55,000!

Sadly, not the number of my followers on WordPress…or even page views, for that matter.

No, this is just what some random woman yelled at me yesterday as I was walking down the street.

Portland has a lot of street performers; buskers and whatnot. Like this shiny fella.

And of course, the Unipiper, who is always a treat to encounter.

One that I haven’t seen in quite sometime – to my relief – is the giant Pirate Clown! Although, I am a little concerned that someone might have…conquered him.

Anyway, part of me wondered if she was shouting the estimated number of street performers in the area. Another part briefly considered whether she might actually be one of them – with my luck, her schtick was guessing people’s weight and she had just yelled mine out.

As I was writing her off, she clarified: 55,000 acres.

Ok, thanks?

Now, I try to not watch the news too often because I don’t watch TV to enhance my naturally grumpy demeanor, rather to escape it. But I am savvy enough to intuit that she was commenting on the current state of forest fires in my fair Oregon.

55,000 is a great number of acres to be ablaze.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a spontaneous conversation with a rando. Usually, I’ve bellied myself up somewhere for some refreshment-slash-therapy-cum-company, though, so it was quite by reflex that I looked at my hand to see if I was holding a drink after her ejaculation.

(Enjoy that little giggity gift, Diezel.)

A glance skyward confirmed my assumption as to her meaning.

There’s some pretty dense smoke in our air these days, but at least – so far – we’ve been spared the ash fall that we had during last summer’s wildfires. If you want to know what snow in July looks like, any of us Oregonians can paint you a picture based on our last summer, which took on a slight nuclear winter feel.

Maybe it was August.

Maybe the exact when isn’t the point. That it looked like it was snowing at any point during the summer was.

As I hustled on by, I thought, “I know…I read the air advisory to stay inside today” and admitted to myself that just probably I didn’t need to be outside. My second thought was, “Look lady, I just wanted a Diet Coke, ok?” otherwise, I’m totally not opposed to at least slowing down for a chat with a relatively harmless street person.

Case in point:

However, I wasn’t feeling too charitable yesterday. My personage wasn’t feeling 100% to begin with, which I do worry is partially smoke particulate related. Also, I get a little reflexively cross when discussing forest fires because it’s usually caused by one of us Stupid Americans in the first place.

But even if I had been feeling chatty and inclined to slow down to indulge a rando on the street, it probably wouldn’t have been a great conversation…since she was smoking!

55,000!

Motivation Monday

There’s a reason I include “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” in just about any conversation that I can.

It’s hilarious. Even if only in a What About Bob way.

However, there’s a very real answer to the question, too. As I found out today, shortly after leaving the house all amped up to check a few errands off my to-do list…my goals:

Get my recycling dropped off and go to the bank.

Simple, right? I just wanted to get them done before it got too hot.

What.

Could.

Possibly.

Go.

Wrong?

I’d slept amazingly well after popping a melatonin – courtesy of the Silver Fox – around midnight last night. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 9:00!

Seriously.

I’ll take those results.

The Safeway where I drop my recycling and the credit union I bank at are equidistant from my house. In completely opposite directions, of course. I’ve been procrastinating these tasks for close to a week each, so after a great night of sleep, this really seemed like the day to tackle them right off.

I was even leveraging my coffee against completion of the task.

I could go to OnPoint first thing and then stop by f&b – my usual coffee haunt – on the way back. More than likely, I would run into someone outside f&b on my way to the bank and get sucked in, derailing everything.

With that in mind, I was leaning toward recycling first. Originally, I planned to take my recycling with me before my lunch time spin class and drop it off beforehand, since the Safeway is right next door to RevoCycle.

There’s no lunch time class today.

See? This is one of those many possible answers to my question-slash-mantra.

Deciding against putting off my recycling until tomorrow, I bribe myself with coffee fresh from my favorite roaster – Nossa Familia. It’s what they serve at f&b, but they just brew better drinks at Nossa. It’s across from the Safeway in the opposite direction from my spin gym, so very adjacent to my errand running.

I slap my ID label on my green BottleDrop bag and head out.

I have an ongoing struggle with recycling through BottleDrop.

It’s easy, since I don’t have to jockey for position in line with Portland’s homeless to use a reverse vending machine to redeem my bottle and can deposits. I just label my bag, hoof it across the Pearl, scan my card, drop my bag and wait 3-5 days for them to process my redemption refund.

It’s about $.01 per can or bottle, but it’s not too high a premium to not have to do it myself.

I think I made myself dizzy with that last sentence.

Here’s the wrinkle: they lose track of bags all. the. time.

Seriously.

I think they’ve correctly counted and credited three of my bags this year! The rest, I’ve had to wait 7-10 days to make sure they weren’t just behind, email them, wait about 5 more days for a reply and then – like this morning – get an email saying they credited me for my “average bag” value.

I didn’t say it was convenient, right? Here’s what bugs me, if they’ve only credited three of the dozen or so bags I’ve dropped this year…doesn’t that dilute the accuracy of my “average bag”?

I think it does.

I also think one of their processors is stealing bags and selling them to homeless people. I have a jaded, criminal mind.

So, that’s what can possibly go wrong when using BottleDrop.

Also, in a new twist, this can go wrong.

Ok, that I did not see coming.

Also, I just said “not see”…

I pulled a Basic White Girl move and went inside to talk to the manager. Turns out, the drop door is somehow broken. I decided to believe someone tried to break in. He offered to do a manual count for me and immediately followed it up with “I’ve already called someone to do a hand count for another customer”…so, not for me, then.

I decided to accept his co-op offer, knowing the other “customer” he was referring to…the homeless guy I passed on the way in. Then I decided to go across the street to Nossa for my coffee, knowing from prior experience that I had time. If the employee that the manager called to help the other guy showed up while they made my coffee – iced, as always – I’d go back over. Homeless guys, I also know from experience, usually only have about 50 cans at a time to recycle. I learned this during my time working in grocery.

I was telling this to my barista, who then wondered aloud what my plan was if the associate the manager allegedly called didn’t show up.

I told her I’d just run up to Freddy’s – our local branch of Kroger.

To understand why she was amazed, you have to know two things:

First, remember that I don’t drive, so I’m literally hoofing across town,

Second, the Pearl District is part of what Portland calls the the Alphabet District, which is pretty much all contained in the NW quadrant of town.

East-West streets are named sequentially from B-Y, excepting for X and Z, which have no streets. “A” – Ankeny – is on the other side of Burnside, which is in the SW quadrant of town since Burnside divides Portland’s North and South sides.

The North-South streets are pretty much numerical. There are a few standouts like Park, which I live on. My street is between 8th and 9th on Park at Everett.

So, my barista – who is hipster versus lazy – was standing behind her La Marzocco espresso machine at the corner of 13th and Lovejoy. I’m five blocks West and seven blocks North from my place. Her amazement is in my declaration of intent to go from 13th and Lovejoy to Freddy’s which is at 20th and Burnside.

What’s that…seven blocks further West and 10 blocks South? Remember, hipster not lazy. I chuckle and laugh as I grab a napkin to wipe the sweat off the head three feet over my fat gut.

I can use the exercise.

I take my iced, quad shot hazelnut latte and head out, noticing the homeless guy is still waiting for his hand count. Plan C, it is!

I am buoyed by the recollection that there’s an OnPoint Credit Union on the same block as Freddy’s, so this isn’t all bad! I won’t have to hike into SW to do my banking.

Bright side, right?!?

Riding my frustratingly endless wave of no income, I don’t have much reason to visit my credit union these days. But last week, I decided I wanted to rearrange my furniture to open up my lil one bedroom condo and make more room.

The only problem?

I have too much furniture. Well, technically, I probably have just enough furniture. Unfortunately, my bedroom has these really user unfriendly built ins that displaced my dresser to the living room.

It’s a TV stand now.

Luckily, I have – had – two dinner tables. One folds down and converts to a side table. I figured I’d sell that one initially. Once I started rearranging, though, it made a better flow to get rid of the other one.

So, I did.

Then I finished rearranging my living room and went out to treat myself to a congratulatory beer. I actually only had time to do this since one of the Fabulous Baker Sisters had had to cancel our plans to get together that afternoon. Since I was flying solo, I went to a gay club in Old Town I don’t get to too often. CC Slaughter’s is one of the closest gay bars to my home – 3rd and Davis, in case you want to do the math – and the least douche-y. It’s also home to an acquaintance of mine, one of only three drag bartenders in the country, Madame DuMoore. This was her look the day I visited.

But, she changes it up every damn day, so you never know who you’ll run into when she’s behind the bar.

And she’s just an amazing person and persona, so when she’s not busy, she’s fun to talk to, too!

That wasn’t the case this visit, left with no one to chat with while I drank my beer – I went into the video poker lounge. Truth be told, I was chatting with the guy sitting next to me, my usual MO…only this ‘mo was starting to get a twinkle in his eye, so I decided to make myself scarce.

I had a $50 that my table buyer had used as part of his payment. I mentally waved goodbye to it and slipped it into the machine.

I won $300.

I celebrated with another beer.

And then another.

I had paid myself back my $50 and kept playing with the rest.

I.

Kept.

Winning.

Feeling full, belly and pockets, I left the bar with $1200. Being slightly – what’s the word? – buzzed, I made it a block toward my place before thinking, “Hey, $1200 is almost my rent money! I should keep going.”

Drunken Logic is so prudent.

I leveraged my “wisdom” with a limit of one beer and headed over to a dive at 5th and Couch.

Well, that beer turned out to be too expensive, so I stayed for another. Boy, that beer was all over the map. I ended up only managing to leave with $1000 still in my pocket, but still presenting me with a too rare reason to visit a bank.

Long stories for two tasks, eh?

Well, this is my life…I can usually find something funny in even it’s most mundane tasks. Or something to grump about…while still chuckling at my frustrations.

Feeling accomplished, I decided to keep my Monday motivation going. At 20th and Burnside, I was pretty close to Washington Park, where I don’t get to that often. I know it somehow connects up to Forest Park, though I’ve not managed to get lost enough to figure out exactly how or where. Since I’ve only been there once this year, I decided on an urban hike.

I cracked out a nice lil sweat and a five mile hike. But that’s s blog post for another day. Time to fold laundry!

Motivation Monday

Spice Force

Well, Portland shut down its OccupyICE camp last week.

It was time. Actually, it was over-time. I’d been watching from the sidelines, as is my style, for the last couple of months while Little Beirut did what it does.

Protest.

In many ways, we did good things that made me nod in appreciation. Then there was the OccupyICE movement which started out fine, taking our protests from the streets and parks to the front door of those we protested.

In past years, this has led to marches that shut down freeways and damaged property. That was avoided this time, but I was still disappointed in the evolution of this protest. When I would watch video, the protesters were not behaving in a way that made me proud to be associated with their message. While their actions were not violent or destructive, their words still were.

Shocking no one, words are important to me. Maybe we’ve learned as protesters that actions speak louder than words, but I think our next evolution needs to ensure that our words are matching our non-violent and non-destructive actions.

This was not the case with the OccupyICE protest at the ICE facility in southwest Portland for the last several weeks. Just like the Occupy Wall Street movement from years ago, what started out as a hive of like minded social activists morphed into a homeless camp.

Ironically, the Garden Party I attended over the weekend had two radio hosts at it whose offices were right in the thick of the OccupyICE imbroglio. They echoed my relief that the camp had been shut down. However, while I was relieved that it was shut down and would no longer be a threat to our collective credibility, they were relieved that it was no longer a threat to their personal safety.

We come by our Little Beirut nickname pretty honestly here in Portland…unfortunately.

Meanwhile, though, elsewhere in the city we were staging protests in a much more constructive fashion.

The Silver Fox and I had occasion to mix with folks in our collective front yard last month as they held a rally in the park to protest the separation of immigrant families.

It was extremely peaceful.

It was organized.

It was huge.

The rally was set to take place in front of the former US Customs House on the park block just diagonally across the street from The Fox’s and my homes. It ended up spilling over and filling half of the park block in front of our houses as well as on the other side.

It was a simple enough affair with a good mix of the usual local politicians and activists speaking as well as former military people and just parents spreading their heartfelt message of resistance. There were roving petitioners circulating to garner support for whatever ballot measures they were advocating for and even someone there with resources to help get voters registered…just in case.

But in addition to the words spoken, what was left behind has peacefully influenced passers by in the park blocks for weeks after the rally.

Sidewalk Protests.

The sidewalks around the park blocks as well as the brick paths through the park blocks themselves are covered in chalk. Literally hundreds of messages scribbled out to remind us every day that our government has committed these horrifying acts against immigrant families.

Committed.

Not supported or ignored, committed.

And that’s not ok.

But what’s even heartened my heart more than Portland getting its protest act together has been the activity of a certain business – and namesake inspiration for this post – in recent months.

Penzey’s Spices.

If you talk to business leaders about mixing politics or religion with their businesses, I’m sure you’d get a high 90% of them saying that it’s a bad idea. Indeed, when it comes to politics, most businesses usually play both sides of the fence by donating within the mandated maximums equally to political campaigns.

Then Citizens United happened.

That decision resulted in limitless spending by corporations to advance their agendas and support their interests. Obviously, this benefits Oil and Pharma more than retail business interests. Corporate spending follows those same divisions with retailers having little to no interest in changing their political spending, for the most part.

However, Penzey’s has done better than just doing what they’ve always done. They went out on a branch and literally risked putting their money where their mouth is. In recent months, their email marketing – written by Bill Penzey himself – has flat out declared its opposition to the actions of our government. Specifically calling out the Republican – Ratpublican – Party for its continued endorsement of Trump’s actions, whether it’s open approval or tacit through lack of condemnation.

Their stance is simple. They are a spice company and spices are used in the most basic demonstration of familial bonding – meal prep. Therefore, it follows that keeping families together would be a natural interest for them to endorse.

Boy, howdy…have they ever!

The picture above is a giveaway they did back in April. It was a shareable promotion for their email followers. Sallory – who lives way out of town- asked The Fox to pick hers up. He then signed up for their email list and invited me to go with him. Of course, if I’m walking four blocks, I want the free gift, too!

I’ve shopped at Penzey’s off and on for the last decade or so since they opened their Seattle store. I was living with a culinary student and working at Sur la Table, of course I’m going to a spice store! When I moved back to Portland, I just happened to end up living practically around the corner from their store. When I need something for my turn cooking for Monday Night Supper Club, I hustle over to Penzey’s. When it’s not my turn for MNSC, I usually go over to buy something to sprinkle on my popcorn…I cook for other people, not myself.

But I’d never signed up for their email list.

Boy, was I missing out!

Not only do they have great promotions, the free giveaway actually had laminated recipe cards in it with ideas for using the free spices, but the emails themselves are inspirational.

Bill’s words have actually motivated me to nurture my own spirit through cooking…just for me. As a person who famously hates leftovers, that’s really something. I have always enjoyed comfort food leftovers. Lately I’ve been reminded that all food can be a comfort.

In today’s US of Hey, How The Hell Did This Happen we can use all the comfort we can get.

And for Penzey’s their stance is paying off. Their words encourage resistance with a reminder of what values are core and important…people are important. We are urged to take care of people versus interests through their occasional emails. I can only imagine that their subscription list has swollen considerably in the first quarters of this year. They ran out of the April giveaway within hours of opening and their online fulfillment wasn’t far behind in being depleted.

Instead of pulling out the whole “while supplies last” chestnut, they fulfilled every last online order and store raincheck they had. The same thing happened earlier this month, even though they had significantly increased their on hands for their next promotion. I think they even put a minimal purchase requirement on the second promotion…like $5.

After both events you didn’t hear from them for several weeks while they caught up with orders. Sure, that’s what it’s all about, right? They’re a business. Marketing – especially with a giveaway – costs money.

But I can’t tell you how happy I am to get an email from a company that bravely stands up and says “This Is Wrong” to its customers that reinforces the fact that Americans vote.

Even if it’s just with their dollars. I’m glad that the rewards justify the risk and horrified that I just acknowledged that a company supporting an obvious truth – families should not be separated by government – was a risk. Their business has increased 80-fold.

That’s not 80%, it’s 80 times better year over year.

To illustrate:

An 80% increase on $100 in sales equates to $180.

An 80-fold increase on $100 in sales results in $8000 in sales.

Nurturing people is good business.

Facilitating a place – mealtime in this case – where people and families can come together to discuss what’s happening in life and the world is good for people, regardless of culture. But right now, America needs that safe place to talk.

Spice Force

TIL 7: Early Bird Special

It was coming on to 3 AM when I started this Blog Post several weeks ago. I had realized that my 50 year every day experience is defying the stereotypes that I grew up with.

Well, beginning to…

I thought I had it figured out. I am by no means ready to start joining the elders’ dinner at 4 PM, frankly the reasoning there eludes me.

Here’s why: no, wait…here’s why not.

The older I get, the less time I want to spend in a crowded bar, late at night, struggling to hear what people are trying to say to me. Likewise, I’m not dying to face the struggle of functioning within normal parameters the next morning.

So, I get it!

I traded in my dance shoes for a Happy Hour menu and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

I stop off – when I’m working – on my way home for a drink or two to wash the day down and I’m likely home by 6:00 for Mistress Myrtle’s dinner time. Occasionally, I’m late, but generally have her settled by 7:00.

Other times, like when I’m not working, the Silver Fox and I might head out for a beer or glass of wine around 3:00. Still others, well grab a bottle of wine and head to his rooftop in the late afternoon for some RNR – Rose oN the Roof.

The key here is that the evenings socializing is generally wrapped up well before any young ‘uns would even consider beginning their pre-funk.

Sidebar: when I was a kid, we wanted to get to the bars around 10:00, maybe a little earlier depending on how broke we were and when they started charging cover. Nowadays, the pre-funk seems to start around 10:00 with 11:00 being the target barrival time. I’ve got one younger friend – one of my Bachelors – who doesn’t even seem to plan anything for a Saturday night until around 10:00. That manifest as a Facebook post along the lines of “Anyone going out tonight?”

Kids.

Nevertheless, I figure that I’m figuring this whole early bird thing out in true TIL style.

Except

I can’t quite reconcile the eating dinner at 4:00 PM thing.

Lately, The Fox and I have both kind of changed our eating habits. Occasionally, well grab a breakfast sandwich at coffee, but more often than not, we both seem to be pushing through to lunch around noon or 1:00. Then we might have something at HH or go to our respective homes after for a post-happy meal.

Even more recently, I’ve found myself powering through to about 3:00 – after a handful of almonds or dried mango in the morning – and then eating one big meal for the day.

Oddly, I’ve gained about 15 lbs in the last few months.

Hint: It’s the beer! Don’t tell me, though, let it be a surprise.

Anyway, I’m almost into the Early Bird routine, but just not quite nailing it. It’s a bummer, too, since it would be nice to include my parents in these adventures and still have them be able to get home before dark.

However, something about the whole concept has been bugging me. Here in the Pearl District, we’ve a bevy of boutique-y restaurants. Walking in for dinner around 4:00 might give you a slight Happy Hour crowd in a bar, but in a real restaurant it’s still largely a pretty solitary dining room. Needless to say, Portland – or any urban area – would probably never successfully claim to be the birthplace of the Early Bird special.

My money here would be on someplace like Clearwater, Florida. I’ve lived there…trust me.

Regardless of where it started, it spread pretty quickly. Likely due to both local restaurant competition but also a slightly viral nationwide spread from snowbirds taking the practice back home with them to middle America in the off season.

And you can bet that it was quick casual or cafeteria style chains that nurtured this Early Bird dinner phenomenon.

Ruby’s, Sayler’s, Sizzler (RIP), Old Country Buffet, Cracker Barrel…probably some Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory type joints, too, could probably all be relied upon to have some sort of Early Bird menu or well known and heavily trafficked seniors discount.

But like I mentioned, that seems counter intuitive to me.

Assuming for the moment that I’m – ahem – normal in going out early in an effort to avoid crowds.

These chain style restaurants are going to be packed early with seniors taking the marketing bait…that seems like something that would irritate me. Sure, I’ll get my own table and no worries there, but if the kitchen is overwhelmed by a generally crowded dining room?

Well, some poor server is going to be dealing with a specifically grumpy Xtopher.

Clearly, I still have a few lessons to master before I can claim to fully understand the brilliance of the Early Bird routine. But between the Silver Fox and my parents, I’ve got some good resources – and reasons – to figure it out.

Well, them and the cast of Grace & Frankie, so

Okay?!?

Plus, I’m really more of a Grace-type, anyway.

So what’s the hurry?

TIL 7: Early Bird Special

What Could Possibl…

Yeah, ok…the hell with that question.

I’m torn about whether it will be my death certificate or my tombstone that says, “Well, that answers that question…”

I forwarded my acupuncture appointment reminder to voicemail earlier and when I went in to delete the message, saw that I actually had two. Now, this would hardly be the first time I’ve received two reminder calls, but that wasn’t the case today.

The second call was a follow up to a kick ass interview that I had last week. Just wanted to let me know that they went with an internal.

If you have been reading The Great Job Hunt series, you know how lovely I find those words.

So, instead of dwelling and falling into the same trap that I did last time I got the internal candidate rash, I decided to refocus on some funnier “What could possibly go wrong” moments and other recent examples of my quirk-centric existence.

A much better use of my energy.

It’s amazing to me how many of these humorous situations are actually crowd sourced while I’m with friends versus my solo adventures. But let’s start with one of those rarer gems, shall we?

Because, it just happened.

I was at the pharmacy picking up a refill before the weekend – because I’m not working, pretty much have every day to get this errand done but for some reason would rather wait until 4:45 on a Friday to do so.

Maybe it’s that I wanna trot my keg belly across town at the hottest part of the day. Perhaps since it’s a Friday, I figured there’d be some guycandy knocking off early along the way to reward me for completing this task.

Maybe it was both.

I had called ahead, but there were still a few minutes needed to finish up my refill. Taking a seat, I heard the door open behind me and was treated to my guy candy.

Dressed in a cropped mesh football-ish jersey and cut off denim shorts, I assumed he couldn’t be coming from work. He might be heading to work, I mused, since my pharmacy is near one of Portland’s two gay strip clubs.

I got a little distracted when leaned over the counter and pushed his butt out toward me, but I did vaguely hear him say he needed a refill over the rushing of my pulse. My first thought was absolutely unmentionable but my second thought was, “This guy looks like he could have starred in a gay remake of an 80s Whitesnake video.

I was abruptly ripped back to reality by eight numbers: 11171996.

11

17

1996

He’s 22.

Of course, I had to share this with my friend, Diezel. He would certainly enjoy my discomfiture.

He certainly didn’t disappoint.

I couldn’t resist throwing a little shade in my jealousy over the carefree existence young gays have thanks to science, hence my “whore” comment.

Naturally, he sat down three feet from me and began finessing the fringe on his shorts. Picking at a thread here, lifting a knee to the side of his head to get a look at the backside of his shorts.

Seriously, kid…I’m looking. Let’s not overdo it, shall we?

Nevertheless, this St Lucille Bluth meme just captured my inner grumpy old man so perfectly in the moment…me, being all bitter over what I know I can’t have.

It was quite delicious – and responsible – that this kid was picking up his PrEP prescription moments before the weekend began. All the while, teasing the defenseless old man. It’s 90 degrees, kid. I’m too dehydrated to drool, don’t take it personally.

Earlier today, Jortis took some time to take a swipe at my figurative chops on the Facebook. He had seen a video about how to tell if there are sharks in the water before you swim in it.

He thought to tag me, which made me chuckle. Still, I watched the video through my fingers, ready to throw my phone aside at the first sign of a shark attack.

The video proudly touts the simple secret of detecting a shark infested body of water using only a spoon.

Step 1) Use spoon to taste a sample of the water

That’s it.

If the water tastes like salt there’s sharks in it.

I’ll wait while you recover from that subtle shock.

I’m of the mind that just because sharks are rarely found in fresh or brackish waters it doesn’t mean theyaren’t ever found there. As a matter of fact, I think every time you go into fresh water without encountering a shark, it just makes it more likely that it might happen the next time.

Yes, rivers.

Yes, lakes.

Yes, yes, yes, swimming pools, jacuzzis and bath tubs.

Fears are supposed to be irrational!

Also, I failed Probabilities & Statistics. In my defense, I took it at 8 am while I was working swing shift from 11 PM to 7 AM at Hoag Hospital.

This galeophobia of mine has been responsible for some rather amusing moments for my friends recently. At my expense, naturally. Not that I mind. With all the shit I sling, I best be able to take some in return!

Interesting side note, galeophobia is derived from the Greek word for weasel or polecat. Have you all become at least virtually acquainted with my murderous feline?

Not to be outdone, Little Buddy can generally be relied upon to insert an “irrational fear of sharks” bon mot into any given situation. And they’re usually pretty friggin’ hilarious.

This floor decal, for instance

Surely, there’s a shower curtain available.

I’m not suggesting at all that she goes out of her way to find these nightmare triggers for me.

The Facebook, on the other hand, seems to understand her shopping and internet browsing habits. Recently, this suggestion popped up on her Facebook feed.

She’s a crazy-talented baker, too, so I’ve no doubt about what the next birthday cake she bakes me will look like!

Finally – and I’m not suggesting that Little Buddy or Jortis is some sort of catalyst here – but last week, we all went to Portland Center Stage to see the final show of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Sidebar: if this is playing anywhere near you ever, I suggest you go see it.

Quite.

Amazing.

Anyhoo…after the show, we all cry-stumbled over to Powell’s because Jortis had a book he needed to pick up. None of us, save Jortis, knew what book he was after – and I’ve since forgotten…old – but I was surprised to find our party lost together in the sci-fi/fantasy room. This room is about a quarter of a city block, so don’t doubt me when I say we were lost together.

Plus, I had some door trouble as a result of being raised right. When I held the door for one of our foursome, eighty other people decided that Powell’s was the place to be and I got stuck at the entrance while watching the three people I was with get smaller and further and further spread out.

I caught up with LB in the Orange Room – or was it the Pink Room?

Nevertheless, there we were, waiting.

Maybe a little buzzed.

Definitely feeling the emotional weight of the show we’d just seen.

And it’s Little Buddy to our emotional rescue!

She somehow managed to catch a cluster of book titles that struck her as the perfect indicator that Jortis and I were in the right area. This is probably part of why I think it might have been the Pink Room…

Have you ever noticed how homoerotic fantasy fiction is?

I have.

Little Buddy definitely has.

Bones of the Earth?

This Side of Judgment?

How many titles in that pic have the word Queen in them?!?

Insanity.

Random insanity.

And this just happens to catch Little Buddy’s eye. I mean, c’mon! I have no question why LB is in my life, she’s prepaying her time in purgatory, obviously.

But, if I did…this moment is a perfect illustration.

For my part, not to be out-distracted, I noticed a book about 6″ – seriously, no double entendres intended – outside of the frame of the picture above.

I don’t know who this Belgarath the Sorcerer is, but his name is an anagram for my last name.

How.

Friggin’.

Random.

Ever since I’ve seen this, I’ve been trying to have a dream about Belgarath where we meet, fall in love, get married and then his name is Belgarath bal Gather.

(Like I’d tell you my real last name)

Anyway…hey, look! I distracted myself from my double-disappointing news day! I failed to mention that I’ve been summoned to Seattle next week for a preliminary round of We Hired An Internal, causing me to cancel a trip to The Gorge to christen LB and 2.0’s new wine country escape and Jortis’ birthday.

How’s that for crap timing?!?

But, like I said…channeling funny stories into my psyche in order to drive out the demons of bad news.

And it worked.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I also picked up a grocery bag of junk food earlier today as I wandered the aisles of my local RiteAid trying to figure out what it was I went in for.

Imma go comfort eat all of that.

Because, what could possibly go wrong?

It was dishwasher detergent, btw. And, no…I didn’t remember before I left.

What Could Possibl…

TIL #6: Jenny Protocol

So, this is ideally a series about things I learn from my older friends as I am initiated into the Golden Oldies Club.

Silver Nuggets, as Little Buddy likes to call them.

But yesterday I had a chance to give back!

I was out to coffee with the Silver Fox and I told him I needed toothpaste, so we swung into the RiteAid so I could pick some up on the way back. He decided to impulse buy some flossers and we were off to the checkout.

Like many stores, the RiteAid has a loyalty program. You earn points for every dollar you spend and they repay you with a discount on your purchases, based on your level of spending.

Now, it’s totally not important, but I feel like I have this unreasonable point of pride around being in the “gold” reward level. All this really means is that I save 20% on my purchases.

And that I spend a lot of money at the RiteAid.

Getting old ain’t cheap, my prescriptions are expensive.

So, I go to the register with my toothpaste while The Fox skulks around being next in line. I save my $1.20-something and pay as The Fox joins me for his turn. The cashier asks if he’s a rewards member and he admits that he isn’t.

Like with social media, rewards programs go into The Fox’s “Fer Suckas” bucket and he steers clear of them.

He’s not opposed to a punch card, but nothing that requires an email or phone number.

Probably not a bad idea, given how grumpy I get deleting marketing emails from everyone in the Northern Hemisphere.

But

There’s a workaround.

Or two…

Take grocery stores. At the Safeway or Fred Meyers, for instance. Sacha and I were rewards members at both places. When he bailed, I continued to use the landline number at our house to get those discounts even though the programs were in his name.

There wasn’t a Safeway near me when I moved to Shittatle and there was only one distant Freddy’s. Interestingly, Fred Meyer is a Kroger subsidiary, but their reward programs aren’t linked so I just signed up for my own Kroger reward account.

Being back in Portland now, I go to the nearby Safeway to drop my recyclables every couple weeks and will pick up cat food and La Croix and whatever I might need for a dinner or two…I still plug in my old landline number from my Sacha days and badaboom-badabing…I get the club member pricing.

Sacha can have the fuel perk, I don’t need it.

He says I’m mean to him.

Pish.

On the other hand, that whole Kroger thing worked against me when I moved back to town, because their system doesn’t recognize my landline. Either it was inactive too long and auto-purged from the system or we used Sacha’s cell number for the membership. Hey, I’m lucky to remember my landline from 15 years ago, don’t expect me to remember my ex’s old phone number. It’s all I can do to ignore his texts versus blocking the number.

Regardless, in this instance I simply activated the Jenny Protocol.

Yup, when I go to a store where I don’t have a rewards account – assuming I don’t want one, either – I simply type in my local 503 area code followed by Jenny’s number…867-5309.

Works.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

So, there I was explaining this to The Fox in the RiteAid while the cashier stared at me in slack-jawed amazement. I was getting a good chuckle over it until I realized he just wanted me to put my number in to keep the line moving…

TIL #6: Jenny Protocol

Portland Pride

I said I wasn’t going to go.

I wasn’t in the mood, borderline depressed.

It’s not my crowd, I’m too old.

It’s not safe, why put myself in a place where I’m a potential target?

My “Pride” body is in mothballs.

I went.

…and came away friggin’ renewed!

Don’t get me wrong, when I first showed up, I was mad. Since this outfit sets up in and around the North Park Blocks, I’m immersed in the Pride parade going-ons.

Even the day of, I left my house and went to my coffee shop for my morning joe, coming out my front door when it was just early bird parade prep stragglers.

I was convinced that sitting in my coffee shop perch would be the extent of my participation. However, as I watched the Park Blocks populate from straggler-status to party-mode, I kinda got inspired.

Then I left the cafe and went home.

Ugh…so people-y.

I sat on my couch and booted around the interwebs and the Netflix for a while before convincing myself around 11:30 to just go watch the Dykes on Bikes. They always kick off the parade and their ability to get the crowd pumped in a great boost.

The parade started at 11 this year.

C’mon!

I’d missed the Dykes.

But there I was, in the same spot I always occupied when I went to the parade. Standing on the edge of the parking lot across from the former Embers. Sun beating down from directly over me and radiating up at me from the asphalt I was standing on.

Convection Cooked Xtopher.

I missed the opportunity to go across the street for a quick beer to cool off. During other Portland Pride parades, I was amazed to walk into Embers during the parade and see how nut-to-butt packed it was. Post-standing-room-only, whereas I usually felt like I was the only non-homeless, non-employee, not wearing a dress patron there. But as everyone else waited in their best guess as to where a line was for the bar, I could usually count on standing still and getting a beer handed to me.

Ah, the occasional perks of being a regular.

I’d only been at the parade for 15 minutes, but could already feel myself deciding to stay. The frustration at missing the opening act was wearing off. And even though I couldn’t wander across the street for a beer, Portland’s local pubs had floats that at least refreshed me with the idea of a beer.

It was fun – as usual – to see the local businesses participating in this show of community. Not too long ago, these parades were really just processions of floats with go-go boys from the local bars, support organizations for our community and the occasional business from a city’s Gay District. It really reinforced the theme for the parade.

While “LOVE” is indeed the word, the participation by these businesses demonstrated that love is a word with many definitions. Obviously, for the parade overall, romantic and familial love was the primary meaning, but this participation by the community reinforced the less specific, global definition of the word.

They loved us.

Because love is also simply about a degree of acceptance. Taking the whole – don’t make it dirty, Diezel – good, bad or ugly.

Even our sports teams got in on it. Naturally, there were the local gay teams, like the gay soccer league team. But seeing our Blazer organization representing, that felt good for some reason. Not that I’m a sports fan or participant. But maybe because I’m not…having spent much of my youth feeling ostracized from my peer group because I didn’t have a head – or physical aptitude – for sports.

Of course, not everyone loves “us”. I had decided to make my way from my perch toward the head of Broadway.

This year’s Pride haps were pre-marred by the ominous yet vague threat that alt-right Proud Boys would be lurking outside Pride sponsored events to harass attendees as they left. Basically – Pride being an unapologetic party – they were openly declaring that they were gonna beat up drunk gays.

Proud Boys ruining Pride.

I can see why they’re so proud.

There were a couple of dust ups in the week leading to Pride weekend – most notably, three guys pulling their small penis mobile over on Broadway in broad daylight to beat up a gay – or at least gay enough looking – guy.

Profile much?

But that still lent credibility to their menacing promise. It kept me in. Maybe that was their real purpose.

Still, I was happy to hear about increased security, including the Portland Police, at Pride functions. For the second time in the years since the Pulse massacre, I was glad to see the parade head at Broadway and Burnside blockaded against vehicles.

Two heavy duty dump trucks were there to prevent any vehicular menace. A sad statement to have to make, but heaven forbid these alt-right people read a newspaper and figure out what terrorism in Europe is looking like these days.

Of course, dump trucks keep out cars and whatnot. But not all of the refuse.

As always, the “God Hates Fags” crowd was there. I think they really did a great job of rallying the three remaining members of their hate group for the parade.

My photography leaves a bit to be desired, but it really was three guys, two signs and a bullhorn.

They really weren’t a match for the horns and sirens of every emergency service provider in the Portland area, who blasted them and drowned their hate-speak out as their vehicles rounded the corner of the parade route.

Do you see the vehicle ID on that ambulance?

Awesome!

Eventually, the haters gave up. More accurately, they probably moved down to the waterfront festival ahead of the parade’s end so that they could be ready to assault the crowd as they entered the festival after the parade. I don’t know who writes their stuff, but what I heard in between siren blasts makes me suspect one of their group is a self-hating homo.

“Instead of getting down on your knees to suck dick, you should get down an pray to God!”

“God hates you, you cum gurgling homo!”

…hearing them was really starting to make me feel proud to be a part of a community that has an annual party to promote love.

Surprisingly, dovetailing nicely on that feeling were at least a dozen religious groups sending delegations to march. Usually, I expect the MCC to be there since it’s “the gay church”. This year, though, I really noticed the participants from other religious denominations.

Because it really reinforced that with mutual love and respect for one another, we are all taking part in a global community and by extension, family.

I swear those balloons spell out “FAMILY”. A nice throwback to the Marriage Equality slogan, “Love makes a family”.

I decided to keep moving backward along the parade route to short-hand the remaining floats in the procession. Partially because this was turning into an all day event for me when I’d originally committed to viewing one entry. Notice how ungrumpy I’m seeming as I write? The same was also happening in real time as I watched the parade.

Catharsis!

I also wanted to head back toward my coffee house to see if they were still open. Normally, they are closed on Sundays. From what I’d witnessed earlier in the day, today was looking to shape up as one of their best days ever. I like seeing my local businesses thrive…even if a constant line to the door means I might not get a timely refill on my cold brew coffee.

Remember what I said about being a regular at my neighborhood gay bar? Yeah…well, it worked with coffee, too! The Fox had joined late, not believing the cafe would be open. He’d walked in – amazed – to a line to the door. Liz set him up with a cup, but was so busy that he didn’t get a chance to pay until the next day. It’s these local businesses with such good people working there and investing their personalities in the community they serve – these relationships – that I want to see thrive. I’m proud to be their customer.

Even still, it’s nice to see big business participate, too. Nike, Adidas, T-Mobile, even Wells Fargo…despite the road apples their crew didn’t manage to get entirely removed! It was odd that a few companies were conspicuously absent from prior years: Macy’s and Alaska Airlines being a couple of the standouts.

Maybe I just missed them, but then again…they do set up right in my front yard. Macy’s kind of makes sense, having shuttered their downtown store this past year. But Alaska would be a strange absence, given that they are a local PNW company.

But none of that is actually why I brought up the big business participation.

In order for these large companies to have a delegation in the parade to represent them, they’ve got to have employees that want to represent them. These global behemoths like Nike and Adidas, for instance. Sure, they both have Portland World Headquarters, but internally they have an environment of inclusion…specifically for their LGBT+ employees. That effort to make their employees more than just a minion helps them to attract and retain good talent.

But it also gives me hope that no matter how big the company, they are striving toward that scrappy small business value of their individuals being what drives their local success, like my friends that work at my favorite caffienation and inebriation stations.

By this time, I’d actually made my way back to the corner that f&b is on just in time to see the final floats heading into the route. Led by the Human Rights Campaign and Portland’s own Gay Beards, whose procession had a ball playing red rover under their huge flag.

Not to be too Portland about it, but the Witches Against Capitalism were well represented. As was our local Rocky Horror Picture Show enthusiasts…whose group presented zero g-rated picture opportunities, so enjoy the witches.From witches to Red Dress…I’d have a tough time finding a dress for the actual Red Dress Party – although I don’t since I’m not a size 12 anymore. These guys trotted out a dress for the Pride Parade…and you know they can’t wear the same dress twice!

That’s commitment.Sure, let’s have a float for sex workers, too.

Actually, while I don’t disagree with their sign – that looks like it was made at breakfast and they just spontaneously decided to be in the parade over brunch – the reason I’m including these pics is two-fold:

A) there is a guy dressed as Deadpool wearing a straw hat right behind that blue tutu…WTF? Like I’d put it past Ryan Reynolds to show up for a random Pride parade appearance.B) I’ve had a “real” job my whole life…where’s my fucking boat?!?

Maybe I need to re-examine my vocational trajectory.

Oops…maybe that ship has sailed. (See what I did there?)

Then there’s random unicycle dude outfitted in pink and pulling a bike trailer with a giant “?” on it as if to say, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here…”

But that pink curly thing? Not a tail on his costume…it’s a whip.

If only I had a good action shot of it.Which brings us to the end of the parade. Since Dykes on Bikes open the procession, it seems only fair that’ll white guys on motorcycles finish things off, right?

Call it Dawgs on Hawgs…

Luckily, my backward moseying had brought me back to Big Legrowlski.

And this adorable little fella!

I was actually pretty parched, so I stopped in for just one.

Good old Silver Fox joined me for a second round.

Then Liz and the f&b crew stopped in for a quickie to cap off a huge day of business for their cafe. I had to stay and help celebrate that success!

Right?!?

The Fox being the reasonable person he is chose to duck out at this juncture. That turned out to be a good call since moments later – swigs later? – the gorgeous 80 degree day gave way to a biblical friggin’ rain storm.

Drops the size of my head.

Thunder!

I decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the only rain break was awkwardly situated in the middle of a beer.

What’s an out of date Frat Boy to do?

Me, being the optimist that I am, stayed and drank until I’d hit six. Then I began to wonder in those God Hates Fags guys were right and worry that a flood was coming.

Not really.

But it was getting on to Mistress Myrtle’s feeding time. I asked Alex if she had any lost and found umbrellas. She jokingly provided me with this

which I proudly escorted back to my place while wondering how a bar ends up with a child’s umbrella.

The days that followed Pride have been fun exercises in immediate nostalgia. One of the best things about Portland Pride is that it’s always in the middle of Pride month – the worst thing is that it’s on Father’s Day. What this means is that we have a lot of pre-Pride festivities to warm us up and that we still have two weeks left in Pride month.

It’s like foreplay and afterglow.

My favorite part of this reality is that I have little reminders of Pride – like glitter all over the road in front of my home or this sticker I saw yesterday in front of Powell’s.

This whole surprise Pride participation has been just what my waning sense of self-pride needed.

Gay-men to that!

It was just the necessary kick in the butt to stop feeling worthless in my unemployed-ness and get my ass off the couch and back into the land of the living. More of that to follow!

Love and pizza, yo!

Portland Pride