Down Day

Despite what my brain says, my body is in complete disagreement over whether or not 4 is enough hours of sleep for a night.

Therefore, methinks today will be a down day.

Since I’ve been awake since around 4 AM, I’ve already done my news and social media scrolls. I’ve also dropped Angela off at the garage to get her malfunctioning e-brake fixed. <fingers crossed> I also have had quite an amusing comment thread conversation with another blogger about the state of disrepair that is currently passing for Gay Kulture and had a farewell coffee with the Silver Fox.

That might be the sum total of my accomplishments for the day. Plenty, it would be, too.

You’d actually think I could have gotten Angela into the garage right when they opened at 7, having had three hours by that time to muster myself. But they said “Drop ‘er off anytime between 7 and 9” and I set my target at 8 AM and saw no reason to deviate from that plan, despite my treasonous body’s somnambulistic misbehavior.

Wow. I can’t believe I nailed the spelling of somnambulistic on the first try.

Anyway, this being my life, when I got in the car to drive down to the garage, I hit a fresh surprise. Instead of my “Emergency Brake Malfunction” alert going off, my “Low Tire Pressure” light went off.

It’s good to switch these minor crises up. But the tire pressure issue is a problem for Les Schwab. Potentially…it might just be a factor of temperature, cold night following a hot day. Plus, I can inflate a tire myself.

As a matter of fact, when my consultant asked if there was anything else they should look at, I wanted to tell him I’m due for an oil change, since they can reset the on board computer and Oil Can Henry’s cannot, but the latter is about 40% cheaper, so I can put up with just letting the real mechanics reset the OBC every other oil change.

I also wanted to tell him that I’m getting an intermittent “Low Beam Malfunction” warning for my driver’s side head light. That’s really just punishment for me cheaping out when I had my passenger side headlight replaced a few months back and not doing both at the same time.

That’s Car-ma for ya.

Instead, I just told him

Let’s start with the e-brake and see what you leave in my bank account first.

Surprisingly, that garnered a chuckle.

I really should take these guys some doughnuts one of these days. They’re good folks.

Anyway, I mentally budgeted $500 for this repair – as if that will have any effect on whatever reality is to be. But if they can come in at or under that, then I’ll pull the trigger on the headlight and probably the oil change, too.

We’ll see.

I actually think I really need this down day…for a variety of reasons. I can feel my surliness levels rising – probably because of normal daily frustrations building up and my Low Liquor Level Light mentally going off because I have been drinking less…despite what you might think in a few paragraphs.

Knowing that today would probably be a day off from driving – even though I typically like to do a Wednesday shift, I went out yesterday for a few rides.

It turned into a literal few, too. Even though I went to the can before I got in the car, by the end of the second ride, I was doing a mental pee-pee dance. By the end of the third ride, I was ready to frantically point my car toward home.

Despite that close call, I felt guilty for not finishing my usual 10 rides, so after booting around the house for an hour or so, I went back out to wrap the day up. Aspirationally, I was thinking I’d stretch to 15.

The reality was two. I managed just two more rides before hitting my mental “fuck it” button.

I was still a little crunchy about my earlier rides, after a promising start with a long ride that I picked up about five blocks from home, my next two rides had been 15-20 minute pick ups. Neither of those rides was longer than six minutes, cumulatively they totaled 10 minutes. And no one was tipping.

The second shot at driving was similarly frustrating. Although, for a less surprising reason: traffic. I’m not sure who the Stupid American was that ruined it for everyone else yesterday, but I know where they lived.

Vantucky.

Sometime around 3:00, someone completely fucked up all of the Oregon-tax-dodging, Portland-job-stealing Vancouver folks’ commute home by getting into a wreck on the 205 bridge.

I noticed it during what turned out to be my fifth and final ride of the day when I didn’t get on 205 to get to a hotel by the airport. I knew something was wrong when the navigation app kept me on surface streets all the way there, and I could see that immediately when the app steered me away from the usual airport route.

To be clear, it’s not unusual for GPS to keep me off 84 at that time of day because it’s always a shitshow for the afternoon commute. It’s the crosstown freeway between the 5 and the 205, so everyone that lives on the east side of Portland or Vancouver uses it.

Poorly.

But when I stayed on surface streets – and we’re talking some real backwater roads, not the normal surface street airport routes, I knew I was a focacta situation.

Still, being that close to the airport, I hoped to snag an airport passenger for a ride back into town.

And I got one! A Lux ride, too!

…that was a 52 minute pick up.

Digging a little deeper, it wasn’t the airport passenger I’d been hoping for. It was a Vantuckian who was directly across the river from me – about a 10 minute ride, under normal circumstances.

I’m loathe to reject a ride. It’s not what I’m out there for. But 50+ minutes of sitting in traffic with these folks for what would very likely turn out to be a ride to a convenience store for some smokes for some lazy bastard – seriously, that was my last Vancouver Lux ride…during the snow storm a couple months ago – just wasn’t worth it.

Especially not when it was the last day of the 20% off wine case sale at Gross Out and the two Rosés I’d bought had both passed muster with The Fox. And I was just a few blocks away from a Grocery Outlet!

So I declined the ride and went and bought a case of each. I got both cases for a total of $75, and that should set us up for our Rosé On The Roof into, if not through, June.

Don’t think of it as “spending $75”, spin it as “saving $220″!

And if Angela’s repair comes in at $220, I promise you I will not be the least bit surprised…because that’s just about how weird my life is.

Down Day

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

As in, very.

Case in point, I just finished watching all six seasons of Grimm. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 forty-five minute episodes.

For.

The.

First.

Time.

I feel like I really fell down as a Portlander. I definitely fell down as an extra on the show.

When I started watching, I recollected that I’d been on the show 2-3 times. As my viewing progressed, I changed that tally to four.

Only one made the final cut.

Although, honorable mention for this close call…

Dishonorable mention for me gushing later about the cute guy in the scene with me – that I thought was also a background actor. It was David Guintoli – I’m sure I spelled that wrong – aka: the Grimm hizzownself. Side note, I also infamously gushed to the Silver Fox about this cute guy at the gym, a couple of times I think, before he told me in an incredulous tone that that was Sasha Roiz.

<blank stare>

From Grimm!

He completely missed my point, of course. I don’t usually like tall guys. This moment of attraction was growth for me!

Everthemess…

The other two “castings” I booked, I never made it out of the holding area. Whatevs, still got paid, suckas!

I didn’t spend a lot of time giving the show 100% of my attention. Like I said, very busy. I had social media to scroll, Words With Friends that needed dominating and, I dunno…I had to multitask to make sure I had time to drink and occasionally get stoned.

Shut up, it’s a pandemic.

But most of the time I was either falling in love with the scenery of my hometown or picking apart why they would use street names as a point of reference for the wrong part of town. Or why they wouldn’t consistently use real street names or manufactured names…that was a conundrum.

Plus, for the first several years, an abandoned US Customs Building in my neighborhood was used as the Police HQ.

The photo where I’m just out of the frame, behind a column? Yeah, that was the interior of the precinct.

Except…by that season, the Customs House had been bought by this lil outfit called WeWork and the set had to be rebuilt over in the NW Industrial District. Pretty impressive that they could replicate the set do exactly that viewers were none the wiser. I actually drove by that old filming location out at Guilds Lake – there’s no lake, FYI – today while picking up a ride. I guess you can thank Lyft for finally getting this post onto the blogosphere.

I also drive by Nick and Juliette’s house several times a week. It’s weird to think that I never knew that was their “home” until just last month.

It’s funny how many scenes took place in my little part of Portland, the North Park Blocks. In addition to the Customs House, I noticed several other random scenes.

Sometimes the scene of a murdered person being discovered. Take, for instance, this “Who Wore It Best” moment.

Seriously, it was me.

…as evidenced by my unbathed/pre-spin class looks and the ability to stand alone in front of such an iconic piece of neon.

You shoulda seen me after that spin class, though. The Filipina Fox really kicked me keister for those 45 minutes.

Incidentally, that sign is gone now. The company – a shared office space, ironically, since it sits across the park from the Customs House/WeWork building – has closed up and took their sign with them.

Ergo, now I default to “playing” just to be safe.

Other times, it was just an apartment building lobby being repurposed as a storefront.

The shop behind Rosalee – Glyph, as it was known back then – is the infamous F&B cafe, where I like to go and write in the mornings during non-end of the world times. Right around the corner is the world famous (to me) Big Legrowlski.

Of course, this was also an opportunity to nostalgically appreciate old haunts that have been gentrified the fuck out of existence, as Portland grows. Places like the Overlook Restaurant.

Which is now – wait for it – an apartment building. But back in the days I called North Portland home, it was a place Sacha and I spent many a dinner with his parents.

Good memories.

The show turned out to be pretty good brain candy. I’m glad I finally made the time in my very busy schedule to watch it.

And it only took a global pandemic.

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

Update: The Green Loop

Ok, A) whenever I fat finger “loop” as “llop”, my damn phone tries to autocorrect it to “LLAP”. For any of you non-Star Trek fans, that’s the shorthand for Spock’s famous farewell, “Live long and prosper”.

I guess I type that a lot?

Anyway. Some interesting developments in the Green Loop relative to my recent post on the subject.

2) You can imagine how much I enjoy being right. It feels good! Not that any Trump supporters who read this would understand that feeling.

Heck, even being mostly right or close enough feels good. And again, those Trumpsters would be left out in the cold on this one, too – blowing a 50/50 shot at being right is nothing to brag about.

Me, on the other hand: I speculated that the city should consider closing off my side street, Flanders, between 8th and Broadway versus putting in a stop light. This morning I saw this:

Instead of closing Flanders off between 8th and Broadway, they closed it off between Park and 8th. It does make sense, being those two streets frame the North Park Blocks, also giving my street its name.

I’m just saying, my way saved the city having to buy and install a new set of stoplights. I guess they were already on order or something.

But, I was close!

Lastly, C) looks like this is bound to remain a three out of four-way stop for a bit:

I love how the city can install planters on a Saturday, but not stop signs.

I know you were dying for an update. There’s the latest.

Update: The Green Loop

Step Aside Green Mile

Stephen King and Tom Hanks gave us The Green Mile back in ’99.

A movie about death row or something. Who can remember that far back? But there was something about a bunch of flies at one point, that I do remember, but it just casts more confusion over the premise for me.

Not to be outdone in the confusion or green departments, Portland has the Green Loop. Or, we will have. Currently, it’s a work in progress…and no one really knows what the fuck it actually is – so, yay! More confusion.

Here’s what I can tell you: it’s intended to make the core of the city more walkable and cyclist friendly – and ask any cyclist and they’ll tell you, they fuckin’ deserve this.

Sidebar: You know the old joke about Harvard grads? The one that was co-opted by Vegans? Or about Vegans…it goes like this –

How do you know someone went to Harvard?
Don’t worry, they’ll fucking tell you.
Truth.

Well, if you think that’s obnoxious, talk to a Portland cyclist.

The worst.

For as much of a superiority and savior complex as they have, I’d expect the planet to actually have been saved by this point.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Green Loop is a 6 mile circle around downtown that is a part of the city planner’s Central City 2035 plan. It passes by many of our city’s most famous or notable features – including Powell’s City of Books, the North and South Park Blocks, Portland Art Museum, the Eastbank, crossing over the Willamette River and back, yada-yada-yada – you really see the town. In the five years since its launch, we are nearing completion on two pedestrian/cycling bridges over the 84 and 405 freeways and have had quite an ongoing dustup between the city planning folks and my snotty neighbors about a 29 story condo/hotel project that would sit on Flanders Street, which is a big part of the Green Loop.

Doncha just love drama?

My neighbors think adding in a “taxi zone” in front of the hotel – like you do – would be a hazard to the pedestrians and cyclists using the Loop that would run right in front of the hotel.

They’re right of course. However, in a taxi vs. cyclist face off, I’m betting on the cyclist.

The thing is, this was their second argument against the project. The first was that this sliver style building would destroy one of the last few remaining centuries old trees in the Pearl neighborhood.

The city poo-pooed that argument, pretty ballsy given the word green is actually in the name of this initiative and here we are, condoning tearing down historic greenery…if trees can be referred to as historic. I dunno.

Undeterred, my neighbors invoked cyclist safety. But, because everyone has really had it about up to here <stretches arm out over head> with cyclists and their entitlement, the city shot down that argument, as well.

Now, they’re on to their third yeahbut and they are frankly starting to look a bit like rejection junkies. This new argument? That 29 stories is out of scale with the surrounding blocks.

Ok, that’s not a bad argument. Except, where was it when this was happening?

On the opposite corner from this proposed hotel/condo is The Casey. This precious metal LEED certified 16 story condo that’s just fine with my swanky neighbors. But, because of the city’s need for housing density, the height limits have been raised in recent years, and who wants to guess that The Casey came in just under the old height limits just like this new project comes in just a tad under the current 290 foot height limit for the area?

When The Casey went up, the next highest building was a six story co-op. You’d think building a mid-rise condo that is about two and a half times its height would have ruffled some feathers.

But it didn’t.

And this new project isn’t even twice the height of The Casey, so I bet the city is gonna tell these desperate housebitches to go pound sand.

By the way, here’s a construction pic from The Casey, featuring the tree at the center of the drama.

Honestly, I was prepared to laugh my ass off after the recent “snow troubles” here that downed a significant number of branches and trees. But this stalwart deciduous bastard is still standing.

For now.

Anyway…I mention all this as backstory for the Silver Fox’s recent conniption during his recent visit. He’d come home for a procedure and we were having a last supper type outing for fish and chips the night before. As we pull onto Broadway from Flanders, he points out that the city is adding in a four-way stop light, which he dramatically declared unnecessary.

It’s probably for the Green Loop.

My dispassionate tone – think Morgan Freeman saying “I don’t give a shit” – had the opposite effect. Instead of following my lead and calming down, The Fox turned apoplectic and started counting off existing stop lights at the cross streets on Broadway.

There’s one!

And another!

And another up there!

And here’s another one!

Not to mention Burnside!

How many is that? Five?!? So that’ll be six stop lights…we don’t need that!

Don’t forget the Glisan intersection.

I don’t know why I felt the need to poke the bear here. I guess that’s just one of the benefits of being my friend.

So, seven?!? There’s going to be a light at every intersection between the Broadway Bridge and Burnside!

I just looked at him, blankly. Like, what did he expect me to say? It probably wasn’t

Personally, I think they should just close Flanders off to cars from Broadway. It’s not like the few cars traveling that block couldn’t go around.

Sometimes I’m just a complete turd.

But other times, karma gives me a stern fucking over for all the fucking with my friends endure from me.

The next day as I was coming home, I noticed a new stop sign on 9th St. I say “noticed”, but I really mean, “screeched to a halt, narrowly missing the car in front of me that had stopped unexpectedly”.

What fresh hell…?!? Great, another idiot that yields his right of way needlessly.

And just as I was about to deploy a one-fingered salute, I saw it. A new stop sign. So, the city had a mind to turn Flanders and 9th into a four-way stop instead of a two-way. Thinking back to the day before, I chuckled at The Fox’s near-stroke-inducing mania over the stoplight at Flanders and Broadway.

Then I thought of how this would affect my usual cruise around the corner from 9th to Flanders as I return home. Usually, I park in the first spot on the corner of Flanders and Park, then just walk down to my front door in the middle of Park…yes, avenue. But it ain’t fancy.

The Silver Fox likes that I park there because he can keep tabs on me from his living room window when he’s in residence. I like it because it’s the one stretch of street in my neighborhood without trees overhead; meaning, no tree debris or crow shit.

Then I decide that of course this needs to be a blog, because it’s hilarious that The Fox and I can be such good friends when the things that send him sideways, I usually don’t give a damn about. And I’m sure the opposite applies, too.

So, I go out to take a picture of the new traffic controls…and then I see it.

What the hell kind of city has a three-way stop at an intersection where both streets have two-way traffic?!?

Oy.

Walking back to my apartment, I notice something else weird. While I parked in my usual spot, suddenly I seem to also have parked between a stop sign and a sign that says No Parking.Being the generally law abiding citizen that I am, I moved my car back a spot to be in compliance with the new signage.

Ok, truth be told, I briefly lost my shit and then I moved Angela back a space.

The moral of this story?

I dunno. I’m sure there’s an applicable Bible parable, but the long and short of it is that I’ve turned into my NIMBY neighbors.

Being the poorest person in the Pearl, I’m sure I’ll recover my plebeian senses soon enough…

Step Aside Green Mile

Lockdown 2.0

Welp. Here we are, it’s round two of stay at home orders here in Oregon.

Two weeks for the state and it’s looking like Portland’s home county – Multnomah – will get a bonus two weeks. Here in Portland/MultCo, we’ve been running about 1/4 of the daily cases for the entire state. Our ICU beds are at over 80% capacity, although in our defense there, we do have either the lowest or damn near lowest inventories of ICU beds in the country on a x/1000 residents basis…

Through that lens, I’d say we deserve the extra two weeks. No, we need the extra two weeks.

Looking at it through the Stupid Americans lens, I’m curious how we will execute the extra two weeks of isolation with the rest of the state resuming its running around like COVIDiots. Ok, we’ve been hit pretty lightly by COVID compared to the rest of the country, but still, Portland proper touches three counties: Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington. How does this compliance pep talk go?

Governor Brown: Ok, everyone but Multnomah county residents can resume Phase 1 or 2 activities, but stay out of Multnomah county unless you live there!

Oregonians: It’s fine, we’ll wear masks if we have to go to Portland!

GB: Wait. Weren’t you wearing masks this whole time?

Oregonians: Well…<looks nervously at Clackamas county>

GB: I’m waiting. <taps shoe>

Oregonians: You’re looking for a “yes” here, right?

GB: …

Nothing has made me more nervous than having rides in east county or Clackamas – with the higher population of morons Trump supporters that live there. Indeed, it’s where the Trump Trucks staged prior to running amok around town waving guns, flying Trump, Back the Blue, Confederate and other racist flags from their trucks while spraying onlookers with bear spray and indiscriminately firing paint balls.

I keep thinking about that wall…I know a decent alternate location.

Anyway, knowing we’d be in lockdown again, with restaurants back to takeout service only, bars and gyms completely shut…I prepared. Once again, I did not run out and stock up on Crapping Paper, nor did I hoard food stocks. Although, I’d found stocking up on my go-to soda difficult. The local grocers usually have Buy x/Get x sales three weeks out of the month, so if I look around, I can stock up on Coke Zero (take that, V!) for a month at a time on the cheap. Not this time. After checking three stores close to me and finding them out of stock, I had to fall back to Diet Coke.

Optimistically or stubbornly, I only got one 12 pack. You decide. Of course, then I come home and settle into the couch to watch both Deadpool movies, binge some SNL, watch movies made in/around Portland (ugh, that means Twilight, too) and play Words With Friends over the next month. Only to be trolled by the WWF ad algorithm. Here I am, ready to ring the alarm about a local shortage of Coke Zero and I’m getting ads like this on WWF.

Bastards.

But I did avail myself to my local watering hole returning to beer delivery. Big Legrowlski is doing $10 crowlers (32 Oz filled on site cans) of their best of Oregon beer taps again. Two crowler minimum. Of course, I got Pallet Jack!

Well, two.

I joked and told the owner I wasn’t stocking up, I was getting one for each hand!

They kept the 22 Oz bottle of another of Oregon’s best – which I liberated from the Silver Fox’s fridge last time I collected his mail – company. Honestly, I thought they wouldn’t last the night when I picked them up last Tuesday.

I’ve surprised myself, though. One on Wednesday night. The second last night (Saturday) with my pizza night. Both nights, I expected to deplete my stock. You know what, though? That pilfered 22 Oz bottle of Breakside is still literally chilling in the fridge.

Yay, moderation!

But I really did intend to support Big Legrowlski with a 2x/week order, so I’d best get busy getting back to form. Or I could be perfectly content drinking less.

I did supplement my first order with the possibly limited edition Big Legrowlski face mask!

I hope The Dude abides. He didn’t seem too put out by my current favorite mask when I visited a few weeks back.

Still, now I can suck up to The Dude when I pick up next week’s order, right? I washed the BL mask before using it the first time. I gotta say, it felt like a Speedo for my face! It’s so sleek. Maybe I’ll save it for special occasions. Regardless, it does increase my mask inventory by 25%, so now I have more options when a couple are in the wash.

Not that I’m going anywhere anytime soon, but I’ve got a “Little Black Mask”, now…just in case I get invited anywhere formal once we are released from Lockdown 2.0, so there’s that.

Plus, beer delivery! Ok, just beer, I guess, since I pick it up.

Lockdown 2.0

Snoop-date

Ok, I’m far more a Martha Stewart than a Snoop Dog. Still, I figured an update on my subbing in a Weed Cocktail in lieu of beer or wine was needed.

In case you missed it – or can’t/won’t click the embedded link – at the end of August, I ventured into my neighborhood weed shop. It was on the advice of a passenger, who I had picked up at work and taken to her home.

Her work?

Budtender.

I’d been complaining about how weed was taboo when I was in school and that had caused it to never really become a part of my work detox routine.

The syzzurp was her recommendation. The bottle I bought has 25 doses, but I’m only taking a half dose in my weedtini so I’m only just now getting to the bottom of my first $55 bottle.

September wasn’t the model Dry Month, but it was definitely arid.

Going into September, I could recall one lockdown night that didn’t involve a drink or more. In September, my daily drinking went to a mere six occurrences. That doesn’t mean I was sucking down a syzzurp nightcap before bed those other nights, either.

That was a great realization. I wasn’t trading one habit for another, I was changing my ritual.

But on those nights I did partake of my new relaxation inclination?

Ten hours of sleep.

It’s leveling out closer to 8 hours, about as many weeks into this experiment. I’ll take that result.

Interestingly enough, regardless of how many hours of sleep I get off my W&T (weed & tonic), I’m amused to discover that I usually awake in the same position I went to sleep in.

It’s a phenomenon called Coffin Sleep, which is dark, but apt. I didn’t initially realize this was happening. But as my better sleep led to waking up later and that led to going to bed later…it became obvious that it was happening.

Mistress Myrtle gets the credit.

She would still retire at a respectable hour.

Me? I may drive until midnight or even 1 AM, because those rides just keep coming in. That’s so strange to experience, but another story.

I come home, maybe have a snack and a bubble water while watching an episode of whatever binge I’m currently passing time with. In September, that was still X-Files – there were 11 seasons and two movies, after all.

This month, I’m working my way through Ally McBeal. So I’ll have my snack and watch an episode. Make my Snoop-hattan and sip it during the second and then either turn in or watch a third episode while the syzzurp kicks in.

At worst, I’m a little head high when I head to bed. Usually, I’m just very heavy lidded.

The reason Myrt gets credit for me realizing I’d been sleeping coffin sleep deep is that when she went to bed ahead of me, she picked her spot on the bed for the night. When I wanted to get in, I had to fold in around her, which led to some strange bent spoon type sleeping positions. When I would wake up in a pike position or looking like the letter K in sign language, I figured it out.

Damn alpha cat.

Even though the positioning might be awkward, it never takes longer than 5 minutes to fall asleep. And that’s a great 5 minutes, too.

It’s like my body just lets go. It’s the most relaxed I feel all day. My body just coalesces into itself. I know where my arms and legs are located, but where they touch each other, I don’t know where each ends or begins.

It’s amazing.

On nights where I don’t coffin sleep, I might still wake up to pee a few hours after bed. Those bouts were fewer and farther in between than the prior six months of it being a nightly occurrence.

But those were the nights I learned about the body high that came with this product!

I think I should get a Nest security system just to watch the video of my nocturnal not so jaunty jaunts to the loo after a few hours of weed napping the night away. I imagine I’m about as graceful as Frankenstein out on a somnambulistic stroll.

When I get to the can, I’ve got to hold on to the wall as I squat so I don’t fall over or miss. I know that standing is a non-option for these episodes.

And then, <poof> right back to sleep.

The only real downside I have experienced – and it may not even be related – are my dreams.

Specifically, the snake dreams.

Snakes are not something I find not terrifying. Having them in my dreams was a very infrequent occurrence, pre-weedtini. I’m encountering them in my unconscious at least once a week now, so that’s quite an uptick.

The truly strange thing is that they are just there. Not doing anything scary, just being all snake-y. They might just be chilling somewhere on the sidelines of the dream. Occasionally, they have been cruising around the room I’m in in the dream. Once they were slithering up my body while I dreamed that I was sleeping in my bed.

Then there was the dream where I woke up in my dream to find my left leg inside a snake’s mouth and the snake just kinda looking at me with an expression that was somewhere between “What?” and “Hey Buddy, a little help here?”

Generally, I still prefer my dreams to lack a specific slither. But I’m not inclined to sub alcohol back into my relaxation routine as long as this is an option!

Snoop-date

RIP: The Middle Ground

Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

For democracy in America.

Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

Dead.

(My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

As a Democrat.

As an American.

And even as an adult.

Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

Still.

As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

Drunk!

That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

Ask me in 28 days.

As for last night?

As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

  1. Vote for Trump
  2. Don’t vote
  3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    I’m Not Dead

    …just very badly burned…out.

    I guess that’s what you could call it.

    I hear people referring to COVID-Fatigue or Lockdown Fatigue. Maybe this is a little bit of that?

    Maybe I should do what the cool kids all seem to do and self-diagnose with Anxiety? Nah, I’m sure it’s not that…the 20-teens version of Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Which I guess is no longer a syndrome but a virus from the herpes family, believe it or not. Who knew that would end up being a real thing? Suddenly, though, I see how that could have spread as widely as it allegedly did among self-diagnosticians.

    No.

    Not dead.

    Not anxious.

    Just…quiet.

    I hope you enjoyed the respite from my bullshit.

    Self-effacing, but make it poetry.

    Anyway, in my self-imposed solitude, I’ve been getting out of bed for several hours each day. Which is good. Most days for a few hours of driving, that affords me some easy, no muss-no fuss socializing during the week.

    But I’ve also been sneaking out – under cover of darkness, for the most part…for blobvious reasons – to run a few times a week. This will be week three of that endeavor, and while it’s certainly humbling, it feels good.

    Ish.

    Notice, if you will, that no one *liked* my activities. I can tell you that I pretty much felt the same.

    Because this is me, I have some observations after my inaugural return:

    First, ow. I need new shoes. I meant to run yesterday to kick off the week – even though my brain told me that it was probably a bad idea: running consecutive days – but I got stuck in an eight hour drive hole after heading out to catch a ride in a bonus zone that just happened to land on me like a house on a wicked witch.

    Starting off innocently enough with what turned out to be a $50 24-minute ride…poof…eight hours went by like nothing. My ass didn’t even really complain, which is something it usually starts doing at around three hours normally. I blame it on my gluteus minimus getting a lil swole from running.

    Second, in a fit of what I know now to have been prescience, I woke up with a complaining ACL on my left side. You may or may not recall something which I certainly try to forget, which is my doctor retiring me from running a few – seven is “a few”, right? – years back after I fractured my tibia while training you run a marathon. Well, it took two more fractures – but c’mon, they were just micro fractures, who takes those seriously? – before I believed him. Now, seven years and about 30 pounds later, I’m revisiting the advice. Tempering my activity with a return to shorter distances, a cushiony track versus asphalt roadways and a shockingly low level of endurance that puts me in a run a half lap/walk a half lap cadence…hence the double-digit pace. So if a bit of whining from an ACL is the damage, I’m willing to pop an ibuprofen and push on…tomorrow.

    And, third and especially because it’s me, during one of my late night wheezes runs, there was a photo shoot going on in the field inside the track.

    Picture it: a perfectly dark night and a 10×10 square of the field exploding with lights set up in what I initially thought was a trap that caught a shirtless, well-oiled musclebound specimen of male pulchritude. You might wonder what kind of idiot would wander into such an obvious trap. Clearly, a muscle head, but to his credit, they did obscure the trap with several smoke machines.

    The aesthetic perils of running on the UnderArmor track. Another reason for my choice to run at night. Seriously, though, this being 2020, I shouldn’t assume he was doing a marketing shoot for UnderArmor – it could have been for his Instagram page for all I know!

    So, yeah…running. Standby on how that goes. My current goal is 2x/week until I can comfortably run a full lap consistently. This far, I’ve managed that twice, both laps resulted in an internal argument about whether my struggle was because I was that out of shape, had COVID or if this was a post-COVID long-term side effect.

    My psyche is a psychotic place. Still, I’m betting it’s option three…

    The last year or so, I’ve been commenting that I only really have three activity pillars in my daily life – aside from my number one pastime, socializing. That may sound like I’m either not living a very full existence or that I’m pretty low-functioning, since I usually follow that up with “I can really only succeed at two of the three pillars each day”.

    Work – which nowadays consists solely of my Lyft driving. It’s a definitely struggle to make ends meet, more fail than win. But I’m really not sure that a return to 50+ hour professional workweeks is in my future. It’s something I need to work out in therapy, I know. I’m not able to objectively determine if I e left my last posts for legitimate reasons. My friends and family will tell me that I had valid grounds, but I don’t know if that makes us all smart or them loyal. Neither is bad, but I need an outside diagnosis opinion.

    Exercise – which has been the first of the three to be sacrificed, obviously.

    Writing – and if you think I’ve been eschewing my blog for working on a book, allow me to dis you from that illusion. I mean, I’m kind of joking, but the reality is…no.

    So, on that note, let me wrap up with an update on my creative endeavors.

    I’ve got a first draft of a WIP sitting on my laptop waiting for edits that I’d wanted complete by April. Alas. I’ve also decided to pull my second novel off of Amazon to rework it. At 550 pages, my initial impulse was to split it in two. The feedback I got from a beta reader and a couple of folks that bought it early on was that it was fine at that length. However, the costs of self-publishing a book that size puts a hefty $17.95 price on the book just to make me a buck on the back end. I’ve decided that I’d rather be able to price my books at $9.95 to make them more easily marketable.

    Sidebar: I recently bought a copy of a friend’s book – called Gay and Tired – in a show of support for a fellow writer. Like my goal, his was priced at $10, so I figured it was an easy show of support. It’s sixty pages. It better be the missing chapter of either the Kama Sutra or How to Make People and Influence Friends (wait, that doesn’t sound right) for that price. But suddenly, my 300-ish page books for that same price seem pretty much like a steal. My initial surprise at the shortness made me a little…conflicted, so I’ve yet to read it.

    At $9.95, my royalty is about a buck – which is why my initial novel was priced at $12.95, I hoped it would be read and a potential income stream. However, I would prefer to have my story read more than build an actual income stream, which is why I decided to split book two into books two and three. There’s a super logical cliffhanger to end up book two and then start book three. And I think it will be an easier purchase impulse to enable at $9.95.

    Now, if I could just cut it down by a couple hundred pages, I could probably apparently make a 600% increase on my royalty.

    Anyway, one of the other things I decided to do for book one was to buy a few author copies to drop into neighborhood lending libraries around town.

    What? Your city doesn’t have neighborhood lending libraries?

    I love this about our lil burg. Of course, since mine has a few racy chapters, I’d probably focus my contribution to libraries in front of houses with gay pride flags hanging on them – there are plenty, trust me – versus those with toddlers standing in the front yard, like in the first picture.

    I don’t expect anything in return for this contribution, it’s just something I wanted to do when I first published the book last year – I just never had the discretionary scratch to do it before. Frankly, I don’t really have it now, but given the social climate of 2020 I felt like it was more important than ever to do it. You see, the impetus for writing this was to show an imperfect slice of life between a group of diverse gay men and the bond of friendship that allows them to lift one another up in life. Given the widening chasm between people today, it seems we may never successfully manage to “meet in the middle” on anything again.

    This decision was brought front and center again for me yesterday as I observed – and then engaged, which I probably shouldn’t do if I’m going to publish under my real name – on a Facebook thread between a local owner of a queer bar and…I dunno, the public. The issue stems from his decision to shutter the bar in the early days of the pandemic. It was a decision that preceded the governor’s own by a few days, but apparently that was a catalyst for a disenchanted group of workers to air their grievances. Without going into the specific drama, this post was his apology and affirmation of support for the queer community.

    The issue I had was how many fringe members of the community decided to shove a spit – not that kind, Diezel – up his ass a absolutely roast him in the comments. One person is a trans individual who took issue with this owners decision to call trans people brave. In a fit of biting the hand that feeds you, this person decided to speak for their entire population by saying they aren’t brave, they’re tired. Tired of fighting for equality and the right to live their lives as their true selves.

    Ok, I get that. I remember when attending gay bars was something I felt was dangerous. My favorite bars didn’t have normal windows – they were either painted over or obscured by shutters to conceal the bar-goers. Even participating in AIDS marches and Pride parades made me feel like I was putting a bullseye on myself. But I knew it was important to have that visibility to usher my community into the mainstream.

    And I felt it was brave.

    Flash forward to the Pulse Massacre and you can imagine how I feel the need for bravery in my community is still important.

    But, no…this trans person needed to provide us with an example of the entitlement of their generation by disagreeing with the praise that was levied upon them. They aren’t brave, they’re tired.

    Ok, maybe they wouldn’t be so tired if they confined their battles to actual enemies instead of making enemies within their own community.

    Just write a fucking book and shut up. Well, not shut up so much as get the impulse to attack your own out of your system. Here’s a title suggestion: Trans and Tired. Imagine how much faster rhinos would have gone extinct if they attacked their own versus just letting poachers take them out. <exasperated eye roll>

    I mean, how immature must the queer community be ~50 years after Stonewall? We don’t exactly ooze maturity based on the most visible components of or ranks. I have been referring to The Gays as Lost Boys for decades.

    Anyway, I feel like that’s veering off into a different post. Suffice to say, if I’m going to write under my own name and speak my Voice of Treason truths on social media, maybe success isn’t something I should hope for. But it did make me glad I had arranged for these author copies to spread around. Maybe someone will read my imperfect story and take note. Given the Facebook post from yesterday, that seems more unlikely than one of The Gays finding it and actually reading it, but it clearly needs to happen.

    Now, to come up with an inscription for the inside flap…

    I’m Not Dead

    Car-ma

    Yeah, so you may recall me saying that things that happen in Angela – my car – are cyclical.

    Sometimes That’s Fun

    The other night I went out for my usual 10 rides. It was like the universe was telling me to go home and get baked.

    My second ride called me to the Broadway Cannabis Collective, which is actually just a couple streets over from my house. I picked up a guy who’d been shopping there after hitting the gym in the Pearl because it was his favorite gym in town. Normally his husband comes with him and drives, but not today – which allowed me to meet him. He was a really nice guy, I mention this because he’s an older gay guy – maybe mid to late 30s – and nice, and accomplished…so I’m supposed to not like him, right? Well, I did. So there.

    I dropped him off at his home on – and I swear I’m not making this up – Gay Street.

    I go about my driverly endeavors, minding my own business and just really feeling good for having met that guy, even if only briefly.

    The night was kind of slow – the first where I didn’t really have a ride waiting when I dropped off my current passenger – and I thought about hanging it up after ride five. It was really nice out and I thought maybe I’d take a walk around the waterfront.

    “Just one more loop around the riverfront corridor”, I told myself. That’s MLK and Broadway flanked by the Burnside and Broadway Bridges. As I cruised down MLK toward the Burnside Bridge, I got a call to pick someone up a few blocks behind me at Oregon’s Finest – another cannabis dispensary.

    That’s not even the cyclical part of my driving shift. I mean, well…kinda. Call it a recurring theme.

    I picked up a young woman who was just getting off work and took her home. We had a great chat along the way about…weed. I sometimes feel bad talking shop with my cannabis industry peeps, but she pointed out that the people that work in weed are definitely passionate about it.

    Two rides later – ride eight – I look at my pick up and I’m getting called back to Oregon’s Finest.

    Weird

    I pick up another young woman finishing up her workday and take her home. Along the way, I tell her about my earlier ride and she wonders which one of her co-workers it was. “I dunno, can’t remember her name. Really nice, though. Orange hair?”

    That did actually – even in Portland – narrow it down for her.

    My last ride of the night – ride ten – was a pick up for a last minute run to the weed shop before closing time.

    Any guesses?

    Broadway Cannabis Collective.

    There’s a damn weed shop on damn near every block in this crossfaded town and 40% of my rides in one day were to two of them.

    Pretty strange occurrence.

    Right up there with the day I picked up a guy to take him to work at Mr Nice Guy. I honestly wasn’t sure if that was a weed shop or an adult book store, but once we arrived I figured it out. As I sat in the driveway, trying to decide whether to go left or right to cruise toward home, I got a ride request.

    Turns out, I was going left…to the other Mr Nice Guy a few miles away to pick up a customer.

    Back to back rides with the same business? That amused the hell out of me.

    But not every coincidence is weed-related.

    Yesterday, for instance, my very first ride was taking a guy home from work. As we drove, we chatted about Portland real estate, because…why not? He interrupts himself to appreciatively comment about a rather fit looking age inappropriate woman. With anime pink hair.

    “Probably a stripper, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” he adds hastily.

    Which segues – courtesy of your favorite Voice of Treason – into the generational differences regarding sex workers. Our generation – his and mine – still has obvious parochial guilt around the subject. Younger generations embrace sex work as an industry.

    But that’s not the point.

    I drop him off with a ride waiting and go pick up this young woman. She drops her bag in the car and apologizes for forgetting her mask before running back into her house to get it.

    Such a nice young lady.

    I ask her where she’s going and she says to the pet store to get a mouse for her snake. Mentally, I drive into a telephone pole, underreacting.

    In reality, I laugh and change the subject.

    “I have to say, you look exactly like your picture.” She’s surprised by this. I tell her that most people don’t even have a pic on their profile, but it’s helpful for me when I’m looking for people on a crowded street. Then I highlight my own short-haired profile picture versus my current shaggy reality.

    “But your hair is even the same color in real life…I wanna say teal?”

    She fusses with her hair and admits that she just touched it up, but in the picture from last year her hair is actually a little faded. We go on talking about how she always wanted to dye her hair that color growing up in LA, but never felt comfortable doing so until she moved to Portland.

    “Portland is weird that way – there’s really just no ‘normal’ here when it comes to style”, I tell her before asking what she did for work.

    stripper.

    I shit you not.

    Back to back stripper talk rides.

    We talk about that for a while and I tell her how much I truly love that stripping is just a normal part of our bar scene versus some taboo, like in the rest of the country. She agreed, having been a stripper in LA she was kind of surprised by the shame factor associated with it there. The seedy locations. The judgment she encountered on the bus if her work bag wasn’t zipped all the way and her work heels showed.

    “Not here, sister. In Portland, it’s weird to be drinking a beer and not have a naked person within three feet!” As we rolled up to the pet store, I thanked her for keeping Portland the right kind of weird. She told me to stop in to Mary’s if I was ever in the neighborhood.

    I live three blocks from Mary’s. Which is actually the oldest strip club in town. Mary herself – well into her 60s – is still known to pop in for a set now and then. On top of the whole “gay” thing, a 60+ stripper is enough to keep a beer at Mary’s pretty low on my to-do list, but now…

    Anyway, those are some examples of fun circles. But that’s not always the case.

    Sometimes That’s Not Fun.

    I’m glad I don’t have many bad rides. Bad, being relative, of course. Mean people or folks behaving inappropriately? Almost never. Out of over 1700 rides in the last 11 months, I think I could count on one hand the truly bad experiences I’ve had.

    I’ve had a couple of sad story rides that could count as “bad”, too.

    The two young ladies I dropped off at a funeral – the people entering the chapel were almost exclusively teenagers.

    The woman whose long term boyfriend (and local concert promoter) had died prematurely the night before.

    And this nice Black woman from the other night and her teenaged grandson. She was on her way home after spending a few days watching after her grandkids so their mother could help make arrangements for an elderly relative’s funeral.

    It turns out, that death had been expected, however the day after that older family member died, two others had been killed in a car accident. A mother and her son.

    I’d heard about that wreck. It was bad. The car caught fire after the wreck and both driver and passenger ended up dying.

    It wasn’t until this grandmother got in my car that I understood how terrible the accident was. But it was heartwarming to hear about how the family pulled together to take care of one another. The grandson was actually going to spend a few days with grandma now that his mom was back home and able to take care of his younger sibling.

    Also, his aunt was going to do his braids…still, that just seemed like the family taking care of each other in a “life goes on” type of way.

    The circle here?

    In what would end up being my final ride of the night, I was taking a hospital worker from OHSU high up on a hilltop in southwest Portland to her home in deep southeast. Like around 122nd. It was just about 11 PM and we were waiting to turn onto 122nd, her home was just a few hundred feet away.

    The lights – I think, this is where I’m every stereotype of a bad eyewitness – had just changed to allow the cross street turn lanes the right of way. A car turning onto 122nd from the other direction was just crossing the center of the intersection when a car ran the red light on 122nd. They must have been going 50 MPH or more in a 40 MPH zone. They hit the rear drivers side of the car hard enough to knock it backward and across two lanes of traffic, narrowly missing a pedestrian when it landed on the corner diagonal from me. The speeding vehicle ended up in the gas station even further behind it pointed in the wrong direction.

    I’d been – me being me – chattering away with my passenger when all of this happened 30-ish feet away from us. It was stunning, to put it mildly. It looked like the car that got hit only had a driver in it, but they weren’t moving. My passenger wanted to go home, so after waiting to make sure people were calling 911, I went on.

    Coming back down 122nd a few minutes later, the intersection was filled with police cars – luckily they weren’t all down at the Justice Center, which had been the “story” from PPB a few days prior – and emergency vehicles. Still a little shaken up by the accident I’d witnessed, I carefully executed a left-hand turn at the intersection, switched off my app and pointed Angela toward home.

    Like I said, there’s not many bad stories or circles from my time driving…but I probably should have saved that stripper story for the end, eh?

    Car-ma

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

    Seriously, last week was quite a year.

    I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

    Black Sheep Bro persisted in his attempts to have a conversation at me about why I should gratefully accept his return to the family dynamic. Reinforcing why I’d rather he leave me out of his notion of family.

    Coronavirus.

    Politics.

    Social Justice.

    Perhaps you’ve read something about Trunt treating Portland like his personal Operation Urgent Fury resulting more in Pinochet-esque kidnappings than anything resembling quelling the city’s outcry for justice.

    The hits just kept on coming.

    It was a tough week – I actually put myself in FaceBook Jail for a couple days just to slow the swirl.

    On top of that, multiple folks reached out to me – either checking in or chiding – because I hadn’t been posting entries on my blog.

    But instead of rehashing the long, I thought I’d recap the strange of the last week. Something lighthearted – just what Doctor Galby ordered.

    Also, “Cocktail, please!”

    After another round of self isolating, I went back to my Lyft driving last week. Probably another reason recent days had begun to feel so long and unending – not much company compared to when I drive folks around, chatting their ears off.

    The result?

    For my efforts, I was rewarded with both mask acne on the bridge of my nose and something like a pimple or a cyst or simply ridiculously painful in my ear pit where the upper strap of my mask looped over the top of my ear. Luckily, that second petty trauma is now just a bunch of dry skin working its way off my body. That mask acne, though…the outbreak on the bridge of my nose may be gone, but my swampy complexion lingers on.

    I’m not kidding – that mask has been like a sauna for my face. And it just wicks from under my mask, too, crawling up my face until even my forehead is a thick, greasy mess.

    “Hello, Puberty? Yes, I’d like to return this skin, please.”

    For whatever reason, there were two consecutive days during my isolation that I woke up at around 4 AM and struggled to get back to sleep. Even though I proactively fed Myrtle breakfast so she wouldn’t go unattended to, she’d still come into the bedroom with some sad little “meows” around 9. Since she didn’t need anything, I chose to interpret her vocalizations as concern.

    On the second day, unsure whether I’d fallen back to sleep or not and not wanting to look at my phone and risk waking my eyes up, I rolled the other way, toward the window. I pushed an eye out from under my pillow – me sleeping is quite a graceful picture – and squinted one eye open to see if there was daylight coming through the edges of my blinds.

    No sun, just one of Myrtle’s big, green eyeballs. I screamed. I think I involuntarily jerked so hard (not like that, Diezel) that I pulled a muscle (also, not that one, Diezel!).

    For her part, Myrt didn’t run and scurry for the underside of the bed or the living room, like she usually does when she gets startled. She just looked at me with those soulless cat eyes like she was willing me to get out of bed so she could have my warm spot.

    I need to get her a heating pad…

    But I got her back a few days later.

    Well, almost.

    I may have friendly-fired myself with a Dutch Oven a couple times the other night.

    A. Couple. Times.

    I didn’t even eat anything weird, so no idea where my bedtime Chernobyl came from. All I do know is that when I looked around, thinking something along the lines of, “That’s for scaring the shit out of me the other day”…no Myrtle.

    Damn it.

    But after a week-ish that was like an emotional finger trap, I’m glad I could at least still find joy in my own weird awkwardness. I decided to take it easy today. Well, I was hoping to get in a bike ride or urban hike before my Virtual Happy Hour with mom and dad – shit I gotta go get something to drink, the company may be virtual, but the liquor will not be! – at 4. Strangely, I woke up famished. After pulling myself together, I set off for my new favorite food cart for an early lunch.

    Closed.

    Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

    What followed ended up being a nice workaround to not exercising because I was hungry.

    Not bad, considering my day was turning into one of these…

    It’s only a quarter mile to the cart, but the other mile and a half was me mincing around from pod to pod searching for inspiration. I ended up at Charlie’s Deli getting what I think is the best sandwich in Portland: their pastrami on rye, extra mustard.

    And, more bright side – I didn’t even get disappeared while out walking by myself.

    Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and don’t forget…Fuck Trump!

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…