Forget Winter

reality is coming.

I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

  • I should get up and pee
  • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
  • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
  • Is that cigarette smoke?
  • Maybe I should fast today
  • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
  • Where’s Myrtle?

I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

All clear.

As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

I failed.

I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

Nope.

As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

Or these little gems:

There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

Another that stuck with me was:

You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

Obviously.

And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

…but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

Someone shit on the floor.

at the same time.

Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

*to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

Forget Winter

Due To Whelming Feedback…

…from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

“This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

  1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
  2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterday’s post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    Scared New World

    Welp, I made it three days.

    I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

    Obviously.

    Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

    Friday: 6

    Saturday: 3

    Sunday: 4

    Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

    Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

    That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

    Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

    C’mon!

    Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

    Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

    I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

    Nope. Those days are over.

    I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

    I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

    Including tip.

    Smart!

    And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

    After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

    So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

    This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

    Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

    However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

    Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

    But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

    One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

    Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

    That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

    I was not wrong.

    Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

    Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

    So here I am.

    I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

    It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

    While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

    This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

    Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

    I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

    Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

    Horrifying because – well, lots.

    First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

    It’s pathetic.

    Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

    Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

    Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

    What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

    I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

    Scared.

    Stupid.

    Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

    Scared New World

    The Hustle

    I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

    In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

    The struggle is surreal.

    I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

    Do I really want to work for these companies?

    Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

    At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

    Come to – er…wake up.

    Clean up.

    Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

    I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

    Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

    Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

    Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

    A.

    Day.

    That’s tough to replace.

    I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

    Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

    It was $12/hour.

    The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

    I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

    The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

    But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

    I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

    The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

    I came to work!

    I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

    You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

    I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

    You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

    Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

    Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

    I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

    Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

    Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

    Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

    Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

    Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

    No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

    Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

    A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

    Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

    No shit? That was months ago!

    Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

    I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

    I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

    But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

    Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

    Oh, for fuck sake.

    The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

    Seriously.

    Surrealiously.

    This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

    I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

    Obviously, The Gym.

    But, I’ve digressed.

    Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

    Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

    Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

    Maybe a month.

    Let’s say a few weeks ago.

    I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

    I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

    Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

    They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

    I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

    Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

    Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

    Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

    Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

    Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

    I felt bad about that.

    Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

    I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

    I could live with that.

    I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

    I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

    After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

    And it’s addictive.

    Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

    Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

    And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

    Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

    See? Addictive.

    Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

    – Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

    Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

    That’s what I’m telling myself.

    What else?

    – Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

    – The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

    In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

    Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

    Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

    It’s fucking awesome.

    Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

    Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

    Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

    Ah, yes!

    – Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

    I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

    I like the sound of that.

    Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

    Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

    Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

    Of course, that was after saying

    I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

    So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

    Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

    The Hustle

    Can Evolution Go Backward?

    That’s a thought that’s been on my mind lately.

    The impetus for that little question? The appearance on the streets of Portland of the “next” generation of e-scooters…and evolution, so to speak.

    Yup. It’s like an e-scooter and a bike had a baby.

    A hybrid for people who are too lazy to pedal a bike and/or too lazy to stand up.

    For fuck sake, humanity.

    At some point, someone on a design team had to say, “This is a pretty lame idea”. But they forged onward with production. Probably the argument for was something along the lines of, “But we can make a buck”…

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the few that isn’t outraged by e-scooters whizzing through the streets of my hometown. Whizzing down sidewalks and through our parks is a little aggravating, sure. But I’ve adopted a respectfully proactive approach to that frustration. When I can, I say in as neutral tone as possible, “That’s – sub out that pronoun with park or sidewalk as appropriate – not allowed”.

    People are surprisingly ok with that tactic. I’ve only had one person yell at me and try to give chase. He broke off after turning his scooter around. It’s not that I outpaced him with my lanky gait, I think he just saw plenty of witnesses and thought better. Good for him.

    But that takes me to my second inspiration for this devolution post. This text exchange from yesterday between my mom and me:

    There was not one, not two, but three separate protest marches in the streets of downtown yesterday. And I was working right in the middle of them.

    Police in heavy duty troop transport vehicles driving by the front of my store.

    Cops in tactical riot gear stopping in for a soda or snack while they waited for the potential melee.

    Awkward moments of me staring at a customer’s tattoos or tee shirt trying to figure out if they were aligned with any particular group while the police PA blasted out an eerily Big Brother-esque warning to disband the un-permited and therefore illegal march.

    Proud Boys.

    AntiFa.

    And a new group – at least to me – called #HimToo.

    If pressed, I’d bet that last group wasn’t a legitimately harassed or assaulted group of men. I’d go one step further and posit there was a barely discernible Venn Diagram of that group’s members and those folks who’ve spent the last four weeks wonder why they couldn’t have a Straight Pride parade all over social media.

    Backward Evolution, I say!

    It reminds me of a magnet I bought about a quarter century ago.

    Hold on. I’m debating going through a couple of boxes I have packed away in a closet to find it and take a picture for you all…the Silver Fox pointed out last night – because I have plenty of dumb moments, too – that the reason my fridge magnets are packed away unlike his which are plastering the front of his fridge is because his is faced with quality stainless steel and mine is a lesser caliber metal.

    Shit faced, if you will.

    Ok, I’m not going to go find it. Not because I’m too lazy. Rather, because of this situation:

    How dare I disturb Myrtle’s blissful slumber? The poor dear barely gets 20 hours of sleep a day!

    Back to the magnet.

    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    It’s a quote attributed to George Carlin. Boy, was he ahead of the curve with that observation!

    Congress.

    Gimme all that money!

    White People.

    Everybody gets a trophy.

    Scooter Designers.

    We want all the money, too!

    Portlanders.

    Did someone say trophies?

    Stupid Americans…

    Here’s hoping that whole Crispr thing works out if only so whoever ends up controlling the technology can finish Hitler’s work…if only to prove the point that evolving forward is about inclusion not so-called refinement.

    Sure, I guess that means a certain grumpy old man is going to have to learn to accept those who choose to neither stand nor pedal on an e-scooter.

    As another wise, old friend used to say,

    Life is lumpy.

    Can Evolution Go Backward?

    Murderous Myrtle

    Well, it’s finally happened.

    Myrt has upgraded her nickname from Mistress to Murderous.

    It’s a development that’s only surprising because I’m not dead. I always assumed that in our closed little ecosystem that I would be the only prey available to her.

    But, somehow I woke up to this unexpected sight this morning…

    I had to turn on the lights to determine that Myrtle hadn’t upgraded her recent poop mischief to that infamous “my cat pooped in my shoe” scenario. Then I thought it was dark fluff from the underside of my box spring.

    But, nooooo.

    Apparently, Myrtle is trying to make amends for her litter box antics. It’s just a surprising manifestation, since I live in a fourth floor condo with maybe a 20″ wide Juliet balcony.

    There’s not a lot of room to work there…plus, Myrtle’s not the best hunter. She hasn’t caught the red dot once since I’ve known her.

    Even more concerning is that I left my balcony door open for her while I was out, like I do when it’s nice. But when I got home, it had cooled down, so I closed the doors and put on the heat while I watched a movie before bed.

    I had no idea there was a bird in the unit!

    Then I slept through the entire death match that I imagine happened after I went to bed. I mean, the bird might have been dead when I got home, but not put out for me yet…somehow that seems more disturbing.

    Do you think this more a Santa Myrtle scenario or an escalation of her psychotic behaviors?

    Regardless, this is a cat behavior I surely never thought I’d have to deal with in my urban life!

    But since people often comment on Myrt’s weight and shape, her litter box shitnanigans do make it easier to put her on a diet. I’m basically using food to positively reinforce good kitty bathroom habits, so she’s leaned down quite a bit in the last few weeks.

    Apparently, her new svelteness has allowed her to better keep up with her prey.

    Yup, I just found a way to take the blame for this poor bird’s death. Welcome to my head, people.

    Murderous Myrtle

    I Tried Something New

    I know.

    Me.

    And I’m writing about it to take my mind off of murdering my cat for her ongoing psychotic behavior. Hopefully this distraction works out for her…

    Anyway, it was this toothpaste:

    I had heard of it, but never tried it because “everyone” on social media had been raving about it. Naturally, if a self-appointed influencer recommends it, I’m out.

    That sounds like me.

    But there I was, out of toothpaste. Like, way out. That last day was touch and go. Worry not, it worked out but I still immediately ran to the RiteAid for a new tube. I was standing there in the toothpaste aisle, silently grumbling about how expensive toothpaste is – which also sounds a lot like me.

    Then, there it was.

    Y’know what? I needed a little pick me up, so I splurged on a $6.50 tube of toothpaste.

    Plus, when you spit and rinse, you’ll get a lil shock because: black toothpaste!

    Overall! I gotta tell you, go buy this toothpaste! I’m not trying to be an influencer. I’m telling you to do it, not suggesting.

    Since the first time I used it, my teeth have looked whiter. Three times in three weeks people asked me some version of if I’d gotten laid because I looked different.

    I hadn’t.

    And believe it or not, I just felt better!

    Ever since the second time the murderous Myrtle tripped me, sending me to the emergency dentist to repair my broken off front tooth, I’ve been increasingly self-conscious about my smile. I’ll take a minty little pick me up to undo some of the damage that cat has done to me.

    At $6.50, that’s a very reasonably priced nice side effect. Not as nice as if I was getting laid once a week like a few of my friends insanely think I could. But I’ll take it.

    The hyperlink above is for two tubes and a free toothbrush for like $13, plus free shipping for Prime members. I think that’ll be my option next time I need toothpaste.

    I also like getting packages, so why not just treat myself to getting one for no reason other than not going to the pharmacy? It’s way better than ordering a case of these ridiculously tasty treats. Although, seeing them in a 4.5 ounce package is nice. I’ve bought the 7 and 11 ounce packages and they both ended up being single servings. Less might be more, in this case! Plus, the last thing I ordered off Amazon was Myrtle’s favorite treats…look where that’s gotten me. Time to do something for myself!

    I really should try to figure out how the Amazon Affiliate program works. This would have been two good ads to use! Hehe. But, no…I had to “test the waters” with clickbait!

    I Tried Something New

    Petty Minds Matter

    You might remember that not quite a year and a half ago I moved one door over in my building over a rent dispute with the lady who owned the condo I’d lived in for two years. Well, the short of it is that after sitting vacant a year – which gave me an admittedly petty pleasure – she rented it.

    At the rent I’d wanted the year before.

    Go figure.

    Not long ago, I met the new neighbor.

    That one time was enough.

    I’d decided when I heard him moving in that I wasn’t going to mention that I’d lived there before him when we eventually met.

    It was such a good idea.

    However, when we finally met, I was leaving and he was standing at his door in gym clothes with two bags of groceries. My assumption was that he was just getting home from work and had stopped for provisions on the way back from the gym.

    He asked how long I’d lived here. Told me he was new to the area.

    I had accidentally Mrs Kravitz-ed him when closing my bedroom blinds one night and seen two men getting cozy on the couch. Meeting him at his door affirmed my assumption that he was a big ‘mo.

    The worst part was I could tell he was one of those clenchy, uptight types.

    Sure enough

    Whoever lived here before must have had a cat because it took me three days to clean before I could move in.

    Definitely uptight.

    He went on to make a couple carelessly pretentious comments about things that really made me stand back on my heels to put as much space as possible between us. Myrt, realizing I was just on the other side of the door, decided to scream a few times.

    Oh, you have a cat, too?

    “Yup. I actually got her when I lived in your unit.”

    Beat.

    Beat.

    Oh! You lived here?

    “Yeah. I moved about a year ago.”

    So, you must know the person that lived here before!

    I lean against my door frame, “Kinda.”

    Well, he wasn’t much of a housekeeper is all I know.”

    He makes one of those awkward laughs that you have to watch out for, the kind where if you laugh it’s interpreted as tacit agreement? Naturally, I remained stoically neutral. Maybe my eyes narrowed just the teensiest bit.

    “I’m sure I couldn’t say. I guess not by your standards, at least. But I do know the owner had a professional two person crew in here for a day a few months back…”

    Me: level gaze

    Him: blink

    Me: level gaze

    Him: blink, blink

    “Maybe there was just a lot of hair in the ducts, who knows?”

    I’m sure that’s it.

    Me: level gaze

    Him: blink, picks up grocery bags

    “Of course, I shouldn’t keep you. And I’m sure my friend is waiting outside now! I should go. Have a good night!”

    I go to the elevator and push the button, looking back just in time to see him disappear into the building’s stairwell.

    What the? Who leaves their house in gym clothes with two bags of groceries?!? And we’re talking produce on top type bags of groceries.

    Maybe he was cooking for his couch canoodling friend.

    I dunno.

    What I do know is that he was pretty judgy for a guy who’s balcony has looked like this for three full months now

    Even worse, there’s one of those countertop compost pails sitting out there now, too. How gross is your compost pail that it can’t sit in your kitchen?

    Must be more gross than a bit of cat hair.

    Anyway…that’s not the petty part.

    The other day I was running a bag of Myrtle related items to the trash chute – she’d had a day. First, she pooped on the living room rug for whatever subtle bit of feline logic. Then a few minutes after I served her highness dinner, I hear

    Hurr. Hurk. Hurr…huuuurk!”

    coming from the front door and just as I get to her, Myrtle uneats all over the entry rug.

    Huzzah.

    So, I’m cleaning the rug and hear doors opening and closing all over the floor. Which is kind of my new normal. I’ve gone from a random door closing once or twice a week and occasionally seeing a tacky wine bottle in the recycling as evidence of the old lady who lives on the other end of the floor’s presence to having a neighbor who is one of those people that can never leave his unit successfully on the first try.

    So, I’m cleaning and I hear a door close. A minute later, I hear another door close, then another again.

    About this time, I head out to throw my cat barf in the trash chute and just as I reach for the trash room door knob, it opens. My old lady neighbor just about dies on the spot – I swear, I saw her soul try and leave her body.

    She makes some urgent “Oh, my!” sounds as I excuse myself and she disappears into her unit again. That’s probably the last time I’ll see her in 2019.

    I drop Myrtle’s barf bag into the trash chute and head back to my unit.

    As I’m passing my old doormat, I see there’s a note sticking out from under it. Curiosity tugs at me, but since I now know that I’m unaware of my neighbor’s whereabouts, I keep going. All I can see is that it’s a piece of copy paper with laser printed text on it.

    I’m kind of thinking it’s a note for a delivery driver or something and put it out of my mind.

    The next morning, I’m heading out – probably for coffee – and as I’m grabbing my jacket, hear my neighbor’s door slam.

    Then open again.

    Then shut.

    Open.

    Shut.

    Then the fire stairs door slams and I wait.

    Nothing…he’s gone.

    I leave and see the note is still there, but it’s been moved. I push the button for the world’s slowest elevator. There’s plenty of time as I’m waiting to sneak a peek at the note.

    Dear Neighbour,

    You may be unaware of how the sound of your music travels through the walls…

    It becomes clear to me that the series of doors I’d heard the night before was my old lady neighbor delivering this note before taking out her trash. Additionally, for whatever reason, she’s used English spelling twice in her note even though I’ve never detected an accent when we’ve exchanged words in passing.

    Whatever. I don’t really care. I do note, however, that it’s a shame my new neighbor’s music has made a bad impression on my old lady neighbor, since they both seem rather affected.

    Seems like they should get along fine.

    But the petty part of this whole thing is me thinking that I lived in this guy’s unit for however long and never got a snotty, passive-aggressive, nearly-anonymous note from my neighbor about my music.

    Must have been the extra insulation from all that cat hair…

    Petty Minds Matter

    Do You HQ?

    I’m not going to lie…I’m slogging this morning.  That bums me out, since it’s supposed to be a blogging morning.

    Although, revisiting that writing discipline structure for a minute – it seemed like a good idea, setting out specific goals for book writing and then blogging on my “free days”.  Here’s the struggle:  it’s hard to write for five days in a row.

    Poor Blanche.

    It’s sounds pathetic, but it really is rough. Kinda.

    My shoulders get all tense after about day 4 and my brain starts to hurt.  My stomach gets a little whiny, too – go figure – because I have about two cups of cold brew each day that I write, so…yeah.  Good problems to have, I suppose!  

    Nonetheless, I’m thinking about splitting it up a bit.  Maybe write on Monday and Tuesday, take a breather day on Wednesday to reset the shoulders and rest the brain and then write again Thursday through Saturday.  

    Or, I could always have a ghost day like yesterday, where I just didn’t feel like writing, so I didn’t.  I’m just pretty sure I know what results a lack of discipline can produce already.

    Needless to say, you aren’t getting my best today.  Maybe this will warm me up for a little more significant writing later today.  If not that, then I always have tomorrow to look forward to…The Fox has invited me to his Fox Family Estates beach house for a few days of R&R.  I’m not entirely sure that I’ll go, but I do have a caretaker lined up for Mistress Myrtle, so I could go without feeling like a schmo pet owner…

    But back to the burning question of the day.  Have you heard of HQ?  It’s a Trivia Game app for your phone and it hosts live games at least twice a day.  

    It’s 12 questions for their classic game, which airs at 9 PM EST, so 6 PM here on the Best Coast.  You get three multiple choice answers to choose from and ten seconds to make your selection/answer/guess.  The prizes usually run from $1000 up to $5000 with occasional event games that can be $10000 or more.  I know that there are often $25000 prizes and I have even played – and lost – a couple of the Winner Take All games for $100000!  Those Winner Take All games go until there’s only one winner, so it can be an unlikely 12 questions or go as long as it takes to get down to one winner.

    Here’s the deal, though…you usually split the prize pot with the other winners, so that usually boils down to a couple of bucks each. It’s still entertaining, though! Even if you only get to Q6…

    I went in very enthusiastic about the idea. I have a pretty trivial brain, so I thought I’d place pretty well.

    Flash forward to three months of me not getting past question 6.

    Damn sports questions.

    Then I had a couple weeks where I’d sneak in a run to Q7 or 8.

    Then I quit for a while. A friend of mine on the Facebook played – so I found out – and posted a win one evening. I was all,

    I’m smarter than that guy!

    Very mature, right?

    It took me a couple months to loop back around to playing regularly. I had to remind myself that HQ was like running or golf…you’re only playing against yourself.

    Then they started a word puzzle game called

    Wait.

    For.

    It.

    HQ Words.

    You get a clue and a Wheel Of Fortune type set of blank tiles and guess letters until you reveal the puzzle, strike out or time is up. You get 10 strikes over a 10 question game. Use ’em up, you’re out!

    This was where I got my first win. Words has smaller prize pots, usually $1000 – at least that’s what it was when I won. They’ve ramped those up to $2500 on average now. But you can see, my split was $.13, so there were a lot of winners!

    Something had finally happened!

    I’m not saying my luck had changed or this was the start of a trend, but I’ve won Trivia twice since then.

    While it wasn’t luck that changed, there were two changes to the game that helped change my results.

    The first was streaks. Play five days in a row, get a free life! A free life can get you back in the game if you miss a question. You can only use one per game, though, so you have to use them strategically.

    The other change that happened was the introduction of levels. For each question you get right, you earn points. Those points accumulate over the course of the games throughout the season. The points accumulate and translate into free passes for the different questions, so let’s say you have enough points for a free pass through Q4, you can skip answering until Q5 if you want or play like regular, earning points on questions you answer correctly or getting your free pass to save you if you’re wrong.

    My free passes started saving me and getting me through the first half of the games and then, the more I played, the more free lives I earned because of my streaks. I’m at level seven now, between that and an occasional free life, I’ve racked up two more wins.

    The disadvantage, of course, is that I’m not the only one who’s benefiting from this structure. As you can see, my big win was only $.21, hardly the coffee money that winners used to claim after a win. I’m up to about four bits now and level seven. Maybe by the end of the season – which I believe is this Sunday – I can break into whole dollars.

    Regardless, it’s a fun way to kill 15 or 20 minutes while dinner cooks. Feel free to give it a try. My player name is Galbatron – and you can see that The Most Dangerous Cat In The World is my avatar – so use my name when you create your profile and maybe I’ll get an extra life for the referral.

    Coffee money riches…here I come!

    Do You HQ?

    The Red Shirt Diaries #24

    It’s been a while since I wrote a Red Shirt entry. I wasn’t itching to, but last night, it just demanded to be so…so, here you go.

    Last night, after eating a really salty dinner of sausage and pepperoni pizza, I made an early night of it. I was tired and my belly was full. Sleep came easily.

    Until about 1 AM.

    I woke up thirsty. Not just thirsty, THIRSTY-thirsty.

    Luckily, I sleep with a glass of water by my bed. It’s a 20 oz glass that I’ve had since the last century.

    And it was full.

    Mistress Myrtle was laying between me and the night stand, so I had to negotiate my reach without disturbing the dear. My tired ass had gone to bed without turning off the heat, as I do, so exacerbating my thirst was an elevated body temperature. I had somehow worked my legs out from under the covers to help remain comfortable, this is also how Myrt ended up on a side of the bed she does not normally inhabit.

    Side note: Myrtle would expect me to tell you that her place is the center of the bed.

    This all manifested as me using my exposed legs to leverage my torso up so that I could drink without spilling my water all over. Picture the bowl of a martini glass with a really big kalamata olive in the bottom of it and that’s the basic shape I’m in.

    There I am, sucking in water, thinking life is good. I put the water back and lay back down. Five minutes later, I’m thinking that the other half of that glass sounds like a pretty good idea, so I repeat the whole ordeal…and barely avoid choking to death on a cat hair floating through the air that my thirsty ass sucks in while I’m initiating my lip to water connection.

    Of course, this – in turn – caused me to narrowly avoid drowning as I aspirated water.

    When I laid back down, that’s where my mind went.

    I mean, not right away. It took a circuitous route getting there. I didn’t just lay down and think, “Gee, Myrtle, that could have been it for me…” and immediately let my mind wander onto wondering how long it would have been before someone came looking for me.

    Lips.

    Ears.

    Fingertips.

    Toes.

    That’s how long I suspect it would have been before someone saved Myrtle from her smorgasbord of me.

    Y’know, like six hours.

    “What? I didn’t want it to go to waste…” – Mistress Myrtle

    No, where my mind went on its way to reminding me that I had nearly drown in my own bed was stranger.

    It started off with a flash onto into an Albert Brooks movie. The scene where people awake on a tour trolley dressed in Tupas – long white robes tied at the waist with a sash – that everyone wears upon arrival in Judgment City. This is usually also the first clue that they’ve died in real life.

    Then, of course, I had a stop at Albert’s brother – Bob Einstein, aka: Super Dave Osborn, who passed away earlier this year – sitting there in a trolley arriving in Judgment City.

    “They really expect this place to be a one size fits all joint?”

    Bob was pretty tall, and I could hear him kvetching about the length of the robes.

    Oh, you’re still surprised to hear that Bob Einstein and Albert Brooks are brothers? Yeah, Albert changed his last name to avoid being confused with the other famous Albert with whom he shared a last name.

    Anyway, on from there, I went to some mental Beetlejuice purgatory. You know, the type where there is no dress code? You just show up in whatever you died wearing. Yeah, so I was there in my Oregon sweatshirt and a pair of Pump boxers.

    I’ll wait while you readjust your mental image of my martini shaped description from earlier.

    Good?

    Well, not GOOD-good, but…ready? Make sure you got the legs skinny enough.

    I’m sitting there in Hell’s waiting room in my death suit – which my father would like for you to know is University of Oregon colored, not Oregon State colored, so I’m spending eternity in an “outfit” that he does not endorse – and the guy next to me is one of those chatty newly dead guys.

    “You from Portland?”

    Huh? Yeah. Uh…yeah.

    “How did ya die? You don’t mind my asking.”

    Oh, yeah. I’d rather not talk about it. We just met and all.

    “Stabbed, right? I bet you were stabbed. I’ve heard that about Portland. Ya’ll are weird out there.”

    Are you from Jersey or the South? I can’t really decide. I guess it doesn’t matter now, but wherever it is, you should pick a regional dialect and stick with it, y’know?

    Me…making friends wherever I go. Quick reminder, this is all taking place in my subconscious. What does that say about me?!? Here I am, in the afterlife, telling people how to live their deaths.

    “Whoa. Geez. Touchy. Relax, it’s a long afterlife. So, C’mon…How’d you go?”

    It’s too embarrassing.

    “C’mon. Me? I got here via blunt force trauma. Wife caught me tipping the sitter, you get what I mean.”

    Let’s just keep our elbows to ourselves, here. And, yeah. Doesn’t take much to get your meaning. I hope she made it look like an accident. For her and your kids’ sake.

    “You really not gonna tell me?”

    Well, A) this isn’t kindergarten, so just because you showed me yours, I don’t have to show you mine. But, B) how about this, I’ll just say that I got here because it’s true what they say, “you get what I mean” and leave it at that.

    Because…apparently last night, it was true…you can drown in a teaspoon of water.

    After five minutes of not falling back to sleep, I get up and take a Mellie, but just one. I also refill my glass, because what are the odds of that happening again?

    The Red Shirt Diaries #24