TransDating: Part I

Sooooo…The Facebook, right?

Coming through for me the other (early) morning when I couldn’t sleep. I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I had probably cruised through the previous 36 hours worth of newsfeed-algorithm-worthy posts when I happened upon the “People You Might Know” feature.

Probably, this is where the ZuckerDrones are looking out for me, “thinking” this is what usually makes him throw his phone down in disgust so I could get back to sleep. Little do they (or DO they?!?) know that I usually at least look at the top recommendations before throwing my phone down in the aforementioned disgust.

Today, though, today…I’ve clearly got time. It’s 5-ish am, I’ve been scrolling for 45 minutes, “Why not see who the Facebook thinks I should know?” I think, before doing a deep dive.

I was a good 10 minutes into the PYMK section when I saw it.

Ok, given the name of this post, that was a poorly chosen pronoun due to the ease of exploitation that “it” allows. Well, exploit it for humor, we got no problems…we’re obviously chums for a reason. Exploit it for its vaguely gender-vague crime-worthiness and, well, you can fuck right off and then keep on humping.

Because, what I saw was a “who” that I crushed all the way out on while I was working at the airport.

One of the Fabulous Baker Girls has probably already used her super sleuthy skills to figure out who I’m talking about, she’s that good.

For the rest of you…this is a person I used to see a couple times a week because he managed a store out at PDX while I worked there. Still does, if the Facebook is to be believed.

And, believable or not, the Facebook was giving me the profile of a super sexy fella to scroll through as I debated “friending” him.

If he’d remember me or accept said friend request…TBD.

As I scrolled, I was rewarded with those validating pics young folks post…showcasing their natural gifts and/or the fruits of their gym labors.

Oh, right. I forgot there was also significant tattoo-age. They were all spelled correctly, so the attraction was preserved.

What it took me a few extra minutes of scrolling to realize was that the muscle definition and tattoos both served to draw the eye away from some very artfully concealed scars…of the double mastectomy variety.

Well, shit-fuck-damn.

I’ve always held young people unreasonably accountable to having a better physique than I, however…where gender reassignment is involved, I give a hall pass.

Does that seem fair?

Well, I don’t care. Ask your mother if life is supposed to be fair.

Back to me.

Trans-folk get a hall pass on body stuff because they are fighting an uphill battle. Whereas young cis men have hormones helping their physical accomplishments, trans-folk have what are likely the wrong hormones working against whatever correct hormones they may be pumping into their bodies. It results in a battle of science vs nature toward physically expressing their true selves.

I’m not judging that.

No way, no how.

Plus, in the case of this fine fella, and I’m sure many trans-men…should they put their minds to it, they could kick my ass twice before I knew the first ass whooping was happening. I’m smart enough to not make enemies, let alone enemies that could actually harm my favorite person.

But my trans hall pass has always expired where the appreciation of their physical accomplishments meets the reality of my Kinsey 6 sexuality. Top surgery and potentially hormone assisted physical accomplishments aside, at the end of the day I can’t get my old school homosexuality around the “beaver in my bed” scenario. I’m an ass man, through and through…but frontside foreplay is still a part of the routine, because…well, because it is.

Enter Anachronistic Xtopher.

It’s been a decade long entrance, in case you thought this was a fresh struggle.

You see, when I moved to Seattle back in ’06, I spent more than my fair share of time getting to know my new bevy of gay bars slash neighborhood watering holes. I really loved all of them. Little did I know that a lot of this euphoric experience was relative to me being fresh meat (at goddamned 40 years of age) in a relatively small dating pool’s bar scene.

Still, by ’08, I was well past that…the blush was off the proverbial lily.

It was then that I’d found myself out for a weeknight wee bit.

<Interior: The Cuff, upper bar…because they don’t bother opening the lower dance and patio bars on a goddamned Tuesday>

I’m swilling quietly, minding my own obliviousness at the end of the bar, when a brick shithouse of a dude in all his construction worker drag walks in, sits down by me and orders a beer.

Now, we all know where this is heading, because: title spoilers, but suspend your disbelief.

Jesus. Rough crowd.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Sure, on a four-sided bar, this is the only place to sit where you won’t have an unwelcome crowd form around you”.

It’s also a Tuesday, so crowds would be a no.

It’s also the side of the bar furthest the door.

Ergo: it’s also the only side of the bar that you have to pass all three of the other (service) sides of the bar to get to.

All of this conspires to convince me that this placement is intentional…for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, there was a beer or two of conversational foreplay before I trot out this gem, “How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?”

“Well, it is a Tuesday…but still pretty damned ok”, he says, laughing.

“I was gonna offer to get your next beer, but as the second best looking guy in the bar, I realize that puts you in a tough place.”

“Drink up. I got this one, since you look smart enough to not waste your aspirations for bar dominations on a Tuesday night. But you’re definitely on the hook for the next one!”

“Thank god this isn’t a Wednesday”, I reply, thinking that this guy’s humor is right in line with mine. I’d love to have an equal in sass…not as easy as one might think since you have to factor overall disposition into the equation. I don’t mind an overly queeny sense of sass near as much as I’d run away from or flat out fail to appreciate a guy with hard up bro-sass.

That struggle? REAL.

Anyway, we chatted a bit about what afforded us the luxury of drinking on a Tuesday night in a bar people only cared about on the weekends. Some other stuff. He was a lot of fun to talk with, truth be told.

Comfortable.

Easy.

However, on beer four – my fifth, just to be completely honest – he disclosed that he was FTM (female to male, for the uninitiated). Now, sexually, my heretofore growing chub lost volume…for previously mentioned Kinsey 6 reasons.

Still

I was really enjoying this guy’s company. Obviously, having lived in Shittatle for two years and still finding myself drinking alone on a Tuesday night, I was in need of friends. If our schedules aligned to allow a regular social coalescence…that’s a good ROI on my Tuesday night of drinking.

Right?

Well, I never heard from him again, so fuck me. What are ya gonna do though? This person was – after two years in Seattle – literally within the first six people I’d given my number to.

He didn’t use it.

It’s been 10 years since that eye-opener of a night. But in a decade, I have realized that easily navigated complexities sometimes only end up being precursors to significantly more complex situations. Situations whose ramifications extend way further than the least crowded side of a four sided bar on the least crowded night of the week.

Well, when I put it that way, my ’08 encounter seems…easy. But, trust me…it wasn’t.

Not in the moment.

Reductively, it’s choosing between clams and sausage on the sexual menu. But in reality, clams vs sausage is an argument that a very, legitimately very small percentage of our population known as bisexual ever actually engages in. For the rest of us, that sexual argument is rarely ever brought front and center on a casual night of drinking. For me, dropping my pole in a decidedly gay watering hole for a drink generally results in “I got a drink” at best and “top or bottom?” in an unexpected better than best at the worst.

Having to navigate original plumbing in this fishing hole scenario made me think cats were my future.

Don’t worry, Myrtle has made me realize there’s no love to be found in a truly hopeless place.

Which is pretty much where I was earlier this year when I ended up chatting with Liz at my local caffeination station about proper gender pronoun usage. It was one of those conversations where I not only felt relief that I wasn’t the only person confused by what pronouns were socially acceptable for everyday polite usage, but also a conversation that left me thinking, “Nah, you should stay at home forever” once I realized that if a multi-unit coffee shop manager easily ten years my junior in goddamned Portland, Oregon can’t figure it out then I had – really – no hope.

Like, literally zero chance.

She was referencing customers – well, a specific customer – and in talking about them, acknowledged her confusion about correct pronoun usage.

Why?

Because she was using them – a pronoun heretofore used in a plural sense – to reference an individual. It made things…complex. And not just conversationally.

We each acknowledged the pronoun struggle by way of clarifying the actual object of her statements.

Why is this a big deal?

Well, let’s jump back to my awkward night at The Cuff. What if I happened to take my spontaneous drinking buddy’s bathroom break as a moment to confide in the bartender?

“Close me out, I think I’m gonna take him back to my place.”

Yeah, that’s how early 21st century conversation looked.

Ah, the simplicity of the aughts. We’re in the teens now, though.

Fuck simplicity.

Nowadays, I’d have to say, “Close me out, I’m taking them back to my place for a night cap.” Of course, I’m referencing an individual while using a plural pronoun…this is confusing!

Not to mention, unsafe.

Sure, we’re a decade back for this example. Nonetheless, what if this happened while I was talking to someone that the bartender knew to have a chain smoking boyfriend that never made it into the bar? I suddenly end up looking way cooler than I ever was in my original 40s. But I also end up probably equal parts likely to have an unplanned three way as I end up being rolled by an unexpected third or beaten up by a jealous, unknown boyfriend.

There’s a lot of downside to these vague, politically correct repurposing of existing pronouns.

But, by all means…let’s put personal safety aside for recreational contrariness of a sexual minority. Whatever happened to the pre-turn-of-the-century s/him for men veiled in feminine dress?

Was that so offensive, somehow?

My money is on the difficulty in creating the gender appropriate version of a pronoun for a woman out and about with her masculine flag flying. I’ve been semi-thinking about this for over a decade. What would that new pronoun be?

I think that – in a very weird turn of events in gay-phobic America in the second decade of a new millennia – that an inverse Crying Game scenario based on gender appropriate pronoun confusion would create a larger kerfluffle than Jaye Davidson could ever imagine.

That said

Of course I get a text from Diezel a few weeks ago asking if I’d ever date a FTM guy.

<eyeroll> “Why is life so hard?!?” – Me

Still, since I adore Diezel and also kinda try – as long as it doesn’t put me out too terribly much – to be a good friend, we chatted a bit about it. I knew this wasn’t one of those random questions, rather one borne of a specific circumstance – this wasn’t a random Monday Night Supper Club conversational topic like Intersectionality was – after all.

But our little chat took us through this whole decade-long arc of mine.

In mere moments…

The crux being, “What’s the point of plumbing, anyway?”

Honestly, for me, in about ten minutes…nothing. I think we get to a point where the sex is secondary to the connection.

Sexondary – Chrisism!

But as humans, as sexual beings…that secondary connection doesn’t happen until the sexual connection is either satisfied or mitigated. There’s a simple statement. Mitigating that sexual connection is simple…give it a few decades, then who cares?

BOTH OF YOU! That’s who. Since you’ve now both lived through a relationship where neither of you got your rocks off. Obviously, that scenario doesn’t necessarily or easily work. However, it might work if you’re in a post-sexual time of life.

Mind you, I’m <cough> in my sixth decade and my best friend is in his seventh…not sure when sexual compatibility moves to the back burner. But, goddamnit…I hope that this is a thing. Maybe these much maligned – at least in this blog – millennials will figure it out, this sexual conundrum.

<belly laugh interlude>

Better? Maybe you need another minute…

How’s it going? Oh, still wheezing?

Walk it off.

Focus on taking deep breaths through your nose, out through the mouth.

Sometimes Millennials figure things out!

Oh, gawd. It’s gotten worse!

I really feel like I should apologize. I’ll try and warn you before I say something like that next time.

Ultimately, I decided the friend request that motivated this whole blog-thought-exercise was a bad idea, since my desire to know him was initially sexually motivated. That seemed like a recipe for butt-hurted-ness…somehow.

So, for now? I’m leaving it with “I don’t know”. But I’m still thinking about it and trying to work my way through it correctly…

Stand by.

Lordy, I feel like this is gonna need a Part II…

TransDating: Part I

Intersectionality

I’ve been thinking about this for about a year now. I think it all started at a Monday Night Supper Club dinner that The Cajun & Canadian were hosting.

And it started with a lighthearted discussion over this very Portland meme.

Somewhere during the ridiculousness of the conversation about the bombing du jour that spawned the MOAB meme and Portland’s ability to enjoy a good laugh at its inherent liberal self, The Canadian innocently asked the table if any of us had heard the recent discussions around intersectionality.

Now, a couple of things about The Canadian:

A) He’s smarter than hell. Intimidatingly intelligent, but he’s not flagrant about this trait.

B) He’s from Canada, but his ethnicity is not Caucasian. This often prompts the question, “Where are you from?” from people who want to know his ethnicity but aren’t woke enough to understand either the difference between the two questions or how unaware of their own racist tendencies they are.

Personally, I love that he replies, “Canada” every time the question arises just to see them get flustered and say, “Yeah, but where are you from?” as if he’s not only not white nor American but also too dumb to understand the question.

See also: subtext fail.

Wow…I’ve already wandered fairly far afield.

Anyway, before I try to re-rail this train of thought, let me just say this:

A) He’s not the dumb one.

B) I can’t remember where the heck he’s from. It’s because I don’t really care, he’s from Canada. His parents aren’t from Canada, I think they are originally from someplace that starts with an M.

Does not knowing that make me a bad friend?

I don’t think it makes me less of a racist. Or sexist. Or whatever else old, white guys collective and commonly are labeled. Clearly, I’m also agist.

This past week, Joy Reid got called out for being anti-LBGT. This was based on some blog posts from years ago. Apparently, it was brought to her attention in December of last year and her response was that her blog was hacked. She went a step further and hired a forensic IT investigator to get to the bottom of it.

Well, what happened is that the investigator was able to prove that her blog hadn’t been hacked.

Joy Reid apologized.

To read about the apology, specifically her own words, I sense that she’s as surprised at what she’d written as any of her fans. Her apology doesn’t make excuses or further denials. It doesn’t blame anyone, she takes accountability.

And then, goes one step further to say that she isn’t the same person that she was back then or ten years ago or five years ago or yesterday. I’m paraphrasing. But I was struck by how intelligent that statement is…talk about being woke. It’s a good point to acknowledge, in my opinion, because it helps to keep us grounded in owning our today.

Being present.

Keeping ourselves accountable to our future selves for what we do and say today.

Of course, her bloodthirsty haters and butt-hurt minorities are still calling for her head on social media. That’s on them. For me, I think she did a good job of doing the right thing.

I think it’s worth mentioning that Joy Reid is not Caucasian…a minority being called out for anti-LBGT comments is a pretty good example of how mind boggling intersectionality can be.

Also last week, I was asked by the Silver Fox what cis meant. We were having a conversation about trans-folk. I had mentioned that my nephew had told me a story about his senior prom, specifically that his school’s prom king was trans.

I was all, “Way to go, suburbs!” with equal parts incredulity, because I really couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that his school had a trans student and I couldn’t believe that the school environment was open enough that this kid became prom king.

Way to put the “cool” in school, I say,

Anyway, first I taught The Fox the correct pronunciation of cis and then told him what it was. Basically, someone whose birth sex aligns with their sexual identity as well as the gender they express.

I know someone will hate how I expressed that definition. They can go read another blog.

Our conversation went on to trans folk in general, but that’s another blog, before fizzling out when he asked what intersexed meant. It fizzled because I realized I don’t feel like I even really know. Admitting that to myself and to him exhausted me.

I was exhausted because in realizing and admitting that I don’t know something, I know that I need to find out. Sure, I can dismiss knowledge gaps about trivial stuff, because: who cares. But this stuff is importan to know. I feel responsible for knowing in order to be a good global citizen.

No, that’s not the right term, I realize. It’s not that I want to be a good global citizen, because…I don’t. I mean, I do, but I don’t hold myself accountable to knowing the latest about the Greek economy, emerging post-USSR emerging European countries or even whether Bismarck is the capitol of the North or South Dakota.

It’s North.

Not to sound pretentious, but I think the right term is human. I want to be a good human.

Part of that is understanding other humans versus writing them off for their differences.

See what I did there? That’s me being all intersectional with a side of pettiness. I’m making potential differences the other party’s problem instead of findings an inclusive approach to co-existing.

I was exhausted because of the task ahead of me and it took me back to that MNSC dinner from last April: what is intersectionality?

Intersexed people are a part of it, that’s for damn sure.

But that exhaustion? That’s not (solely) a product of the daunting task of educating myself. It’s also in part an apprehension of the lack of forgiveness I will experience at the hands of the people who get woke before me. It goes back to when trans people began to experience their emergence.

I had friends that began identifying as trans, quite a few, actually. I remember the belligerent one. I was the Joy Reid in that scenario.

No, I wasn’t.

Humanity was.

She was the Stonewall through Act Up era gays. And she was retroactively pissed off and lashing out as she progressed through her evolution to her true himself.

I felt the struggle and tended toward empathy when we spoke. She had been an art student and friend of Rib’s. I interacted with her frequently because of my relationship and their friendship. I bought several of her art pieces to support her.

Plus, I liked them.

Some of them.

And when I asked for support in learning more about trans people…I was faulted for not knowing.

It was exasperating.

Kind of like discovering you’ve ended up at a mainstream restaurant with a vegan or self-diagnosed celiac person: somehow it’s your fault.

As we discussed intersectionality at dinner that night last year, I expressed my thought that it was kind of like politicizing butt-hurtedness.

That went over well.

But as a grumpy old cis white guy, that was my intersectionality moment. I’ve only had to overcome one measly mainstream disadvantage in my lifetime: not being heterosexual.

In order to be that good human I want to be, I have to understand what I haven’t had to overcome, basically everything but race and sexuality and including race and sexuality struggles that differ from my own.

As I look forward to learning about intersexed people and understanding/integrating intersectionality into who I am as a human, I’m dreading a repeat of that retrograde intolerance I experienced when seeking to understand trans.

But it’s part of the price, I suppose.

To bring myself full circle, this happened on The Instagram today

Just because my friend named their dog Hazel doesn’t give me the right to presume to use female pronouns when discussing them. I gave myself a good chuckle for holding myself accountable to using currently PC pronouns with a friend’s pet…that had probably been spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

All humor aside, though, that heightened awareness required to make those self edits on the fly will be a journey versus a destination because humanity will (hopefully) continue to evolve as I do.

Probably at different paces, too, just to keep it interesting.

Intersectionality

Eat This NOW

Someone asked me last night for a recipe I use.  That never happens, and it felt nice.  To me, cooking is a great way to indulge creativity, do fun things and demonstrate you care for the people you cook for.

It’s so core.

Nurturing.

<glossing over the fact that I don’t cook much for myself>

Of course, it was my carbonara recipe, something I’ve never made the same was twice in my life.

I made it for my Monday Night Supper Club peeps a few months back and it was met with rave reviews.  

My response, “C’mon, guys…it’s just carbonara!”  I was amazed to hear that no one had had it.  Not even the Silver Fox, who I consider quite a cook and rather world-wise.  Secretly, I thought he was messing with me.  But then again, I made it for my family and they’d never had it before, either.

At this point, I began thinking that maybe they had had it and I was just making it wrong.  Hehe.

Then again, before 2006, I couldn’t say that I’d had it.

I walked into my kitchen classroom at the Sur la Table I was working at in Kirkland, WA and my store’s Resident Chef was creating.

He’s this guy, for context.

And he’s made quite a name for himself, just like I knew he would.  I’ve largely held a static level of accomplishment…but carbonara helps.

He slides me this plate and tells me to dig in.  I had a foodgasm.

“I figured you for a carbonara guy, Galby” he tells me, smiling.  “Pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese…what’s not to like?  It’s like breakfast in pasta”, he continues.

No shit.

I couldn’t respond, I was inhaling.

A few years later, I started playing around with it.  I tried googling a recipe and realized that there’s no one way to make this dish.

The core argument seems to be around whether you add frozen peas or if that’s a bastardization too far.

I like peas.  And I like a hint of color.

So I usually include them because I think it makes for a more appealing plate.  You’ll have to decide for yourself…it’s obviously both a deeply personal choice and a hornet’s nest.

So, aside from frozen peas, maybe, the shopping list is pretty simple:

One 1 lb box of spaghetti style pasta

Three large eggs – the yolks are another debate-slash-variable.

One third cup each of grated pecorino and reggiano cheese.

8 oz (or more!) of bacon or pancetta.

One shallot.

A few cloves of garlic…just a hint.

One third cup of heavy whipping cream – depending on the yolk situation.

I’m a big fan of the mis en place method of cooking, so that everything is ready to go when I start.  So, I’ll slice the bacon into 1/4″ strips, mince the garlic, dice the shallot, grate the cheeses and let my eggs come to room temp before I even boil my water.

But once everything is prepped and I put the water on?  The meal is basically done, so be ready to eat!

I think with the MNSC, I got to this point and then waited for everyone to arrive before continuing.

And, by “waited”, I mean, “opened a bottle of wine”.  Basically, I made this while I was buzzed.

So, the water’s on to boil.

I brown the bacon and then when it’s almost done, start spooning off the fat, then throw in the garlic and shallot to soften.

At some point while the bacon has been going, I’ve thrown in the pasta – and possibly the peas – and it should be about done as the bacon concoction finishes up.

While those two things were happening, I’ve cracked my eggs and either whisked the yolks (I’ve used anywhere from 0 to all 3 in my experiments) into them or taken just the whites and whisked the cream into them and added the cheese.  

Hold some cheese back for topping the dish, for God’s sake!

I recommend holding back about a third of a cup of pasta water, just in case you need to goose the sauce along.  More on that in a second.

Drain the pasta and then do one of three things:

Return it to the pot, add in the bacon/garlic/shallot situation, pour on the egg/cheese sauce and then stir!  You will hear people talk about the terror of ending up with pasta and scrambled eggs at this point…but it’s never happened to me.

Obviously, I recommend cooking with the wine technique.

My biggest stress is usually just getting the cheese evenly distributed.  It does tend to clump together.  

No, Dori…just keep stirring!

If you need help loosening this sauce up, add in some of that pasta water.  I find that the egg and yolk route tends to need this little trick more that the egg and cream method.  Nevertheless, it’s good to have on hand

Once you’ve got a good coating, transfer the finished dish to your serving bowl.

The second option is to dump everything into your serving bowl and mix there, ya cocky bastards.  One less step.

Or…if you’re a real pro, like Joel is – seriously, watch his show Scraps or his YouTube channel – you add the strained pasta to the fry pan your bacon is in.
Scandal!

Mix the pasta and bacon around before adding in the egg and cheese mixture.  This allows the wet pasta to kinda deglaze the bacon fond adding a lot of flavor to the situation.  And some cool color to the pasta.

I usually make a double batch, so I don’t do this since my fry pan is too small for 2 lbs of pasta.

And I’m not a pro, like Joel.

Now, a single batch allegedly serves 4.  I think it serves one Xtopher, so if I have company, I double up.

Make this now.  You won’t be sorry, and 

You.

Are.

Welcome.

Eat This NOW

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Not just because this happened…did I decide this needed to be subheaded Unicorn Edition.  But also because I fin my unlikely group of attendees at the situationally Friday Monday Night Supper Club to be unique in so many ways that they are unicorns in their own right.

I considered subheading this Full House as a cute entendres about the two married, gay and (most rare, at least in PDX) monogamous gay men and the three single gay men that seem to be the last three gay men in Portland that not only believe being single and feeding your libido a steady stream of strangers is not the apex of the human relationship condition, but also possibly the last three capable of actually entering into a relationship as an equal.

A full house, if you will, for all you card players out there.

Plus, five grown men and one torbi with an oversized catitude is literally a full house in my little condo.I joked about Myrtle being my typical Friday night date, but when The Canadian and The Cajun arrived, I dispatched The Silver Fox to bring them up and Myrtle made herself comfy at the bar.  

I originally called this monthly-ish gathering of friends Monday Night Supper Club because I hosted the inaugural edition selfishly on my Saturday night.  Since then, my friends have moved it once to Saturday to accommodate my schedule changing and then it bounced to Fridays because people do shit on the weekends in summer, like leave town.  However, the moniker hasn’t changed, although Diezel was kicking no around an acronym he liked for a while, but between us we never really landed on something that worked, so I still call it MNSC.

Everyone else just calls it “dinner”.

Oh, and now it happens to fall on my Sunday night.  Admittedly, I’m a little sleep deprived as I tap this out on the way to work after squeezing in about 4.5 hours in the rack.  This was after a less than smooth segue from hosting duties to slumber last night.

But I only left one dirty dish in the sink!

Well, one dirty dish and a decanter with about two undrank glasses of wine left in it.

Talk about a Unicorn!

At least in my house.

But, in addition to four bottles of wine, the menu included my go-to carbonara, summer favorite caprese salad – with mozzarella balls and halved cherry tomatoes from mom’s (and dad’s!) garden and a Watergate Salad courtesy of The Cajun’s kitchen that had me unreasonably excited!I didn’t snap a pic of the pasta, once it’s made, it’s eating time not picture taking time!

I love carbonara.

Disputed as it is in the pantheon of real Italian food – some placing it on the same level of authentic Italian as Americano coffee – carbonara is an easy Italian.  No huge prep, no super processy sauce…just simple carb-coma-inducing, hearty goodness that takes little more time to prepare than boiling the pasta.

I like to mis en place before I cook and clean as I go when I cook, this dish is perfect for that!

Dice a shallot and some garlic…”just a hint of garlic!” was a favorite exclamation from the kitchen of my turn of the century neighbor that inspired – or nurtured – my MNSC idea.

Slice some pancetta.

Grate some pecorino.

Poof!  Prep done!

Then it’s just boil the water, put the pancetta on to brown before throwing in the roots while the pasta cooks, separate some eggs and mix them in with the parm – and heavy whipping cream, if you like. 

Once the pasta is drained, throw in the cheese mix and stir it all together with the pancetta and it’s time to eat!

So.

Good.

Which is exactly what company of this caliber deserves!

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Fitfy: 49.8

It’s time for a dry week.

A)  I don’t think I have had one this quarter/year, or at any rate, actually completed one in quite some time.

B)  Fitfy, I realized this morning as I was taking my weekly recycling progress pic to monitor my alcohol consumption, that this blog could also be called “What I’m Drinking” since it seems to be composed of equal parts sweat and booze.

Obviously, sweat and booze would be diametric opposites as far as how they contribute to the physical goal of this blog theme, and I have had a week where I pretty much skipped the gym…so this only seems fair.  Also, beneficial.

That said, here’s the recycling pic from week 49.7.

Not pictured: a growler of beer.  No, wait..two.  But they were shared.  Although, I admit to being the better lubricated of my growler companion (The Silver Fox) and I.

Now, witness the results from this past week – excluding the Monday Night Supper Club wine from last night, since my week seems to be running Sat-Fri.  I know!  It used to be a Friday-Thursday thing.  I’m a procrastinator.  Now, look…I’m publishing Sunday.  Where will it all end?  Also, yes…I know that last night was Saturday, not Monday, but Monday Night Supper Club has moved and I don’t have a set acronym-slash-name for the new night.  Diezel and I are working on it.  

I’ll take two bottles of wine and not quite a six pack as a week over week improvement.  Also, I was too busy/tired to excel at drinking last week.

Ok, enough of the negative – see also:  therapeutic – from last week.  Let’s get on to the exercise portion of this accountability blog.

My work-week was chaotic, to be sure.  But, in all that work mayhem, I still managed to clock 32.7 miles of schlep-walking while at the airport.  I call it schlep-walking since I’m generally pushing a cart or rack of something as I make my frenzied way around PDX between my five locations there.

BTW, for all of you curious about my sleep walking, I can report no further incidents.  But four nights in a row was plenty for this bout.  My sleep walking PR, as best I can attest.

Anyway, schlep-walking gets me a pretty good sweat and heart rate, especially since PDX has got to be the best heated airport ever.  But it’s nothing compared to what I accomplished at the gym this week with my cardio.  I made friends again with my favorite machine, I’ve been steering clear of it while my knee healed – and I’m still a little wary, but I just couldn’t resist.  It’s as close to the ballistic feeling I got from my running workouts, and I need that.  Not just physically, but mentally, too.  That pounding rhythm I experience in running just clears my mind.  Mental shit just bounces off of me when I run, and well, this machine closely emulates that same effect.

There’s barely any time to ogle cute guys working out near me when I use this machine, it focuses me on the goals so much more than the other cardio machines.

But don’t take my word for it.img_1887

800 calories in just under an hour?  Yes, please.  That knocks a bottle-plus out of my recycling bin!

Don’t judge that 2-setting.  I prefer the longer stride – obviously, with these ostrich legs I’ve been given – to the stair stepping motion of the higher 5-setting, but I do mix it up during my workout.  I was so motivated and proud of that 800 calorie burn that I went back the next day for an “or die trying” repeat.

Took a few seconds longer to accomplish, but I pulled it off.  I admit, I was a little distracted by a guy on to my right in the row ahead of me.  But it wasn’t just that he was a HGN (Hot Gay Nerd) but his workout was a bit odd and I was trying to figure out his rhythm.

Outside of those two Festivus-unworthy visits, my week at the gym was pretty lackluster.  I told ya, I was busy at work!  Sheesh.  Let it go.

I did feel the physical and mental changes missing the gym created in me over the course of the week.  To keep them slightly at bay, I did a couple of dumbbell mini workouts at home, just for the little endorphin push.  They even included some ab work, which I desperately need.  I’ve been avoiding my abs as my back pain hasn’t completely subsided and I know I cheat with my back when my abs fatigue.

But, I think my back pain has crossed a line.  Now, instead of my back pain being exacerbated by the cheating I do when working out, I think the pain is equally – if not wholly – due to the overall weakness of my core.  It’s a phys ed catch-22.  My Needle Man has been encouraging strengthening my core, so this week I caved.

Back still hurts.

The last accountability factor from last week is food.  It’s so good!  Why, why must it be so good?  While being busy and drinking less might make one suspect that I ate more emotionally, I have to say…that wasn’t the case.  Sure, I failed to take lunch to work with me last week, but what I ate was slightly better than basic burgers and ‘za.  There’s that, I suppose.  But also, I just ate…less.  Eating more is essentially where that emotional eating takes place.  It’s never more salad.  Maybe salad dressing shots, but not more veggies.  It’s always – and I hate using emotionally charged words like that – but it is always chips and popcorn and crap like that.  Last week, on my one emotional eating evening, I managed to pair my wine with hummus and carrots instead of chips.

So.

There’s.

That.

Less booze, better exercise, less and better food.  I’ll call 49.8 a win.  Now, it’s time to lather, rinse and repeat that bitch.

Off to the gym before dinner at #DanweiCanting with the parentals.

Fitfy: 49.8

Goodbye To Love

When your life is a Carpenters’ song…you know, let’s just say that there are worse things.  Because while the title-slash-theme to this blog entry may seem a little on the morose or even – since it’s me, here – maudlin side, you’ve got to remember that if the Carpenters are going to suddenly be revealed to be the folks responsible for scoring my life, I can also count on being On Top Of The World at some point.  And who’s to say that isn’t now?

So, there is all that.

But lest you think that this is a post about giving up, rest assured it’s not.  Over the last year, I’ve watched people start dating, stop dating, get married, get divorced and face all variety of conflict and joy in between.  Personally, I have had opportunities to participate in dating and romance and have – I think rather objectively – chosen to pass.

I (don’t) Need To Be In Love.

I see people my age dating after divorce following a long term marriage and absolutely loving the experience.  I know.  Dating is a euphoric rush.  I get a little contact high from following their sexploits.

Chrisism.

I think that contact high is enough for me right now.

Goodbye doesn’t have to be forever.

It’s not a statement that comes out of bitterness, I’m just focusing elsewhere.  I know that I had my chance and now it’s time to face my relationship status with the same grace as Hilary faced the tragic 2016 election results.

I had a wonderful relationship experience with Rib a few years back – even though sometimes it feels like it was Only Yesterday – and if that ends up being my final relationship, it’s not a bad note to exit dating on.  I think our time together helped make him the man he was when he met his current boyfriend, and for that, I feel a little pride.  For me, exiting that relationship in the manner that I did, with my eyes wide open, prepared me for the acceptability of being alone.  Even if it’s for the long run and I don’t date again.  And, like Hilary – who may never run for public office again after this past election cycle – went to the Traffic Cone’s inauguration, I would certainly be comfortable going to Rib’s wedding if the invitation ever arose.

So, there’s all that, too.

One of my recently single friends – Diezel – sent me this meme in a text the other day.  

I laughed out loud and told him so.

Of course, this was after a few minutes of thought about where the motivation for this text came from, he could have been standing on a building rooftop for all I knew.  He was pretty blindsided by his boyfriend’s sudden exodus.  While Diezel was thinking We’ve Only Just Begun, The Marine was considering that it was time to end (T)his Masquerade.

And he was kind of – totally not “kind of” but rather, completely – an ass about it, making what should have been a Christmas Song for the couple’s first Christmas together his swan song in the relationship and breaking up with Diezel over the holiday.

Like I said, The Marine was a complete ass in this matter.

So, when contemplating whether to share with Diezel that I had guffawed at his meme while at work – in the middle of a busy airport concourse like a completely crazy person – I also had to consider where he was emotionally.  I know the whole emotional overcorrection that is swearing to never date again.  But I trust Diezel’s emotional depth enough to differentiate between pushing tough feelings down and covering them up with a cast made of sweatpants and pony tails as you make a show of strength out of basically giving up on love versus taking the time one deserves to heal and get back to a place where he is a whole individual again and also not overcorrecting by jumping into a new relationship just to put a temporary salve on the emotional pain of a recent heartbreak.img_1748

My response to him ultimately, was what I try to always be with my friends – especially one that I consider family, like Diezel – respectful and honest and completely Xtopher.

“I know that’s your depression talking, but that’s still friggin’ hilarious.  I lolled.”

Because, when should one pass up an opportunity to paraphrase Under The Tuscan Sun?

Never.

Never is the correct answer, especially when the discussion is centered on relationship pain, as this one certainly was.  But that we could somehow shift gears from appropriate gloom to boy bands…well, like Diezel said in the subsequent texts, “It’s why we are friends.”

True fucking story, Diezel.

While It’s Going To Take Some Time for Diezel to return to his fully functional single self, I saw last night at our MNSC dinner that he was definitely well on his way.  And, no – since I’m busy trying to cram as many Carpenters song titles into this blog post – our meal last night was not Jambalaya.

For me, it’s my birthday.  I know…maudlin and morose timing, but that’s all it is, timing.  As I begin the final year of my fifth decade, I have a lot of other things in my life to focus on this year.  Things that actually define me as an individual, not things that validate my self worth.  That’s where I want to put my energy because it’s never going to be Yesterday Once More.  Those days past are behind me, and while there are always happy memories to reflect back upon, I’m not – and forgive the Bruce Springsteen intrusion here – ready to invest my future happiness in my Glory Days.  I’m forward focused and embracing the future because…

I’ve Only Just Begun, suckers, so watch out.

Goodbye To Love