way out in a part of town that I always think of as Shitville.  My neck of the woods was definitely out of his way.  When he’d visit, he’d come in for a few days at a time, having one of his housemates in what was basically a flop-house watch his cat…which was why I gave him my spare entrance key in the first place, so he could come and go while I was at work.

I had heard from a friend-quaintance that he’d recently met Davey.  Based on the context of the things he said – He’s sweet.  Lost, but trying to get his life together -and what I had gleaned of this acquaintance’s life choices that he’d met Davey at an AA meeting.

I never thought he’d steal from me.

Setting that aside, I set up a wire transfer, cancelled my debit card and told my landperson she’d have her January and December rent in a week.

She was…not happy.

I wracked my brain over the next week or two about what to do.

I also locked myself out twice.

All of the phantom noises and clicks that I’d heard over the past six months came randomly back to me over the ensuing weeks.  Things I’d thought were doors clicking shut or neighbors in my basically uninhabited floor and written off as the sounds of a building settling became sinister scenarios.

The times I’d woken up to what I thought were doors closing late at night were what I believe started my late night sleepwalking patrols from earlier this year.  It certainly explained the episode where I’d woken up to the pile of light furnishings and decor in front of my door.

I am Xtopher’s complete loss of control.

My e-trade account had been hit pretty hard.

$500 withdrawals anywhere from a couple times a month to a few times a week over the last 90 days.  There were a few times where withdrawals had been thwarted by insufficient funds when I’d made a trade.  

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that involved in trading after going back to work the prior October.  I’d lost sight of a couple of bottom bounces – not the good type, Diezel – and dropped about $15k on trades in November and December.

Good thing I had a paycheck to look forward to…but I know enough now to not look forward to existing on that paycheck.  Thank gawd for my parental benefactors, otherwise I’d have drowned by now.

You see, my final response was an overreaction.  Absolutely.  But I now own an annuity.

After getting a new debit card and filing a fraud report with e-trade, I steered desperately into my financial situation to stop the spin.

My trading account has slightly less protection than a typical bank account.

Their fraud department was able to get shit quality ATM pictures of what looked to be Davey in a hoodie, a cracky looking twink (so much for AA), and a transvestite that wasn’t quite pulling it off.

I thought I knew who these people were.  Davey had talked about movie nights at his flop-house with a crew I imagined would present similarly.

I was offered the opportunity to file a police report, which could lead to some restitution if anyone was arrested.

Ultimately, I screwed myself over by storing my debit card in the envelope my PIN was mailed to me in.  That’s a no-no, but I knew I would never remember the PIN if I needed it.  Not that I planned to need it.  On top of that, my sense of accountability had me reluctant to move forward with any shadows of doubt remaining about who I suspected.

I began hanging out at one of the bars that I knew Davey’s transvestite housemate frequented.  Doing a little Kojak-action at What is arguably a bar in a three-way tie for Worst Gay Bar In Portland.

After a few possible connections with her, going to the bathroom to compare the ATM picture while she smoked, I was uncertain.

Fuuuuck.

As my deadline for filing a police report approached, I gave it one last chance.  I went out in search of a few times with mixed results.

Just missed her.

She’s visiting her kids this week.

And then, paydirt.

She has the kind of voice that precedes her like the cloud of drugstore perfume and stale cigarette smoke that follows her…I heard her coming.  An unexpected encounter at Embers, where she’d been 86ed by the same bartender that told me back in December that he had my liver’s back.  I was peeking over the taps at the bar while the bartender confronted her at the door.  I guess I wasn’t the only one attenuated to her voice.

As I’m watching, a third unseen voice breaks free moments before scootching through the door and heading for the bathrooms.

Davey.

So much for AA.

I turned my back to the door, hunched my shoulders and sipped my beer until it was done.

Then I stood up, squared my shoulders and walked out of the bar, thinking, “Fuck it.  I’m done lying down with dogs.”

Every meager paycheck since then, every time my parents have asked if I had “walking around money” since then has been a reminder that I can’t be vulnerable like that in today’s world.

I may have The World’s Most Dangerous Cat living with me, but I don’t have to expose myself to the Daveys of the world that even she can’t defend me against.

And sometimes, just as extra punishment to myself, I would tell my parents that I was fine…and that reminded me that I am fine.  That realization helped me to be more honest with myself, my parents, my best friend and, now, his best friend…the internet.

I’ve gotten myself square, emotionally.  Now it’s time to get myself righted financially, and that means living off my paycheck while still saving for my future…and also not punishing my future self by depriving myself of a potential boyfriend.

So, I’m open to the possibility of dating again.

Plus, my building replaced the entry door, that’s obviously a sign.

Something Is Missing