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…

Hey, Hippocrates

Well, I’m sure he never foresaw a future of social media connecting us all. If he had, do you think he would have weighed in?

Instead of “First, do no harm” do you think we would have gotten something like

First, educate thine dumb ass

I thought about sprinkling in a few literallys and figurativelys to that fake quote, but there’s already enough confusion in the world.

Case in point, I’m just wrapping up a 24 hour Facebook detox, and considering another 24 hours.

The impetus?

Not one, but two lengthy comment-versations with a former co-worker about posts they made about both COVID-19 and the economic stimulus package that was working its way through Congress. The biggest challenge here has been weighing my natural desire to “get the last word” versus attempting to help her – I knew I’d blow the gender neutral identity thing sooner or later, so I just abandoned it – understand how dangerous it is to spread inaccurate information.

Fortunately, her friends and followers were there to jump in and start calling me names in order to provide a perfect (and perfectly missed) illustration of my point.

One of the points I took issue with was her assertion that the economic bailout was going to provide $750B in aid to some industry – airline or auto is what’s coming to mind, and I really think it was airlines…but I am still restricting myself access to FB so I can’t verify – on top of their prior and unpaid bailout of…$750B from the 2008 economic crisis.

I mean, you see why I have a problem with this, right?

Just to be clear, I’m not out to call anyone stupid. My point has been to share my knowledge and reason with others. Maybe (definitely) I’m not 💯 right 💯 percent of the time, but I try to live up to my friend BreitBarb’s point that we’re all entitled to our “informed opinion”, particularly when it comes to important things like health and welfare.

Or the politicization of either.

Here’s the deal, even with generous up or down rounding, $750 billion just isn’t an historic bailout number. The closest I can come is the 2008 financial sector bailout. But that was ~$810B all tolled.

Sidebar: Told?

I dunno, I think the most recent information I have seen on that expression came down on the “told” side, but I’m talking math, so “tolled” as a synonym for “tallied” makes sense.

This data is all from doing research I told her I wasn’t going to do because my point wasn’t me being right, it was her being inaccurate. The closest I came before shutting down my FB and walking away was just offering the potential that she had meant millions instead of billions.

But since I wasn’t killing my quaran-time on the Facebook, I started thinking about writing projects and ended up here. Obviously, this is merely a procrastination technique to avoid working on my non-fiction project that needs editing. Still, my blog also provides a type of therapy, so at least it’s partially productive procrastination.

Here’s what I found – and I really kind of focused on airlines, so…allow me that and bear with me.

20-Now

2001

Obviously, neither equals $750 billion by a long fucking shot. That 2001 airline bailout was even adjusted to 2008 dollars, which is when the article was published.

Key point: the source of the 2001 bailout was ProPublica – which is decidedly not Fox News or FB click-bait, so definitely not a valid source of information as far as my friend is concerned.

Basically, in addition to spreading unverified inaccurate information, my former colleague is also unwilling to retract or delete this info. Her best concession basically amounted to a “Yeah, but…” and what we really don’t need while were fighting a virus on a national level is to simultaneously be fighting a case of the yeahbuts.

Interestingly, my reason for clicking on her thread was because – knowing her political leaning – I really wanted to know where she came down on the bailout versus my own thoughts. I just never expected her to add in such wrongness voluntarily.

My issue with the bailout had been how it seemed unfairly weighted in favor of big business over small. As a Portlander, I value my community’s small businesses that help maintain the quirky Portland vibe. Saving them is my focus, so seeing big biz allocated $500B (see? still not $750B) in this package and small biz only allocated $350B seemed unfair. Particularly after the big biz bailout in 2008.

She never really addressed that opinion of mine. She was very busy agreeing that yes, small business needs help but then moved on to how big business – airline or automotive – never paid paid back the 2008 bailout, Obama ruined the healthcare options her special needs son had available to him and that student loan debt should never be forgiven. With nothing but vitriol to support her rant.

I don’t know much about big business not paying their prior stimulus packages back – I actually thought they were pretty good about that, but that’s just a recollection – but I did point out that paid back or not, having used so much of their profits on stock buybacks in the past years de-merited their request for aid now and should move small business to the top of the bailout priority heap. If big business had saved the profits they reinvested in their own stock for a rainy day, maybe they wouldn’t need so much assistance now.

I’m betting that buyback strategy helped minimize their tax burden, but I’m not googling that, so take it as an opinion only. Still, Bloomberg said…

I left the thread thinking that for the day, we’d managed to agree on two things she posted and wildly disagree on two others. But those two things we agreed on were inconsequential topics, like “water is wet”. My other thought was my complete understanding as to why she thinks college debt is unworthy of bailout or forgiveness.

She as much as said that people with degrees go on to earn a bunch of money so they could pay their damn bills. Which is interesting given her qualified support of bailing out big business.

My counterpoint was to concede that I partially understood where she was coming from in regards to student loan debt. However, not all degree program careers have the financial return she was projecting upon them.

My example: teachers.

I’d have thought that – having a special needs son – she would agree with the low pay teachers suffer through after taking on not only Bachelor level degree debt, but in many cases advanced degrees in order to specialize in fields like special needs.

Nah.

After all, if you allow your position to show cracks in its foundation, it’s as good as being wrong. Then the liberals win. Because that’s – I gather – how irrational thinking versus critical thinking works.

Because: game, set and match! Because, because, because!

All the while, I’m thinking I should just unfriend her. Arguing with myself about it, actually. But she’s not a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s quite nice. Just culturally trained to support dogma instead of disposed – through education in disciplines like science and math – to think critically about information she’s presented and arrive at that informed opinion BreitBarb champions.

Flash backward a couple of days to me in isolation watching Instagram stories. A local business owner – and I’m sure in his own mind, influencer – had posted a story about he and his wife taking an outing for grocery supplies.

This was after a story featuring his dog in a diaper running around awkwardly, captioned with an equally awkward “someone’s first period”. Ok, a) probably get your damn dog fixed; and b) if you’re a man, maybe err on the side of never discussing a woman’s reproductive issue publicly. I mean, would you put your daughter’s first period on blast like that?

But, back to grocery shopping!

What could possibly go wrong there, right?

I mean, seriously…not much. Supportive of communicating best practices here in the quaran-times, I am.

My opinion is two-fold: the first is snarky historical Xtopher-ness. Twenty or so years back, even before anti-vaxxers, I posited that hand sanitizer was taking the place of hand washing and shouldn’t. I also tossed out how too much use of hand sanitizer would probably just erode our body’s natural process of developing immunities naturally.

Not that I’m saying this situation would have been prevented. I’m just qualifying – or indicting – my own stance on potentially overcorrecting behaviors.

Case in point:

I watched a clip of he and his wife entering the store with handiwipes and gloves.

I saw a video of them arriving home and setting up a decon area on their back porch. That everything in packages should be wiped down with bleach outside before being tossed inside to the clean area.

Having a “clean hand” and a “dirty hand” for unpacking and handling the groceries once the decon area is established. If you cook, think of how you dredge things before frying them: wet hand, dry hand. If you don’t cook, you’re probably going to die of starvation or malnutrition anyway, so…

I saw them take off their outside shoes before entering the house.

They talked about washing veggies.

I mean, top level…not bad information. My inner-germaphobe appreciated that they were trying to spread good knowledge.

Then my inner germaphobe got into a fight with my recreational hypochondriac.

What about their outside clothes? Can’t germs live on clothes as easily as the bottom of a shoe?

I mean, I’m a little germaphobic, but I still wear my shoes inside. Hell, I’m even laying down on the all weather carpet in my building’s hallway to do crunches during my isolation workouts – I don’t post them on Instagram, but I’m still doing them! – so this shoes off/clothes off/shower germs off approach to leaving and re-entering ones home is overkill unless you’re coming from a hospital.

In.

My.

Non-expert.

Opinion.

That controversy aside, I worried when I saw him demonstrate bringing things into the house that have inner packages.

Think boxes of microwave popcorn.

He specifically mentioned this separate from his “wipe everything down outside” segment because the inner packaging hadn’t been exposed to any contaminants recently. Sure, maybe a worker in the plant it was packaged in had been exposed and/or symptomatic, but that was long enough ago to safely assume any virus in it would now be dead. His videos were to combat bringing live outside germs inside due to recent handling by other potential carriers-slash-shoppers.

Ok. Sure.

Back to inner packages.

We’re going to take them out of the exterior packaging, leave the outer packaging outside and bring the safe, germ-free-ish inner packages into our kitchen.

I’m onboard with what he’s saying.

Not, however, with what he’s doing.

I watch him reach outside and pick up the popcorn box from the decon area, open it and toss the three cello-wrapped snack bags onto his kitchen island.

Got it. Ok. Except

No gloves.

Not that gloves or not is the issue here. Try and open a box of microwave popcorn – while holding it – with one hand. He couldn’t. I watched him use both hands, and since he specifically said he wasn’t bleaching the outer package because he was leaving it outside, gloves or bare handed handling became moot. If he didn’t bleach the outer package, he transferred germs onto the inner package after handling the outer packaging with both hands.

Just kidding, but I think where this virus is concerned, we’re all wearing red shirts, IYGMD.

Regardless of my assumptions as to whether he really did wipe down the outer package before filming this segment or whether we’re assuming worst case scenario germs where none likely exist…the thing that worries me here is the assumption people like my Facebook friend will make.

That I saw it on the internet and therefore it’s a fact.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 and certainly do not employ any critical thinking to assess the factual-ness of what you just saw.

Plus, rules are for other people, I don’t have to wash my hands because my junk ain’t dirty because I showered today, I’m not sick so I can go outside or visit grandma since she’s lonely…

We aren’t all going to die.

But some of us will – a larger number than you or I are probably <cough,cough> Spanish Flu! <cough> willing to consider.

My only certainty in these uncertain times?

Stupid Americans notwithstanding: stupidity is a constant in the universe.

Stay inside, wash your hands and first, do no harm.

Hey, Hippocrates

Lemme Fix This For You…

Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

Hopefully.

I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

Or a shirt.

Either way – pretty low bar.

Here’s the profile:

This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

More specifically, the follow up.

Pls be exciting

If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

Here…

Crappily married

I fixed it.

Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

Couple years younger, too?

I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

So boring, those gyms.

As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

Unless

Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

Those people are exciting!

Lemme Fix This For You…

Going Out Of Business!

Portland Edition.

I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

It’s an 8×11 street grid.

There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

Alas.

Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

Redevelopment

Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

Case in point, The Rodney.

This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

A bigger problem?

The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

Then silently came down.

More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

Then, poof!

Gone.

Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

Then, the rumors came.

Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

There’s that greed again.

That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.

An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

Greed?!?

Perhaps.

Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

Let’s compromise and call it both.

The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

It should.

After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

The rub?

It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

The way to control real estate expense is to move.

It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

For everyone.

It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

But how likely is that?

The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Until then?

I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

Or not approving it.

I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

I think the current situation has proven that.

Going Out Of Business!

Ridiculously Devastated

Rojo the Llama has died.

I can’t believe how sad this has made me. Nor, how utterly surprised I am at the feelings the death of this Weird Portland Icon has created within me. I’ve found myself misting up, on the verge of tears repeatedly today.

He was – and I suspect will be – a part of the tapestry of weirdness that Portland both nurtures and embraces.

The Unipiper.

Voodoo Doughnuts.

PDX Carpet.

The Church Of Elvis.

Rojo.

Rojo was a therapy animal, professionally and famously known as Rojo the Therapy Llama, he made appearances at Portland’s Pride festival, myriad local corporate events, schools, farmers markets, perhaps even a low-grade protest here or there…and was even sighted riding on the local light rail once by mine truly.

I’d read over the last few months of his retirement. In recent days of his upcoming trip to OSU for advanced veterinary care and then this morning learned of his passing from the Filipina Fox via her Instagram Story.

I was absolutely gobsmacked by the news.

Heading immediately to his page, I watched emotional story clips by his “mom” describing his final day.

I saw people posting pics of them wearing their Rojo swag in memorial…so many emotions at the impact he made and his therapeutic legacy.

That legacy will live on. Rojo will be taxidermied and placed at the School for the Blind in Vancouver, Washington where he can continue to make a difference in his own unique way.

Until then, we’ll always have Rojo Cake. Er, doughnuts?

Rest In Peace, you magnificent buck-toothed therapy stud.

Ridiculously Devastated

Point Galby

I mean, point taken.

The Silver Fox pointed out after my post this morning that it’s the first time I’ve posted since he abandoned me – er, left on his six week vacation back on September 16th.

He didn’t specify the year, but it seems like about a decade since he left.

Between that and this insane grind I’ve been on since around the end of July, my routine has been pretty erratic. Hell, even my self care has been off.

Side note: I’ve got to figure out a way to reference these jobs I’m doing in a shorthand format. It’s crazy trying to keep them straight in my own mind. I can’t imagine it’s any easier reading them without much context.

For ease of reading – I hope – I think I’ll refer to them by number, in the chronological order in which they came to me:

Job 1: writing.

Job 2: Peterson’s, aka – the convenience store. Surprisingly not the worst paying at Oregon’s minimum wage of $12.50/hr…see Job 1.

Job 3: the temp HR job, which is looking pretty good for the temp-to-hire scenario.

Job 4: Lyft, aka – The Verb.

Job 5: Postmates.

Side note, squared: I’ve got to divest myself of a job or two. The thing is, I tried resigning from Job 2 three weeks ago and it was somehow rejected. There was a deal that lasted a week until I got a “Can you pick up an extra day?” Luckily, that ended up being unnecessary, but I’ll admit that I’m passively trying to get fired now by actively disobeying a rule here or there.

So far, no dice.

Anyway, to address the Silver Fox’s point, I have begun doing little mini-workouts over the last few weeks at home. Just two or three times a week, nothing major. There’s a draft called Post in my pipeline that kind of elaborates on that and my In Living Color Jamaican Skit worthy number of jobs…but I started it as part of that game I mentioned playing earlier today. Alas, I “lost” that round and got a ride before I finished it.

So, today I had ended up with a draw in The Game – finished the blog entry after failing my initial mission to retrieve my laptop.

Made $100 in three hours, so let’s really acknowledge that this was a win.

To honor The Fox, I took my self-care up a notch. I addressed the brown thumb situation that is my balcony pot garden.

Calm down, mother. The other kind of pot.

What a friggin’ mess. Such a waste of a summer planting opportunity. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that the only plant out there was Ollie the Olive Tree. The Hens & Chicks and the sedum in the second pic are barely clinging to life and everything else that could be considered as plant life has pulled a Carol Anne and walked toward the damn light.

To that end, I took my hun from this morning and parlayed some of it into a few plants. Honestly, I’d been thinking about it since this morning. My second ride was to drop a guy off at his car, which was parked at the Home Depot.

Ok, here’s how driving frequently goes – and I’ll be honest, the cyclical/coincidental nature makes me question whether the Universe is putting signs in front of me…

Ride 1: dropped Sweatpant Guy at the airport.

Ride 2: took a guy back to his aforementioned car parked at the Home Depot by the airport.

At this point, I start to think,

Aight. It’s gonna be an airport-type day.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Especially on a Saturday, when the traffic isn’t bad. The run only takes 20 minutes and if you get tipped, it’s about a $20 journey.

But then nothing happens.

I had made a comment to my second passenger that maybe I should look at some plants while I was there, but didn’t feel like dropping money on plants at that point. I play The Game all the way across town to the office of Job 3, pick up my laptop and had just stashed it in the back of Pat the Patriot when I get a ping.

From two blocks away.

Which brings us to…

Ride 3: I drop off a young lady at work. She works at Ross on Jantzen Beach – which just so happened to have relocated to the building of a Linens ‘N Things that I used to manage before that company went out of business (no causal relationship, I assure you).

There is also a Home Depot right there. I drive by the Home Depot on the way back to the freeway, but a slow walker crossing the parking lot on The Diagonal pissed me off and I felt like my ire might be toxic to the plants, so I kept driving.

Normally, I’d respect The Diagonal, except: slow walker. And you know when someone sees you and knows they’re pulling a dick move, so I got away from that Bozo.

I’m back on the 5 heading into town, and I start to see tail lights. I decide to get off – of the freeway, Diezel, calm down – and head the rest of the way into town on surface streets. I kinda think it’s hard to get a ping on the freeway, too. It happens, but I’m not crazy about it when it does.

Sure enough, I get a couple blocks and I get a ping.

Back to Jantzen Beach.

Ok, maybe this is the type of day it’s really going to be. Getting yo-yoed all over kingdom come.

Back to the beach I go.

Ride 4: This guy wants to go from Jantzen Beach – as far north in Portland as you can go before hitting the dreaded Vantucky – to Hillsboro. Hillsboro is west of Portland city limits.

About 30 miles west.

Allons-y!

It was a $30 trip, so I’m not complaining.

Turns out, he’s picking up his car, too.

What the fuckity-fuck are you trying to tell me, Universe?!?

Assuming the two Home Depot adjacent trips and the two Fetch the Car trips cancel each other out, I begin to wonder is maybe it’s a Hot Guy Day and maybe the Universe is telling me to get laid.

Since I’m old and fell in love with a rider yesterday – another story – I decide it’s not worth the effort. Plus, I kinda buried the lede earlier…you know what I ended up doing.

I’m actually curious why you’re still here since I ruined the surprise! Hehe.

Then The Fox sends me a message on WhatsApp from Italy about finally posting while he’s gone – which I’m now realizing was a perfect chance for me to ask if he took my book with him if he misses my writing so much, damnit! I hate missing a chance to mess with that man.

Anyway, I went and used my Driving For Dollars money and bought some plants.

Still some empty pots, but it’s a start! And Ollie looks much happier with some friends.

You’re welcome, Neighbors and Hotel Guests!

Point Galby

A.W.O.L.

It’s kind of just like me to go from one extreme to another.

I’ll wait for you to collect yourself after that announcement.

In other world-shaking news, Donald Trump occasionally bends the truth.

In less…surreal news, I’ve arranged my schedule so that I work Sunday-Friday days between my HR gig and my convenience store job. This leaves me evening’s free to drive for the Verb or opt into meal delivery, if I’m feeling the need to generate income but not be social. Either way, I have the freedom to take a night off and I give myself Saturdays off.

Or free at any rate.

While my parking situation isn’t just like my parking situation on weeknights, it’s similar. There’s the option of paying for street parking two hours at s time. Or, I can pay to park from 7 am until 7 pm (when Street parking is free) for $7.

You’d think with all those sevens, I’d win the lottery or something, but…no.

This morning, I was slated to opt out of work and park using the $7 option. I even went to bed early, so I’d be up and at ’em by 7. Then I woke up at 130, tosses and turned until 5 and didn’t wake up until 8.

This is life. But, it did solve one awkward problem. My goal was to hit the cafe and write this morning. However, the cafe opens at 9 on Saturday, so I was kind of homeless until then.

Plus, writing is technically a job – sure, it’s my worst paying and I should probably report myself for my flagrant minimum wage violation – but it’s still something I call work. No, not so that I can write off my coffee as a work expense.

Now that I think about it, though…

On top of that little timing complexity, I left my laptop at my office yesterday.

Which brings me to the point of this post – other than to indulge in something I’ve missed doing.

In needing to drive to my office and retrieve my laptop and having missed my discounted day off parking, I decided to play my favorite ride-for-hire game.

Sorry…it still needs a name.

When I need to run an errand: recycling, ATM, picking up a paycheck; I get in my car and turn on my driving app.

Then I see how long it takes to run said errand. Do I accomplish my task or do I get a ride?

Well, this morning, I didn’t even get out of my parking space – I hadn’t even shifted into drive – before I got pinged. From three blocks behind me. It wasn’t one of the nearby hotels, but as I rounded the last corner, I did realize it was the extended stay/corporate housing buildings in the neighborhood.

Looks like I was going to the airport!

Couldn’t be a ride of shame, like I usually get right out of the gate on weekends.

No, the airport.

But waiting on a return ride gave me a chance to write this – another version of that favorite game!

Plus, the guy I picked up was a nice looking young man.

From the UK.

Wearing sweatpants.

As if that wasn’t enough, he tipped before I even got his bags out of the car. Such a nice boy.

A.W.O.L.

The Seaward

My new neighbor moved out of my old unit.

This is the guy who took a month to move in to my old unit at the beginning of the year. I saw him twice and we spoke once.

Yes, he offended me.

Ergo, I nicknamed him The Seaward.

Not because he was always heading for the beach, not that I’d know. It’s a play on words.

Well, a specific word.

The C-Word – in case you needed that spelled out.

And, no. I did not mean it in the cool English slang way.

Anyway, his move out has been as subtle as his move-in. Over the last several months I’ve begun realizing that he just spends very little time at home. My presumption was that he was at his boyfriend’s. But in the past weeks, his patio has been looking less and less like a set from Sanford and Son.

The middle of last week, I noticed some tree debris in the hallway and later noticed that even the planter with his lil shrub in it was gone. Now it’s just the prohibited-but-don’t-let-that-stop-you BBQ and The Seaward’s beach chair left.

In an unguarded moment last weekend, I saw a moving truck outside my building and thought, “Oh boy, new neighbors!” My first thought was that one of the four – of eighteen – units for sale had sold.

Then I caught myself.

The Seaward.

Took a month to move in.

Lasted eight.

The Seaward