Bitches Be Bitchin’

I lost two skirmishes in the Battle of the Sexes today and I didn’t even know I was engaged in the warfare.

To make it an even more epic or decisive loss, it was on the same battlefield street. Within a three block stretch.

To be honest, this could have easily been a car vs not-car kerfuffle – for which Portland is known.

That Google News headline is the result of a three to four hour closure of the city’s east-west freeway artery, courtesy of a pedestrian vs car engagement that did not go in favor of the pedestrian. Unless the pedestrian’s desired outcome was to go the way of the Dodo.

Oh, and yes…the weather icon in that pic does indicate it’s 70 degrees here today and raining. That’s Portland weather!

By contrast, my own losses seem less than minor. But my ire is still roused.

Karen 1:

I’m sure it’s disrespectful to call an anonymous woman Karen. Or, since there’s two in this story, not call her Karen Prime. You just never know what will set someone off – as this story will highlight.

I was driving up Lovejoy just a few blocks from home. As I approached an intersection where Lovejoy had the right of way and one-way 11th had a stop sign, I saw a pedestrian walking north on 11th as I was heading west. She was nowhere near the corner when I saw her and I didn’t know whether she was going to cross Lovejoy or turn and head east.

I’m not a mind reader, after all. But I am one of those people who rolls their eyes at the Portland transplants that try to blend in as native Portlanders by stopping to yield their wrong-of-way to people half a block away. Usually by stopping in the intersection to wait so that no one can use it until they are done bring magnanimous.

Yet, when I looked in the rear-view to see which trajectory she’d been on, there she was giving me a dramatic and exasperated palms up. Oh, for fuck sake. What was her expectation, that I do a brake stand for her just in case? Karen, your mom might have told you doors would open for you but that didn’t mean you’d stop traffic. Although, she did manage to create a seemingly entitled bitch.

I debated going around the block to engage, but then remembered the old…Oscar Wilde? No, it was a Mark Twain quote and went on my unsuspecting way.

Karen 2:

Meanwhile, I had to park two blocks later – delivering brunch to someone who failed to grasp the core concept of brunch – and it happened again. Except Karen 2’s BS butthurt was 180 degrees from Karen 1’s.

I know this because we don’t just run over homeless pedestrians here in Portland, we’ve killed our share of cyclists, too. We had a very vocal cyclist population that rightfully and vocally spent a decade pointing out how often drivers bothered to decorate their vehicles and nearby pavement with them. Once they were heard and managed to get the city to enact meaningful change to traffic laws and management, they went off the entitlement rails and started doing shit like the cyclist version of a California stop. Or the cyclist version of yielding their wrong of way – which is actually never conceding the right of way isn’t theirs for the taking in any situation – vehicular or pedestrian, their stance is “fuck you, I’m a cyclist”.

Anyway, as I was pulling away from the curb – one space back from an intersection where I again had the right of way – I saw a cyclist Karen slowing at the stop sign. At, not approaching. It’s an important designation since cyclists are famous for this move, one that usually precedes a sudden acceleration through the stop sign when they decide there’s no immediate threat.

Thinking the odds are she could have easily missed me pulling out of my parking spot, I gave her the whole “no, you go” gesture.

Again, not a mind reader. This was made clear by the exasperated eyeroll cyclist Karen awarded my thoughtfulness. Fuck me for trying, right? My gall was clearly lacking any form of mitigation.

Having found my peace with the universe after my prior Karen encounter, I simply admired my nails over the steering wheel until she composed herself enough to clear the intersection.

But as I resumed my day, I realized I was 0-2 in this three block stretch, I figured maybe I’d better use my time on activities that didn’t involve other humans and came home to my murderous feline.

Completely forgetting the three bags of recycling I’d brought down and put in my car to drop off after my brunch time efforts. So now guess what I get to do?

Maybe I’ll see if my dinner time car-karma is any better and do some deliveries “on the way home” from dropping them off. I’d say wish me luck, but c’mon…what could possibly go wrong? Haha.

Bitches Be Bitchin’

Settled Affairs

I think I mentioned a while back that my grandfather passed away. He was just weeks shy of his 100th, so I like to say that he pulled a Betty White. I also like to say he might have liked older women, so was sure to leave a cushion between them. I think she died 3 weeks shy of her century and grandpa had closer to 6.

Of course, as he handed off the patriarch title to my father, I also like to think he was teaching us one last life lesson: don’t get your hopes up. You see, I’d bet the family was a bit more excited about having a centurian in our midst than he was about being said centurian.

Why doesn’t spellcheck like that word – centurian? It wants to make it “centurion”, but grandpa wasn’t a gladiator. The spelling paradigm for other decades of age grouping is “ian”, so why not here, too?

Septuagenarian.

Octogenarian.

Nonagenarian.

Centurian.

Maybe there’s just not a word for it in the English language since it’s such a rare thing in Western culture. Maybe there’s another word for it. Look, I don’t have time to Google it…I’m making sauce!

Also, my place smells fantastic right now.

Anyway…he decided to die without a Will. My uncle had helped him draw one up while he was visiting years ago – along with a power of attorney – and all he needed to do was get them notarized. He managed to get the PoA completed, but just didn’t find the time to get the Will done.

I come by my procrastination honestly.

So my dad and uncle have been slogging through settling grandpa’s estate.

It wasn’t – or hasn’t – been too challenging, aside from dad being local and my uncle being in Texas. My dad’s goal had been to have the house sold by the time that he and mom went to my cousin’s wedding in early April. Then it was just a matter of waiting out probate.

My uncle’s goal was a little less defined. Actually, it may have not even existed. Honestly, I think he has separation issues. If I’m not mistaken, someone still has some of grandma’s stuff in their garage that he couldn’t part with. She’s been dead close to 20 years now.

But my uncle did manage to go through a lot of stuff when he was here for the service. Including a quarter of a closet worth of stuff he wanted to keep.

I get it, this was the house he grew up in. That’s a rare occurrence anymore.

That said, he was reluctant to commit to anything more than what was ok to donate. At the same time, he actively poo-pooed the notion of an estate sale.

But once he was on a plane, my sister and I got right to work doing just that. To hear my parents talk about it, we were amazing. Honestly, though, my sister was an absolute force. I don’t have her drive or determination. Plus, her round trip commute every day with mom and dad was close to 3 hours!

Hats off, sis. All the props.

Since mom and dad credited us equally, it was their pleasure to encourage us to liberate anything we wanted from the estate. In the interest of heirlooms and legacies, y’know.

Since grandpa’s house closed a couple weeks back – the didn’t quite make dad’s timeline, but they were signing papers at the wedding – and there’s about a month left on probate, I figured now was a good time to highlight some of the things of his I’ve brought into my home.

Also, I’ve done the work on my relationship with grandpa and feel like I can look at these reminders and think of the man he was without being reminded only of the good or bad.

Oh, quick sidebar: one of the things that my uncle found was the original advertisement for his house – which was new construction in the mid-60s. Let me just say that I think the reality of owning a house for 40+ years os a thing of the past. Americans can’t commit like that. At the same time, selling a house for 30+ times the original purchase price is also a thing of the past. At least on my coast.

Now that the sidebar is out of the way, you can probably think of some of the amazing things that gathered dust at grandpa’s during the last half of his life. Not to mention all of mine.

I swear, I don’t covet. Really, the one thing I wanted once it was pulled out from the back of a bottom cabinet was the cookie jar from my childhood.

I knew it was valuable – estimates put it at around $300 – so I was reluctant to accede to mom and dad’s encouragement. Dutifully, I posted it online. But when takers failed to materialize, well…it wasn’t going to Goodwill!

It’s so cool. And aside from grandpa bringing out his 5 lb coffee cans full of change for us to sort through during our visits, stuffing my hand into this cookie jar was very looked forward to part of visiting grandpa.

And that was kind of how I approached my heirlooting heirlooming. Make it available for sale, but if no one took it, it was up for grabs.

I say “kind of” because there was a slatted bench I wanted – despite having nowhere to put it. Grandpa had it at the foot of his bed forever, however, my bedroom isn’t as spacious as his. Still, you know how The Gays are with the mid-century aesthetic.

So, for me – for now – it’ll be a plant stand. Also, like the cactuses on the other window sill, this keeps Myrtle out of the windows, which means I can put the screens back up for the summer. Who knew that Myrtle would hate slats?

Don’t worry, she’s upped her pooping out of the box game to let me know she objects to the placement.

You can’t really see it well in that pic, but there’s also one of a pair of nifty ashtrays that I pinched. I don’t smoke, so really these were just nostalgic discoveries when we found them. However, when I turned them over to find my grandmother’s signature of them, they became a remote tray and place to drop my keys and wallet.

I’m not a smoker. That’s not to say they aren’t well used…luckily, grandma’s glazing game was right on, otherwise I’m sure the smell that went along with those nicotine stains would have been a nostalgia dealbreaker.

Yes, yes…dusty. I know.

Unbeknownst to us, grandpa had a thing for old bottles and insulators. Like an “entire kitchen cabinet full” thing. That being the case, I didn’t mind adding a couple of his to my own collection of glass whatnots.

That bottle is an old Old Bushmills bottle. The glass – in raised letters – says that “Federal law forbids the reuse of this bottle”. My limited pre-post-Googling on this topic hasn’t brought and federal prohibitions – see what I did there? – to light. I’m sure someone <cough, cough> Phil! <cough> will have a notion on the topic, so let me know in the comments.

The last instance of heirlooting I’m gonna share was both a last minute discovery and an “I’m grabbing that before the house goes on the market” type of thing.

No one in my family agrees with me that this had been in great-grandma’s kitchen when she died in the mid-70s. So I’m likely wrong, but that’s what I remember. Still, when we cleared away the project remnants from it and pulled the protective cardboard off of it, I think everyone was surprised by its presence in grandpa’s garage. Clever man had the wear-withal to protect its surface, despite its relegation to his garage…

I’m just stunned that no one snatched it up at the estate sale! So, that being the reality, once dad told me the date the house was going live on MLS, I did a midnight run and picked this baby up. If no one else wanted it, Myrtle can use it as a feeding station. Saves my old knees and back squatting done multiple times a day to feed the not-as-old-as-me bitch gal.

I mean, look at it. It’s amazing! And in better shape for its age than I – but I’m working on it! Since entertaining isn’t really a thing these days – at least in my life – I’m in no hurry to add chairs. But I will, I’m sure.

Someday.

Until then, I’m glad I have these mementos of grandpa’s. For as difficult as our relationship was after I came out as gay, these remind me of the amazing grandfather he was, even if he wasn’t always the best human. And on that last point, he didn’t change so much as he changed his behaviors. That says something. I knew in certain moments of silence that he was editing his responses, if not abandoning them altogether. An impressive feat for someone whose anachronistic behaviors had been written off by most as “That’s just how he was raised” things we would have to endure.

Well, I was watching, and I think he proved them all wrong. That’s both a memory and an example that I can embrace.

Especially as my family faces it’s next obstacle: bringing Black Sheep Bro back into the fold.

Settled Affairs

Innate Skills

This is what happens (to my crazy ass, anyway) when your subconscious self thinks that your conscious self needs a reminder that you really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house unsupervised.

No, your personal retina/rod/cone situation has not been hacked.

Yes, I do know that orange is my favorite color.

And you can and have heard me joke about being OCD.

Wreckreationally.

But when I go into a store for a maté and a snack and the maté are on sale 2/$5, I get two. Of my favorite flavor.

Which is blood orange. I get it…

However, being responsible – or trying to be – about snacking, I’ll opt for something not crunchy or too processed. Dried apricots, right?!? They’re just hanging right there…

Obviously, also also orange-y.

No. I did not see the emerging theme.

But then I had to wait in line for some Karen-type. Her behavior stressed me out. Maybe it was more of an annoyed reaction. I dunno.

But those bastards at the Brodega run their line right down the goddamned chip and chocolate aisle – yes, they have about 18 feet of gourmet chocolate bars. Naturally, my response to this person’s behavior was emotional eating.

Plus, they recently – as I discovered in that moment – revamped their Cretor’s assortment to include cheese flavors again. Before this, they’d switched to only a pickle flavored SKU, and…no, thank you. Homey don’t want that.

However…

Anything cheesy and Cretor’s is amazing.

Highly recommend.

But what would you have me do in that situation?!? Of course, I picked one up.

So now I’ve got that calling me home. Myrtle could take a page out of cheesy popcorn’s playbook…

Innate Skills

I Can’t Have It All?

Part 2: What the hell was I thinking?

Damn universe, always teaching me lessons…like crippling humility.

So, there I was…having most of it. Gently nudged into balance by the Silver Fox. I’d gotten Angela all spruced up for her annual check-in with Lyft, but was focused more on those other pillars that make me feel like a normal person productive: writing and exercising.

No big news on the writing front.

Yet….

Couple blog posts. I re-read my prime WIP, by way of seeing where I need to tweak formatting before I hit publish. That’ll happen this month.

For sure.

So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.

Also something?

I exercised twice as many days in March as I had in February. That ain’t nothing. April’s looking good, too, there’s a Class Every Day challenge and I’m on track. But balanced old Xtopher is keeping in mind that some days will be ride days, others will be strength…but mixed in will be days that are just a longer than my usual 5 minute post-ride stretch classes or even yoga classes.

Balance.

Also helpful? And this is where all that foreshadowing nonsense comes in: I got de-platformed by Lyft.

You read that right. Boy, they rogered me but good. Real good.

But that’s another blog.

I chose to look at it optimistically. The removal of a barrier to a balanced day.

The thing is, though, my temp gig doesn’t pay that well. I mean, I can’t complain, it’s not minimum wage – which I’ve certainly done as I explore non-career level employment. And it pays the bills. And-and, in a real Pinocchio twist, they started making sounds about converting me from a temp role to a real boy job.

The pay talk…we’ll see. I’m looking at it as a positive – even though the talk happened on April 1st. That’s just how my life goes. It was a good talk.

Except, the universe being the lesson teacher that it is, I was de-platformed by Lyft after dumping about $3k into little repairs for Angela that I’d been putting off. That was the month after the surprise $2500 I’d put into her in January, no less.

And after all that I had boldly (ie: no drink in hand) faced my taxes.

The day after I’d done my first draft of the taxes was the day I got the dry fuck from Lyft.

I’ll tell ya…I don’t believe in god, but I fully embrace the notion behind the phrase “If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan”.

And that’s what I had done. Made a financial plan that included making quarterly payments to the Feds for my $11k tax bill.

Thank god it was only a first draft. The second draft is a much less traumatic $8k, but it’ll still require an episiotomy after my main revenue stream gave me the same treatment it gave the driver that raped a passenger here in Oregon.

That seems fair. My punishment is the same as a rapist. My crime? I got two speeding tickets in a 12 month period. Yeah, well stick with “sounds fair”.

More on that later, I’m sure. You know how loquacious I can be when I get going on something.

Now, look…I may be seriously fucked right now, but I’m all Mr Bright Side, damnit! Even if that just means I jump off the bridge with the best view in town – that’s a tough one here in Portland – and don’t take anyone else out with me.

So that naive dumbass Mr Bright Side fella is looking at this as a way to achieve balance. Less opportunities for proChristination. Fewer distractions.

Bright side. Mr. Me.

But since my temp job doesn’t keep me in the happy hour budget I like, tax debt or no, nor does it afford the luxurious $30 treats Mistress Myrtle prefers…I need a second income stream.

Reluctantly, I signed up to be a delivery old man boy with DoorDash.

I hate it. It’s boring. It does give me that “in service to others” paycheck I found I missed after leaving retail. So, that’s a plus. And it pays around $7-10 more and hour than the temp job, so there’s that, too.

But it’s sooooo fucking boring.

Bright side? I can really only tolerate doing 5 deliveries in a shift. More than that is excruciating. Ok, that last part wasn’t very bright side, I admit. But, dashing out to do 5 deliveries after work a few nights a week and then a double or triple on a – singular – weekend day leaves me plenty of time for happy hour hangouts during the week – and it gives my budget the wiggle room to offset said indulgence. It leaves me the time for writing and exercising.

All. That.

There’s plenty to be grateful for. And since I hate it, the ~20 hours I give it each week balances my books. Well, excluding the G-men obligation. I might have to see if there’s a niche market for barely out of shape old men on OnlyFans to solve that problem. God only knows what weird shit passing as erotic that The Gays are lapping up these days.

Fucking morons.

But I think I’ve got a third draft of my taxes in me. I just need to make a phone call first. I think we all know how long I could drag that task out. So I’ll also file an extension…sometime between April 14th and 17th.

It’s good to have a plan.

And goals. Since my goals are work, exercise, write and not “pay less in taxes than Trump” I think I’m in a good place.

Fuck, being optimistic is a weird feeling. I should’ve stretched more before this post. Anyone else miss grumpy old Xtopher?

Don’t worry, he’ll be around. Until then, cheers to the bright side and cheers to you for reading. Thanks!

Look how my thigh is about the same size as my thumb in that pic. You go, Chicken Legs McGee!

I Can’t Have It All?

Training Myrtle

Long time readers may be familiar with my struggle, which is being my cat’s steward. Those who aren’t or those curious for a good reason to nominate me for some sort of heroism award can read up under the #mistressmyrtle tag.

A quick summary: I occasionally indulge in a one-sided conversation with Myrt that goes something like this:

Am I your fourth home because you’re such a bitch, or are you a bitch because I’m your fourth home?

For her part, Myrtle gives me an inscrutable cat stare.

I am curious, though, since I got her at a year and a half old. That’s a pretty bad track record…averaging a bounce every six months.

This was last year’s FB reminder…

For my part, I’ve been her home for six years.

You’d think that would get me a little loyalty, but no. It’s always something. This door is too closed, these windows face the wrong direction, you’re not warm enough, there aren’t any birds outside. Or – her fave, I think – you aren’t bleeding freely enough.

Breakfast was served too late, or not early enough. You served me the same dinner two days in a row. And it was cold tonight.

I dunno.

She has a distinct way in which she voices her displeasure. I call them Protest Poops.

They started as part of her complaining about her litter box, and usually occur about a foot away from the box. Subtle, no?

The cat seems to like smelly things, food & treats mostly – but her litter box is no exception. I learned that changing the litter resulted in her boycotting the box altogether. That was certainly no good.

A cat who is freaked out by fresh litter?

The workaround seemed to be that I scoop for a few days and then add in some fresh stuff. But that’s not an exact science, and sometimes I was reprimanded with a protest poop to encourage me to do better on my ratio-making.

Quick reminder, she doesn’t seem to care too much for me, so there’s that.

Lately, though, The Mistress’ displeasure seems to be escalating.

And traveling.

She had a habit a couple years ago of peeing in the shower. I blamed it on some rando pissing in my shower after an evening of – um…entertainment, so I couldn’t really be mad at her for doing what animals do, right?

Simple solution: my bathroom door is always closed now. Plus, it saves toilet paper.

You get the idea…

But she’s also started pooping further away from her box. Behind the front door, behind her cat tree, in the bedroom, behind her other cat tree.

We’ve had conversations about it. Well, some conversations. It’s either she doesn’t want to talk about it or she just screams at me and won’t have a dialogue.

With few choices left in my arsenal, I started punishing her. If she pooped outside her box, no dinner/breakfast, depending on the time of the offense. On the flip side, I started giving her treats exclusively when I cleaned her box. Same with breakfast, if I heard her using her box, I’d get up and clean her box, then give her breakfast.

She’s always been a food motivated creature.

Of course, she started gaming the system. She’s no dummy.

She’d use her box and immediately jump up on the shelf where I give her treats.

Waiting.

Meow.

I look over, tail twitching, chin bobbing in my direction, as if to say, <ahem>!

Well, it was a system that worked, I guess.

Until the other day.

I was on a call and heard her scratching dramatically at her box.

Really hamming it up.

But I’m on a call, so I’m stuck at my desk, right? There’s only so far you can go wearing a headset that’s plugged into your laptop. And I’d already learned that my desk was too close to the cat box, so I’d moved it across the living space.

After the call ends, I get up to go do my scoop and reward routine. The box was empty.

Laughing at how manipulative she is, I go looking for her. I find her mid-poop in the bedroom behind her cat tree.

“Do we need to talk about this, Myrtle?!?”

Meow!

“You’re a bad kitty! So baaaaad!”

Myrtle runs for the bed and stuffs her fatness flat as her back paws claw her slowly under. It’s quite pathetic to witness. Probably how she feels when she sees me trying to get off the couch.

All I hear of her for the next six hours – aka: dinner time – is a random plaintive meow from under the bed when I walk by.

Such a bad kitty.

And a bad kitty who still wanted dinner?

The feline hubris.

I made her wait a few hours. Just on principle.

Training Myrtle

The Homeless Guy With Game

You gotta admire a down and out guy with moxie.

I was running into my building to feed Myrtle last night. In doing so, I passed one of the fire exits to my building. These are recessed doorways, making them a perfect opportunity for someone wanting to duck out of weather, shoot up or take a nap – hell, maybe all three, depending on the day.

I saw the bike-turned-upside-down gate and a pair of feet stretched out under it before I passed by, so I knew it was occupied. Turns out, there were two occupants of the tiny makeshift shelter. He looked like he was feeling no pain. The other occupant was sitting cross-legged with a jacket draped over her head, like Cousin It went as a coatrack for Halloween.

“You’re pretty fun to hang out with. Do you want a boyfriend?”

I mean, way to just casually toss that out there. A directness I can appreciate.

“No”, I hear in a tentative voice from under the coat,” I mean…I already have one.”

Ouch.

And what had they been doing – and for how long – that this guy knew he wanted to lock her down but didn’t know she was already taken?!?

I acknowledged he at least shot his shot as I fobbed into my front door. My trip home was a quick one, literally ran in to feed my cat, hit the can and then I was off again.

Passing back by the door, I saw the girl was still wearing her coat wrong and the guy’s head had lolled back and to the side a bit. He was apparently not done making his case.

“…I also speak Japanese and Farsi, but I can’t write in Japanese…”

Geez. How far down on your assets list are those tidbits? I’m assuming his “physical” attributes – those most exaggerated bragged about by dudes – were either previously known or had topped the list. Then again, based on where this conversation was taking place, we knew he skipped right over where he lived and what kind of car he drives.

Oh, Portland…

The Homeless Guy With Game

John Lennon Was Right

Instant karma got me.

Or, car-ma…as the case t’were. I’m accepting that it was my fault for kvetching about one measly 4-star rating out of two and a half years of 5-star rides.

Hence the karma pun.

Anywho…Angela crapped out by the side of the road tonight. Actually, it was in a drive lane, but it was the curb side of the road – if you’ll allow me to split that hair.

I had called my friend, Diezel, before she died. He sometimes works on things like brake pads for me – hey, he works for burgers! His take on it was that it was an alternator and/or battery issue.

Angela had given me a “charging malfunction” error before I had called Diezel. When she had died the first time, giving me a last minute “drivetrain malfunction” message as she locked herself down in a parking lot.

The middle of a parking lot.

At sundown.

In The Numbers. Let’s just say that’s nowhere for an old white man to be broken down. Particularly after dark,

I Google “drivetrain malfunction” + “BMW X3” and learn that I can probably restart it after five minutes. I find a tree, take a whiz and go back.

<Le poof>

She starts up.

Knowing what to expect performance-wise, thanks to the prophet Google, I set out for home. I’m crawling, since Angela isn’t feeling like giving me more than 20-ish MPH.

Sticking to arterial surface streets, I had called Diezel as I limped westward. He tells me to look for a side street to park on and he’ll come get me and take me home, I can have her towed tomorrow.

I know he’s right – he’s an engineer and a rational thinker. I am an emotional thinker.

Emotionally, I want to get home. Knowing Diezel is right, my fallback is to get out of The Numbers.

Shit goes down there. BiPOC folx who live on the west side are reluctant to head to that part of the eastside when it’s dark. Last year was Portland’s deadliest in decades: gun violence, fire deaths, homicides, traffic deaths. You name it, if it was violent or deadly, we either broke a record last year or came damn close.

The Numbers – a nickname based on the blocks between ~122nd and 180th on the eastside of town – had more than the lion’s share of traffic and gun violence deaths last year. Don’t even get me started on the record number of stolen cars last year – October and November had around 13k stolen cars for the two month period.

Two months.

I didn’t want to leave Angela there.

We made it into the double-digit block numbers. I’d just crossed 102nd and was promising Diezel I’d pull off as I hit the 205 overpass at about 93rd.

She died. On the uphill approach to the overpass. I briefly considered jumping, but only therapeutically. Well, mostly.

I told Diezel what happened and he told me to drop him a pin for my location, he was leaving that moment.

Friends like him…they make me feel like I don’t deserve them as friends.

I throw a little pity party while I wait.

I’d just squared up my Multnomah County business taxes from 2019 and 2020, because TurboTax small business doesn’t do them – nor does it tell you that ain’t happening.

The county, though. They tell you. Two years later.

Well, that’s when they told me I owed $1400 in tax for 2019…the year I started driving for Lyft. In August. I decided to get ahead of 2020 – when I’d driven the whole year and made 4x what I made in ‘19 – and dig it out before the county hit me with penalties like the 2019 miss had created.

So much for buying a new place this year.

It wasn’t looking good, anyway, based on financial timing and the likely prime rate boosts coming down the pike this year. At best, I’d be looking at two hikes before I had mutual acceptance.

I’d accepted this. It was nice to at least have a goal to work toward, however briefly.

But here I was again, in crisis mode.

I was startled out of my pity party by a pair of headlights in my windshield.

Diezel!

But…not Diezel.

A Good Samaritan!

Yes! This was the Portland I knew and loved.

It was a woman who had passed by and pulled a u-turn in front of me to pull up to my hood grill – let’s not call it a hood whilst stalled in The Numbers. She walked up to my passenger window and asked if I needed a jump. I told her, “heck, yeah!” and she was off to her cargo area for her cables.

BMWs are weird. The battery in my X3 is in the back, but you jump it from the front. Actually, there is a positive post, that’s it. I’d been watching videos on this, so I kind of knew this – but she wanted to check in with her significant other, so we FaceTimed him. He agreed with my guess that we just needed to attach the negative to a hunk of metal and we were good to go.

She started her car and I got in mine to give Angela a wake up call.

She started right up. I revved her a few times. I was ready to let her sit and charge for a few minutes, but my Good Samaritan was antsy to go. I couldn’t fault her, but knowing about jumping cars from watching my parents do it while growing up in the 80s, that was my best guess for next steps.

Sadly, she was already talking about how to disconnect the cables with her Boo when I came around. He agreed I was good to go, so I yielded to their current information.

As soon as she turned and left, I put Angela in gear…and she re-died.

Diezel immediately pulled up behind me.

My first and third savior of the night.

“Galbs”, he said to me, “you need to call a tow truck to take this to a garage.”

I knew from his tone that this was his way of telling me this repair was beyond his capabilities. At least as far as roadside repairs were concerned.

He gave me a towing company name and number. Three hours.

He pulled another from his list and dictated the number to me. One hour!

Between calls and hold times, Diezel had been amusing himself by blowing his air horn at passing cars that had cut their lane change around us too closely. One of those blasts had clearly scared the towing company dispatcher shitless.

Fifteen minutes later, Diezel decided to get out and strobe his flashlight at the Stupid Americans who were too distracted to see his emergency flashers and proactively – not to mention safely – merge into the other lane.

He was worried about someone rear ending him. Looking at Angela’s dark brake lights and dead emergency lights, I couldn’t blame him. I was grateful to him for being there to save a near-certain collision.

There was a car backing down the overpass in front of Angela. He stopped and popped his rear hatch.

“Why don’t you go meet him?”

I acquiesced, and the man met me by my car with three flares. Another Good Samaritan.

For such a crappy night, the universe was putting a lot of amazing people in my path.

By the time the tow truck was a half hour late, the flares had burned through. Diezel was strobing approaching cars again. We could not believe how people fucked up such a simple thing as not hitting a stalled vehicle.

I couldn’t decide if it was distracted driving, stereotypically too polite Portland-slash-Portlandia-type drivers, or a combination of the two. Cars in our lane would slow to zipper in behind the car with the right of way, and that car would in turn yield its right of way by slowing to let it in front of them.

Both lanes of traffic came to a stop or near-stop several times. I retreated to the cab of Diesel‘s truck for an update on the tow truck.

Fifteen minutes.

Ten minutes later, the driver called. He was ten minutes out. He told me the tow would be just under $200. I asked if he could invoice me because I didn’t have it immediately – see also: why I was out driving on a Tuesday.

No.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

I’d payed two year’s worth of County back taxes and my January bills in the last ten days. Followed by also taking several days off to process my 4-star rating.

The savings I can usually access within 48 hours was nearly tapped. I was anticipating needing to tap into my other savings for the repair – that savings has a five day turnaround, so no driving for the better part of a week on top of opening the drain on my savings again. Not to mention any significant penalties for early withdrawal – or its modern day equivalent.

I was feeling hosed.

I looked a little more longingly at that guardrail. Sensing my distress, Diezel handed me his credit card and told me gently not to worry, pay him back whenever, but get the repair taken care of first.

I offered to at least get him a beer, but he demurred. It was after 9:30, after all…this one hour wait had turned into two and a half hours, not to mention the 30 minute transit and depositing Angela at the garage. He usually turns in closer to 8. Proposing a counteroffer of a hug, since we hadn’t seen each other in real life for over a year, he took off for home.

Realizing Myrtle’s dinner was over four hours late – a millennia in cat-time – I rushed upstairs to feed the mistress.

Then I prescribed myself a therapeutic Emotional Support Pizza that I keep in the freezer in case of emergency.

Don’t judge my Hawaiian pizza tastes!

You cannot understand the number of weekend nights I’ve come in from driving to bare cupboards. This was one of several I picked up after deciding I simply couldn’t face another 3 AM pizza from 7-Eleven. Plus, you can dress up a frozen pizza with red pepper flakes and – especially – an herb mix from Penzey’s Spices.

You’d eat this. <chef’s kiss> Admit it.

Plus, I broke open a bottle of the Columbia Gorge’s finest – from Marchese Cellars – to polish up the therapy session.

It’s a $30 bottle of amazing red. Not a bad companion to a $7 pizza…so if those herbs and red pepper flakes don’t make that pizza palatable…this will! Then this happened

Come the fuck on!

Undeterred, I got that cork out on the second try. Hopefully, that’s a harbinger of the ease of repair for Angela.

Now, I think I have some In Case Of Emergency Ben & Jerry’s around here somewhere…

John Lennon Was Right

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