Irresolved

Welp, it’s 8:38 on Sunday morning. I’ve been up since 5. 4:30, really – I got up to pee and optimistically tried to sleep more before I had to get up at 6:30 to take the Silver Fox to the airport so he could anon to Tahiti.

8:38 on Sunday morning and I’ve been up since 5.

I’ve read the news.

Exercised.

Showered.

Completed said airport run.

Filled Angela’s tank.

…and called myself a dumb bitch three times. I’m averaging once an hour today. I suspect it’s having nothing to do for the foreseeable hours remaining in the day.

So I thought I’d do something productive to snap myself out of that self-effacing doldrum.

Can you have a single doldrum? Maybe that’s a torpor.

Neverthemess…I debated asking my parents to breakfast, but I don’t want to drive in this halfhearted rain, so I’m not going to make them do it.

That kind of leaves writing. Am I going to finish my Christmas week post? Finally? No. No, I am not.

I’m jumping into ‘23!

I’m not one for resolutions – or proper English simply for the sake of proper English, hence the nonsense title of this post – but at the same time, I realized in the shower today that I was presently living out a fairly common resolution.

Call it wasting less or doing something for the environment, but that’s what I’ve found myself in the middle of. (There’s some more bad English for ya.)

As I was heading out to pick up The Fox, I had the thought that I should take my redeemable recycling with me to drop off after. I had to stop at Freddy’s anyway to get Myrtle more cat food on my way back from the airport – her breakfast sounded like only two or three kibbles when the feeder went off at 5. Then I surprised myself when I realized I was short of my two bag usual for a trip to recycling and decided to leave it. Besides, who knew whether the Silver Fox would have bags that needed to go in Angela’s cargo area? Best not to risk it.

This is when I realized I’d left my fob to The Fox’s building in my car last night, so I’d have to have him meet me at the door to get in. That was dumb bitch #1.

Then as we were driving to the airport in the dark, drizzly wee hours, I was struggling to see clearly and remembered that I’d intended to bring my glasses so I could see better, but didn’t have them: dumb bitch #2.

On my way home, I took backroads to avoid the blurry freeway. This also took me right by the home of the bi-guy I’ve been banging out with lately. That was kind of a fun realization – but now I’m horny. Sadly, I’m withholding with him because last time I saw him he left a mark like we’re fucking high schoolers.

Do I seem amused?

I stopped off for gas before hitting the grocery store. I’d been at 31 miles to empty when I left for the airport and was at 11 when I made it back to my ‘hood.

Then I forgot to stop at the store for cat food: dumb bitch #3.

Crap! I just realized I’d miscounted my dumb bitches, so that’s dumb bitch #5!

#4 was walking to the RiteAid up the street for cat food and not realizing they don’t open until 9 on Sundays. Staffing issues.

So, yeah…I need some positivity this morning. That required reflection, so I reviewed my day.

I had a shower victory this morning. Two, really, if you count showering so early in the day as a victory (I do). But I finally figured out the “right” number of swipes my shampoo bar requires for a good lather. It’s two.

Two.

I’d picked it up at Trader Joe’s last time I was there – purely on a lark. I’d been looking for a candle and struck out. But right next to where candles should have been was their personal care section and for $3.49, I figured why not give a shampoo bar a try? I knew I was getting close to empty on my current shampoo bottle at home., so this was also an opportunity to be proactive versus finding myself shampoo-less in the near future.

The first time I used it, I gave myself three swipes on each side of my head.

Waaay too much. I looked like a shampoo commercial on crack.

Plus side: this bar produces an insanely rich lather. I noticed this as it covered my shoulders and oozed toward my navel.

For the next week or so I regrouped at two swipes per side. Still too much, but I wasn’t mad since it smells so good! It also does an amazing job of pulling the prior day’s product off my hair, so why under-do it?

But this morning I was in a hurry – I know, up at 5 and end up rushing my shower to be on time, can you believe that didn’t earn me a dumb bitch? – and shaved a second or two off my shower by giving each side of my head one swipe.

Realizing that two swipes total was plenty left me looking at the bar in amazement. It looks barely touched after a week+ of daily use. At this rate, if it only lasts me six months, I’d be surprised. But in that half year, it’ll keep three plastic bottles out of my (non-redeemable) recycling.

Looking back on that made me feel pretty good. I felt even better when the reason behind me not having enough redeemable recycling to merit taking it with me when I left the house hit me.

I bought myself a soda stream late last year. I’m actually rather enjoying it. At first I was conflicted about it for political and environmental reasons.

It’s a company based in Israel, which is ire-some to some.

Plus, I don’t like bubbly water just for the sake of bubbles. Hence, the flavoring syrups in front of it. The Bubbly brand concentrates come in glass bottles and make around 12 liters. The larger containers say they make up to 9 liters, but I’ve only been using 3/4 the recommended dose, so they’ll each get me around 12 liters, too. So for the environmental price of two plastic bottles, I’m keeping about two dozen plastic bottles out of the system. Add another dozen for the glass bottle of flavorings and you’ve got quite an impact.

I’m ok with the return on that trade off.

I realized that over the course of a year, that will be hundreds less plastic containers coming out of my home. That made me feel pretty good.

And it all happened without setting out on a resolution spree.

Not bad for a dumb, ol’ bitch, eh?

Irresolved

Random Gambitches…#1?

I’ve been busy.

It’s frustrating on multiple levels. The work is sucking my mojo away lately, leaving me with a piss-poor reserve of energy for the rest of my life.

Exercise and writing…<pffft!>

So I’ve been trying to come up with short-form ideas for writing and exercise to recharge my mojo.

Exercise was easy – the Peloton app has loads of 5 and 10 minute classes that I can wedge into my day. Gourd knows I’m not bouncing out of bed these days to do a ride or a couple of strength classes before work. My lunchtime rides have – well, I’m at my desk shoveling food with one hand and processing data with the other at lunch, now, ain’t I?

So I do a shorty strength or stretching class during a call or while watching whatever I simply cannot miss on TV.

Writing, though. That was the tough one. If you know me, you know I’m not one to say in 5 words what I could say in 500. That makes short-form writing ideas…a challenge.

Case in point, I finally came up with an idea I want to try and here I am a couple hundred words in on just backstory.

So here’s the notion, and I think it works for me: random – because it’s me, obvs and who knows where or when with me my ire muse will strike? – entries about just the most Gilbert Gottfried conniption inducing things I observe that people do.

It’s genius. Match made in whatever the secular version of heaven – oh, still heaven? Really? That doesn’t seem right – is. It’s so genius, the only non-genius thing about it is how long it took me to get there.

Just think, up til now I’ve been wasting this genius on life extras who end up sitting next to me at the bar, substituting for friends.

Still not getting there, am I? Bit of a failure to launch scenario, innit.

Ok, ok…here we go!

I mean, it’s just that this is sort of a big deal. I’ve been resting on or avoiding the laurels of past themes – some good ones like Today I Learned/TIL, The Red Shirt Diaries, and Dating Into Oblivion – so this is…phew!

Ok, for realz…here it is:

Have you ever been a decent human being driving down the freeway and seen someone come up behind you? It’s best if you’re in the fast lane in this scenario, but any lane works.

What do you do?

Because for me – when I’m in the fast lane in particular, but even if I’m just in the middle lane – I usually move. I can guarantee you I’m not going below – not in a nefarious or scofflaw kind of way – the flow of traffic. Even if the next lane to my right is doing a slick, but law abiding 55 MPH, I’m cruising along at (at least) 58.

But who am I kidding? It’s usually closer to 70 – which in some areas is nothing but in Portland, with its rain and curvy hills and bicyclists and leaves and strange 50 MPH areas on interstate freeways – and that’s a lot oh Ms per H here. Ok?!?

So when someone comes up on me? I tend to get out of their way. After I switch up my passive passing of the car to my right to something slightly more aggressive.

That perfectly describes Portland natives, BTW. Passing people is a slow but steady proposition. Just let cruise control take care of it. But when someone’s I your rear view and going faster than you, you gotta punch it. You can’t slow down to get behind the car you were at mid-pass on because that slows down the speedier than you demon behind you! Then it’s all very, “I’m so sorry, I’m not usually this aggressive – but the guy behind me!” And, really…they were the problem, right?

Suuuure.

It’s a real exercise in doing what’s right for everyone: getting out of the way of faster traffic, apologizing to who you’re passing, and then abdicating responsibility by acknowledging you were perfectly happy to basically coast by this person at a minimally higher speed until this (let’s be real here) Californian came up behind you.

There’s only so much you can do…when everyone has to be happy.

So you juice it a few more MPH to get by, clear a respectable few car lengths and then change lanes.

Good driver. Very respectful. Letter of the Rules of the Road even.

And what happens next?

The micropenis that was in your rear view mirror jets past you and then careens into your lane. Like…WTF?!? You came up in my rear view like your ball hair was being singed but as soon as you’re past me, you pop into my slow lane?!? Just to be sure I don’t miss the smell of burning hair heating the pheromones from the glands in your…area?!?

Easy there, grumpy old Xtopher…maybe they were trying to get to an exi – nope, that was not the reason for their Mad Max style driving since they have now passed the exit I am taking to exit this sideshow of selfishness the freeway.

Why do people do this? Is it some sort of animal brain display of dominance?

Just pee on my car as you go by. Don’t do something that could induce a stroke as my thinking brain tries to assign reason to your whatever-passes-for-thinking-in-your-reality actions I just had to witless witness.

Seriously, though…why do people do this?!?

Random Gambitches…#1?

Portland Tones It Down

I’m one of Portland’s biggest <ahem> fans. Whether it’s straight up civic pride or city v city smack talk, I got Portland’s back.

Because despite its lumps, and the wrong Vancouver adjacency, I think it’s still the best big town you can live in.

Unless you’re a bigot or member of a certain book club where no one’s managed to either read the book or grasp its core concept…you’re probably gonna love Portland.

And I’ve lived in a lot of cities in a lot of different states in my life. Just to establish credibility. It’s not like I’m one of those people that have never left the country that insist America is the best country in the world.

My big town is a city that is ever-evolving – and usually in positive ways. That’s not to say we don’t struggle. Every 15 years or so, we need a correction period to kind of reflect on what we’ve gained versus what we’ve lost and what needs to move forward or be resurrected. Find what works and polish it and identify what doesn’t and tone it down or get rid of it altogether.

Sadly, that’s kind of where we are now, what with those lumps I mentioned earlier and all getting a lot too real and too much national attention and…too little effective local attention.

In situations like that, I find it advantageous to find small things to be proud of or grateful for.

For which to be grateful? Yeah, that would’ve been better English. But gimme a break, English is my first language and I’m just an American…

Anyway, one of those little things for which I am grateful – nailed it! – is our weather.

Always. Rain or shine. June-uary be damned. Having all four seasons in one day keeps me on my toes!

But todays weather?

It’s our first heatwave of 2022, this weekend. This week we had our first 80-degree plus days of the year. See above: June-uary.

But where we can be counted on for our covert beautiful summers most years, last year’s summer kind of ran amok. You might remember us having the hottest temperatures on the planet last June?

119 degrees?

Anyone?

Well, it’s true if you knew it or not – and no Portlander was happy about it for any one of a very narrow set of options.

That was a year ago this very weekend, so having a high of 99 degrees over the course of the heatwave is toning things in the right direction. We should still be able to count the days we reach 90 in a year on one hand – and those should be a stretch to 90, not meteorologists apologizing that we might break 100 degrees.

Twenty degrees cooler year-over-year? Heatwave-over-heatwave? Yes, please.

And to have a city that learns from its past mistakes – not always, but always eventually – and changes things that don’t work so life is a little better the next time?

Grateful, I am.

In spite of last year’s cooling shelters, we learned from 59 fatalities during the heat dome last year – where only two of the deaths were unhoused people – that we need to not assume that someone inside is safe inside.

To that end, this year I was surprised to get a text during the heat wave warning me about the dangers and directing me to resources.

I was pretty ok with this, particularly with the effectiveness we seem to have gotten Obama Phones into the hands of our unhoused populace so that they have access to information. Imagine my surprise to get a follow-up voicemail less than ten minutes after.

We may not do everything right, but we aren’t likely to default to a “But that’s the way we’ve always done it” type of acceptance of things that break or just don’t work anymore. Nor are we likely to tolerate leaders who disappoint us. We vote. We will vote you out of office. Don’t forget, since we’re passive-aggressive, that’s really gonna sting…we will likely accidentally on purpose vote in someone who’s embarrassingly less qualified than the incumbent they replace and then let them do an awesome job.

Hey, I never promised that we tone everything down!

Portland Tones It Down

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

Nostalgia Zone

When I first heard – years and years ago, now – that there was a sequel in development to 1986’s summer blockbuster Top Gun, I might have sprained something rolling my eyes. Admittedly, when news of production delays started trickling out, my surprise was hard to locate.

But once this year surprisingly finally arrived, bringing with it the promise of the Memorial Day weekend release of Top Gun: Maverick, I was…intrigued. Daunted, but intrigued.

Daunted because I had been psyching myself up for a post-lockdown return to theaters for months. There were shows whose marketing made me swear they would be the trigger to get me back yo my pre-pandemic routine of seeing 2-3 movies each month. After the marketing hype died down and the reviews started rolling in and showing the reality of that hype, those movies quickly faded from memory.

It was like the hyper intensity of losing one’s virginity all over again! I wanted to “give it up” for a worthy movie, not…The King’s Man.

Like Spider-Man – which I see makes my prior analogy creepy since this movie is about a high school superhero. In my defense, that could have been any Marvel movie. However, I’d given a Disney employee a ride last November and mentioned Black Widow possibly popping my post-COVID theater cherry and he encouraged me to save it and stream Black Widow.

In defense of ScarJo’s superhero swan song, I did stream it and it was quite enjoyable. Even the second time I watched it on Disney+.

The reality is, Spider-Man didn’t do it for me. I just couldn’t get to a theater for Peter Parker. None of the other seasonal tentpole movies got me there, either.

Strangely, it did end up being a Marvel movie that ultimately got me there: Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. It was…good, and I’m glad I saw it on a big screen, but at the same time understood the save it for streaming advice I’d gotten about Black Widow six months earlier.

But you know what made it the winner?

Top Gun: Maverick.

The gushing critical reviews were near-unanimous. It had a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It seemed to be universally taking everyone’s breath away.

What, you thought the title would be the only pun in this post?

It had a Memorial Day weekend opening, 36 years after the original’s holiday weekend – I think the original had a July 4th debut – release.

But it wasn’t the hype or the reviews that bore out the hype that still failed to get me there. It wasn’t only the crowds I anticipated for a three day weekend blockbuster release that kept me away.

It was the PNW weather, believe it or not.

You see, when I saw the original, it was during the first summer I lived away from home after graduating high school. I saw it in an old-time one screen movie house in Manhattan on a sultry summer weekend night.

No AC.

No air handling whatsoever.

Movie magic induced adrenaline.

Sweaty hunks playing volleyball.

For so many reasons, those herculon-upholstered movie theater seats probably needed to be wrung out after this show.

But what will always stay with me about this viewing experience is the Basic Becky that stood up in the middle of both the show and and the theater and decided that it was more important for us all to see everything she’d consumed that day.

Given the presence of the humidity and heat, the absence of AC or any ventilation and the smell of co-ed puke and the underlying burn of stomach acid…an irreplaceable memory was created.

While I could certainly do without a Basic Becky reunion, I just couldn’t get behind a Top Gun reunion without summer weather. The PNDub let me down, having clocked our 10th wettest May on record. Seeing Maverick under those weather conditions would have been as weird as going to a movie theater and not eating too much popcorn!

So, Doctor Strange it was. It was an action that also indulged my desire to root for the underdog, since Maverick’s release was expected to knock Doctor Strange off of its two week reign of the box office. My ticket purchase didn’t keep it on top – nor did the other dozen tickets sold for that screening. But those conditions made for a comfortable post-COVID return to the movies for this grumpy old man.

Crowds. Who needs ‘em?

Carrying that strategy forward might extrapolate to my seeing Maverick this week…while everyone else is wrapping up the Jurassic World trilogy.

Nostalgia Zone

Bitches Be Bitchin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen 1:

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

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

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

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

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

Karen 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitches Be Bitchin’

Still Mad: An Update

In case you were wondering, Mother Nature is still pissed at us. Feel free to see what caused me to make that obvious statement originally before reading on – or not. All will be clear soon enough.

I woke the other morning – yes, I was up before noon! – to find these pics of my beloved Park Blocks/front yard from a local news anchor on my Twitter feed.

Another of our North Park Block’s hundred-plus year old trees had fallen overnight. As you can see, it more tipped over after its roots basically failed to hold it in the ground. I mean, we’ve had a lot of rain the past couple of weeks…but not that fucking much rain.

Minimal upside, I suppose, could be that the building it fell onto is slated for demolition to make way for a hotel that will take up the park-facing half of the city block that it sits on. As soon as the other building on that half of the block is removed from the Historic Register.

Yeah, that part is kinda fucked up.

I walked past the site this morning after checking Angela into the “spa” for her repairs. It doesn’t look better by light of day.

The clean up isn’t done, obviously, but I’m surprised the building wasn’t more damaged. I guess that’s a testament to the masonry workers of the…19th century?

I guess the actual bright side here is that no one was hurt. This being Portland, home to the third largest homeless population in the country – behind NYC and SF, if you can believe that…we should not be on a population based list with cities of their size – we have urban campers on virtually every block in the close-in downtown area. Not every side of every block, but you’d be hard pressed to find a block without tents on at least one side. Not to mention RVs parked along the city streets for weeks at a time before being forced to move to another street.

That being the case, I’m glad these poor souls living just to the left of where the tree landed on the building weren’t harmed in the incident. But you can be damn sure they had the living daylights scared out of them.

Mother Nature is mad. At us…and with good reason. But I see no reason that the least among us should pay the ultimate or any physical price for the damage the wealthiest and more conspicuously consuming among us create.

That poor tree, though. I’m so sad for the ongoing damage our Park Blocks are sustaining. Everyone go buy an electric car!

Still Mad: An Update

My Brush With Royalty

Rock royalty.

Portland rock royalty.

There I was last night, driving around and minding my own business in Milwaukie, a close-in Portland suburb. Mostly, this manifested as trying to figure out whether I should shut my app off so I can stop incoming rides briefly to set it to “home” mode. It was around 5 PM on a rainy Friday afternoon, so the ride bonuses in Portland were crazy.

For instance, I made almost $50 on my first three rides in the first hour on the road. You can see how those ride bonuses dropped on that last pick up outside the city core.

Yes, get me back to town, please.

Plus, that $2.50 bonus was a round trip ride to the liquor store for a guy who met me at the end of his driveway – which I love – only to mime “Do you have an extra mask?” from where he stood as I pulled up. Then, once he’s gotten one, climbs in grumbling about how “It’s not like these do anything, anyway” before careening into “The old man was killing him”, referring to Biden – neither of which I love right out of the gate in a ride. I managed to steer him into a conversational area he was better qualified to have an opinion on: sports.

Stupid American.

I’m sure that explains why I was debating getting back toward the city. That’s when this ride came in.

Now, Zia is not a common name. I’ve known one in my entire life, a former employee here in town. I pulled the picture up to see if it was her, and, well…wrong race.

However, I thought this rider skewed age and race wise toward being the only other Zia I could think of, who I certainly didn’t know, but whose early musical career I was well aware of, the Dandy Warhols.

The Dandys are a local band with one song most people will know – Bohemian Like You – and who I’ve been lucky enough to come across a couple times back when I stumbled into music venues around town in the 90s. Zia stood out among the band because she usually could be counted on to pull her shirt up at some point during a show.

That leaves an impression, even on a late-20s gay boy.

I mentally start discarding conversational riffs based off that song – “I’ve got a great car”, “Do you like vegan food”, “Did I see some guy sleeping on the couch? Is he always there? Why’s he looking kind of ‘meh’?”

Stupid stuff. – that I’d never actually say!

More likely, I’d try to get a heads up on her current band’s upcoming gigs. She’s got several projects going on these days and one of them – Brush Prairies, I think – has been doing shows at small venues, like the Dandys used to.

Also, I could pin her down on which member owned a wine bar here in my neighborhood and where it was actually located. Rumor vaguely has it that it’s over on/around Pettygrove & 14th but the place over there I’ve seen isn’t that impressive. But it’s open hours certainly suggest it operates on a rock and roll vibe, aka: it’s open or not on a whim. More specific rumor has it that it’s a place called Le Happy.

Cute, right? It’s at Lovejoy & 16th, so about half as much closer than the other place, but…

Permanently closed?!?

Even if this wasn’t that bar, it’s sad. Such a cute lil joint. I hope the building doesn’t get torn down in Portland’s growth/building boom.

Anyway, in real time, I was pulling up her name on Google to get a current pic.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!

It was her!

OMGOMGOMG.

Be cool.

I pull into this driveway that’s on the backstreet of a side street behind a school in Milwaukie. The remoteness says “privacy” while the overgrown disrepair of a once well-tended yard says “recluse”.

“Damn, Zia, I know having four band projects going has to be a lot…but get it together!”

Then a college-aged kid walks out.

“Well, that’s not Zia…”

He’s got a cute mix of nerd and emo looks going, so I also tell myself to keep my eyes on the road. 🤦🏽

We’ve got a long ride ahead of us into Portland – thank you, Lyft app! – so I start off with some small talk about what’s up.

Turns out, he took a bus into town to hang out with his friend – a female friend, not a girlfriend 😈 – but he went to the wrong house. I comment that this girl has the right kind of problems…too many houses, and he clarifies that he went to her dad’s house (ok, so it’s a “depression vibe” in the yard, not “recluse”, got it) instead of her mom’s so mom was getting him a ride to the right place.

Cool mom.

AND IT WAS ZIA MCCABE!!!

Anyway, that was as close as my brush with rock royalty came. Well, that and maybe she was shuffling things around on the porch when I pulled up. And that I low-key know where she lives, but I’m not creepy, so that knowledge is just a little “I know stuff other people don’t” thrill.

But I still need to catch a random show of hers one of these days. Oh, and she’s a realtor, too, so that’s bad news for my realtor neighbor who lives in the building I want to eventually buy in…because I am Le Happy to be that kind of creepy.

Hey, it’s not like she wouldn’t get something out of that transaction, and The Gays are nothing if not transactional.

My Brush With Royalty

Chicken Little Called…

I feel like the sky is falling.

Literally.

Which, of course, means figuratively as well as literally in the English language these days, but actually perfectly describes how I’m feeling.

Figuratively

With the chasm between common sense and willful ignorance widening daily, it seems like America – if not all of humanity – is doomed.

People are eagerly and proudly choosing to embrace behaviors and ideologies that are not simply personally risky to them (mask and vaccine deniers) but also threaten the future of living on our planet for very near, if not already present generations.

I truly cannot understand those people. Say it with me, “Stupid Americans”.

Literally

Two things here. The first is that the smoke from our fires in central and southern Oregon has finally rolled back in to Portland. The rest of the country has been getting our smoke – as far away as Minnesota from what people have shared with me personally, but I’ve heard NYC has even seen some.

It’s nowhere near the literal worst air quality on the planet we had last year, but it’s still a climate crisis in progress. But when you can see literal ash debris on your car after it’s been parked on the street a few hours, I’d say that qualifies as “falling skies”, no?

The second is even more heartbreaking to me as a native Portlander. I love our greenery here. Both the actual forests and our urban green spaces. I live on a street named Park that borders five city blocks of park space called the North Park Blocks. Many of the trees on these blocks are as old as our state, if not older in some cases. And they are called “North” because they are in the northwest quadrant of town and there is an even longer string of blocks on the same street running through the southwest quadrant of town. I’ll let you figure out what we call those blocks on your own.

Go ahead, now…intuit.

Anyway, over the summer, I know of four instances in my string of blocks where trees have just dropped branches.

Massive branches.

…and some not too massive. The above pic is not as big around as a small car, but it was a good 25 feet length of branch. There was one that fell right in front of me early in the summer late one night as I turned onto Park after driving all night. It blocked a two lane road from the base of its trunk to almost the opposite curb.

There’s no wind storm happening. And I expect branches to fall during our increasingly common winter ice events.

But in still skies?!?

My thought on this is that the trees are just so dry from our lack of rain – and it’s a drought condition that has been going on since our February snow storm. April ‘21 was the driest on record by one-third with only a half inch of rain for the month – that these trees have become too dry and brittle to even resist gravity.

How sad. Tragic.

But, Portland being weird and still trying to be green, puts a decidedly Portland spin on the situation by creating…a seating nook!

Here’s the branch that fell, about one-third of the tree’s canopy.

And here’s what Portland does…makes it cozy. Not that I know these will be left here long term. Although I wouldn’t blame Portland Parks & Rec if they did decide to leave them. Branches like this become breeding grounds for all sorts of other flora, so it would essentially be a public science exhibit.

But on a less pithy and optimistic note, check out the tree that had to be completely removed after losing part of itself to nothing more than the pull of gravity.

It was taller than the historic five story brick building across from it. Probably older, too.

Now it’s nothing more than a stump that’s basically the size of a BMW.

So sad.

Of course, maybe I have this all wrong. Just because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly natural. Maybe trees randomly fall apart every 50 years or so.

Or…maybe it’s due to climate change.

Ooooor…maybe there’s a giant cat roaming around town at night that no one has seen yet. I certainly have something similar – albeit on a much smaller scale – happening in my home.

Mistress Myrtle is not taking questions.

Chicken Little Called…

At Least We Tried?

The poor restaurant industry in Portland.

They just can’t catch a break.

After going into Lockdown 2.0 in mid-November, Multnomah county was announced as meeting re-opening thresholds for COVID infections last week. Specifically, falling below 200 cases per 100,000 residents. The re-opening date was set for Friday, February 12th.

Mother Nature decided to bloop a lil dose of PDX weather on us, though:

Being a native Portlander, though, I view a potential winter weather event as an either/or proposition. It’s either something that happens or completely fails to materialize. Unless, that is, the forecast is off by just enough that we’ve already eaten our way through our kale hoard and then it’s

So by the time the 10-day forecast had gone from an unheard of six days of snow to only four, I’d written it off. I felt that cavalier position was merited when the predicted Thursday noon start for snowfall had passed and that we were heading for a big buncha nothin’.

Of course, my more reasonable friends told me, “Oh, no…they bumped it back to 4:00″.

So, four o’clock comes and goes. Nothing.

Then, just before nightfall, I see one lil lonely flake drift down into my balcony courtyard-slash-well and I think, “There you go. Snowpocalypse ’21!”

The next day:

Bloopsie-daisies.

That was about 4″ at 2:00 after I trudged over to the Safeway to get Myrtle some wet cat food, y’know, since I’d decided it was going to be a non-event and didn’t stock up.

Then I went inside and did what you do on a snow day – or what college kids do every day – got baked and took a four hour weed nap.

Of course, I woke to not only a text from my mom asking if I was “bored yet”, but after I didn’t respond for a couple hours, she set dad off on a text mission. I woke up around 8, I think, to a “Hello?” text from him and had to mea culpa for being such a lightweight stoner.

Last night, when I stepped out onto the balcony to assess the “disaster”, though, I could feel freezing rain hitting my skin. If you’ve never had the pleasure of feeling freezing rain, boy howdy…it burns.

I stood there getting pelted by icy, burning rain and pondered the irony of the situation: Portland is finally allowed to re-open indoor dining at 25% capacity and then the city basically shuts down because of snow and ice.

Following last night, I woke up to this new forecast:

Great…more pain for the service industry. A whole day of freezing rain.

Unless it’s not.

Of course, as I’m writing this, a buddy of mine texts to tell me the Last Restaurant Standing in the neighborhood is open.

It looks like they are at capacity, too…given the guidelines. But I’m still feeling guilty that I haven’t showered, so can’t really bop over there to give a lil support. Even if it meant sitting outside in a tent.

Hell, I’ve got five and a half hours to drink think about it…so maybe I’ll rally and then grab a pint and a snack before closing time.

At Least We Tried?