Conversations With My Cat

Me: Is that you or me that smells like cat poop?

Mistress Myrtle: I think it’s you.

Me: And I think it’s you, Myrt.

Mistress Myrtle: <gazes at me inscrutably>

Me: So, you admit it was you? <sits up>

Mistress Myrtle: <continues staring>

Me: Oh, god…you were right. What did I eat?!?

Mistress Myrtle: How did you not even realize you farted, Stoopid Hooman?!?

This is pretty much the disdainful regard that I expect my cat holds for me. Despite, it seems, a post-vacation affection she also seems to be displaying.

Like, we’re talking daily cuddles versus the pre-vacation quarterly allotment I was afforded. It could be a throwback reflex to her early childhood abandonment issues.

I was, after all, her fourth home when I adopted her at a year and a half of age.

Still, if that were the case – gratitude at my tolerance for her return-to-the-pound-worthy behaviors, why not have graced me with these cuddly rewards earlier in our going-on-six-year relationship?

The answer?

Tortitude.

That’s like catitude on steroids.

Torties are notoriously and viciously psychotic.

Psycatic, if you will.

So I’m reveling in this abandonment-flashback-induced post-vacation affection that I’m receiving.

To wit:

<End photo dump>

Mind you, this is against the backdrop of the Silver Fox’s caretaking. He seemed proud that my dire warnings of Myrtle’s Protest Poops seemed unfounded. A smug security that lasted only until Day 5 of his sentence tenure feeding my lil beast. Then he contritely provided photographic evidence of his dethroning as a special human in Myrtle’s estimation.

Ironically, in a post-vacation conversation, he also divulged his slight concern that she only peed once while I was gone. I was all, “No, Boomer, she peed. She peed…” knowing that this damn cat of mine prefers peeing in carpets versus in her box.

Specifically, area rugs. I’ve gone through three area rugs, a hallway runner, my neighbor’s doormat, a bathroom rug and a bath mat. Having removed all common area rugs from my condo and kept the bathroom door consistently closed, I had foolishly thought myself out of the woods.

Alas, the rubber-ish sweat mat under my Peloton seems to work just fine for her in whatever she perceived as a pinch. I’m a crazy twist, her litter box in a foot away from my exercise bike.

But, to let me know that I’m still at the top of her disdain list, she gifted me this little Myrtle Bomb 30 hours after I returned.

And, yes…she bothered to do this while I was home.

I’m going to eat some therapeutic junk food…

Conversations With My Cat

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?!?

It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

I dunno, maybe it’s more of a torpor…but I couldn’t come up with anything to play off of that, so here we are, stuck with a lane riff off of “It’s kind of a funny story”.

A quick backstory:

My first “good” boyfriend died back in…late ‘96 – Jesus, he’s been dead nearly 25 years, that’ll take some time to absorb – anyway, we were separated by more than half a country by then. It’d probably been a good four years since our relationship had ended, too, which was a pretty good percentage of my 28 years.

Naturally, having a dream about him was unusual at that point. Nothing compared to the actual dream., though!

It was one of those moments where you know you’re just about to drift off, then suddenly there he was, floating near the ceiling of my bedroom. He’s gesturing toward me, as if to get me to somehow move closer to him, and I’m all, “Sorry, buddy…me no floaty” without registering that it’s weird that he could and was. Then he starts telling me to come with him, but without telling me where he was off to. Naturally, I was all, “Nah, I gotta, like…work in the morning”.

It was the next evening that a friend called to tell me he’d died. I knew why he was calling the second I heard his voice and preemptively announced the reason.

One of the more surreal moments in my life – for sure – because who am I kidding, saying that was a dream?

Present Day:

It happened again a couple nights ago. I can’t tell you who it was beckoning to me. I just remember the disembodied, plaintive invitation. So far, no news on any deaths in my present or past circle of friends and intimates. As far as I know, I never met Charlie Watts, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him, despite the timing.

What struck me this time was my response.

What can I say, it’s been a rough couple weeks.

Really, though…a “Meh, why not?” attitude from a seemingly non-corporeal invitation? It’s a wonder I haven’t been abducted by now.

What bugs me isn’t the potential surprise of waking up dead the next day. No…it’s the resignation of the situation.

I joke often about the randomness of death. How an accident or sudden illness can take any one of us unexpectedly. Usually, I’m pretty blithe about it with some response along the lines of, “I don’t really have any plans, so…”

But this felt different. Like if ghost grandma showed up one night and offered her hand, I’d just toddle off alongside her into the great unknown.

Like I said, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Making headway (or not, as the recent results show) on my condo savings goal and trying to wreckoncile – Chrisism – the Black Sheep Bro situation (and failing) are taking a cumulative toll on me. But…I’m actively counting the number of days I consecutively leave the house now, so I take that as a good sign that I’m coming out of this torpor or ennui or tailspin or whatever you want to call it.

Maybe if the voice comes back anytime soon, I’ll send Myrtle off with it.

It’s Kind Of An Ennui Story

Chicken Little Called…

I feel like the sky is falling.

Literally.

Which, of course, means figuratively as well as literally in the English language these days, but actually perfectly describes how I’m feeling.

Figuratively

With the chasm between common sense and willful ignorance widening daily, it seems like America – if not all of humanity – is doomed.

People are eagerly and proudly choosing to embrace behaviors and ideologies that are not simply personally risky to them (mask and vaccine deniers) but also threaten the future of living on our planet for very near, if not already present generations.

I truly cannot understand those people. Say it with me, “Stupid Americans”.

Literally

Two things here. The first is that the smoke from our fires in central and southern Oregon has finally rolled back in to Portland. The rest of the country has been getting our smoke – as far away as Minnesota from what people have shared with me personally, but I’ve heard NYC has even seen some.

It’s nowhere near the literal worst air quality on the planet we had last year, but it’s still a climate crisis in progress. But when you can see literal ash debris on your car after it’s been parked on the street a few hours, I’d say that qualifies as “falling skies”, no?

The second is even more heartbreaking to me as a native Portlander. I love our greenery here. Both the actual forests and our urban green spaces. I live on a street named Park that borders five city blocks of park space called the North Park Blocks. Many of the trees on these blocks are as old as our state, if not older in some cases. And they are called “North” because they are in the northwest quadrant of town and there is an even longer string of blocks on the same street running through the southwest quadrant of town. I’ll let you figure out what we call those blocks on your own.

Go ahead, now…intuit.

Anyway, over the summer, I know of four instances in my string of blocks where trees have just dropped branches.

Massive branches.

…and some not too massive. The above pic is not as big around as a small car, but it was a good 25 feet length of branch. There was one that fell right in front of me early in the summer late one night as I turned onto Park after driving all night. It blocked a two lane road from the base of its trunk to almost the opposite curb.

There’s no wind storm happening. And I expect branches to fall during our increasingly common winter ice events.

But in still skies?!?

My thought on this is that the trees are just so dry from our lack of rain – and it’s a drought condition that has been going on since our February snow storm. April ‘21 was the driest on record by one-third with only a half inch of rain for the month – that these trees have become too dry and brittle to even resist gravity.

How sad. Tragic.

But, Portland being weird and still trying to be green, puts a decidedly Portland spin on the situation by creating…a seating nook!

Here’s the branch that fell, about one-third of the tree’s canopy.

And here’s what Portland does…makes it cozy. Not that I know these will be left here long term. Although I wouldn’t blame Portland Parks & Rec if they did decide to leave them. Branches like this become breeding grounds for all sorts of other flora, so it would essentially be a public science exhibit.

But on a less pithy and optimistic note, check out the tree that had to be completely removed after losing part of itself to nothing more than the pull of gravity.

It was taller than the historic five story brick building across from it. Probably older, too.

Now it’s nothing more than a stump that’s basically the size of a BMW.

So sad.

Of course, maybe I have this all wrong. Just because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly natural. Maybe trees randomly fall apart every 50 years or so.

Or…maybe it’s due to climate change.

Ooooor…maybe there’s a giant cat roaming around town at night that no one has seen yet. I certainly have something similar – albeit on a much smaller scale – happening in my home.

Mistress Myrtle is not taking questions.

Chicken Little Called…

Groceries With Galby

Some have infamously noted that I possess the palate of a seven year old.

I might say I’m simply a victim of my own lack of planning, spontaneity and the resulting impatience that the hunger those qualities engender.

Let’s ease you into this…

Gross Out:

Because I don’t know when I shop on Tuesday what I’m going to want on Friday, I’ve learned to just shop more frequently. Odds are, if it sounds good Tuesday, I’ll probably still have a taste for it Wednesday. No guarantees beyond that.

Therefore, I’ll shop Grocery Outlet for staples like wine shelf stable pantry items. That way, they are there when I have a hangry moment and don’t have time to spare to run to Freddy’s, Safeway or the lil Brodega across the street.

Nonetheless, since being urged to eat more veggies and fiber, I’ve been making an effort to have a salad several times a week. Gross Out has the same salad kits as the big chains, usually for a buck less (we’re talking $3 versus $4 at the chains), so I’ll pick up three or four when I pop in for wine other supplies.

The other day, though, I went specifically to grab a couple bottles of wine Caesar salad kits to go with my pizza leftovers from Wednesday night. I’d gotten a Caesar with the pizza, but ate it all, worried that the concoction wouldn’t age well once the dressing was on…and I’m a weird one with leftovers, so just accept that was my logic and be happy I’m eating salad.

I pop back to produce, breaking the Gross Out rule of hitting every aisle so you don’t miss a deal, avoiding the wine department temptation and intent on my mission.

Plus, it was past Myrtle’s dinner time.

When I hit the produce corner, I see that I’ve also hit the jackpot. There are several “Reduced For Quick Sale” options. But, hey…I made a point of stopping here to save a literal buck, so I decided I could do a chop salad instead on a Caesar and save another literal buck.

Right?

Save $2 on two salads: good

Save $4 on two salads: great!

I’m beating feet back up front and my inner seven year old palate demon steers me down the pasta aisle.

Maybe there’s Mac & Cheeeeese!

Ugh.

Fine.

Luckily, the Velveeta Deluxe that was 2/$1 were long gone, which made me sad but happy. A good deal is a good deal, but I’m not paying for my eventual coronary by saving $4.49 on a box of food I shouldn’t be eating anyway…Plus, I still had a dollar’s worth at home. Plus-plus a box of some strange broccoli added version that I’d picked up last time…

Proud of my situationally forced ability to resist temptation, I remained on mission. Until

Look, I’m just a man with a child’s tastes, ok? I haven’t had Velveeta in probably 20 years. And it’s not like I’m going to eat this like a college kid would – by peeling it like a banana and going to town.

I’m getting some damn crackers and a good bottle of wine. Because adults compensate.

Speaking of college kids…

GoPuff:

These bastards.

They are my new Stoner Cafe.

And they most certainly have my number are out to get me.

Usually I can ignore their marketing emails. Generally, they are either of the “redeem points and save” variety or the “Ben & Jerry’s BOGO” variety.

Admittedly, that last type is harder to ignore.

But then I saw one that was too intriguing to resist.

Something like, “Try Something New For A Nickel”. Let’s be honest, I think we can all agree that my seven year old palate is not adventurous. But for a nickel, I could explore.

Especially when the “something new” ends up being spiked seltzers! I’m not sure how they got this promotion past the iron fisted OLCC, but I jumped on $.20 worth of a new seltzer called Basic. The flavors sounded…safe fine.

Not wanting to look like a cheapskate, I figured I should order something else. Since it was right there in my “Buy It Again”, I added a 12-pack of White Claw.

New problem: now I just look like a booze hound.

So I added in some energy drinks. Since they didn’t have my go-to brand/flavors in stock, I – wait for it – tried a new drink called G.O.A.T.

I could live with the delivery person assuming I was on a liquid diet.

Now, a Pro-Tip: when putting away your “groceries” do not put energy drinks between alcoholic beverages.

That was a close fucking call this morning.

So, despite the opening assertion, I’d dare say that I’ve somehow refined this seven year old palate that I seemingly possess.

Crackers and wine with my cheap cheese?

Boutique spiked seltzers and energy drinks?

I should have a Pinterest page for my culinary embarrassments…

Groceries With Galby

Stockholm Syndrome

My cat is a lemon.

Living with her is about as awesome as squeezing said lemon into one of the wounds she inflicts.

But when she’s not busy inflicting bodily harm, she usually divides her time between sleeping and watching the hummingbirds come and go to her newly hung bird feeder that someone installed for her viewing pleasure.

And how does the ingrate repay me?

Yes, yes…bloodlettings to free me from the evil spirits in my system, sure.

But, other than those hostilities, usually she sleeps all day. Then, when I decide to go sit in the cold wind, protected only by a tent from a rainy evening in the gutter or perhaps go out and give a few rides to earn some money to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed…I suddenly am met with this psychotic bullshit.

Really, Corn Kitty?

Oh, yes…really.

You want to know how I know?

She’s vacated the position in the picture above and left only a poop marking her space. Yet, when I come home and discover the gift, I’m met with a neutral stare that innocently suggests,

Somebody shit on the floor.

Stockholm Syndrome

Yeah, This Tracks…

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

Today was no exception.

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

Naturally, I woke up at 730. <eyeroll>

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

It was a good morning.

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

Mistake.

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

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

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

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

I got one ride on the way home.

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

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

I was right.

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

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

Imagine my surprise when my passenger replied.

Oops.

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

His words.

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

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

Only me…

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

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

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

Me? No, I work at a pizza joint.

Okaaaay.

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

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

Fuck my life.

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

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

Yeah, This Tracks…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted under this theme.

Maybe it’s been 100 years, maybe only 9 months. If I’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that time is excruciating relative.

Another interesting thing about 2020 has been how the mentally lethal distractions that inspired this theme – based off of the pre-credit scenes in the original Star Trek, where some extra in a red shirt always seemed to die after beaming down to a strange, new world – have shifted. Before the quarantimes, these mental deaths were always near misses with my own mortality.

Now?

I’m projecting.

Lunch with my parents?

People emerging from lockdown 1.0, unsure of how to navigate life in “the real world” again?

A friend’s small wedding?

Family gathering in Central Oregon for my nephew’s 21st?

Bubble Boy not texting back in a timely manner?

Yeah, they all died at one point or another in my neurotic mess of a brain.

It’s fascinating that my prochristination has me finally getting this out of draft on Thanksgiving Eve. After shaking my initial misgivings about meeting my parents for lunches on their trips into town, I still get a little heebaliscious when thinking about dinner at their house tomorrow.

I overcame my original disease with lunches after just admitting that with the Silver Fox in isolation with his ex-wife about 90 minutes south of Portland, my own isolation was poised to redefine the term lonely. Knowing that I was either at home or driving made me realize that my parents were likely the only people I would actually see intentionally and with any regularity during the lockdown.

Even though I was driving with Lyft ~20 hours a week, I felt like the table between us was buffer enough, since I was completely masked up while I drove people around. Still, it took a few months before we ventured back into hug territory.

Knowing that dinner tomorrow would be just my parents and youngest brother, I agreed to the pandemic indulgence. I still took this past week off from driving, on a doctor’s advice. Right now, I feel like the biggest risk to our meal is a nosey neighbor calling the cops to report our gathering. The Governor has set a 6 people or less from no more than 2 household rule on the day. We will be only 4, but from 3 households. Since the Guv has gone the shocking extra step of encouraging people to report their neighbors if they suspect a violation of these guidelines, I’m thinking maybe I should pick my brother up along the way.

And because my parents are like poster children for great parents, Tuesday evening I start getting texts about coming out tonight to have a special dinner and spend the night.

It’s quite a nostalgic pull from the days when I lived out of state and would fly in early for holidays. But this year, I just can’t get there. I’m missing the rationalization that would make me comfortable spending that much time in their home, potentially exposing them to my city germs.

Also, there’s Myrtle. She’s kind of a situation.

After getting her, I took the advice of friends and family with cats and left her for the night with extra food – with a healthy 50% bump just to be sure – and went to my parents’. Myrtle being Myrtle, I came home to cat puke everywhere – none “fresh” – and a starving cat.

Stupid animal.

The next phase was taking her out with me.

That was an exercise in animal cruelty. She screamed the entire trip out in her cat carrier. Once we arrived, she stayed under the bed the entire visit. Emerging, from what I can tell, only once for some water and to shit on my parents’ hallway carpet.

It’s not easy being her.

So, for many reasons, I demurred on the invite for tonight. Then I woke up with a sore throat today, because that’s just my neurotic brain having fun with me.

But having skipped my nephew’s birthday, dreading the following two weeks and filling my dreams with sole survivor scenarios where my nephew, younger brother and I were the last of our clan, I wanted to go to Thanksgiving dinner.

But now the dreams are back.

COVID has messed up my sleep schedule pretty good. I won’t mix my syzzurp sleep aid with alcohol, so if I drink I’ve resigned myself to bad sleep. But it’s been next level bad these past two weeks. I’ll stay up too late and then get woken up by Myrtle around 9, after logging 4-5 hours. Or, I’ll go to bed around 10 and wake up around 2, wide awake. On the days I can fall back to sleep, it’s usually not until 5 or 6 and then Myrt still wakes me up around 9.

It’s crap.

I think Myrtle just wants the bed. But still, I don’t want to be at my parents’ house with this crap going on and accidentally wake their dogs with my late night meanderings around the house – because then everyone is up.

But I know that part of my recent sleep problems are due to bad dreams. I just want them to remain bad dreams, I don’t need the reality my brain tries selling my unconscious self.

But overall – and I think this is something I need to acknowledge gratefully – no one close to me has died from COVID. Friends of Facebook friends is as close as its come to touching my life in reality. The back of my mind is screaming that I’m due, but I’m shushing it for all I’m worth.

No one got sick from my nephew’s birthday.

No one died after the wedding I dipped on.

There’s been plenty of non-COVID close calls because people forgot how to live after 1.0 ended, but again, nothing in my direct realm.

Then there’s Bubble Boy.

Just so I don’t bury the lead, he’s still alive.

Lil fucker got himself stabbed, though, so it’s not like he’s coming out of this unscathed.

No. I did not do the stabbing. Well, not the literal stabbing. <wink, wink>

Bubble Boy is someone I’ve hooked up with a few times over the years since I moved back to Portland. No, he is not a part of the Dating Into Oblivion blog theme or subsequent book – since we don’t date so much as we mate. He’s not interested in dating and he’s not boyfriend material if he were. But he’s a hot little nugget of a man, I’ll tell you that.

So when lockdown hit and he was up to meet, I decided – after the first three months – to go for it. It took me that long to rationalize a guy in his early 30s having the discipline to isolate or take reasonable precautions during a pandemic.

Sure enough, we start connecting a couple times a month versus our every month or two pre-lockdown rhythm. Then he goes quiet in August. After one missed assignation and a couple unreturned texts, I arrive expeditiously at the obvious conclusion.

Dead.

Then I spend a week re-isolating, assuming – irrationally, I know – that he is in hospital or dead from COVID and that I’ve been exposed, symptoms lacking be damned. Also 1000% not surprised that this might have been the case that my psyche is trying to make to me.

When he finally blips back onto the radar, my reaction to learning he’d been in hospital was “Naturally” and to mentally pat myself on the back. And to be relieved he survived.

After he misses a couple more text replies and another “date” with the explanation that he’d been back in hospital, I ask if he’s sure he should be making plans to meet.

Oh, yeah. I’m fine, my stitches just keep getting infected is all.

Oh, okaaaay.

But, c’mon. You just know that I had to demand an explanation after that overshare.

Stabbed.

“Oh, is that all?” – Me.  Really, it’s so not shocking I ended up alone.

Sure enough, desperate times did indeed breed desperate measures and he’d been mugged one night on his way home. I didn’t press for details, rather assuming it was from something acceptable like essential work.

Plus, I’m enough of a Portlander to know that we are a stabby lot.

You think I’m kidding.

Poorly, by the way. His attacker stabbed him in the collarbone. Of all the…I mean, I’ve never stabbed anyone, but I think I could do so without my blade bouncing off a collarbone, FFS. Although, admittedly on his 5’3″ self, I’d have to work to get down to gut level and avoid ribs and whatnot.

Ok, I’ve clearly put too much thought into that.

But that’s kind of the point of The Red Shirt Diaries – an overactive and macabre imagination.

To redeem myself, when we did successfully meet up post-stabbing and he interrupted the usual commotion involved in our involvement with a caution to be careful of his stitches, I replied by pushing his face deeper into the mattress with one hand, telling him this was his idea and smacking his ass with my other hand.

My little freaky-deaky f*ckbuddy seemed to rather enjoy that. But I also think he knows me well enough to know that I was, indeed, more careful of his stitches after that.

So…one more day to get through and then a couple weeks of what I know will be a neurotic red shirt-esque death watch and hopefully I can sail into the new year with a still-full compliment of friends and family, despite my relatively empty quarantine bubble.

But let’s face it, this being my life, you just have to know that I’d be the one to die of COVID in my circle. How I can’t get there with the people actually in my bubble probably goes back to being raised by great parents who taught me to be concerned for others…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Ohai…

No wrong answers here, but did you miss me?

Look, procrastination takes a lot of effort, ok? So I’ve been busy…not being busy.

I’ve somehow managed a few words here and there on my NaNoWriMo project for this year. Few being the key word. I should probably be closing in on 40k words and I have barely cracked a fifth digit.

Less surprising is that I’ve watched Ally McBeal, The Last Ship and the most recent season of The Crown in their entireties. Plus a few less memorable other series, I’m sure. And I’m current on season two of The Mandelorian. Not to mention starting Brooklyn 9-9 and restarting 30Rock.

And…even less surprising, haven’t found the mojovation (Chrisism) to exercise or bother with a blog entry in the last six weeks.

To that end – and to further my open secret procrastination goals – I’m committing to posting a blog entry each day this weekend. And seriously, with my mixed results enthusiasm for portmanteaus, you’d think I’d have come up with prochristination before now!

With all that in mind, and not wanting to hurt myself by starting out with too heavy a topic right out of the gate, let’s talk about my Murderous Myrtle. I promise, we’ll get to the Stupid Americans and Red Shirt Diaries posts I’ve been kicking around soon enough!

Last week, Facebook was kind enough to remind me that it was mine and Myrtle’s Cativersary. A nice welcome back to the platform after sitting out the election cycle as part of a study on how social media influences information sharing.

She was such a cute lil new and newly abandoned momma kitteh when we met. We’ve both piled on a few body positivity pounds in the ensuing five years we’ve shared. I’m sure there’s a hashtag around here somewhere if you want to track our misadventures together.

Hint, hint: it’s #MistressMyrtle

To mark the occasion – and put the $150 Amazon gift card I got for participating in the aforementioned study to good use – I got Myrt a new cat tree. Behold: cat tree 2.0!

Let’s face it, it needed to be done. Cat tree 1.0 had seen better days!

Her original, five years abused (and already once recovered by my sister) cat tree was a “welcome to your new home” gift from the Silver Fox. Seriously, look at the shredded rope on the lower post and just wonder why I sometimes call her Murderous Myrtle. Now, imagine what my lower legs look like.

Anyway, don’t be too surprised that I haven’t gotten the old cat tree out of my unit yet. I still have my retired area rug to get rid of.

This is the rug I bought in the Spring of ’19 – not to be confused with the Spring of COVID-19 – to replace the rug Myrtle ruined during our first two years together. That first rug was a nice coco-fiber number that I’d had for…almost two decades?!? Is that possible? Yeah, I think that’s about right. I bought my house in the Spring of ’99 and bought the rug shortly thereafter. I pitched it after growing tired of cleaning up balls of shredded coco-fiber from Myrtle sharpening her claws on the damn thing. Plus, the bald spots were trip hazards for my often over-indulged ass. The newer rug was just an uninspired industrial low pile affair in geometric grey shades. It lacked the rewarding claw sharpening experience, so Myrtle used it as a “powder room”. I could spot treat the affected areas so they didn’t stink or stain, and yet she persisted, so I just rolled it up to remove the temptation – extra emphasis on the “p“.

Both it and the now redundant cat tree 1.0 need a trip to the basement of my building for disposal. But as one of my still unfinished Red Shirt Diaries entries would establish, I have developed a growing fear of falling down as I’ve aged. Those stairs to the bowels of my building are steep!

And narrow!

I’m not sure adding carrying bulky things to them is good for what my doctor calls my apparently surprising condition: Persistent Survival.

So here they sit.

For her part, Myrtle gifted me a new wallet for our cativersary. My old one was nearing critical wear and tear.

The tearing from the top edges was only millimeters away from meeting the poked out holes in the corner seams. Luckily, upcycled bicycle tire tubes are surprisingly resilient.These tears had been slowly growing over the years. But this wallet by Alchemy Goods – in case you can’t see the company name on the card – has lasted since about 2007, so we had a good run.

Myrtle must have noticed the same Night Out style wallet on Amazon while approving the new cat tree options and added it to the cart before I checked out. Sneaky lil cat. But the replacement is in use and performing beautifully!

Everything you need for a night out, right? A window for your ID, in case you get carded – how retro – and a pocket for your credit/debit cards. That’s all I carry, so this is a great style for me. Plus, “night out” is a great way to shorthand my lifestyle.

So here’s to another 13 years of wear and tear. For my new wallet, from me; not from Myrtle to me…just to be clear. Since Myrtle is ~7, now, I figure this won’t be her last new cat tree. Still, I’m not sure we have another 13 years together, so her cat tree 3.0 or 4.0 might be bought by whomsoever takes over her care should she succeed in facilitating my demise in any of her possible future sneak attacks on my lower legs…

In the meantime, after a few uncertain examinations, Myrt seems to be warming up to her cat tree 2.0.

And, finally

Although, that last shot might have taken some covert dried salmon treats to accomplish.

Ohai…

Stüpid Uhmericnz

I can beat this drum all day. Not because it’s fun – although, often it can be funny to witless witness – rather, because it’s quasi therapeutic to not let these moments pass unrecognized.

Also, I like that people are coming around to my way of thinking. It’s about damn time. One is, after all, either a part of the solution or else part of the problem.

I’ve been kvetching about how cities protect themselves from skateboarder liability suits for over a decade. You know those little metal pucks that cities put on the corners of railing/benches/dividers to keep sk8ers from doing tricks on them?

Yeah, those gotta go.

If for no other reason than cities haven’t managed police reform to protect their BIPOC citizenry from police brutality – and they are willing to suffer those wrongful death or excessive force suits without taking action to correct the problem. I say “Why? Why, then shall we protect the city from lawsuits from injured skateboarders?”

Let’s face it, skate culture is – in my observation – largely a white guy thing. And they choose – free will and all that crap – to perform tricks on these public constructs, using them in a manner that is not intended. Without helmets, I might add.

For that matter, I haven’t seen one person get ticketed on those e-scooters for violating the terms of use and riding helmetless, either. But the City hasn’t outlawed e-scooters.

But, no…these little metal pucks are somewhere on virtually every block downtown. Not in neighborhoods, mind you. Liability there rests with homeowners. On public property, though, the City is potentially liable for injuries on its property, so it protects itself from frivolous lawsuits from parents of brain damaged teens or spouses of the paralyzed father of their children (proving that we really need qualifiers for parenthood beyond the almost involuntary ability to attain an erection) by installing these pucks to help prevent injury.

No, what we need here is a justice system that is a little more bitchy.

Hold on a second…you raised a child without enough common sense to wear the recommended safety equipment and bought them the skateboard and let them out of the yard unsupervised and they hurt themselves on City property. Now they are a vegetable and We The People are expected to shoulder the blame?

Yes.

Ok, bitch. First of all, the correct answer is “No”. “Hell no, even”. Secondly, the key phrase there is “they hurt themselves. Periodt. We The People had nothing to do with it, this is totally a “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” moment.

And, lastly, We The People think that we owe it to ourselves to ask if you need a date to the Darwin Awards, because we have a feeling you’ll be invited…and we’d really like to go!

Seriously, there really should be a public ceremony – if those are ever allowed again – actually awarding the families of people who improved humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Maybe then we’d stop seeing unqualified humans released into the world unsupervised. Just a couple generations ago, we’d lock our less fortunate family members away in an attic to protect them from themselves and the family from the fallout of any potentially untoward behaviors.

Now, we lack the commitment to our families and our neighbors and buy them skateboards or smartphones, which allow them no end of potential trouble. And then we sue a third party if when shit goes sideways.

Also, now…we have these skateboarder-type people who cheated death and survived what likely should have been last words – think “Hey, watch this!” – and grown up.

And <shudder> procreated. Because wearing condoms was as much a violation of their rights as wearing masks during a pandemic is.

And, worst of all, 70 million of them have now been duped into thinking they were qualified to make an informed opinion about who should lead our country.

Why am I surprised? How long have we been putting the Surgeon General warning on cigarettes…40…50 years? Yet I still see people in their 30s and 20s smoking.

Like I said, I’ve been a proponent of letting Darwin sort it out for quite sometime. Alas…

But that affords me the opportunity to observe and report on the stupid things we do as a culture to help – or exploit – those poor, stupid, Stupid Americans.

Luckily, what I see is usually more entertaining than watching anti-maskers during a global pandemic or white supremacists vote.

Don’t believe me?

Maybe that’s for the best, since now that I’ve made the sad supporting case, the things I’ve ruefully chuckled about when I’ve witnessed them over the past weeks are <poof> gone. I knew I should have taken pictures.

The vagaries of aging…

Things like the sign I saw on the side of a cart in the local Kroger outlet, Fred Meyer. It was on a piece of merchandise handling equipment for an employee gathering online orders:

Free In-Store Pickup!

Um, isn’t that always the free option?

Mentally bending over backward, I know what they were attempting to say. F for execution, though. I get it, you’re trying to differentiate your online shopping/in-store pickup service from say…restaurants, right? When you’re too lazy to cook and order takeout or – for those of you old enough to remember – go to a restaurant to eat, you pay a premium to have the work done for you.

An example of this from my personal history:

I love pasta. It’s a genetic trait passed from mother to child, as far as I can see. Hehe.

But sometimes I just don’t want to expose myself to my own lack of discipline by preparing a full batch of pasta – which I always do, because who wants half a package of pasta in their cabinet and a half jar of sauce in their fridge? And what if you improperly dose out the sauce and don’t have enough left for the second batch?

Ergo, I cook it all up. Because pasta is one of those few foods that I will eat as leftovers. But then…I eat the whole pound of pasta in one sitting.

So to me, it’s sometimes worth paying the markup for a single serving.

To my ex (Rib), though – a chef – it was a non-starter.

I’m not paying $15 for something I could make at home for $.25!

I feel the same about eggs, so I get it. Although, when someone else is buying, I shut up and eat eggs! He stuck to his guns, though. I think I successfully ate pasta in a restaurant once while we were together. Hehe.

So what Freddy’s is saying is that they will shop for your groceries for you and not charge you extra like that chef that boils water for you does. But as far as marketing goes, I wanted to stop and argue with the cashier that made me pay for my groceries.

But, but…it says “free in-store pickup and here I am! Why are you making me pay?!?

Buncha meanies.

Although, since I was picking up cat food and a plant, arguing that I had “groceries” might have been tough.

The plant was “free”, because I’ve long wanted a fig but didn’t want to spend money on one, thinking Myrtle would just eat ruin it anyway. This fig – working name Figly – represents 300 recycled cans and bottles, of the Coke Zero (take that, V!) and craft beer variety, save the occasional fizzy water bottle. Thus, it was “free”. Since all of my Myrtle-free Zones are either too small, too dark for plants or already occupied by other plants like Cornelius, my corn plant, I had to improvise to protect Figly.

I’ll figure out something better. First, I need to get dear Figly a permanent pot, then I’ll rearrange furniture to create a better Myrtle-free Zone. Right now, I’m busy not spending money on a pot for my new plant that I “picked up in-store for free”.

In other stupid news, there have been a few public works projects around my home specifically tailored toward protecting our dummies.

First, with our new trend toward outside dining to protect against COVID spread while also supporting the restaurant industry and also definitely not curbing our right to not prepare our own food…I’ve noticed some issues.

Mostly, I love the City responding to the public need by allowing restaurants to use two to three parking spaces adjacent to their doors as outdoor dining areas. A few non-essential side streets have been turned into on street dining plazas and beer gardens. This has allowed restaurants and bars to add not just seating, but in order to create a dining “experience”, some restaurants have added foliage to their street dining rooms. Now that the weather has turned from False Fall to Actual Fall, sided tents and heaters are being added to the mix – just in time for Lockdown 2.0!

Hey, it even helps the air…plants take CO2 out of the air and release oxygen. That’s a bonus, even though I couldn’t say with any scientific certainty that COVID particles ever get absorbed into the plantings with the CO2. It’s pretty, and that’s enough for me.

But then I see this bar next to my house setting up their outdoor area. They’ve built picnic tables and benches, built planters and then stained them so patrons have a nice area to enjoy their fare.

Then they posted this sign to help people not get stains on their clothing.

On a GD tree. Gourd help us all. I doubt Bob Ross was actually responsible for this apparently recently-painted tree.

Mind you, they built all this on a day they were closed, so they wouldn’t have been ruining customers’ clothes. Just lazy bastard passers’ by clothes who copped an entitled squat on the bar’s work in progress arts and craft project.

More global city-wide cures for stupid that I’ve seen recently involve solutions for one-way streets.

Personally, I think these signs should be replaced with something like…

If you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, the head explodes right after this warning. I think drivers going the wrong way down a one-way street should be prepared for something equally damaging.

But, not Portland. No…

In our bicycle-friendly little burg, where cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road, we’re creating bike lanes on both sides of one-way streets.

Why?

Well, so we have a bike lane for travel in each direction…on a one-way street.

For the cyclists that are supposed to follow the rules of the road.

Sidenote: the song Warning Signs just came on my Of Monsters and Men Pandora station. My Pandora app isn’t even open while I’m working on this?!?

I’m not sure it’s perfectly clear here in the 4:30 PM darkness, but this is a two lane one-way street. See? No yellow line down the center. It used to be a three lane, but in order to protect retired skateboarders cyclists from their own inability to follow rules, the City removed a lane and added a second bike lane for against flow riding. The left-hand bike lane is inexplicably bordered by yellow stanchions instead of white, as on the right-hand with traffic flow bike lane.

Please. How is this possibly expected to work? We’re trying to protect a public who refuses to put forward an accountability for their own well-being.

Note of interest: yes, I was standing in the door of Portland’s oldest strip club – Mary’s Spot – as I took this pic.

Not to be outdone by cyclists, I saw a traffic accident the other day. I was getting on the freeway and a Trump Truck pick up truck exited the freeway on the on ramp I was attempting to use, experiencing a solo spin out and coming to rest pointed the wrong way against an overpass pillar and canted out into traffic so it blocked one lane and almost all of the second lane.

Good citizen that I am, I squeezed by and continued on my way, leaving the situation in Darwin’s capable hands. I also wanted to confirm my recollection that the next ramp on this freeway was actually to – or from in the case of this particular idiot – another freeway. Either this joker successfully drove the wrong way on not one, but two freeways before unsuccessfully exiting on the on ramp I was trying to use or he (I just chose the dumbest gender, I didn’t see that the driver was actually male) drove for multiple exits on the one freeway going the wrong direction.

These are our people…

I do not like them.

Not one bit.

But I like even less waiting for them to show me that their heads are full of shit.

What do you think, do I have a future as a Dr Seuss For Dummies author?

Why can’t families go back to locking away their embarrassing shortcomings, both genetic and/or rearing failures? I figure it’s a toss up, should what I ask for come to pass. With 70 million voting age Americans voting against rationale, science, basic rights and common sense, I know it’s almost as likely that I’d be the one living in my family attic.

At least there’s more than just books to keep me company. I would have the interwebs and social <shudder> media. Words With Friends and I could even take up video gaming!

Hell, maybe that should be what my long game is. My sister has a much nicer home than mine…maybe I should give into it!

Stüpid Uhmericnz