I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Not to steal Liz Lemon’s thunder, but…I can. The Silver Fox even said so.

What is “it all”?

Well, nothing but kind of everything? Situationally, to me, at least.

First, there’s the Dry Happy Hour that I call work. Driving for Lyft. Seriously, I just sit around and chat with strangers. How is that work? Legitimately, if we had drinks it would be exactly what I do at Happy Hour when my friends aren’t around to join.

Well, I’ve struggled to get my mojo back since vacation in early October. I usually put in around 25 hours a week, but the second a third weeks of October, I didn’t always manage that. Plus, before vacation, I’d been putting in more hours to allow me to save for…a new condo next Spring.

I’m no longer sure that’s my goal, and I know that is part of my recent apathy: no clear goal. So the bonus that Lyft runs occasionally was a welcome jump start at the end of October. It’s an up to $377 bonus for giving 135 rides in a week. It usual means a 45-50 week of driving.

Then there was this day to ice that cake:

Yeah, I drove all night on October 30th and earned $1031! Not bragging, specifically, but I’m too amused y earning “Halloween” dollars on Halloween Eve.

Then Lyft dropped the same bonus for a second consecutive week. I was pretty wiped out from last week and only managed 16 rides Monday-Thursday. I’d kind of resigned myself to not meeting the 114 ride minimum threshold for the first tier bonus. Then I had an epic Friday night, where I “one more ride”-ed myself to a personal record of 40 rides in one night and suddenly the first tier was within my grasp.

Gotta love rainy weekends for lots of short rides.

I’m on my way out to wrap up the final 24 rides…but then I saw this in my app this morning.

A third week?!? Here’s what I sent to The Fox that prompted his all-caps support.

Ten thousand dollars in four weeks? It’s within reach, and would certainly help me get October’s derailing back on track.

Except

There’s the whole exercise thing. Since getting my Peloton, I’ve managed to work out about 5 days a week. Even during my vacation! But looking at my October results, you can see the struggle.

Ugh.

So my balancing act challenge has been to get in some exercise and drive. Pretty achievable…except October.

And now I think I can add in a third objective: NaNoWriMo.

Oh, the absolute hubris.

Fifty thousand words on a novel project in the month of November. I sat it out last year – because I struggle to do anything that I think of as “work” at home.

Writing straddles that line between work and hobby.

Blog? No worries.

Novel? Nah, that’s work…other people make money doing that type of thing.

But, while I haven’t been able to manage working on any of my story ideas at home, I’m capable of kicking around ideas all day long, no matter where I am. I hit the ground running – kinda, you should read that as proChristinating – with NaNoWriMo. Five thousand words in the first two days. Then I got back into gear with driving on Friday and have only added a couple thousand words since then.

It’ll come back, though. I wrote 50k on my first NaNo in two weeks. I’ve still got three weeks left in November, so I’ll definitely get across that finish line.

But the next week is gonna be a frenzied hell trying to manage all three of these goals.

Remember, though…I CAN HAVE IT ALL! At least for a week.

I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Brinner? Dinfest?

What are you doing at 6 am?

I’m eating this:

Yeah, it’s a burrito bowl.

At breakfast time.

Look, I’ve driven like a madman the last two nights – getting in at 4 or another after both nights.

I had a lazy week, ok?

Last night, I had a pizza from the freezer. And a bottle of wine, natch.

Tonight, I wanted to eat something a little better – even though I did have more pizzas in the old icebox. So I tried this burrito bowl recipe I found while scrolling through Google a few weeks ago.

Plus, I was seriously behind on my commitment to use last year’s Xmas gift – an InstaPot I’d been wanting for over a year – once a month.

Apparently, this weekend was a catch up on a couple of different fronts.

I was (as usual) skeptical about any recipe that starts with a goddamn life story of the recipe and how it saved the lives of the author and their family. Just give me the recipe already, I’m not marrying into the family.

Following the recipe – aside from guessing the amount of rice needed since the author was too busy telling me about how much she loved avocados to remember to put the rice dosage in the recipe. I mean seriously…get you and your love-o-cado a room and write a complete recipe!

This is how all that looked when the lid went on.

After 12 minutes of cooking in the InstaPot, this is what I got.

Not the most promising result. But after pulling the meat out – shut up, Diezel! – and giving it a stir, I was presented with something a little more appealing.

Dinfest is served!

With two leftover meals, to boot!

And, yeah…I’m pairing it with a nice Portuguese red that I got at Grocery Outlet during the last 10 minutes of their 20% off wine sale. Well, there might have been more than one bottle.

Bon Appetit!

Brinner? Dinfest?

Rebranded

Nope. Not about the new name for Facebook that we’re all anxiously anticipating from the investor meeting tomorrow.

No, this is related to a conversation I had with a local hospital worker the other day. He’d graduated college last year and began working in his field of study at a hospital. He mentioned it by way of expressing his relief at being out of retail, which was how he put food on the table during his school years.

I told him that was kind of the reverse of my career trajectory – which had me doing some hospital work in college and then landing in a luxurious retail career. Don’t be jealous, it makes you look bloated. Then I asked him when he was going to take his clothes off what department he was working in and he replied “Environmental Services”.

“Oh, I think that would be the department my job fell under, but I don’t think my job title exists anymore.”

He asked what my job was and I told him – again, don’t get jealous – “I was an Orderly”.

Laughing, he asked what I did, and when I ran down my job description he told me that job would be either an Environmental Technician or Patient Transport. Setting aside the reality that he’d never heard the word Orderly before, my college job was now two jobs?!?

Ok, sure. Why not? Hospitals are nothing if not job creators. Given the exploding size of our elderly population as the Silent Generation handed off the title of elderly to the Boomers, I can imagine the workload involved in getting patients to and from place to place within hospitals has grown significantly, so I’m game.

Maybe that was the reason behind the name change, too, but I doubt it. I mean, “Janitor” had already begun to morph into other job titles with some iteration of the word “facilities” or “maintenance” involved in the mix. Why couldn’t Orderlies remain Orderlies while the Environmental Technicians addressed the newly created role?

Now, picking up that whole thing we set aside earlier, this guy not being familiar with the term “Orderly”. C’mon, man…get out into the hospital! It’s an environment filled with “people of a certain age” who are loathe to let go of their ways and adopt new terminology. In that setting, he’s bound to hear patients loudly addressing someone as “Orderly”, talking about how Nurses aren’t supposed to be male, and mispronuncifying the word “Italian”.

He’s just not paying attention. That’s hardly the point, though. Go ahead, fly your desk.

It got me thinking about other jobs that have experienced a similar rebranding over the years. I easily came up with one from my retail career. When I worked in stores during High School, I was a “Clerk” or a “Stock Boy”. That last one didn’t survive long enough to transition to a gender neutral title – like Mailman did when it became Mail Carrier. No, my High School job became known as “Sales Associate”.

Whatever. It beats, “Hey, dumbass” as a means of getting someone’s attention.

What were Package Handlers called before they were rebranded? I think it was Delivery Boy/Person, but might be wrong…

The job title “Milkman” died before it had to address its gender bias. Now, though – at least in kooky Portland – it’s seeing a resurgence as people shift back toward locally produced dairy products. What are we going to call these folk? Artisanal Dairy Procurement Agents? Sounds bulky, and doesn’t really lend itself to an acronym…ADPA?

Another example popped up during a ride I gave yesterday. This young kid hopped in my backseat and almost immediately declared he recognized me from somewhere. Choosing to own my diminished desirability, I didn’t even entertain the option that we’d had a date of any sort. Not that he wasn’t delightfully right up my alley, aesthetically – although, I like to think I have a good enough memory to not forget that’s how I know someone. Instead, I assumed I’d simply given him a ride before.

Ok, I see now how that phrase works for both scenarios…still, I usually remember duplicate passengers of either stripe.

He said maybe it was because he’d seen me at one of his past jobs, back when he was working in restaurants before the pandemic.

“Did you ever go to Ringside?”

I laughed and told him I had not.

“No! I remember…it was Tanner Creek Tavern!”

Oof. Now, that’s a good memory. I told him that was indeed my usual hangout and asked him what he did there.

“I was an SA.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“You know…a Server’s Assistant!”

I managed not to belch out, “Oooh, a Busser!” See how I got the gender neutral job title correct? I’m not a Boomer, after all.

“Hmm. Sounds more like a cart or a tray…”

Just because I’m not a Boomer doesn’t mean I can’t be mad that something with a perfectly fine job title has been rebranded to provide an ego boost to the worker. You want to boost their ego? How about giving them something to back up the level of esteem you purportedly hold them in and just pay them a decent wage? That’ll boost their ego, being paid like a human being. The median income for a Busser Server’s Assistant is less than $20,000.

No? Sticking with the rebranded job title? That’s what I thought. Skinflint.

Look, I can’t say the title “Orderly” really described the job those people perform. But “Busser” kind of did nail the job duties expected of those individuals in that job. The believed origin of the original job title of Busboy is a shortened version of “Omnibus Boy”, meaning they were basically a Jack of All Trades for a restaurant.

Also, the most common tool of said trade is called a bus tub, so renaming their role from Busser or even Bus Boy/Girl calls into question all of the other job titles that use the main tool or function of the job itself in the job title. What shall we call Bus Drivers, Cooks or Electricians going forward?

Just kidding, those last two are easy: Cookie and Sparky.

How about Physicians and Doctors? If Masseurs became Massage Therapists, maybe Doctors should enjoy a similar rebranding to…Health Advisor? Although if you asked a Nurse, they’d probably opt more for something along the lines of “Overcompensated Do Nothinger”.

What rebranded jobs did I miss? Tell me what you’ve encountered out there in the working world – or what job titles should change!

Rebranded

My Brush With Royalty

Rock royalty.

Portland rock royalty.

There I was last night, driving around and minding my own business in Milwaukie, a close-in Portland suburb. Mostly, this manifested as trying to figure out whether I should shut my app off so I can stop incoming rides briefly to set it to “home” mode. It was around 5 PM on a rainy Friday afternoon, so the ride bonuses in Portland were crazy.

For instance, I made almost $50 on my first three rides in the first hour on the road. You can see how those ride bonuses dropped on that last pick up outside the city core.

Yes, get me back to town, please.

Plus, that $2.50 bonus was a round trip ride to the liquor store for a guy who met me at the end of his driveway – which I love – only to mime “Do you have an extra mask?” from where he stood as I pulled up. Then, once he’s gotten one, climbs in grumbling about how “It’s not like these do anything, anyway” before careening into “The old man was killing him”, referring to Biden – neither of which I love right out of the gate in a ride. I managed to steer him into a conversational area he was better qualified to have an opinion on: sports.

Stupid American.

I’m sure that explains why I was debating getting back toward the city. That’s when this ride came in.

Now, Zia is not a common name. I’ve known one in my entire life, a former employee here in town. I pulled the picture up to see if it was her, and, well…wrong race.

However, I thought this rider skewed age and race wise toward being the only other Zia I could think of, who I certainly didn’t know, but whose early musical career I was well aware of, the Dandy Warhols.

The Dandys are a local band with one song most people will know – Bohemian Like You – and who I’ve been lucky enough to come across a couple times back when I stumbled into music venues around town in the 90s. Zia stood out among the band because she usually could be counted on to pull her shirt up at some point during a show.

That leaves an impression, even on a late-20s gay boy.

I mentally start discarding conversational riffs based off that song – “I’ve got a great car”, “Do you like vegan food”, “Did I see some guy sleeping on the couch? Is he always there? Why’s he looking kind of ‘meh’?”

Stupid stuff. – that I’d never actually say!

More likely, I’d try to get a heads up on her current band’s upcoming gigs. She’s got several projects going on these days and one of them – Brush Prairies, I think – has been doing shows at small venues, like the Dandys used to.

Also, I could pin her down on which member owned a wine bar here in my neighborhood and where it was actually located. Rumor vaguely has it that it’s over on/around Pettygrove & 14th but the place over there I’ve seen isn’t that impressive. But it’s open hours certainly suggest it operates on a rock and roll vibe, aka: it’s open or not on a whim. More specific rumor has it that it’s a place called Le Happy.

Cute, right? It’s at Lovejoy & 16th, so about half as much closer than the other place, but…

Permanently closed?!?

Even if this wasn’t that bar, it’s sad. Such a cute lil joint. I hope the building doesn’t get torn down in Portland’s growth/building boom.

Anyway, in real time, I was pulling up her name on Google to get a current pic.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!

It was her!

OMGOMGOMG.

Be cool.

I pull into this driveway that’s on the backstreet of a side street behind a school in Milwaukie. The remoteness says “privacy” while the overgrown disrepair of a once well-tended yard says “recluse”.

“Damn, Zia, I know having four band projects going has to be a lot…but get it together!”

Then a college-aged kid walks out.

“Well, that’s not Zia…”

He’s got a cute mix of nerd and emo looks going, so I also tell myself to keep my eyes on the road. 🤦🏽

We’ve got a long ride ahead of us into Portland – thank you, Lyft app! – so I start off with some small talk about what’s up.

Turns out, he took a bus into town to hang out with his friend – a female friend, not a girlfriend 😈 – but he went to the wrong house. I comment that this girl has the right kind of problems…too many houses, and he clarifies that he went to her dad’s house (ok, so it’s a “depression vibe” in the yard, not “recluse”, got it) instead of her mom’s so mom was getting him a ride to the right place.

Cool mom.

AND IT WAS ZIA MCCABE!!!

Anyway, that was as close as my brush with rock royalty came. Well, that and maybe she was shuffling things around on the porch when I pulled up. And that I low-key know where she lives, but I’m not creepy, so that knowledge is just a little “I know stuff other people don’t” thrill.

But I still need to catch a random show of hers one of these days. Oh, and she’s a realtor, too, so that’s bad news for my realtor neighbor who lives in the building I want to eventually buy in…because I am Le Happy to be that kind of creepy.

Hey, it’s not like she wouldn’t get something out of that transaction, and The Gays are nothing if not transactional.

My Brush With Royalty

The Most Officious Of Pricks

No, this is not about my impending eligibility for a COVID booster – but you best believe I’m getting that sucker as soon as I am able!

This prick is a person. Not a bad person, I’m sure.

Just a guy doing his job.

Poorly.

And since it involves a badge of sorts, well, let’s just say that Americans no longer need power to be absolute for it to be too great a temptation for them to abuse.

Pricks.

This one was an airport cop. Not even TSA or the Port Police, either. He was a contract employee – is…I didn’t have him fired – working traffic detail in the Arrivals pick up area at PDX.

A little context, PDX has a two tiered front. The upper deck is the Departure level, where you walk in to the ticketing counters. The lower level is Arrivals, where you exit from baggage claim.

Outside of either, you have “islands”. The inner island, closest to the doors is for private vehicles to pick up or drop off. The outer island – called…get this, Island 2 – is for commercial vehicles, which is where I spend most of my airport time these days.

I’d say about 40% of the time when I have a ride to drop someone off at the airport, I’ll get paired with a ride back automatically. If I don’t, I just leave. It’s not worthwhile to chill in the holding area and wait, because usually there’s 20-60 other drivers in there.

Idiots.

And even smaller portion of those return rides I get paired with occur on my approach to the airport versus as pull away from the Departures drop off.

Why does it matter, all of this esoteric knowledge about airport ops at PDX?

Context.

You see, the round trip to get from the Departures level to the Arrivals level is about 4 miles and takes about six minute. Passing through and back into three different speed zones, no less:

25

35

45

35

25

Ironically, the route is rather parabolic in shape, so there’s a strangely soothing rhythm to the round trip.

Still, it’s wasteful. Plus, it throws unnecessary pollution into the air.

Sooooo…when I get that very rare return ride on my approach to the airport and happen to have that even rarer passenger that travels light – like, backpack light – I’ll ask if they mind me just dropping them on the Arrivals level. I mean, if they can work the Lyft app, I feel fairly certain they possess the competencies required to navigate an escalator.

I had one of these unicorn situations the other day. Since the passenger was also a Portland native, they easily agreed to my request tp drop them off downstairs. Hell, being a Portland native, they’d have fallen all over themselves to leave an arm behind if I’d asked.

We’re nice folks.

Passive-aggressive like there’s no tomorrow, but nice. We’re like the British of the US.

Anyway, I ask if she’d mind the whole “Departures drop off on the Arrivals level” and she’s game.

I pull up to the first of two crosswalks (from the parking garage to the terminal) and she hops out. As I’m waiting for pedestrian traffic to clear, this Officious Prick person walks over, points at my dashboard Lyft lamp and says, “You know Departures are upstairs, right?”

I tell him “Yes, but I had a pick up, so…”

“Well, next time you need to do it right!” Like there’s a wrong way to drop someone off at the airport that doesn’t involve the words “Tuck and roll!”

“I see”, I reply. “The environment doesn’t thank you”, I tell him pointedly. What a bunch of nonsense. Please, this is my job – as it were – trust me to apply some critical thinking to the situation, appropriately.

Of course, as I’m thinking this, he replies, “I work for PDX, not the environment.”

Surrealiously, pal?

Yeah…I’m not sure why I thought critical thinking would enter any equation involving Stupid Americans, but here I am.

Fuck the planet.

Quick! Someone kill Greta Thunberg so she can roll over in her grave!

<facepalm emoji>

The Most Officious Of Pricks

Idle Hands

What people are saying:

<crickets>

What I hear:

Tick-tock, good old Xtopher…it’s been a minute since your lazy ass posted anything.

And those bitter and twisted voices in my head ain’t wrong. I’m just not feeling it. My days, Mondays or not, aren’t manic as a certain song might have us believe. This is just more of that ennui that I know and tolerate so well. Well, on the fancy side. On the less fancy side, this is more likely plain old apathy.

Oh, the glamour!

So I thought I’d take a break from my extended existential dread-slash-slomo-breakdown and at least let anyone who cares know that I’m alive. For anyone disappointed in that disclosure, here’s what I can muster content-wise: a joke that’ll make you want to kill me. I told it to my parents today at breakfast and they lolled. Maybe it was more of a good natured groan…

A kid is visiting his grandad for dinner while his parents have a <giggity> date night. His grandad tells him to set the table, and as he does he sees that many of the plates and utensils appear to be dirty.

When he points this out to his granddad, he testily replies, “Those plates are as clean as cold water can get them!”

The boy puts his head down and finishes setting the table. However, when grandpa suggests ice cream for dessert, the boy sees the same problem. Pointing it out once again, the grandad yells, “Damnit, cold water only works so well!”

The boy drops it, idly wondering why his grandpa is so averse to using hot water on his dishes.

Soon after dessert, his parents pull up and honk. The boy shakes his grandad’s hand and runs out to the waiting car, inadvertently letting his gramp’s dog out into the yard. As he climbs in the car, he hears his grandad yell behind him, “Goddamnit, Cold Water, you get back in this house!

You. Were. Warned.

Not sure this will be the jumpstart to my creative juices any recreational or occasional readers might like. I have some stories to share. Vacation stuff. Life stuff. Grumpy old man stuff…go figure. It’s just getting out of my own way to tap these things out. Tonight’s effort is brought to you by Vitamin B

My hope really is that I can clear out some cobwebs and manage a slog through NaNoWriMo, which starts in about two weeks. Perhaps there’s a couple posts for you die hard followers between now and then. My mental back burner is going to be occupied deciding whether to continue building on my existing fiction universe, namely No One Of Consequence; tackle a companion to my non-fiction piece, Dating Into Oblivion, that would focus on worker bee life in one’s 50s versus dating; or take on a separate fiction piece I’ve been kicking around that I would publish under a pen name. I’ve had a couple of publishing folks give me their cards during rides after hearing this last idea, so I’m leaning toward that option. However, it seems like building on familiar frameworks might be an easier exit from this creative dormancy.

So…stand by?

Idle Hands

A Texas Taliban Twist

What is it, you ask?

A new dance craze sweeping the globe on Tik Tok?

Or something far more rewarding?

Yes, yes…it’s that one.

And it’s a reeeaaaaalllly sweet reward. The perfect embodiment of poetic justice, or to extend the analogy, just desserts.

First, a recap:

In an effort to reverse the 50 year old law of the land on abortion and a woman’s right to choose, a pro-life law was passed in Texas banning abortion past the sixth week of pregnancy. Forget that many women don’t even know they are pregnant at the sixth week for a variety of reasons like the timing or regularity of their cycle or even just plain, old denial and hope. Feel free to set aside as well that many pregnancies self-terminate in the first trimester and the six week ban doesn’t even cover half that benchmark, do the pro-lifers were defending a life that may be doomed before it has a brainwave anyway. And on that note, just ignore that the nickname for this law is the Heartbeat Bill, as six weeks is generally when a heartbeat is detected during pregnancy and the Religious Wrong has decided – overriding the scientific community on this – that life begins at the heartbeat…a tactical retreat from their usual “conception” standpoint. Don’t worry, I’m sure they will vacillate between the two standpoints as is convenient for them.

Meanwhile, smash cut to confessionals across the country with lines of pro-lifers lined up outside of them and around the block waiting to confess their “sin” after having spontaneous orgasms at the passing of this law.

For all the twisted machinations behind this five-plus decades long fight by the religious community and the individual rights restrictive results of a woman no longer having agency over her own body, the people behind this Heartbeat Bill were nicknamed the Texas Taliban.

Liberals can be pithy, too.

And, boooooyyyy did the Religious Wrong hate that nickname. Sadly, it’s completely apt, given how the basis of this law reflect the way women are treated more as property in a religious culture far more ridiculous restrictive than anything previously experienced in American religious culture. Aside from the prevalence of religion amongst the slaves in early America, that is…but is that really the closest comparisons reasonable organization would strive for?

Never-mind, I realized I just used the adjective “reasonable” in relation to the group of nutsacks I call the Religious Wrong. I withdraw the question.

How did this – could this – have even happened?

Clever pro-life rabbits, that’s how.

Let me copy/paste something from The Guardian to save time:

“When a conservative state passes an abortion ban – as they do with some regularity – state employees are usually tasked with enforcing the law, those employees are named as defendants in lawsuits brought by pro-choice groups, and the law is blocked from going into effect by courts that declare it unconstitutional before any real patients are denied abortion care.”

The psychotic brilliance of the Texas Taliban’s plan is that it shortcuts the normal channel of enforcing the validity of a law: opponents suing “The State” over enforcement of said law. No, this law removes that step and takes it into some sort of Orwellian Bigger Brother scenario: citizen enforcement.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people calling out unacceptable behaviors when they arise to prevent our culture from being sucked even further into the quagmire of this A-me-rica we’re all living in now.

This law, though, incentivizes it. It doesn’t openly solicit frivolous lawsuits, except it does. The law allows any average Jane or Joe to sue not only the mother, but any people perceived to be involved in the effort of terminate s pregnancy past the six week mark.

Insanity.

Brilliance.

Psychotic…

The enforcement of the law is up to the citizens, not the government. It offers a $10,000 bounty on people “assisting” in an abortion effort.

Parents.

Doctors.

Nurses.

Front desk clerks.

Bus or ride-share drivers.

(Yes, I legitimately got an email from Lyft telling me they had the backs of their drivers, as we’re not expected – by any reasonable person – to know where our passengers are going or what they intend to do once they arrive. Or, I suppose, what a six-plus-weeks-pregnant woman looks like.

Fucking nut jobs. But, like I said…brilliant. Diabolically so.

The fix?

At least so far…

You’ve heard the expression “Fighting fire with fire”?

Well, in this case, to get the legal ball rolling, the pro-choicers are fighting crazy with crazy.

Like, really crazy.

The law was expected to be more of a deterrent to providers, versus a tool of enforcement. As expected, a doctor who took his Hippocratic Oath seriously, performed a now illegal abortion.

As not expected, he then wrote an op-ed about it, effectively declaring open season on himself for the bounty hunters.

As also expected, this prompted two lawsuits against him.

Less expected, was that the lawsuits were filed by pro-choicers and not pro-lifers.

Twist!

Take that, Texas Taliban.

The most delicious part of this isn’t the Texas Taliban reeling over this development – although that is a delightful sight to behold. No, it’s that neither of the people bringing these suits is a Texas resident!

And, as I hinted at, they both seem equally equipped to battle fight crazy with crazier. They are both defrocked lawyers, tee-hee. And one is even under house arrest – I know not what for. That one openly states in his suit that if there’s bounty money to be made off of this law, he’s going to make it.

Then he refers to himself in the third person.

Delicious.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m livid at this intrusion of church interests into our collective state. I went rounds for days with some of the giddy pro-lifers who celebrated this <ahem> abortion of justice. But stupid Americans who are only interested in validating furthering their narrow minded interests by inflicting them on the rest of us and calling that freedom being out maneuvered by individuals the left would never hold up as our standard bearers?

That’s a justice whose irony I can appreciate.

A Texas Taliban Twist

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

And I mean, again. Of course, there’s the OG puberty. However, I’ve joked throughout my adult life about countless other random puberties – like the ear, nose or back hair growth puberties.

Well, with the return to indoor mask wearing a month ago, I’ve got another puberty to report. My old friend, oily skin puberty.

This is no joke. It goes beyond the casual maskne that many of us have complained about over the past 18 months.

My face is, at best, an oily swamp after wearing a mask for a couple hours.

Oily. Shiny. Tacky to the touch. It’s disgusting. I actually bought some facial cleansing wipes to give myself a lil refresh while I’m out doing a driving shift. Truth be told, though, by the time I use one, the oily mess my face creates has started to wick into my mask, so that feels gross when I put it back on – effectively negating my attempt to give myself a refresh.

Needless to say, I’ve tried to start carrying a spare mask with me when I know I’ll be out on the road for a bit.

When my scruff gets too long, it’s even worse.

You know I’m a talker, right? Well, all the hot air I expel creates even a more intense swampy feeling – my face feels like the inside of a car window with two teens going at it inside up on Lovers Lane.

It’s been enough to make me regret what I’ve been putting “The Boys” through all these years by wearing briefs instead of boxers.

Sorry, Boys.

And: sorry, Readers…that imagery will have you waking up screaming. Or moaning, ya bunch of pervs.

This maskne on steroids puberty has swelled my pores and created those gross, dense underground pimples that have all the “benefits” of visible pimples but never break through.

I try to resist picking at them – with mixed success. If I pick at them, I end up with a swollen and visibly irritated area of skin on my face. If I don’t, the pimple is eventually reabsorbed, but the skin over it dries out and becomes a bit crusty in the process, so then I’ve got some sort of soggy, oily pizza crust kind of thing happening on my face.

It’s great. No…really. So great.

I can’t forget those oversized pores, either. They put Portland’s potholes to shame, size-wise. I survey the damage in my mirror when I get home and see patches of black dotting my face, especially on my nose as it takes most of the contact brunt from masking up.

To amuse myself, I imagine planting some weed in the larger pores and starting a little grow op. Y’know, putting that hothouse effect from my mask to good use.

It’s a thought that bore some semi-therapeutic fruit yesterday while I was buying cat food. I ended up walking out of the store with this haul…

So, yesterday afternoon was a cathartic – and mask-free! – plantathon here at Chez Galby. It needed to happen, the balcony pots had never really recovered from our hottest-temperature-on-the-planet heat dome days from earlier in the summer. I’m trying to grow that Rosemary you can barely see in the pic above indoors…we’ll see how that grows goes.

I could get a better pic, and a snap of that third plant, but Myrtle is being uncharacteristically sweet and snoozing on my lap at the moment, so you only get underexposed evidence. Sorry, not sorry.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, writing this has given me the urge to give myself a facial mask.

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

People

…and other petty nuisances.

I kid, it’s just people this time. Or…once again?

I gave up on finished my driving “shift” earlier than I anticipated tonight. Usually, when I drive on Friday or Saturday, I’ll do “doubles”, meaning I’ll go out for ten rides early in the day, take a break and then go out for another ten later to get the Party People to the places they need to be. I’d planned to drive a double today, since it’s a holiday weekend and most folks are off tomorrow. But a regular ten usually takes about three to four hours. However, today that ran to five hours and I’m just kind of done. Thankfully, they were long rides, but since I had an idea of how my day would go – drive, home to exercise, second shower, eat and then drive some more – and that went off the rails, I decided to call it at 8 o’clock and catch a beer at my local, since they are closed tomorrow.

I walked in and there were two parties waiting for tables, no surprise. There were five stools at one of the corners of the bar – two on one side and three on the other – so I walked in and casually placed my order before my butt hit the stool.

I’d chosen the stool closest to the walk-through into the bar area, which was on the three stool side. My beer lands in front of me, I grind some salt onto my napkin/coaster to keep it from sticking to my glass as take a therapeutic lil sippy-sip.

Immediately, my bladder whispers “Hey, remember me?”, so I anon to the can to decant.

I return to find one of the waiting couples has wised up and decided to eat at the bar versus waiting for a table to open up.

Geniuses. Genii? I dunno, let’s go with geniuses.

Not so smart, mind you, that they’d each taken a seat on the corner so they can look at each other without craning their necks, as the Silver Fox and I do. Also, not so considerate that they sat on the two-stool side.

Yup…they chose to sit right fucking next to me. Now, because of COVID, they pulled the stools away from mine, so partial credit, but…still! You know what’s further away than pulling your stool away from mine? Sitting at the other two damn barstools!

People…<facepalm>

To make this perfectly horrible, the woman decided on the fish tacos, which I find particularly – and poorly – fragrant. Ugh.

I would like to assert that misophonia is contagious and mine has spread from my ears to my nose. The smell of these fucking tacos makes me mad. I suggested to the owner that he raise the price to steer people toward other menu items. Surprisingly, he didn’t agree with my logic.

Now, for the short observation behind this post.

Have you ever noticed the inverse nature of the relationships people have with their horn and their turn signal?

Seriously, I swear it’s a thing – and this is coming from a native Portlander, a city frequently called out for its bad drivers.

When someone wants to switch lanes, you can count on at least one tire to be in your lane before their turn signal is even activated. They’re changing lanes before signaling their intent…almost as if no one taught them the proper order. Let alone the entire process, teaching them to check their blind spots and then signal their intent before changing lanes.

<blink>

That’s right, then it’s literally one blink. I liken that to a civilized one-finger salute.

Conversely, let’s say you’re driving along and inadvertently make an error. Not letting someone zipper in on a merge lane, stopping too fast for a pedestrian…whatever, nothing life or death is what I’m saying.

Oooh, let the horn leaning begin!

These people, these fine, upstanding folk that will retroactively inform you of their intent to change lanes will honk like it’s literally a life or death situation.

What gives?

How can people who are so blithe about their responsibility to others be so egregiously offended when the same happens to them?!?

I ask here, because I assume it’s a safe space. At least a physically safe space. I know the interwebs can be a mentally abusive space.

This, by the way, comes from the guy who was menaced on the freeway today as he watched a motorcycle rider zig-zag in and out of traffic in his rear view mirror for about a half mile. Then he whipped right around me in a matter of seconds. As he passed, I saw his holstered handgun sticking out from under his jacket.

I guess when you drive like a jackass, you need some kind of backup. God bless the Second Amendment…

People

Compassionate Yoga

Maybe it’s not even a thing…BUT I’M STILL QUITTING.

I’ll recreationally bend over backward to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition – witness, “There is only so much shit up with which I will put” – but I’m not aiming to be flexible enough to shove my own head up my ass. Maybe give it a light smooch, but no more than that.

I have had occasion to be reminded that I neither want to be emotionally flexible enough to reward willfully ignorant people with my silence. I’ll save my empathy for those it can potentially help.

There is, after all, only so much shit up with which I will put.

I know I wasn’t silent by any means during the Trump years, but in regards to COVID, I’ve decided to take a more assertive approach.

Here’s just three examples from this past weekend’s driving as to why:

Case 1:

Nothing new here, this is something I’ve been running up against since Oregon lifted its COVID restrictions in late June. People will approach my car and then either motion for me to roll down my window or actually get into Angela (my car) asking if they need a mask.

“Yes” – you nitwit – “you do”. That’s my retired polite response. I use Lyft as a passenger, so I know how it works. When you first open the app, you’re greeted by this reminder

Then, once you confirm your ride, you get this

Seems pretty hard to miss. Maybe I could see overlooking one reminder, but not two. Because they are magnanimous – or looking out for the safety of their passengers and drivers – they usually even send a text when your driver arrives that contains…a third reminder!

Frankly, I’m amazed my early onset grumpiness patience lasted this long with these Stupid Americans people. My favorite part of these exchanges is when they say they’re double vaxxed. Ok, first of all, you’re vaccinated. It’s potentially a two-shot protocol, saying you’re double vaccinated implies you got two of the available three (in the US) vaccines. But second, you’re expecting me to believe something as unbelievable as you “didn’t see” three reminders about masks…why would I believe you when you swear you’re vaccinated?

You know how many women became mothers believing men when they swore they’d pull out? Get the hell away from me with your feeble nonsense.

So I make them go get masks before I let them in. But last Saturday, I’d just had it. A guy walks out of a bar – you know this is serious, jokes always start with a guy walking into a bar – and pulls the whole innocent act. It’s 1:45 in the morning, I’m tired and working my way home. It’s also a 13 minute ride in the wrong direction, so I just tell him nope.

Compassionate Xtopher would have said, “There’s a 7-Eleven right next door, go buy one and we’re good to go”, but I’ve also noticed these folks don’t usually tip because I’m “mean”. Except the friend of the guy I kicked out of Angela because he called me a pussy for insisting they wear masks…she tipped me $20 up front to reconsider. And that was just an hour-ish earlier Saturday night, so I was already crunchy about the whole mask thing.

Case 2:

I gave an early 20s couple a ride to work on Friday. They work a security job at Nabisco – which is actually named something else now because they got bought by the company that owns Toblerone, but I’m not even gonna try to spell it – and were talking to me about their brutal schedules. I was in awe, and 60 hour weeks for me were nothing when I was working professionally. These youngsters were working six day weeks, 12 hour minimums with frequent extra hours. They estimated their average week to be 95-110 hours.

Then they asked me to tell anyone I know who’s looking to apply to their company, “They only have to be 18 and pass a background check”. We actually spent a good deal of our 42 minute rush hour ride discussing this, given my 30 years of people management. I think they felt good to be heard, and even validated by what I brought to the conversation.

Naturally, I got cocky.

I asked near the end of the ride if I could ask them what they thought about vaccine resistance in their age group. At first, the young woman declined because she said that those conversations always led to her friends yelling at her.

Foolishly, I assumed that they were yelling at her because she thought it was important…but I was wrong.

As we eased into the conversation, she said things that gave away her position. “This is nature’s way of culling the population” and “COVID doesn’t kill any more people than the flu does”.

I’d been gently pushing back against those statements with my own, like “I’m not sure where you heard that, but it doesn’t ring true with what I’ve heard”. As gentle as that response was, I could still see her pouting in the mirror. Young people want to be treated as peers and equals until you disagree with them, then they revert to absolute children. Some – not all, by any means.

Figuring if she were going to pout, I might as well make it worth her while, I loaded up a couple realities for her to think on.

“Look, your assertion that nature is trying to cull our population is certainly not the craziest thing I’ve heard, it’s even pithy, but if that were the case, wouldn’t a smart move be to try to not get culled?”

Her boyfriend laughed at this and she kind of lightened up at my question. Then I hit her with a hard fact. “The flu probably hasn’t killed 600,000 people in the US in the last twenty years. 60,000 would be a tragic year for flu deaths. A closer average would probably be 30,000 and in 2019 the number of US deaths from flu was closer to 20,000. Equating one with the other is just factually wrong. Whoever let you believe that did you an absolute disservice.”

The curious thing to me is that people lack the intellectual curiosity to even check the shit they hear. Of course, that’s a perfect lead in to…

Case 3:

This was a rider I’d had before. A member of my 1% Club, which I call them because my nerdy ass took the time to quantify the frequency with which I see repeats. In case you’re curious, three-peats are about 1/1000 rides and I’ve had one four-time rider in my 5300 rides.

But I digress.

I didn’t immediately peg him as a dupe until he started talking about his work – since I’d picked him up there. I asked what it was that had him working a Sunday afternoon and he told me he worked in radio.

That was when it hit me. I asked if I hadn’t taken him to work once, and remembered it being in the same building my favorite radio station was in. He said that was his other job, he worked for FISH radio out where I’d picked him up – which is a conservative Christian station.

He, in turn, asked me how I was feeling about my own personal safety since he obviously knew I’d been driving during the pandemic. I shared that I felt pretty safe throughout but also wouldn’t be surprised if I’d had a mild case of COVID at some point and couldn’t even presume to think I hadn’t had at least an exposure. The odds just aren’t there.

He told me of his own exposure through his live-in girlfriend – oh, those Christians and their tendency of cherry picking values…really, premarital sex? <gasp> – but that he hadn’t gotten it and was now vaccinated.

That led to a chat about why his girlfriend wasn’t yet. Apparently, she was relying on the natural immunity from having the virus. That perked me up, and I asked if she’d only recently had COVID. Her illness was back in January and I wondered if maybe that was far enough back that she could get vaccinated if she wanted to. He went on about how natural immunity lasts about 9 months, maybe longer. I listened to him, but when he finished I nudged him with “The last I’d heard – and I’m not paying that much attention currently, since we have a vaccine now – was that natural immunity started to fade at 2-3 months”.

He didn’t disagree with me, but veered off into mortality rates to dismiss the importance of vaccines in the first place. That was rather a needle-skip of a moment, but I let it play out. He was rattling off mortality rates of 3-5% for the flu and .004-.006% for COVID. I told him that I didn’t know those numbers offhand, but it seemed backward, causing him to interrupt me with an objection that made me almost drive off a bridge.

“No one knows the actual mortality rate because the numbers are all inflated!”

Me: <blink, blink>

“You shouldn’t count people who have diabetes or cancer or whatever and die of COVID because they were gonna die anyway.”

That old chestnut. I was in the middle of disagreeing when he interrupted me again. This was to be our pattern for most of the rest of the ride. I try to participate in the dialogue and he cuts me off.

“I’m not trying to be argumentative”, he eventually said, seeming to pick up on the rhythm of our conversation…and then I cut him off.

“Really? Because you keep talking over me and interrupting me. That seems like textbook argumentative behavior to me.”

That actually got him to back down a bit and we actually talked for the short duration of the ride. I told him that if I had COVID and died getting hit by a bus, that should absolutely not be a COVID death, which got a chuckle out of him. But I pressed on by suggesting that his own phrasing belies the point he’s making.

“How can you say someone with cancer died of COVID and not see the inherent fallacy? It’s right there in your own words!” He was thinking on that, but whether he was changing his mind or rewriting his talking points is not clear. I pushed on with the reality that, yes, these people could have probably died of their co-morbidities, but they hadn’t gotten the chance because COVID did the heavy lifting in their death. At the very least, COVID shortened their already potentially shortened lives.

“Besides”, I asked, “you surely know the Christians’ favorite argument against assisted suicide, right?”

He did not. So I told him that it wasn’t even that it was considered a mortal sin. Then I shared the argument that a cancer patient might have years of life with treatment, and the argument is that in those years a cure could be discovered.

Silence. I looked in the mirror and he was sitting there with his mouth open, but he wasn’t even trying to make words.

Check and mate.

Personally, these Stupid Americans presently dying from COVID should likely have “Dumb” listed as their Cause of Death, but maybe that’s just their comorbidity.

When I got to this guy’s destination, we were still chatting. I told him that his was the liveliest debate I’d had all weekend and thanked him. Not conversation…debate. But I still appreciated it because I felt like he actually started listening after I called him on his interruptions.

Yeah, he didn’t tip.

I’m wondering if tomorrow I’ll find out that I got my first ever non-5-star rating…

All that being said, even though I’m giving in to my grumpy old man-ness on this issue, I should still probably do some actual yoga. What could possibly go wrong?

Compassionate Yoga