I Guess It Looks Worse Than It Is…

About three weeks ago, I was out running some errands and after being mildly inconvenienced by a couple of reroutes found myself close to Washington Park. I had planned to take a hike to Forest Park that afternoon anyway, before it got too hot. Since I was probably less than ten blocks – that’s for you, mom! – from the entrance, I decided to just carry on since the temperature was already tending toward balmy.

I know from a similar errand-running excursion earlier this week that the my house<the Safeway<Freddy’s<home loop runs about three miles. Well, 3.4 with a coffee reward after Freddy’s. Factoring that out, I’m calling it an even three.

Freddy’s is only a block away from my personal google maps nemesis

So I had to successfully avoid that obstacle in order for my plan to succeed.

Figure that when I got to the entrance to Washington Park that I was about 1.5 miles into my errands plus another 3/4 mile from Freddy’s to the entrance, right?

It’s that last three quarters of a mile that’s the real killer. In addition to avoiding Taco Bell, there are also pretty steep streets up toward the park. What upset me when I got to the top of the hill was how out of breath I felt and how excessively sweaty I was.

Super not cool.

“Well, that’s probably just diabetes and coronary disease knocking on the door”, I pessimistically told myself. I opened up my MINDBODY app and bought a spin package.

I was also talking via messenger with the Filipina Fox, who is an obnoxiously fit friend and fitness instructor at not only my spin gym, RevoCycle, but two other studios in my neighborhood as well. Those are her second, third and fourth jobs in addition to her primary full time job. Then there’s the gym she belongs to for her personal workouts.

I dunno how she finds the time or the energy, but hats off to her! However, if I hadn’t been chatting with her, I probably wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on buying a spin package.

Nevertheless, there she was, providing me unintentional inspiration in my return to gym-centric exercise. She joked about the gym having an AED, just in case and I made another about having a DNR tattoo on my chest.

Then it was off into the park. I’ll write more about my walk through Washington Park in another post, it also is home to the Japanese Garden, which the Silver Fox took me to as a guest a few months ago. I want to share my beautiful pics from both visits.

For now, though, my point is that during my less than record breaking hike the temp went up 10% to 80 degrees at the end but I was just spent: I’d sweated through my clothes and was sucking air like a fish out of water.

No bueno!

The next day, I was at RevoCycle for my noon class. They call it Power Lunch and it’s just 30 minutes, designed to allow worker bees to get a ride in during their lunch hour. I wasn’t sure I could actually pull off a full “hour long” class, which usually runs 50 minutes. The half hour class allowed me to dip my toe back in the water.

I’d discussed my concerns – and reasons for my absence – with the owner and leader of the lunch class, Michael.

While I had been cycling and hiking pretty regularly through mid-June, my knees bothered me during and after the activities. Then, the powers that be had closed down my entrance to the Springwater Trail, which took away half of my exercise options anyway, since that was a major part of my cycling route.

The goal was to get salmon back to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife refuge by replacing a 70s era salmon culvert.

The culvert allows salmon to move protected from the Willamette River through the underground culvert and into the wildlife refuge.

It’s just a small project.

That completely closes down my access to my preferred cycling route.

And my back up route.

FML.

But, three months and $9 million later and at least the salmon will have a safe place to get their spawn on.

Meanwhile, that plus my persistent unemployment afforded me an option to gain 20 lbs. Most of which seemed to arrive in about an eight week period.

See the above FML.

So, Tuesday three weeks ago, I’m back at spin for a Tuesday and Thursday routine and I’m happy to say that I’ve only missed one class on the ensuing three weeks. I’ve also managed at least one hike per week and even one interval run!

Of course, after that, I couldn’t walk right for three days, but I’m happy that I accomplished it…proving to myself that what my acupuncturist has been working on – paired with running right for my body – has paid off.

The good news is that I’m down 8 pounds in three weeks and feel better, too! I’m not leaving a pool of sweat behind after my half hour class anymore and my knees are tolerating the intensity well!

Of course, since I’m kind of mean to myself, I have chosen a gym conveniently located two blocks away from the modeling agency I worked for in my late 20s. And, since it’s on my way home from the gym, I stopped off last week for a selfie.

Already looking better than I did halfway through my five mile hike to Washington Park two weeks prior to taking this! Still in no danger of anyone from my old agency chasing after me.

Plus, it helps to have a sweat towel…

In my conversations with Michael over the past few weeks, I’ve become aware of a few things:

First, the smoke and ash in the air recently has likely been mostly to blame for my wheezing and excessive sweat, especially on that Washington Park outing.

Second, the mental benefits from regular exercise are more immediate than the physical results. And the mental benefits feel great!

Third, it looks worse than it is. Yesterday, I faced a personal fear: being the only person in a class. Michael likes to focus on being present with your body during a spin class – it’s like the focus on mindfulness and breathing you experience in a yoga class – and usually checks in with the heart monitor wearers in class to see how they’re doing. I don’t wear one, but he kept asking me how I was doing, “How’s your breathing, pretty heavy?” or “How many words could you say right now?” types of things. When he asked me if I was at my max heart rate after one sprint and got a palms up response from me, he taught me this easy little formula.

220 – a person’s age = max heart rate

“So where is your heart rate at?”, he asked after timing off a pulse check in.

178

“What’s your max, I dunno how old you are…how does that compare?”

My max is 170.

“Great! That’s fantastic…you’re probably in better shape than you were worried about!”

I guess it looks worse than it is.

But I’m still ecstatic that I’m doing something physical that ties me to a routine!

I Guess It Looks Worse Than It Is…

Motivation Monday

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

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

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

Get my recycling dropped off and go to the bank.

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

What.

Could.

Possibly.

Go.

Wrong?

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

Seriously.

I’ll take those results.

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

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

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

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

There’s no lunch time class today.

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

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

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

I have an ongoing struggle with recycling through BottleDrop.

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

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

I think I made myself dizzy with that last sentence.

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

Seriously.

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

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

I think it does.

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

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

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

Ok, that I did not see coming.

Also, I just said “not see”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can use the exercise.

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

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

Bright side, right?!?

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

The only problem?

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

It’s a TV stand now.

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

So, I did.

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

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

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

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

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

I won $300.

I celebrated with another beer.

And then another.

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

I.

Kept.

Winning.

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

Drunken Logic is so prudent.

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

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

Long stories for two tasks, eh?

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

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

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

Motivation Monday

Manopause

I’ve never felt bad for women who declare, “Oh, god…I’ve turned into my mother”. However, I never really expected the thought to flit through my mind.

But that’s exactly what happened last night.

No, I wasn’t drinking.

The thought had no sooner pasted a glimmer of a smile on my lips, than I’d dismissed the idea. I’m not becoming my mother – although, in my case, I wouldn’t understand why women make that sound so bad.

I settled on an even more insane sounding occurrence: I’m obviously pregnant.

Here’s the scenario: I was actually – well, let me save you some time.

If a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words…you’re welcome. I’ve clearly spared your eyes some strain.

If you need a little more context to interpret those two pictures, I’m happy to oblige. Read on, I’ll be as brief as possible…

I was eating ice cream for dinner. Why? I dunno. It just ended up in my hands while I was looking at my fridge for dinner ideas.

I was actually standing there, staring slack-jawed at my options of almost literally nothing to eat.

Fridge door open.

Freezer drawer pulled out.

This had the added benefit of blasting me with cold air on yet another 90+ degree day in Portland.

Seriously, we do not need this information getting out, but Portland has beautiful summers. That rain for next Saturday? Yeah, we heard that promise last week, but the rain was only a rumor.

If it does rain next Saturday, that’ll be the end of at least a three week dry spell. If it doesn’t rain…well.

Ugh.

Things could be worse.

Anyway, back to cooling the house with an open refrigerator. Realizing I was doing so, I closed everything up and stood in my kitchen undecided. I was conflicted about cooking and heating up the house, but I didn’t want to order in.

Ice cream seemed like a really good triple whammy to that conundrum because it’s cold food, right? It had the added benefit of not being beer or wine, too. But I was having trouble rationalizing executing the decision to eat ice cream as a meal.

I blamed the Silver Fox. He’d invited me along to Trader Joe’s last week. Probably because he needed bananas – seriously, if he needs bananas: TJs; if he needs milk: Costco – and invited me along.

$55 dollars later, my fridge was full. Of course, I’d only needed one thing when I agreed to go along…

Actually, he’d needed to go for some chocolatey good treats for some chocoholic friends that were coming to dinner the next night. By his endorsement, Trader Joe’s has the best chocolate ice cream.

I chose a different path.

I was not disappointed in my selection. Additionally, I’ve had two servings and still have more. Take that Ben & Jerry’s and your single serving containers!

This is all about excusing my dinner decision last night. Truth of the matter? Once I saw the ice cream in my freezer, I couldn’t not think about it. I had to have it.

It was a craving.

I addition to Portland’s current heat wave driving me to not cook and enjoy frosty beers and chilled rose deliciousness too frequently, it’s also limited my outdoor activity.

Meaning: no hiking or bike riding.

Also, meaning: fat Xtopher.

Seriously.

Fat.

I’ve put on 10 pounds in the last three months. Actually, I put on 10 lbs in a month, I’ve just been holding steady for the last two…trying to limit the damage. That’s 10 on top of 10 that I gained in the first quarter of the year, by the way. Not a good way to follow up last year’s fitfy initiative.

It’s a real shitshow over here at Chez Galby.

I look pregnant.

Well, I think that’s about 1000 words on the picture of my Facebook post about last nights dinner.

Moving on…

I sat down with my ice cream supper and decided to watch the movie Battleship. There’s always a little time for a stupid Rihanna-slash- action movie and after seeing Mission Impossible: Fallout last week…I was jonesing for another Adrenalin hit.

I cried during the movie.

What.

The.

F.

I mean…I’m not super surprised. I cried at the end of Rocky. But at least that was a story about believing in yourself and accomplishing a goal against all odds.

Sure, Battleship has a tenuous similarity. But, c’mon…at least Rocky is quasi tethered to reality. I have an equal belief in boxers and aliens. However, I’ve yet to meet an alien, so that diminishes the reality aspect of the movie Battleship by comparison.

My last word on this crying jag? Copious.

Big, round, flowing tears. Not a quick hit of emotion like in other bouts of ridiculous crying I’ll admit to. This shit just kept on coming. I literally did not have the control to stop. As it was continuing to not end, the movie moves on to a scene – where I know what’s going to happen – and I’m so caught up in this ridiculous moment that I uttered “Oh, no!” before Rihanna comes out of nowhere to save her stereotypically every Irish person from Boston shipmate.

Craziness.

But, just like with the ice cream, I couldn’t stop myself.

Irrational emotions and emotional decisions.

I need pregnancy hormones to even begin to excuse my present shape and recent decision making history.

Since I’m stubborn I decided to watch a potentially feely movie after Battleship ended. It had dropped recently on Netflix called Like Father. I figured it had the potential to make me emotional and that might help me justify the emotional outburst.

I know. Completely backward timing, but I was just looking for a lifeline for my dignity.

It failed to deliver.

As I’m sitting there, not being moved to tears, I emotionally decide to make the French Fries from my freezer.

C’mon!

It’s after 10 PM.

As I’m watching my oven timer count down, my rational Hyde brain is trying to assert itself and take control back from my Jekyll emotions. He’s been trying to come back to the forefront of my personality lately. That makes me sad. Hyde used to be my default personality. Now, I feel like Jekyll is too present.

Enabling idleness.

Eating and drinking to excess.

I know that it’s depression about feeling driven out of my last job for expecting my fellow leadership peers to follow corporate policies. Naturally, compounded by the challenge of finding a new job. With just a dash of frustration at too often being passed over for an internal candidate.

Yeah, that’s a recipe for depression, right there.

But knowing that in some trapped, logical part of my brain as 10:30 approaches didn’t stop the irrational and sad part of my brain from eating that entire package of French Fries while I finished that stupid movie. No, it wasn’t a movie, it was a mehvie. Hehe.

So I woke up this morning – having slept a straight eight interrupted hours and picked up where I’d left off last night: something has to change.

During the last few weeks of not going outside, I’ve been thinking about rejoining my gym. My resistance there is two-fold: primarily my fear of re-injuring my treasonous shoulder joints; secondarily, I’m too cheap to pay the initiation fee again.

My alternative was to go back to my spin gym. I’ve been talking about it since January. Last week, I actually went back to look at class packages. I was unhappy to discover that the drop in rate has increased to $25.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

They gym seems to prefer class packages over drop ins. Fine. To that end, the owner offers 10-pack classes at a discount. That used to be $180, recently that increased to $190 and if I was having trouble pulling the trigger on the value of an $18 spin class in January…well, that extra buck didn’t help.

What was a surprise when I dug a little deeper last week was the offering of a 20 class package for $300. My grinchy fat ass can support a $15 class.

Except.

Budgeting goes well with no income. Splurging on a $300 luxury does not. I even joined AARP knowing that I was still too young to qualify for the Silver Sneaker program – which pays your gym membership in order to encourage us oldies to exercise – but thinking there might at least be a discount to get me by in the meantime.

There was not.

I’ve spent the last week or so vacillating between spending the money on re-joining my gym or buying a spin package or just forcing myself into the streets to cycle in extreme heat. Neither seems like a great idea. However, when I got back from coffee with The Fox this morning, bitching about my mild sweaty discomfort after walking just under two miles round trip in mid-morning heat, I decided on a compromise: I bought the lunch package of spin classes. They net out to $11 per half hour class. Not a great deal comparatively, but I was kind of fretting collapsing off my spin cycle during a full class, anyway. Hence the “compromise”. This will be a good compromise to get me back in the groove.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

This has the added benefit of pleasing the Filipina Fox, who teaches at the spin gym I go to. She doesn’t do the lunch class, but she’ll be glad that I’m at least getting back in the (bike) saddle.

Wish me luck…I’ve got work clothes that I’ve got to – hopefully – fit back into at some point. Time to push (mano)pause and banish my pregnancy body and Jekyll mindset.

Manopause

1000 Acres

One English Lab named George.

+

One Silver Fox

+

Grumpy Old Man

=

A Saturday morning adventure with several mosquito bites as a remainder.

When I first was invited to go along to the dog park with The Fox and G, I was skeptical. Remember the mean old trope about “taking a dog for a ride” where the dog gets abandoned?

I worried I was the “dog” in this scenario.

If I wasn’t being abandoned, I was at least worried that my looks were being somehow maligned…

But I said yes. What could possibly go wrong?

I mentioned mosquito bites, right?

No?!?

The park in question, the Sandy River Delta Park, is nicknamed 1000 Acres because of its size I suppose. It’s just under 20 miles from town at the intersection of the Sandy River and the Columbia.

Hence, the mosquitos.

It’s an off leash playground for your hound and The Fox likes to take George out there to wear him out and get him some water time. I like to hike, and a change of scenery from Forest Park is never a bad thing. Even though I knew this was more of a walk, given the absence of hills on the waterfront.

The Fox is retired and I’m not working, so how we ended up going on a Saturday beats me. I wasn’t worried there’d be a lot of people or at least crowds due to the overall size, but a parking lot only holds so many vehicles, right? Surely, we could have managed a midweek trip. Then again, Portland has such a large service industry employee base that even weekdays are crowded because of their alternative work schedules.

My misgivings were confirmed when we pulled into the parking lot, passing several cars already parked along the roadside. This is The Silverest of Foxes, though, and his game is good. We pulled into the proper lot and were rewarded with a couple of spots opening up after just one loop. The space we took was one we were actually invited into by the person leaving with a friendly wave of the arm.

Dog people are pretty darned nice. I think it’s the influence of their dogs…I have long said that dogs are the best people, even though I’m a pretty conditional fan of dogs.

We parked, George barking impatiently to get on with it since he knew exactly where we were and what was in store.

No one seems to bother with this rule, but The Fox did at least leash G from the car to the trail’s official entry point to keep him from totally running amok. Funnily enough, on the way out, he was way too tired to do anything but barely make the jump back into the car, so no need to worry about leashing him up for the return.

I’d been here once before, so I knew that the park was a mix of paths, wide open fields and water for the fur babies to play and socialize in.

There’s also a huge antenna-slash-powerline contraption that I believe is used for broadcasting pure canine joy into the world.

Speaking of power…what neither The Fox nor I anticipated – despite my initial Saturday hesitation – was the power of the interwebs. Specifically, MeetUp.

The Fox is a huge dog person. Specifically, Aussie Shepherds.

He’s had several during his lifetime and I know when we are together and one comes near that I will need to entertain myself for a while. George is an English Lab, but he can’t read, so I doubt he’ll be offended by this information.

Still, more unique dog breeds – either truly rare or just less frequently seen because of our urban area – get his attention. Such was the case with the Burmese Mountain Dog that ran by us.

“Oh, a burner!”, he exclaimed. But I swore he said “burMer”, which set us off on a good 15 minute conversation clarifying his enunciation. Interrupted by “There he is again!” and “Wait, there’s another!” and “Wow! Another one!”, of course.

I left the conversation feeling like my whole life was a lie after being assured that the breed was actually Burmese Mountain Dog. It made sense, I suppose, because of the python and cat.

Still…I’d always thought it was “Burnese”. Well, since the Dog Park isn’t the best environment to get a clear shot of a dog, I went to The Google for the above pic.

Guess what?!?

He’ll deny it, of course. But I know…now.

It turns out that all these big sexy dogs weren’t here by accident. There’s a Burnese Mountain Dog group on MeetUp and we’d just happened to pick their get together date to run George ragged at the park.

It certainly aided in the effort. Halfway to the water he was already dragging dog ass, but clearly loving it!

Don’t worry, we made it to the water. With a few thousand Burnese Mountain Dog friends.

This was the closest I came to a decent pictorial example of the breed myself.

I mean, it’s not terrible. But the google pic also shows off their good nature, don’t ya think? Plus, my best pic was of a wet dog so it wasn’t his best pic.

George was in dog heaven. Just running and swimming and playing with his new best friends.

It was fun to watch.

Still, as I tried to avoid the frequent post swim shakes, I had plenty of time to amuse myself by taking pics.

And consider the dog logic that would explain why they are so willing to spend their time and energy digging for seemingly nothing.

And wonder what future paleontologist will think of us based on the fossilized tracks at sites such as this.

I couldn’t get any great pics of the dried out puddles with similar paw prints in a preserved state, but we certainly passed enough to make me certain that when civilization is wiped out or driven from this area, the last visitors to this park will give these future explorers plenty to consider about our time here.

Were dogs in charge?

Were they wild and this was their territory?

Were they <gasp> livestock?!?

They’ll probably figure it out.

Obviously, dogs were in charge and we were here to serve them by taking them out to the river to play, since they couldn’t drive themselves.

Also, I noticed in the tracks that there were hoof prints from deer. That allowed me to wonder what happened at night when the dogs weren’t around.

And whether any of those dog paw prints belonged to non-dogs!

Yikes!

But, even though we wouldn’t encounter any actual deer, we did see other wildlife on our 4.5 mile walk around the acreage.

I probably could’ve cropped the top pic to highlight Mr Frog a little better. Consider it a life lesson in dealing with adversity.

A frog and a slug. Perhaps not so much wildlife as it is mildlife.

Speaking of wildlife, though, our walk took us through some woods toward the previously hinted at bird watching area. There’s a bird blind closer to the actual delta of the two rivers. We took off in that direction – I think mostly for my benefit.

Somewhere along the line, G led us off the big path to investigate more water. We ended up staying on a single track type trail that The Fox told me was actually the way to the delta. Off the main path, there was some interesting growth. Most of which was probably the result of past severe weather, but I’m sure some was just natural weirdness.

It is Portland, after all.

Eventually, we reached the bird blind at the delta.

The Fox commented that it must have been built before the trees grew because it truly is surrounded. We’d seen some raptors flying over a stand of trees across the water earlier. From where I stood now, I couldn’t see how they would be remotely visible from the bird blind.

It was so overgrown.

I went in to investigate the view. The slats of the blind are so close together that from the entrance, I really couldn’t see through to the outside.

Probably the point.

I moved into the space and pressed my face up to the slats.

Foliage.

What do I know, though? I’m no chaser or ornithologist.

But in getting my up close view of the structure, I noticed that the slats of the enclosure had bird names and other – hopefully not necessarily indigenous animals…rattlesnake?!? – stamped into them.

It was overall a cool effect, though…what a great detail. It must have taken a lot of work!

Of course, I had to make it dirty and give myself a good giggle.

Poor Clark.

We wound our way out and back to the main path through another single track type trail. This one had modern features like…stairs!

1000 Acres has it all!

Back on the main path, The Fox starts talking about his other visits with his dog owner friends. Casually, he lets it slip that one time he’d gotten lost on the single track paths we’d just come off of after George and one of his dog buddies had taken off running.

Thanks for sitting on that little detail until the end of our walk.

Good news, though…I escaped with nary a scratch. Aside from the aforementioned mosquito bites.

Those little bastards, though! They are either super starved or super aggressive.

They went right for the jugular. Of the four bites I emerged from the park with, three were on either side of my neck.

Right.

Along.

The.

Jugular.

Well, it was hardly a Red Shirt Diaries moment. But resisting the urge to itch is a bit of a killer.

The fourth, by the way, was on my ring finger, but it’s not like I’m using that anyway.

1000 Acres

Holman Lane Hike

Ok, first off: NEVER HIKE THIS TRAIL!

After ending up on this trail a few times by accident or happenstance, I intentionally set out on it this afternoon. Well, it was my Plan B after getting to my trailhead and realizing that my trail to Pittock Mansion was closed.

It was cloudy, anyway…no mountain view.

So, I took off on the Wildwood Trail in the opposite direction. I know after my accidental 15 mile hike that you cannot hike any distance in this direction and end up at Pittock, as I had imagined until just recently.

However, I was faced with a different struggle this time: branch out on Holman Lane and face the climb or attempt an equally challenging descent to finish my circular hike by staying on Wildwood.

Knowing how my knees feel after a 10 mile hike – and seriously, I stupidly keep thinking this will change the more I get out on the trail – I decided coming down Holman Lane would end with a near-certain fail. No…fall.

I now know that Holman Lane is 6/10 of a mile of straight-up-enough-hill. I’m pretty sure I left a sweaty water slide behind me as I wheezed my way up the trail. But unlike last time, I managed to haul my keg of a belly (I cannot make fat ass statements because: no ass) up to the top without doubling over midway to catch my breath.

So there’s that.

Actually, adding insult to injury on that last hike was seeing a rather fit petite woman running down the path as I climbed upward.

“Sure, take the easy way”, I thought, only to be corrected ten minutes later when she passed me from behind.

My life really is just an exercise in chagrin.

Oooh…right here, right meow, I’m being tickled by inspiration to try out a new Chrisism: chagrinagins.

Shenanigans that lead to humiliation…thoughts?

Anyway, this petite jogger got hers when I stopped at the shoe brush that you’re supposed to use entering and exiting the forest to prevent plant contamination. I had just used it – mostly as an excuse to catch my breath again – and as I turned around, she was blowing by me.

Without using the brush.

I know she felt the burn of my grumpy old man glare as she padded away.

From my prior visits, I know Holman Lane ends at Cornell Road up in Portland’s West Hills. There’s a 130 yard road surface walk to the Birch Trail, which will then take you back to the Wildwood.

I’m learning, Little Buddy!

I also know that there’s a creeper house between the shoe brush station and Cornell. I realize now that I don’t have a friggin’ pic of it, but it was seriously a Red Shirt Diaries moment for me when I first encountered it last year.

I’d spontaneously decided to take on the Holman Lane hill. Midway up, I realized I was following a couple of guys hiking the same trail in a meandering manner. I shifted into inspiration mode, like I did back when I was racing.

Basically, find a nice butt and let it pull you along like a tractor beam.

Once I was closer, I decided they were on a date, because: two guys in the woods not talking about sports is obviously gay. After I passed by them, I overheard their conversation turning to Grindr and Scruff. I presumed this is where they met and they had decided on a hike for their real life meet up.

I thought it was sweet that their real life meet up was an actual date and didn’t take place between someone’s sheets.

<ignores obvious Bush Bunnies potential>

Anyway, for some reason, I began to wonder if they had changed their conversation to asocial media just to mess with me after they saw and profiled me. I talked myself out of this brief panic, they were dressed too nice to be thrill murderers.

I think.

When I passed this house, with its No Trespassing sign and significant brush coverage, I started to doubt my judgment. Maybe they were baiting me…seriously, only the roof line of this house was visible.

As I’m writing this now, you know nothing happened, however, I swear I heard Dueling Banjos in my head as I panic-walked past the drive. The boys actually caught up to me as I stood at the Cornell Road trailhead wondering which way to run away – this is a pivotal moment in horror films and wrong decision results in someone hanging on a meat hook.

They were nice!

I was offered directions to what I now know is a relatively close reentry point to the Forest Park trailways.

Also, a ride back to town.

No, thank you.

Obviously.

Plus, if it was a date, I didn’t want to become a third wheel. Or a third

Anyway, this creepy house and leaving the trail for a street walk are both the icing on the cake for this too uphill of a hike. I try to avoid it, usually, but yesterday my hand was kind of situationally forced.

I used that as an excuse to have myself an exploratory lil adventure!

Now that I’m getting to know the paths and where they generally head, I decided to take off on this single track footpath prior to reaching the Creeper House.

This was a mistake.

I had figured, knowing how Holman ends and picks up 130 yards to the NW at the Birch trailhead, I decided to take it as a shortcut. Assuming, of course, that I would come off this little deer track on the Birch Trail in about a quarter mile.

This was wrong.

What I did find about 1/10 of a mile in was a park bench at a widening of the trail. It was right across from this

and I figured that some extras from Grimm had been living here since the show ended. The bench looked about 30 years old, based on style, but looked to have been “freshly” painted black sometime within the last few years.

I was somewhere – generously speaking – in the backyard of Creepy House. Maybe this was a fort their kids were making.

As I was wondering why that explanation should make me feel better, I kept walking. The narrow path became occasionally overgrown, but I could still make out my destination.

I worried slightly about spiders and critters as I walked. That changed to concern over being scratched by occasional blackberry brambles that protruded into the path. Next up was worrying that I’d lose my footing on a small descent or trip over a fallen branch and twist my ankle.

Ultimately, my concern should have been how far in I would have to go I order to connect with the Birch. I felt that I’d missed it and would actually end up on the Wildwood again.

That’s fine.

Except

Now I was starting to hear the noises of nature and tickling the back of my mind was the thought that a lot of extras on Grimm were supernatural creatures…

I was at a quarter mile off path. I decided to give it a little more time. My optimism was rewarded at the next bend in the trail with…no more trail! I thought I could barely make out where it picked up again and debated wading through the plants in that general direction.

No, there it was!

Ok, not playing that game. I turned around and made a hasty, totally not cool retreat to the main trail, half expecting to be confronted by the Predator.

But, obviously I made it. I proceeded toward Cornell Road, mentally tipping my hat to the Creepy House as I walked by and my panicked breathing returned to normal.

Comparatively speaking, the rest of my hike went without incident. I ended a little differently this time

calming my nerves with a beer at the closest bar to the trailhead I could find.

Then I wake up this morning to the suggestion from the Silver Fox that we see a movie. He suggests Leave No Trace – which is about a father who takes his daughter to live off grid in Forest Park.

Hard pass after yesterday…

Holman Lane Hike

The Great Job Hunt 3.3

Last week was a tough week for me. Looking back, the couple of drafts I started were kinda negative, if not downright delete-able.

Maybe I can salvage one of the two…I really should have started my own business a couple years back at the urging of my friends during the 2.0 version of TGJH.

Alas.

Anyway, the prior week, I’d participated in various stages of the interview process for four different jobs and expected to hear back on job offers from two by week’s end that week or Tuesday of last week at the latest.

Following along? Maybe I should just use dates…

Without making you read all the way to the end – I know you’re busy! – I came away from the experience fairly depressed and musing about the value of a Silver Medal.

$320 is the scrap value of a Silver Medal.

I wonder if implementing a runner up prize for job searchers would change how employers conduct themselves during candidate searches.

Especially if you employed an incentive for applicants similar to the US Olympic Committee’s incentive for its athletes. The USOC provides cash prizes to its medalists. In this case, a Gold Medal’s prize of $45000 would be replaced with a salary.

Obviously.

But I would imagine the Silver Medal incentive of $22500 would change the way I felt about learning I was just a figurative heartbeat away from a job offer.

Ok, if you’re busy – it’s Monday – go! That’s the meat of it.

If you’re up for grisly details…read on!

Worst first?

If you’ve been following The Great Job Hunt, you’ll know the scenario of a really bad interview experience from a few weeks back. Basically, receiving a text 10+ minutes after my appointed interview time telling me whereabouts she was sitting.

The Where’s Waldo Interview.

And it pretty much got worse from there. I left feeling both like there wasn’t a shot in hell of a callback and relieved that I wouldn’t be working with this person.

I got a callback.

The call actually came as I was a quarter into a 10 mile hike. They wanted to meet me at a hotel by the airport in an hour. I explained my situational location and the guy replies with, “How about two hours, then? A half hour to get home, then shower and then an hour to get here?”

Plenty of time.

Apparently, this job I didn’t want really wanted to meet with me.

I made it with 5 minutes to spare. After something that could scarcely be described as a step up from an Hobo’s Shower and stealing the Silver Fox’s car…MAX was not going to cut it. So you can appreciate the epic-ness of the sitch, I was leaving downtown Portland to get to a 5 o’clock appointment.

I met with the Vice President of the company and his national customer service manager for about an hour and 15 minutes.

The stress seemed to be placed most on being able to run an outfit on the opposite side of the country from the main office. I’d be the only salaried manager at this location, supervising four junior managers and 75-100 employees across four different jobs.

These guys had flown out to do a job fair to fill the hourly positions. This was the end of day two.

It wasn’t going well.

I was not surprised.

But, given the scope of the work and the geographic situation, the VP stressed heavily that he needed to be able to trust the selected candidate to let him sleep at night. He really hit that hard and each time he came back to it, I felt like I nailed it. I even shared with him why trust in a work relationship was so important to me.

First, because it’s a relationship and there should at least be trust.

Second, my last job.

When it came right down to it, their big hurdle with me was that my salary expectations were $2k over their high end of the range.

I met this with a neutral, “You called me” attitude.

When I probed about benefits to see if there was any wiggle room in my position, I learned the company didn’t provide a 401k, which actually made it worse, since I’d be giving up employer matching and a tax break on my retirement savings.

Nonetheless, I came away from this interview wanting the job. I really liked my conversation with these two.

The VP told me that they’d be making an offer the next day – Thursday – before leaving town and that having made it this far in the interview process I would definitely hear from them one way or another.

That’s a sense of urgency that I can appreciate. However, as a hiring manager, I’ve learned to only ever – ever – say that to the candidate I know I’m either hiring or absolutely not hiring. Any candidates in the middle…well, if your first choice doesn’t accept right away, you’ll need a back up, right?

What stressed me slightly about potentially getting their job offer on Thursday was that the Port job I’d had my final interview with the day before wouldn’t be job offering until Monday or Tuesday of the next week.

More on that below, but I would have felt better getting word from these guys on Friday and being able to “take the weekend to decide” to see what happened with the Port job.

Thursday comes and goes, and I think maybe I’m getting my wish. Still, I flash back to how intently the veep had hit on trust, reliability and integrity during our talk. Hopefully, this wouldn’t be another situation where standards only went one way.

Friday: nothing.

And I’m back to not wanting the job.

Monday at 3:30 I finally get a call from the customer service guy.

From a Vancouver number, not the Florida cell he’d called from before. He’d left town and was back, they’d been staying at a Portland hotel the week before, which would have a different area code than this one.

I’m quite a sleuth.

He was sorry to not call me last week, he’d gone home and been sick.

Terrible excuse since I’d assume me going incommunicado as an employee would be…frowned upon.

They’d offered the job to someone else.

Sure, from where I was sitting at this point, that was absolutely fine…but I was hard pressed to imagine their alternate candidate was better suited to this than I versus simply more in budget.

Fine.

My eyes were really on the Port job. It was well below my salary expectations, but I’d figured out my floor and was ready to negotiate. With my airport and retail experience, I felt hard to beat. Plus, I knew I was one of two finalists, so I was pretty damned confident my big problem wasn’t getting the offer but more compensating for a $15k annual shortfall in my personal budget.

I got the call on Tuesday morning while at coffee with The Fox. I stepped outside for ten minutes to take the call. When I walked back in and sat down, I raised my hand for a high five and said, “Guess who got a job?!?”

“Alright!!!”, he exclaims as he returns my high five and I say, “THE OTHER GUY!”

See, what I hadn’t counted on was the dreaded internal candidate.

This interview had been a five on one round table: the HR manager, my would-be peer, my direct supervisor and then two would-be higher level peers.

Or should I call them would-not-be peers?

My would-not-be boss was someone I knew professionally from two different jobs, including my last. He was super excited about me as a candidate because of what he knew of my capabilities and what I could contribute. Most of which was also outside of the scope of this position’s job description.

This also reinforced why I wasn’t the best fit for this job: flight risk.

Not inasmuch as it would mean quitting – and that’s a reality in this job given the 5 AM start time – but rather, promotability. I knew the requirement was to serve a year in this position before being considered for other jobs and was ready to accept that reality. I also knew that Port jobs are notoriously rare and was ready to spend more time in this role.

I had a plan to offset the income differential!

However, they were really looking for someone where this job was an even longer term fit. The HR manager even went so far as to say she saw me as a replacement for either of those wouldn’t-be-higher-level peer jobs. A nice compliment…I even suspected my wouldn’t-be boss was eyeballing me as bench strength for what I assume must be his imminent retirement, I’ve known him for 15 years and he wasn’t super young then!

Plus, of the two wouldn’t-be peer positions she was talking about me being a good fit for, one was probably five years from retirement himself and the other was earning a good reputation as a flake. Both would be bad candidates for my wouldn’t-be boss’ job.

But she encouraged me to keep an eye out for jobs with them and told me that they all come through her, which gave me hope. She also took some time to talk me through interpreting posted requirements so that I didn’t disqualify myself from any potential opportunities. That was really nice.

Nonetheless, I spent much of the rest of the week wallowing in my disappointment.

But, after a week of support from my friends and family – culminating yesterday with Mom-donna tickling my chin whiskers and telling me to keep my chin up – I’m ready to dive back into the job search.

The Great Job Hunt 3.3

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve been a little lazy lately. Kind of living the life of a shut in or hermit.

Lots of factors.

However, the two that led to this initially and then hooked me, eventually were:

A) The first of the season sunburn that I exposed myself to during my spur of the moment half century ride has kept me inside versus making it worse. I could simply buy some sun screen, but for now I’m living a literal version of “once burned, twice shy”…at least until I stop peeling!

And,

B) I hurt myself. Yes, again. Yes, while I’ve allegedly been inactive.

But there’s a story behind that Point B.

Naturally.

The Silver Fox was laid up a few days back and I offered to take his pooch out for his pre-bedtime walk. His dog is a good boy. Certainly a better pet than my Mistress Myrtle, who is currently in the midst of an Otter Identity Crisis.

George is 110 pounds of heart. Definitely more heart than brain, but as soon as I open the door he’s doing his “happy to see you” dance. It’s the same dance I get when I’m visiting and use the bathroom in The Fox’s Lair. Anyway, having been a slug for the past several days and wanting to make sure The Fox gets every opportunity to rest up by sleeping through the night, I decide to give the dog a good pre-bedtime run. We zip around the North Park Blocks in the darkness in between sniff and pee breaks so that he can get all the pup-dates the neighborhood dogs leave…the NPB really are like Canine Facebook.

Still, we ran up and down four of the five blocks of park in between Chez Galby and The Fox’s Lair, occasionally doubling back on ourselves as we ran and played. It was only 3/4 of a mile, but I knew it was more than George usually gets at that late hour and I could tell he was ready to settle in for the night when we were done.

I went to bed thinking, “You know, you could shuffle out a mile jog around the park blocks a couple times a week” and motivated to give that a try to see how my knees and lower legs tolerated it.

Of course, I woke up on Monday scarcely able to put my ever increasing body weight on my left foot.

Gotdammit.

So I’ve been relegated to the sofa most of this week…naturally, it’s also a week where my normal Monday morning acupuncture was cancelled because of the holiday.

First World Problem.

You’d have thought being laid up would give me plenty of writing time.

You’d have been mistaken.

I’ve been trapped in a daily Netflix Spiral.

But, ending the week on a high note, I am determined to tell the story of that time my phone fat-shamed me. It was also my last outdoor activity, a hike with Little Buddy in Forest Park. There might even be some pics, it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten if I snapped pics during that hike or not.

One of the reasons that I enjoy hiking is the natural setting, of course. That’s the same reason I enjoy cycling. The difference is that while hiking, I can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when it’s buzzing by at a whopping 15 MPH. Hence the potential for pictures.

My usual Forest Park hike is a ten mile affair, about 50/50 split betwixt sidewalk on the to and from and actual trail in the park itself. It’s usually a 3-4 hour endeavor, depending on how long I stay at Pittock Mansion once I reach this little urban summit. Little Buddy had told me she had a few hours between work and family dinner duties, so I stopped her from paying to park by my place when she rolls up, figuring we can park adjacent to one of the many entry points and start there.

I’m not just respecting her pending familial obligations, I’m also ensuring our post ambulation recreation at The Big Legrowlski: beer!

Here’s the rub, though: I’ve never driven to the trail, so I have zero clue where to direct Little Buddy. Being the slave to technology that I am, I google Forest Park and get directions.

This takes us in the complete opposite direction than I normally head off in when on foot, so I’m completely lost. I usually head NW through the Alphabet District – encompassing the Pearl District, Slabtown and The Conway neighborhoods – and then into Northwest and ultimately the forest on Thurman Street.

These google directions set us off toward Burnside, the primary East-West thoroughfare through town and really the first street in the Alphabet District, and the opposite end of the alphabet from my normal entry point. Mind you, Google Maps is – allegedly – going to provide the quickest route, so off we go.

Intrepid, no?

Here’s the payoff for struggling through those Portland neighborhood specific details…patience really can pay off.

We’re heading up Burnside, chattering comfortably away about her and 2.0’s new home escrow, an upcoming kitchen remodel in their current home and my parents’ kitchen remodel – it appears I literally have nothing to add to this conversation myself, so I’m ripping off my parents. But, being an okay son, when she mentions having a potential Quartz Guy, I tell her that my parents had wanted quartz but opted for marble because they couldn’t find a decent deal on quartz.

Sidebar: She literally just texted me this as I’m writing

Hehe…Wong’s.

This is my life, I cannot make it up any better.

End sidebar.

So, we’re driving up Burnside and our conversation is interrupted by directions, as is often the case when GPS is your friend. Or in this case, frenemy.

“In 600 feet, continue on past Taco Bell”…

As far as landmarks go, if you’re going to base them on businesses, Portland has a few iconic offerings along Burnside. For example,

Jim Fisher Volvo has been on Burnside since 1957 and its sign 60 feet over Burnside is nearly as famous as this guy sitting at the head of NW Burnside.

But, no, my phone had inherited my snarky and completely unveiled bitchy personality. Allow me to translate its directions for you.

“Hey, fatty, since you don’t drive and based on your drunken Uber history, the park you’re looking for is past Taco Bell…do not stop at Taco Bell!”

Little Buddy and I were so stunned by this out of character type of direction that it took us a moment to begin laughing our asses off. LB nearly drove into a truck. We were laughing so hard that we nearly missed the second warning at 400 feet. We’d regained our composure enough to enjoy the fact that google kept on shaming me until the “200 feet” marker.

As funny as that was – shituationally – I felt a little cheated that there was no congratulatory message once I’d successfully made it past my drunken dietary siren.

Somehow – after that amazing ab workout slash dose of the best medicine – we made it to our urban trailhead destination. I recognized it, as I’d crossed this road a few times on other adventures. After parking, we head out into the trail as I try to mentally adjust my map so I don’t get us lost.

We both quickly realize that we aren’t entering at the easiest point on the path…as we pretty much are silenced 300 feet into a maybe 12 degree (I’m guessing, not really sure how grades are measured…just assume it’s steep) climb when LB says something along the lines of, “Geez, how long is this hill?!?”

Basically, what I was desperately trying to remember. Wiping the streams of sweat from my face before turning to answer, I tell her that “I can’t actually remember” and that it’s “longer than I recall, I’m trying to remember which way to go at the top so I don’t get lost again”.

Now, this Little Buddy of mine, she’s pretty sharp.

Again?!?”, she asks.

This totally takes the pressure off the early phone fat shaming since I answer her honestly by telling her that I’ve only gotten lost in Forest Park twice.

This year.

This just happens to be one of the two paths I’ve been lost on.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d guess that the initial climb was about 1000 feet and my treacherous phone told me we climbed 13 stories. One of my math-y friends can figure the grade out and tell the rest of us in the comments.

After that initial near death humility inducing beginning, the path leveled off into a more comfortable elevation gain and we were back to our normally chatty and much less wheezy selves. It was last Wednesday and we both enjoyed the relatively people-free trail as we absorbed the natural settings and caught up.

It’s one of those normally awesome experiences that is even better for the company. I’m glad she and I have had a couple of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, being outdoors, some beer, a lil wine, great weather and surprisingly few other people. As a matter of fact, once we reached the mansion, I mentioned that this was the smallest crowd I’d seen up there in the three years I’ve been hiking these trails.

Less than a dozen counting us. Excluding us, maybe not even a half dozen.

Heavenly.

Naturally, two of the only other visitors were feeling chatty. And commemorative, asking me to get a pic of them in front of the overlook. LB took off for a shady spot in the corner while the tourists from Salt Lake chatted me up. I mentally praised her reclusiveness, even though I knew that I was projecting my early onset grumpiness onto her mom check in moment.

I can’t blame the tourist for wanting to capture the beautiful view, even if the mountain wasn’t out that day.

I swear, there is a mountain in that haze…somewhere. Maybe next time. I have that luxury, even though it’ll probably be so crowded up there when the mountain is actually out that I won’t be able to get a decent shot of it.

Oh well, first <ahem> step is to get my foot cooperating again!

Fat Shamed By My Phone