TransDating: Part II

As is my norm, I looked up from my phone while wandering around yesterday and was surprised at where I found myself. I was in the North Park Blocks, basically, my front yard.

No surprise there.

What was slightly surprising was that I was in the midst of the Trans March and found myself thinking, “Guh, is it still Pride weekend in Portland?!?”

Pride weekend kicks off Thursday night, the parties really ramp up Friday night. Saturday has traditionally been reserved for a pre-parade Dyke March in the evening but has recently had a Trans March added earlier in the afternoon. Sunday is the big parade, followed by a visit to the festival at the waterfront park and Monday is recovery day.

This was me at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. I’d pledged to sit this Pride out, my personal pride reserves are dwindling these days, so I just wasn’t feeling it. Plus, Portland Pride had been pre-marred by a promise made by some anonymous alt-right Proud Boys to cause trouble to revellers as they left events.

It was too much.

But just finding myself there incidentally ignited something.

It got me thinking about my earlier post on TransDating and how at the end, I’d only shared my experiences about dating – or not – Trans but not really my observations on the actual Folk.

Part I was 2500 words on experiences but maybe missed my actual point: Do trans-folk have themselves more together mentally and emotionally than other human folk?

Men?

Gay men?

Any Women?

I’d bet you a dollar you can guess what side I’m coming down on there.

Yes.

Oh, hell yes!

Probably. Maybe a draw but I’m gonna give Trans Folk the edge over cis women.

Is it that that post sexual mindset I think millennials may display more as a group than prior (non-Victorian) generations is part of their journey to gender expression?

Yeah. My supposition is that it is something like that.

I think gay men – collectively – have had a tougher time traditionally in regards to managing mental health versus their sexual identities. But that thought of mine is 30-plus years old and I’m aware it needs to evolve. Because it’s a thought that precludes the increased visibility of transgendered people.

In my opinion, men start out less mentally mature than women. So, there’s that. But then when alternate sexuality rears its head as puberty rolls around, I think both genders have – historically speaking – kind of tended to withdraw.

I’m glad that fresher generations are not experiencing that so much as the rule anymore. It still happens, but I’m encouraged to see younger people expressing their sexual preference at – or sometimes even prior to – the time puberty comes on the scene. Perhaps it’s that early awareness and acceptance that will change gay men’s tendency to medicate through sex, drugs and alcohol and provide an opportunity to get mental help early on and produce better people.

Have I maybe wandered off track here?

I’m slightly distracted by envious thoughts about my nephew’s high school graduation last weekend and the fact that there was reference to openly gay classmates like it was no big deal. Also, I’m watching the Pride parade setting up outside since I live in their staging area.

So, I am distracted.

Still.

The point I was building toward is that once someone comes out to themselves as trans and says the words out loud – a huge hurdle – the mental health is built in. It’s not necessarily a tidal wave of mental health support, but there are pre-surgical boxes that must be checked before one can proceed.

Like, Joe Schmoe can’t just walk into a doctors office and book a boob job.

Well, actually, that might not be totally true now that I think about this guy. He famously said in an interview that he loved boobs so he got a set of his own.

I’m not sure what pre-surgical conversations he had, but that statement was pretty flip. I do know that he kept his girlfriend and his dumbstick…but that was then. I’m not up on current events since he left office.

Anyhoo…

I think that access to mental health helps to create what usually registers with me as an overall attractive energy…unique in my experience to TransFolk. I just don’t see or feel that same wellness from other people.

It’s very appealing and creates a real pull. You can see their happiness. I have a friend-quaintance in Seattle that just radiates happiness. I first met him at a party a friend threw. I was completely drawn into that energy, I didn’t learn until weeks later that he was FtM (female to male) Trans. Once I did it was like a lightbulb moment where I was all, “Of course!”

But as with all things mental health, it’s a destination. Truly a journey. Some people’s trek toward it is longer than others. Some people never actually set out. Still others will hit the road and then decide they want to go somewhere else.

That was the case with my Seattle-friend, ultimately deciding queer was the right label versus trans. But that they figured it out, that’s the win.

Which brings me to my deepest thought – perhaps even the point – of this derp post: is disqualifying a trans person as a sex partner any less sexist than doing the same based on someone’s race is racist?

Maybe?

I suspect that we will all still be allowed to be attracted to the physical appearances and plumbing that we are attracted to…maybe we’ll just evolve to a point where we can express those preferences without sounding like assholes.

From what I’ve seen, TransFolk have arrived at a destination that I hope can be a glimpse of a future. One that transcends physical appearance and allows someone to actually fall in love with the person and not the flesh around them.

It’s motivational.

And enviable.

And might just get me off my damn ass and to the parade, Proud Boys be damned.

TransDating: Part II

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

News Flash: they don’t.

Well, not any more or less than the usual person.

For some, I’m an acquired taste.

But as we flit into Pride weekend in Portland, I figured drag was as good a topic to reflect on as any. And I’ve had kind of a funny history with drag queens. Or DQs as I’ve referred to them in the past, since saying two words is so damned hard.

Actually, in thinking about this, I realized that maybe DQs should hate me. Maybe just a little.

You see, I realized that in my early gay days, I was kind of embarrassed by people who did drag. Reflexively, I want to give myself a pass for this early discomfort, since it is something that I know was happening when I was first working to overcome my own gay shame and internal homophobia.

This was the late 80s and early 90s. My knee jerk (or just flat out jerk) reaction when seeing a drag queen in a Pride parade – about the only place I ever encountered them – was “Welp, that’s what will lead the news story about Pride”. My thinking – or frustration – with that obvious reality was that Pride parades were supposed to help normalize our culture for the flyover states. Showing the most flamboyant elements of our culture was doing more harm than good in that battle.

Then I realized a few things:

First, unless we’re naked, we’re all in drag. This is some Grade A DQ wisdom. And it’s dead-bang spot on, especially once we start dressing ourselves. We dress how we want to be perceived in the world.

Second, and piling onto and expanding that sense of expression, drag is a frigging art. If you’ve never watched one get into face- as it’s called – find a YouTube video and be prepared to be amazed. Drag Queens are equal parts self expression and performance art. Regardless of whether they are on a stage or socializing, when a DQ is in face, they are performing. That’s not just Jeff in a Dress you’re seeing. Jeff has a different name and persona once he slips those stilettos on.

Third, our community’s most extravagant fringes should be our ambassadors to the Normie Culture. Accepting anything less than our wildest representations is acceptance with conditions, like that friend who accepts that you’re gay as long as you don’t do gay stuff around him.

Bitch, when I’m being your friend…that’s me doing my gay stuff.

So, flash forward to me overcoming my own homophobia. It only took me leaving the LBC for Florida, living in Texas, moving back to Long Beach and landing back in my hometown of Portland.

Easy-peasy.

Except…not so fast.

When I move back to Portland in ’96, I lived on the Willamette River. This was back when Stark Street was commonly and crassly referred to as Vaseline Alley because most of the gay bars were clustered along a three-ish block stretch. Not the closest gay bars to my home, of course. That was Embers.

Half dance bar, half drag performance venue…I would bypass it for Stark Street unless I was out with a group of friends that wanted to shake their booties.

Interestingly enough, I credit this balance between my “safety in numbers” approach to Embers and my early onset grumpiness with helping me develop a comfort and then appreciation of the drag community. You see, I would go dance at Embers with my friends, but being an evolving grouch, I could only take so much crowding and being stepped on before I had to give myself some alone time on the drag side of the bar.

Not that it was empty or even less crowded. But it was quieter…if only by comparison to the dance side. I’d stand in the back and watch the show for a bit or throw a $20 into the video lottery or grab a beer and enjoy it solo.

Ok, I usually did that last thing with either of the first two while the walls buffered the thumpa-thumpa of the music next door and I decompressed.

It was here that I first saw Linda Lee, Raven, Poison Waters and many other performers that showed me the breadth of our drag personalities.

Linda Lee simply refused to tuck as part of her prep. Usually you could count on at least one flash of a pantyhose encased crotch during her performance. She also didn’t really bother to learn the words to the songs she was lip syncing. When she got to the end of the words she knew, rumor – or legend now – had it that she’d either start mouthing “fuck you” over and over until she found another chorus or treat us to an incredibly obscene tongue display.

I remember seeing Linda out in public one day. Well, part of her, at any rate. It was a summer day and I was driving around doing errands and had one stop downtown before heading home. I was looking for parking and realized that I’d just missed an opportunity in the shape of a car door being carelessly flung open in front of me. I’d just rounded a corner and stopped versus trying to change lanes to avoid taking the door off. The door started to close again just as the driver’s leg was coming out. It was a thick, varicose veiny old man’s leg and it caught the door to stop it from amputating the leg as he tried to exit the car.

That was when I realized the leg was attached to a subtle pump, maybe a tasteful 2″ heel. It was midday after all. Gradually and awkwardly, Linda pulled the rest of herself out of the old car, her skirt riding up as she scooched of the driver’s seat, turning to hold the door open with her half exposed ass as she gathered her stuff off of the passenger seat.

Another signature Linda Lee show.

Raven was another story. For a crass as Linda was, Raven was to opposite to the point of genteel. The first few (hundred) times I encountered her, I was sure she was hitting on me. She’s Native American, so right up my alley. She’s also about 20 gay years older than me, so that alley ends at the end of a pier. Gradually, I got comfortable with her overtly flirty style and would just enjoy our occasional chats from her perch at the bar for what they were: low key social interaction. Those “I’m talking to a man in a dress” conversations were what really helped me embrace drag as both an art form and lifestyle that was an integral part of our gay community.

Still, neither of my experiences with these DQs prepared me for the time a performer ended her number by jumping off stage and making her way directly toward where I stood at the back of the bar. She was smiling like a crazy person and barely broke eye contact as she navigated the tables between us, prompting me to basically do one of those look-to-both-sides-then-mouth-“me?” things like the cool guy I am.

It was me she was headed for.

Apparently, I was distracting her throughout her number and I was to be chastised, thanked and asked out on a date.

In my stunned and flabbergasted state, I agreed, forgetting my Groucho Marx motto about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me as a member. That carried over to finding fault with someone who was attracted to me…I wasted so much time hating my beautiful younger self.

This was somewhere between hereand here

in my 20s.

<sigh>

Anyway, we went out. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember our date started with me picking him up at his place and ended at my place the next day.

Being a good American conspicuous consumer, I appreciated that I was picking him up at his place in an old two story 20s-era apartment that I’d probably just about kill to live in. Tile roof, stucco exterior, arched doorways and fantastic landscaping. I was jealous and impressed…drag obviously paid better than I’d thought. Turns out, his day job – and family, black sheep that he was – set him up pretty well. Drag was just an expensive hobby, as his second bedroom turned sequin gown filled dressing room attested.

He was a beautiful boy outside of that fancy dress, but it was that second bedroom – and the later realization of that thought about the dress – that made us a bad match at the time. Both my faults. I’ve often wondered where he ended up…he was a really nice, fun guy. Too bad FaceBook was still a decade away.

After my decade long Seattle exile, I moved back to Portland and re-settled myself near the remnants of the now scattered gay bars. Stark Street has been rendered unrecognizable from the enclave of gay bars I’d left, only one remaining. Gentrification touches everyone…but I’d positioned myself close to my primary gay watering holes: Embers and CCs, which had the added bonus of being close to Hobo’s and Fox & Hounds for when I wanted to eat with my people and/or be left alone, respectively.

Embers and CCs has a steady stream of Drag Queens because they both had a drag component to their bar environment, CCs even has a Drag Queen Bartender

which is truly a rarity, I believe she’s one of only three in the US. Every shift is a completely different incarnation, each a very elaborate artistic creation.

Major drag bars aside, my favorite interactions with DQs occurred in settings that reminded me of my barside chats with Raven all those years ago. The Fox & Hounds is around the corner from CCs and on the opposite side of the block from Darcelle’s, Portland’s own world famous and Guinness Book of World Records holding female impersonator. This provided a steady stream – trickle, really – of drop in drag queens who, like me, wanted a drink in relative peace.

Even though I’m pretty sure all three bars are semi connected by Portland’s underground network of Shanghai Tunnels, most DQs would work the sidewalk around the block, chatting and taking in a casual smoke on their way to Fox & Hounds for their “break”.

I’d casually chat with these performers about where they were performing or whether they were just out and about for the night as well as what was going on. Sometimes, we’d just sit quietly, sipping in the camaraderie, others we’d play some video lottery and urge each other toward victory or commiserate our losses. Still others, we’d talk about our town and the community and the subculture that is drag.

At the end of the day, our struggles were what united us more than our sexuality. After one evening of winding down at Fox & Hound, I’d decided to wander around the corner to CCs to see what was going on. It was the first day that weed was legal for recreational use in the great state that is Oregon and there was a palpable – if not subdued, for some reason – energy in Old Town. There was a group of people from all walks of life planning a sort of smoke in on the Burnside Bridge beneath the ubiquitous Old Town sign

I learned this as I was passing CCs’ hostess in residence. Our relationship had run the gamut from enthusiastic, gushing fan when I saw her at my first Pride after moving to Seattle – a welcome bit of my hometown – to our current low key drive by greetings as she worked the crowd at CCs. This particular night, she acknowledged me by offering me a hit off her joint. I passed, but thanked her. She reminded me to go to the bridge later to celebrate. End of story.

My absolute most favorite DQ story happened shortly after this. I was meeting a friend at the Mock Crest tavern for a drink after work. I was working a few blocks away in North Portland at the time and got off work around 11. Oftentimes I’d chill with a beer or two before catching – or missing – the last bus home. We were sitting in this little shotgun of a hole in the wall bar, enjoying a beer and listening to the three piece band that they’d managed to somehow cram into this tiny space as we talked.

It was very pleasant, which I know is a surprise coming from me.

As we’re sitting there chatting, in walk a couple of Drag Queens and I’m wondering how the hell they got so lost as to end up in a dive bar in NoPo…only to realize one of the two was friggin’ Raven!

It’d been nearly 20 actual years since I’d seen her and my presumption was that she’d died, like her counterpart Linda Lee had. I bought her and her friend a beer and learned that she wasn’t dead, “just in my 60s!” as she’d put it. We chatted for about a half hour before she and her friend took off for town. They had stopped in to mentally prepare themselves for the evening out on the town seeing friends while navigating the crowd of “bitchy kids” as she put it.

I apologized for having been one of those bitchy kids when we first met and she gave me a big kiss, hugged me and told me I was always a delightful companion at Embers.

Not bad for a future grumpy old man.

As if that wasn’t enough to put a smile on my face, I’d also missed the last bus of the night. Naturally, I stayed and closed the place before grabbing an Uber home, reflecting on how life really is just such a rich and delightfully strange and unpredictable journey.

Back to my titular (hehe) question. Drag Queens certainly don’t hate me. If anything, some might say the opposite. In the best possible way, their collective acceptance of pretty much anyone they come across helped me to become a better human. Certainly, the acceptance I have felt from the drag community over the years has helped me accept – and stop hating – myself.

The things we learn in unexpected ways…

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve been a little lazy lately. Kind of living the life of a shut in or hermit.

Lots of factors.

However, the two that led to this initially and then hooked me, eventually were:

A) The first of the season sunburn that I exposed myself to during my spur of the moment half century ride has kept me inside versus making it worse. I could simply buy some sun screen, but for now I’m living a literal version of “once burned, twice shy”…at least until I stop peeling!

And,

B) I hurt myself. Yes, again. Yes, while I’ve allegedly been inactive.

But there’s a story behind that Point B.

Naturally.

The Silver Fox was laid up a few days back and I offered to take his pooch out for his pre-bedtime walk. His dog is a good boy. Certainly a better pet than my Mistress Myrtle, who is currently in the midst of an Otter Identity Crisis.

George is 110 pounds of heart. Definitely more heart than brain, but as soon as I open the door he’s doing his “happy to see you” dance. It’s the same dance I get when I’m visiting and use the bathroom in The Fox’s Lair. Anyway, having been a slug for the past several days and wanting to make sure The Fox gets every opportunity to rest up by sleeping through the night, I decide to give the dog a good pre-bedtime run. We zip around the North Park Blocks in the darkness in between sniff and pee breaks so that he can get all the pup-dates the neighborhood dogs leave…the NPB really are like Canine Facebook.

Still, we ran up and down four of the five blocks of park in between Chez Galby and The Fox’s Lair, occasionally doubling back on ourselves as we ran and played. It was only 3/4 of a mile, but I knew it was more than George usually gets at that late hour and I could tell he was ready to settle in for the night when we were done.

I went to bed thinking, “You know, you could shuffle out a mile jog around the park blocks a couple times a week” and motivated to give that a try to see how my knees and lower legs tolerated it.

Of course, I woke up on Monday scarcely able to put my ever increasing body weight on my left foot.

Gotdammit.

So I’ve been relegated to the sofa most of this week…naturally, it’s also a week where my normal Monday morning acupuncture was cancelled because of the holiday.

First World Problem.

You’d have thought being laid up would give me plenty of writing time.

You’d have been mistaken.

I’ve been trapped in a daily Netflix Spiral.

But, ending the week on a high note, I am determined to tell the story of that time my phone fat-shamed me. It was also my last outdoor activity, a hike with Little Buddy in Forest Park. There might even be some pics, it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten if I snapped pics during that hike or not.

One of the reasons that I enjoy hiking is the natural setting, of course. That’s the same reason I enjoy cycling. The difference is that while hiking, I can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when it’s buzzing by at a whopping 15 MPH. Hence the potential for pictures.

My usual Forest Park hike is a ten mile affair, about 50/50 split betwixt sidewalk on the to and from and actual trail in the park itself. It’s usually a 3-4 hour endeavor, depending on how long I stay at Pittock Mansion once I reach this little urban summit. Little Buddy had told me she had a few hours between work and family dinner duties, so I stopped her from paying to park by my place when she rolls up, figuring we can park adjacent to one of the many entry points and start there.

I’m not just respecting her pending familial obligations, I’m also ensuring our post ambulation recreation at The Big Legrowlski: beer!

Here’s the rub, though: I’ve never driven to the trail, so I have zero clue where to direct Little Buddy. Being the slave to technology that I am, I google Forest Park and get directions.

This takes us in the complete opposite direction than I normally head off in when on foot, so I’m completely lost. I usually head NW through the Alphabet District – encompassing the Pearl District, Slabtown and The Conway neighborhoods – and then into Northwest and ultimately the forest on Thurman Street.

These google directions set us off toward Burnside, the primary East-West thoroughfare through town and really the first street in the Alphabet District, and the opposite end of the alphabet from my normal entry point. Mind you, Google Maps is – allegedly – going to provide the quickest route, so off we go.

Intrepid, no?

Here’s the payoff for struggling through those Portland neighborhood specific details…patience really can pay off.

We’re heading up Burnside, chattering comfortably away about her and 2.0’s new home escrow, an upcoming kitchen remodel in their current home and my parents’ kitchen remodel – it appears I literally have nothing to add to this conversation myself, so I’m ripping off my parents. But, being an okay son, when she mentions having a potential Quartz Guy, I tell her that my parents had wanted quartz but opted for marble because they couldn’t find a decent deal on quartz.

Sidebar: She literally just texted me this as I’m writing

Hehe…Wong’s.

This is my life, I cannot make it up any better.

End sidebar.

So, we’re driving up Burnside and our conversation is interrupted by directions, as is often the case when GPS is your friend. Or in this case, frenemy.

“In 600 feet, continue on past Taco Bell”…

As far as landmarks go, if you’re going to base them on businesses, Portland has a few iconic offerings along Burnside. For example,

Jim Fisher Volvo has been on Burnside since 1957 and its sign 60 feet over Burnside is nearly as famous as this guy sitting at the head of NW Burnside.

But, no, my phone had inherited my snarky and completely unveiled bitchy personality. Allow me to translate its directions for you.

“Hey, fatty, since you don’t drive and based on your drunken Uber history, the park you’re looking for is past Taco Bell…do not stop at Taco Bell!”

Little Buddy and I were so stunned by this out of character type of direction that it took us a moment to begin laughing our asses off. LB nearly drove into a truck. We were laughing so hard that we nearly missed the second warning at 400 feet. We’d regained our composure enough to enjoy the fact that google kept on shaming me until the “200 feet” marker.

As funny as that was – shituationally – I felt a little cheated that there was no congratulatory message once I’d successfully made it past my drunken dietary siren.

Somehow – after that amazing ab workout slash dose of the best medicine – we made it to our urban trailhead destination. I recognized it, as I’d crossed this road a few times on other adventures. After parking, we head out into the trail as I try to mentally adjust my map so I don’t get us lost.

We both quickly realize that we aren’t entering at the easiest point on the path…as we pretty much are silenced 300 feet into a maybe 12 degree (I’m guessing, not really sure how grades are measured…just assume it’s steep) climb when LB says something along the lines of, “Geez, how long is this hill?!?”

Basically, what I was desperately trying to remember. Wiping the streams of sweat from my face before turning to answer, I tell her that “I can’t actually remember” and that it’s “longer than I recall, I’m trying to remember which way to go at the top so I don’t get lost again”.

Now, this Little Buddy of mine, she’s pretty sharp.

Again?!?”, she asks.

This totally takes the pressure off the early phone fat shaming since I answer her honestly by telling her that I’ve only gotten lost in Forest Park twice.

This year.

This just happens to be one of the two paths I’ve been lost on.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d guess that the initial climb was about 1000 feet and my treacherous phone told me we climbed 13 stories. One of my math-y friends can figure the grade out and tell the rest of us in the comments.

After that initial near death humility inducing beginning, the path leveled off into a more comfortable elevation gain and we were back to our normally chatty and much less wheezy selves. It was last Wednesday and we both enjoyed the relatively people-free trail as we absorbed the natural settings and caught up.

It’s one of those normally awesome experiences that is even better for the company. I’m glad she and I have had a couple of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, being outdoors, some beer, a lil wine, great weather and surprisingly few other people. As a matter of fact, once we reached the mansion, I mentioned that this was the smallest crowd I’d seen up there in the three years I’ve been hiking these trails.

Less than a dozen counting us. Excluding us, maybe not even a half dozen.

Heavenly.

Naturally, two of the only other visitors were feeling chatty. And commemorative, asking me to get a pic of them in front of the overlook. LB took off for a shady spot in the corner while the tourists from Salt Lake chatted me up. I mentally praised her reclusiveness, even though I knew that I was projecting my early onset grumpiness onto her mom check in moment.

I can’t blame the tourist for wanting to capture the beautiful view, even if the mountain wasn’t out that day.

I swear, there is a mountain in that haze…somewhere. Maybe next time. I have that luxury, even though it’ll probably be so crowded up there when the mountain is actually out that I won’t be able to get a decent shot of it.

Oh well, first <ahem> step is to get my foot cooperating again!

Fat Shamed By My Phone

Galby’s Grow Op

No, mom…I’m not growing pot!

She’d totally turn me in, too.

No, my grow op is my lil patio pot garden.

Mom totally endorses this type of grow op. Out in “the wilds” surrounding my family’s homes in Columbia County, there are three Galby Gardens. One for each of my parents’ and siblings’ yards. Having a hopefully lush patio is the least I could do to try to blend in from my urban abode.

Mom even made a contribution at our lunch this week, trucking this lil baby in with her and Dad.

Let there be salsa! Er…tomatoes. I know there’s no such thing as a salsa bush.

Most surprising to me after planting my initial garden over in 3C last year was how Myrtle left the plants alone. She had killed most of my indoor plants, Christmas Cactus barely survived. There are still leaves with Myrtle’s bite marks scarred into them, so I was surprised she hadn’t tried to kill last year’s or even this year’s patio plants.

Sure enough, she’s content to sit peacefully amongst the greenery.

Well, she was sitting peacefully until I went to snap a pic, then she went on high alert.

Crazy cat.

To further nurture my yard-ly yield, my absentee takeaway from last year’s white elephant family Christmas celebration was an AeroGarden, which I just decommissioned today after what I hope will be a successful transition from hydro to soil.

Wish me – and these lil babies – luck.

The mini-countertop garden kit came with basil, dill and parsley. I was most excited about the basil, since I grow tired of buying mine. However, this plant got monstrous on my counter and dwarfed the other two in the aeroponic setup. Probably, I should have done this weeks ago. I fear the poor thing is too top heavy at the moment to successfully support itself, hence the alley oop from the deck railing.

The basil is still that big and heavy after taking 1/3 of the plant off…fingers crossed.

After planting the three victims – er – herbs, I think the parsley is the prettiest. Being in the creative couple’s project pot that Sacha and I each painted half of certainly enhances the delicate beauty of the plant itself.

I love that damn pot.

Again, not pot-pot. The one that survived the end of our relationship, ten years of condo living with no deck after moving to Seattle and then the return move to Portland. I rather like having a tangible reminder of that relationship. What better reminder than something we created together?

Regardless of how the new additions take to their soil surroundings, I’ve still got the perennials that I added this Spring as well as my personal favorite – don’t tell the others! My olive tree.

The Silver Fox was over the other day and remarked that it was really taking off. That’s a big improvement over his earlier observation as Winter began to give way when he said it didn’t look like it was doing too well. He’s some sort of master gardener, so I usually pay attention to his advice and admonishments…even when he ends up being wrong!

Anyway, last night he was over to watch some TV and I took the opportunity to passive-aggressively ask his advice on the olive tree and how to/when to prune it. I think it’s getting a little shrubby looking.

“Google ‘how to prune an olive tree'”, he offered.

Touché, Fox. Touché.

Should I name my olive tree?

“Olive” would be too obvious, right?

How about “Carl”? “Carl the Olive Tree”, no one would expect that…

Galby’s Grow Op

A Week of PCS

It’s something I think a lot of people talk about doing and don’t do enough.

Even more people probably actively deride the option altogether.

Then there’s the lucky minority that have not only the will, but the option.

Theater.

I’m squarely in the first category.

One of my earliest social outings with my parents was when they took me to see a play, just the three of us. I was so young. Seriously, like a 30 year old trapped in an eight year old’s body.

It was The Music Man.

Because parents always know…y’know what I mean?

<cough, cough> “You’re Gay, son!” <cough, cough>

Anyhoo…I was in plays and took Drama classes – I know…I’m not even that dramatic! – in Junior High and High School, but I didn’t live and breathe it like a true theater geek.

Nowadays, I try to enjoy it when I can and am lucky to have friends that appreciate and even enjoy the experience in my immediate life. Still, living about four blocks from Portland Center Stage, I feel a little guilty every year when I don’t buy a season ticket.

What can I say?

I’m choosy.

Thus, even though I don’t buy a season ticket, I still get the opportunity to enjoy the experience a few times each year.

Given that filter, last week was a real windfall…I went twice.

Well, conditionally, since one of the two events was technically the viewing of a film…

On Sunday, I went with some of the gang to see George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.

I think it started – and I could be way wrong here – between the Facebook and BreitBarb because, gee…guess what her real life first name is? So it’s funny. Jortis – I can’t believe I’m just now making a blog name for him! – is our ticket hookup because he’s allegedly under 35 and can get endless PCS tickets for $20 a show and before you know it, Little Buddy was signed on and I’m being wrangled as a fourth.

Fact: I’ve seen a lot of fucking plays in my life.

Also, factual is the statement that my memory is Swiss Cheese and I don’t recall every show I’ve seen any more than I recall every day that I’ve lived.

That said, I arrived at the show anticipating an “Oh, yeah…” experience when things took off down a familiar path. Still, every theater mounts a different experience.

It’s part of the joy of theater. Everything old can be new again.

I was surprised to find that I had not actually seen this show, like…ever. That’s an exciting new twist on how my known poor memory approaches seeing a play. It’s exciting!

Well, for me, anyway.

I won’t bore you with a breakdown of the plot. See it for yourselves! But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories about the evening to be told!

For instance

Little Buddy and I managed to only silently lose our shit when we realized the youngest of us had dozed off in the middle of Act II. Jortis was seated to my right and I looked over – guilty because I’m always fidgety in the theater and being raised Catholic generally feel guilty – only to discover that he was snoozing. Being the exceedingly mature influence that I am, I elbowed Little Buddy on my left and then dramatically leaned back so that she could bear witness to what was making me chuckle.

Then she started laughing, which made me laugh harder and it was off to the races from there.

I doubt either of us has had a better core workout than that in recent weeks.

I give us credit for keeping our laughing under control in the theater, but the fact of the matter is that I know we woke Jortis up and the married guy and his girlfriend sitting in front of us didn’t come back after intermission, so who knows how effective we really were in our efforts. Plus, Jortis treated me to my ticket for my birthday present, so I can’t really tease him.

The next day, for whatever reason, PCS was hosting a free My Fair Lady sing-a-long and Little Buddy has snagged a bunch of tickets.

Now, I’m not a huge singer since puberty and reality conspired to steal my ability to carry a tune, but I’m a fan of at least being present to witness a good time being had…so I was in.

Ironically, the official invite came in the form of a phone call during a bike ride. When known contacts call and I’m aware of my phone, I answer. Knowing me, when I answered Little Buddy pre-emptied my low grade dark panic with her greeting, “Nobody’s dead!” before going into the invite.

It’s ironic, because I had found myself alone for extended periods on the Springwater and had been indulging my endorphin rush by singing along with my music during those isolated moments.

But shit where hitting a note didn’t matter, like grunge music and mopey songs.

I promised to go and she shared that 2.0 – her hubby – might even go, acknowledging that theater wasn’t usually his thing but singing off key really is.

I probably wasn’t supposed to share that…

Oh well.

The Silver Fox and BreitBarb rounded out our group.

I distinctly remembered not having seen this movie for over 30 years.

Side note: the word “fucking” as an adjective was heavily implied in that sentence.

Probably closer to 35.

Jebus.

The show drew a respectably period dressed crowd. Those that didn’t dress up had the foresight to have not yet stowed their Derby Hats the day before. Or PCS had the even better foresight to schedule the sing-a-long at a time that appropriate prop attire would be handy.

Only time will really ever know. Although, MFL also being a George Bernard Shaw – someone having dropped George from his name in the credits – show, it was probably fairly intentional timing on PCS’ part.

Clever.

The show started with an introduction from a host who – turns out – performed the role of Eliza for PCS a handful of years ago.

Nice touch.

She talked us through her vision of basically Rocky Horror-ing it up. When to use the props in the lil popcorn bag we were given at the door, a few of the more popular song lines, a reminder that not all of the characters were sympathetic and encouraging us to feel free to engage with the show by heckling these characters.

Turns out, the largely female crowd – dressed in fancy hats and crinolines as they were – didn’t need encouraging. Also, most of the male characters in this show really did not age well. Not in the superficial sense, since most of the male leads looked to be in their young hundreds in the first place. No…”they didn’t age well” means, rather, that…holy shit, they were male chauvinist pigs as judged by the jury of time.

Our host instructed us to yell at Professor Higgins at a few specific points in the show. The crowd decided not to wait, pretty much starting in with his first lines.

I felt guilty on behalf of my gender.

Fortunately, the disdain and ire was aimed strictly at the 1960s screen production and the few males in the crowd were spared.

Good thing…we were really outnumbered.

Soon, though, the attention was drawn to the dubbing of poor Ms Hepburn and whether we were about to hear Julie Andrews or Marni Nixon and when either of them actually took over the pipes. The Fox assured us in his Fox Wisdom that it was Marni Nixon. I’d only ever heard of her and didn’t know from whence, so I stuck with my incorrect assertion that it was Julie Andrews.

I’m used to being wrong where Fox Wisdom is involved. Still, at least I wasn’t totally up in the night since Ms Andrews had famously played the role on Broadway.

Yeah, that’s why I was…confused.

Even though I’m not much of a public singer, I did catch myself being overcome with the urge to bust out a lyric or two a couple of times. I’d like to apologize to everyone on the block for that.

Other times, I was able to stave off the urge by humming into the mini kazoo from my treat bag.

It’s fun to realize that even with a character like ‘Enry ‘Iggins, who is so vile by modern day behavioral standards, we can all still revel in the transformation of a young woman from gutter snipe to lady and get caught up in the happenings all. these. years. later.

So, there you have it…I got my theater fix in! Whether the next show is next week or next year…who knows? My theater going is spontaneous, but with the best of intentions. Still, if you hear about me seeing the new Mary Poppins before my next play, just chalk it up to my persnickety tastes in theaters.

A Week of PCS

PDX Weather…

Life in the PNW is low-key glorious.  We don’t want word getting out and even more people moving here to experience it.  They always bring their hometown tarnish with them and it harshes our mellow just a bit.

Let ‘em scratch their heads in confusion about life here:

Rain.

Without umbrellas.

Great food.

That comes from a truck on the street.

Great coffee.

That’s intimidatingly simple to order.

Beer swilling liberal haven.

Filled with inexplicably fit folk…

Being smart and right burns a lot of calories, m’kay?

Let ‘em think all that crap about us. As long as they stay there and don’t move here.

Come get a taste of the wonder, but be careful how you time your visit.

You can get a great hike in our in the gorge or cascades.

Or

You can watch horrified like the rest of us as our beautiful landscape burns at the hands of some punk.

You can enjoy our tasty brewed treats – caffeinating or intoxicating.

Or

You can question reality – and how strong that beer was – when you (think you?) see one of these characters.

Two of those are undeniably real, the other is a secret.  Not sure whether any of them are actually a reason to stop drinking or a better reason to start.

Again, it’s about timing in the PNW.

Just when you think you know all the potential traps to avoid when planning your exotic getaway to weird Portland, Orygun, you go to your travel agent and say something like, “Um, like we wanna go” – just assuming you’re from the San Fernando Valley for some reason – “for a weekend during Spring Break.  All the locals will be gone, but it’s not as touristy bad as summer will be.” only to find yourself wondering why your Travel Agent is giving you this face.

It’s because you can’t outsmart us.

Don’t.

Even.

Try.

It’s a little known fact that our summers here are simply glorious.

God’s Country.

Lit by the longest, most sunshiny days you can imagine.

An even less known fact is springtime in Portland.  Every year I wait for it.  It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does…it’s amazing!

It’s been on my radar since early this week, when people were talking about snow this coming Saturday – aka: tomorrow, at this point.

I have to check myself when I start to expect it, because you never know it’s coming.

Wrap your mind around this:  all four seasons in one day.

It almost happened yesterday.

I woke up and tried to plan my day’s attire.  Really, the mystery here is what type of outerwear I’m putting over my jeans and tee shirt.  It was 32 degrees.

Winter.

I’d gone in on my usual day off, but ended up arriving a few minutes later than expected.  I’d taken a later train than planned when I’d returned to my condo for an umbrella after hitting the street and discovering rain with drops the size of my head.

Aaaah, Spring.

And, yes.  We locals do use umbrellas.  We aren’t idiots, like the transplant that started that rumor.

I left work and decided that I deserved a margarita.

The Silver Fox joined me for my second and when we left, proving margaritas are a cure for what ails ya – working on my Saturday, in this case, it was sunny and golden bright out.

Summer.

For two blocks.

Then it was sunny and raining out.  It kept getting brighter and the rain got harder.  People were laughing and smiling as they strode the sidewalks of Old Town in the surprise – and gorgeously lit – shower.

“Sunshine drops!”, I yelled out, giddy over the prospect of hitting the weather lottery.

This is why people think we don’t use umbrellas.  You’re out and about and get caught be a sudden shower.  Others might step into a doorway and wait it out, Portlanders relish it and carry on about their business.

I went home and surprised Myrtle doing something she wasn’t supposed to do – sitting in one of my dresser drawers that for sure wasn’t open when I left.

But I was only home to grab a growler so I could get provisions for the evening and hole up for the finale: snow.

I went to the Big Legrowlski to fill up and chatted for a sample or two with one of my favorite Pearl District peeps as she filled my growler with a lusciously light triple IPA.

As I was leaving: hail.

So close.

I woke up this morning to a reminder from Apple and Mother Nature:

PDX Weather…

Before Forrest There Was Pre…

I pass by this mural practically every day.  It’s about a block and a half from my place, pretty much right between Chez Galby and my favorite caffeinating and intoxicating holes, which are conveniently located next door to one another.  I say “practically” just in case I miss the odd day, but I don’t actually think that happens unless I’m temporarily near death…

I like to think it’s based off this pic, but I’ve never fact-checked it.

This is a mural honoring Steve Prefontaine, a runner for the University of Oregon in the late 60s and early 70s.  He’s a native Oregonian – well, was…he was killed in a single car drunk driving accident in 75 – and has had a fanboy grip on me since I learned about him forever ago.  

A) because he was an Oregon hero

B) he spoke to me on a gay-instinctual level before I knew what sexuality even was…I mean, hubba-hubba

And,

C) he represented a mystery to me…dying when I was only 7, I never knew of him in real time so my connection to him has always been inexplicable.  

Well, minus the hubba-hubba factor.

He never lost a distance race, his entire running career.  He’s actually co-credited with starting the running craze, not just here in Oregon, but nationwide.  Take that, Jim 


Of course, Jim bothered to live a bit longer than Pre.  Still, dying at 52 versus 24 could give you a pretty solid con-running argument.

Glad I was forcibly retired from running?

Anyway, I wear a winter reminder of this mural, so I find myself thinking of my slight Prefontaine Obsession even when I’m not passing the mural.  A couple years back, I was walking back from breakfast at Fullers and saw some nogoodnicks throwing fluorescent green paint on the mural.

Acting before thinking, I ran toward them yelling at them to stop.  They ran off like punks, throwing down their paint cans as they left.

Me.  Running again!

I got closer than I thought because when I got home I realized some of their paint had splattered on me as their paint cans bounced around.  Lucky me, it was my $400 Arcteryx jacket.

I’m not letting a little green paint stop me from wearing that! 

Or the fact that I’m a little too puffy to wear a puffy down jacket.

One of my favorite things about this mural, though?  The optical illusion.

It’s even odds that that plumbing hardware is going to make me think, “Ooh, nipple!” as I pass by.

Before Forrest There Was Pre…