I’m Not Dead

…just very badly burned…out.

I guess that’s what you could call it.

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

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


Not dead.

Not anxious.


I hope you enjoyed the respite from my bullshit.

Self-effacing, but make it poetry.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I felt it was brave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Not Dead

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.


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?


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.


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!


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.


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

The Red Shirt Diaries #12

This will be the twelfth entry of TRSD.

The first that’s actually non-fiction.

Potentially non-fiction, at any rate.

Mostly non-fiction.

And it’s not a funny-way-that-I-meet-my-demise entry like the other TRSD, which are really just the nonsense synaptic equivalent of watching someone fall down while ice skating .

I’ve been watching the last part of the second season of The West Wing today.  I’m sure the statute of limitations on spoilers is up, so I can say without fear of retribution that Mrs. Landingham dying, watching President Bartlet deal with coming out about his MS and then the cliffhanger question of “Will you be seeking a second term?” ending of this season wrecks me every damned time I watch it.  As a matter of fact, knowing what’s going to happen makes it emotionally more devastating to me because you start watching the things that go on beforehand and they just make it more intense.

So, I’ve been ugly crying on my couch a lot today.

At a TV program.

Like some dumb jerk with misplaced emotional attachments.

And then I read on the Facebook an update from a casual friend of mine that he was shaving off his Pride-inspired rainbow flag hairdo to commemorate the end of Pride month.  His update was beautiful.  It inspired me.  It was thought provoking.

He talked about how cognizant he had been of his own trepidations in becoming a visibly representative member of the LGBTQ community.  How it impacted his behaviors while he wore his rainbow ‘do.

I skipped this Pride.

I skip a lot of them, actually.  It’s just not my scene.  Not because it’s too anything specific.  I don’t go to the Rose Festival Parade, either.  I guess I don’t like large crowds is the best way to describe it.

But beneath that, well…is what I think is a Red Shirt worthy fear.

I went to last year’s Pride because I felt like I owed it to my community to be a part of the strength of our numbers in the long shadow cast over 2016’s Pride month by the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year.

This year, I returned to my curmudgeonly avoidance.  Once a decade is enough for me.  Not only because of my normal preference to avoid big crowds.  Also in part because of that Red Shirt worthy fear I mentioned earlier.  For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been on a sharper than normal edge.  I feared – realistically feared – that Pride was under a more than usual target.  It wasn’t something I felt compelled to be involved with.  I worried as I worked the day away that checking my phone was going to present me with unwanted terrible news.  Actually, I had been feeling that simmering trepidation for each of the weekends preceding PDX Pride on the 18th while Pride was celebrated in cities around the country and around the world and once again on the following Sunday for my friends and chosen family celebrating in Seattle.

The text I got from my sister asking me if I was home that Sunday left me with a vague fear…worried that she was worried that I had been somewhere something bad had happened.  Turns out, she and her family were in front of my house, assembling to march with the Portland Police Bureau in the parade.

That’s a whole different kind of fear, right there.  One I thought maybe I dodged, not becoming a parent:  fear of powerlessness for your loved ones’ safety.  But, my brother in law has a leadership role with the police force, so march, they did.

And as Pride month comes to a close <knocks wood> I find myself relieved that we made it through the month without any major bullshit hate crimes or massacres against the LGBTQ community.

Relieved and surprised, truth be told.

I’ve kind of lost my faith that Americans can comport themselves in a manner that still respects people’s differences.  It’s way heightened since November of last year, that’s for sure.  That stupid, hate mongering cheeto has enabled a lot of small minded people through both his direct words and actions as well as by his visible inactions and silence…he didn’t even make an official Pride proclamation.

But today’s cathartic binge-watching has kind of helped me out of another funk I have been experiencing lately, too.

It seems I’ve been fighting this battle of dis-ease on multiple fronts this month.

First, a vague, random danger like with the MAX stabbings.

Then, the more general fear or danger of participating in a potentially targeted event like Pride or an Ariana Grande concert.

But lastly, a quite specific fear for my personal well-being after a surprise random verbal attack on my on my person at work.

It’s like a trifecta of potentially PTSD inducing bullshit.

Nearly four weeks ago, a fairly generic conversation about whether it was unrealistic of me to expect employees to check their work schedules weekly – it’s my responsibility to create the weekly schedule – ended abruptly and unbelievably when my peer at work got up, yelled, “Just do your fucking job!” at me and essentially stormed out of the office.

I can’t believe how close to home random violence and hatred hits sometimes.

I was flat out godsmacked (not in the heroin overdose-y way) at such a surprisingly violent and random outburst at work.

And my dis-ease at this final scenario has simmered and percolated over the course of the month simply because…nothing happened afterward.

No apology.

No admission of wrongdoing.

No perfectly within reason – in my opinion – termination of my peer.


In the worst possible ending, he’s begun to just behave as if nothing happened.

Raise your hand if you know me.

<surveys crowd of raised hands>


“Um, I would guess that you, Homey, are not playing that?”


Homey ain’t playing.

Man, there’s some stuff from my upbringing.  I was raised with morals.  Standards of acceptable behavior.  There were fucking nuns, ok?  I learned some shit.

And, boy…did it stick with me.

Over the course of the two days that followed the…oh, let’s call it The Incident, shall we?  Yeah, over the course of the next 48 hours, I tried to make it semi-safe, between silently seething on the inside, for my apparently festering wang of a co-worker to apologize or admit his error so that we could begin to get past it.

I tried a little levity and was rewarded with an eye roll.

I tried resetting my own attitude to neutral by walking in on day two with a chipper, “Good morning!  How is everyone?” and was ignored.

Well, buddy, if you got a problem you need to make amends for…I’m not gonna work harder to resolve it than you are.  Stick your hand in your pants.  Anything?  No?  Maybe that’s the problem…he doesn’t have the balls to admit his wrong-doing.

But, that’s not my problem.

But maybe that’s not the actual problem.  Maybe he’s convinced he hasn’t done anything wrong.  And that obliviousness is a big red flag to me.  On that flag is printed something like “Beware!” molly you in danger girl

If someone in my personal life fucks up that badly and compounds it with being too ignorant or self-entitled or childish to apologize to me then I’m gonna get out my social scissors and cut a bitch out of my life.  End of story.

Not so at work.  I gotta work with this jag, so I put on my big boy pants and go to work, tolerating his existence.  It’s the best I can do.  The best he could have done – apologize – is now off the table because, in my book…when you mess up, you gotta own it…quick.  Ironically, I feel the same about counseling someone for poor performance at work, it needs to be immediate.  Well, once we crossed over that 48 hour window, I couldn’t accept an apology as sincere.  Actions speak louder than words, right?  His actions weren’t anywhere near saying that he was sorry for his behavior.

But, wait!  I’m not completely unreasonable.

Sure, you can’t sell me an apology, but you can at least acknowledge fault with me and I can muster up some forgiveness.  Hell, in a professional environment, I may even let someone off the hook without subjecting them to a lecture on how they failed to meet my expectations or grilling them on how they are going to re-earn my trust so that I can feel secure in their assurance that it will not happen again.

I can be graceful.


I might trot out a “Well, that’s certainly not my fucking job” in the future to provide him with a good-natured poke, if our relationship happened to heal to that degree.

But in the ensuing near-month that has passed since The Incident all I’ve gotten was a couple weeks of silence and then some half assed attempts at getting me to tacitly agree with his apparent plan of pretending nothing happened.

Let’s just say that our office at Portland International Airport has been pretty well chilled during Portland’s recent minor heatwave.

Except – and this is what really reinforces that this whole thing is an epic shituation – for the dreams that have come in the wake of The Incident.

I was awakened when my dream turned into a scenario where my counterpart was storming toward me, yelling at me about an unresolved loose end that was his own responsibility.  It was a crappy way to wake up. But it was also pretty demonstrative of the environment that I walked into with this job.  There’s not a lot of accountability – internal or externally generated – with this fella.  My boss’s early words to me were “He doesn’t work a lot of hours, but he always gets his work done”.  Well, no…he doesn’t, he just gets away with not getting it done.  The scenario in the dream he was yelling at me for is an actual situation that exists at work, and has for a few months.  I went to work that day with a feeling of dread hanging over me because I had basically woken up with the certainty that this particular tiger wasn’t going to be changing his stripes.

That’s left my previous chill factor around the shituation behind and what I have now is an active feeling of dread…like I’m just waiting for the next unforeseeable occurrence.  Unless something happens to guarantee there is a reason to not expect another incident, I think it’s not an entirely unreasonable fear.

At this point, though…his absence is the only thing that would provide that assurance for me.

With that notion kicking around my subconscious self, my next work dream was even worse.

The shituation had been resolved.  My counterpart removed from the equation.



Did I mention he’s a hunter?  No?  Then I probably should.  He just returned from a hunting trip to Africa where he went trophy hunting.  Yeah, he’s one of those types.  I guess I could have told him he needn’t apply extra effort into losing my respect for him outside of simply pursuing his “hobbies”.

So, my more recent work dream ends with me standing on the MAX platform at PDX feeling relief in the knowledge that my sense of personal security at work would once again be made whole.

Yeah, he shot me in the chest from the parking structure.

Y’know, all things being equal, I have to say given the scenarios that have made me feel so uncertain of my safety this past six weeks or so…I think I’d prefer to go out heroically, like the men who demonstrated what Portlanders are truly like.  Sacrificing myself for the greater good, defending the defenseless.

Being blown up in a bar or sniped at a Pride Parade wouldn’t be that terrible…considering the legitimately decent buzz I would probably have I would presume I would be semi-oblivious to my being blown to oblivion.

But being taken out by a co-worker with an axe to grind?  Man, do I need a job like that in my life?  I acknowledged earlier that I know exactly what to do in my personal life with people like that…the money ain’t near good enough to make me compromise those values in my professional life.  If I wanted that type of work environment, I could get a job as a prison guard in Les Nessman’s jail.les nessman office

But, I have to say, between West Wing and a great Facebook status update…this afternoon has been pretty cathartic.  I’m inspired to be better.  A better example of a life well lived.  Instead of hiding on my couch with my values, I will challenge myself to participate in an actual life and let the trepidation I feel about my countrymen be a mental exercise versus a physical manifestation of the fear and discomfort our American culture engenders in me.  If I do nothing, well…I’ve heard that is all a good man has to do to assure evil a triumph over good.

So, I gotta be present.

But I’m still starting season three of The West Wing tonight.

The Red Shirt Diaries #12

The Red Shirt Diaries #7

My first bad dream of the last week was clearly a sign of watching too much Supernatural as I returned to the series to complete the last of the 11th season over the course of the a couple consecutive evenings.

It’s no surprise at all that I woke up suddenly to the reality that a Bela Lugosi looking creature was not grabbing my ankle to drag me out of bed.

No, Deizel, he was not dressed as a sailor, either.

I can even attribute bad dream number two of this week to the fact that I have been living in a state of shocked disbelief over the last two weeks as America’s new president essentially waves his dick around at everyone.

Plus, I wrote about my feelings on that topic last night, ate a large amount of emotional food with a couple glasses of wine and then went to bed.

In one of the most surreal dreams that I can recall – which is saying something for my dreams, which kind of begin at “surreal” – I was drinking at a bar when in walked you-know-who.

I know, drinking at a bar isn’t surreal for me by any stretch of the imagination.

But the fact that then he goes on a rampage, killing 49 people…that’s kind of surreal.

I had mentioned in my blog post from last night that I hadn’t felt this affected and shocked as a person since the Pulse Massacre, and guess where I figure I was?  If there’s credit to be given here, it’s that unlike Omar Mateen, the Cheeto-In-Chief wasn’t firing a gun…he was killing people with his actions, tweets and Executive Orders.

He grabbed someone by her pussy:  dead.

He breaks for a moment and checks his phone, tweeting, “You’re overrated” and someone else collapses:  dead.

He critically looks someone up and down and says, “Wrong”:  dead.

He mimics someone with a disability:  dead.

He whips out a padded folder with an executive order in it, signs it and throws it onto the dance floor, where several people are hit by it and hit the ground:  dead.

It goes on and on in slow motion for what seems like years.

Four years, I’m assuming.  We’re all just trapped in there.  It’s happening so slowly that I get to witness areas of the bar where people aren’t yet aware of what’s going on, they’re just blissfully sipping and chatting and dancing…totally oblivious.

Kind of like our current administration, except these people look happy.  Ecstatic compared to any of the folks in this administration…most of whom look as if they haven’t shit since before Woodstock.

He tweets out “Fake” and several more people drop amid a cacophony of tweet alerts:  dead, dead, dead and more dead.  I note the irony of people in a gay bar dying when someone calls them fake…but it is bittersweet.  Actually, just bitter.

I’m now hiding in the kitchen with several others, peeking through the swinging doors as the rampage seems to be losing steam.  As I peer through the round window in shock, a Marine that just magically appeared by his side sets a briefcase on the bar and opens.  Keys are inserted, digits are punched and a countdown clock begins.

I run into the kitchen and start tearing food and shelves out of the oversized fridge and crawl inside.

I can’t – and yet…strangely can – believe that the asshole kills himself with a nuke.

Once I woke up – and this friggin’ nightmare, like out current shituation is not over – I couldn’t believe the similarities between what I assume to be Omar Mateen and our fervent Cheeto’s mental state and the culture of mental health neglect that created them.

Repressed by culture, religion and/or overbearing parental figures.

Situationally isolated from a peer group by race or class.

Aggressively seeking to dominate everyone around them to disprove their own feelings of impotence.

I also spent some time thinking about how forced parenthood leads to mentality ill children:  neglect, abuse, escapism into drugs and alcohol or bullying.  How does a child cope with the feelings they must be able to sense or intuit about not being wanted?  As my parents’ favorite child – of the year I was born – I can’t imagine firsthand how that happens or feels.  But while I was stirring this insane dream around, my second cousins popped into my mind.

I know exactly why.

My first cousins were my closest cousins growing up.  The children of my grandmother’s sister and her husband.  Visiting them was exciting and terrible at the same time.  Exciting because they lived on a farm.  Terrible because they seemed to believe that the farm existed in the 17th century.

Only The Lawrence Welk Show on the TV – the only show they ever seemed to watch and which somehow always seemed to play during our visits – and the equally 180-degrees-from-modern-pop-music loaded Wurlitzer proved we were still in the 1970s when we visited.

There was women’s work.

The kids were all home schooled.

There was a grotto to the Mother Mary in their home, although I may be confusing that with their compound…er, home from later in life.

My great aunt never spoke out against her husband, and my great uncle never spoke, so much as growled or commanded.

The viability of their children seemed to diminish over time.  Starting with what seemed like two perfectly normal girls, then moving on to a string of less and less functional boys.  I think it was basically Mother Nature picking up the vibe my great aunt was putting down…perhaps the children’s diminished functionality was a result of Mother Nature trying to give my great aunt a break from raising and schooling another farm hand.

Who knows?

What I do know is that by the fifth kid, my picture of unrecognized and unmanaged “special needs” was complete.  Whenever I remember my male second cousins, I visualize the eldest as a prototype of his father, bullying his two younger brothers and calling it love when it was really just therapeutic mis-management of his isolationist upbringing manifesting its rage.  I remember the two youngest as faceless toddlers doing stupid shit like running full speed into a wall.

Faceless, because in my memory, they each always have a bucket on their heads.  I think the buckets were stolen from where the older girls made their mud pies in preparation for growing into the women who would eventually marry twin brothers.

In the same ceremony.

american-gothicI know I’m not painting a strong enough image of how different that side of my family was…or is?  Let me just say this about the folks who are the faces of all Cheeto voters in my mind as I type:  when my great aunt finally divorced my great uncle – which I cheered – it was after my own parents’ divorce, which thankfully didn’t stick.  He shows up at my mom’s door, according to family legend, and drawls out something along the lines of “Your kids need a father and my boys need takin’ care of…”

I just imagine my speechless mom slowly closing the door as he stands on her porch.

But the childhood of those boys…that’s what I imagine Omar Mateen and the head of the Embarrassment Branch of our government experienced growing up.  Sure, not on a farm 30 miles and 300 years outside of town, but that same type of minimal parenting and social isolation…it’s not good for kids.  I was an odd duck kid and my parents made me participate in the shit other kids were doing:  intramural sports – which was so inadvisable, street games like hide and seek with the other kids from the cul-de-sac, birthday parties that I’m sure my cooler siblings were invited to and I went along as part of the package.  I just don’t imagine people who grow up to behave so contrary to the norm to have endured – er – had that type of parenting.

So, lucky me.

Until now, anyway.

End on a fun note?

I didn’t die in Trump’s “suicide”.  I got to live in the nuclear winter that followed.  I emerged from my industrial fridge cocoon in the North Park Blocks outside my building, which is weird, given that my dream began in Orlando, right?

But, dreams.

I go into my building and head up the stairs to my place, because…no elevator, right?  My unit is in the back of the building, which is nestled between a still under construction hotel and the street facing units of my building.  The place is pretty well destroyed, but partially protected from the blast by the elevator shaft.  I think to pack together what canned food I can before heading out to find more suitable lodging.  Since it’s my kitchen, there’s more canned cat food than anything else.  Broken bottles of wine rest in their overturned racks as a grim reminder of the one staple I kept at home for meals.

As I’m entertaining the dark thought that I might have to consider alternative food sources, it occurs to me that Myrtle is nowhere to be found.  Unsurprisingly, really.

I am heading for the stairwell when it occurs to me that I should check the other units on my floor.  The doors are blow completely off the street facing units and I can see the haze of the nuclear winter through them, so I opt for my neighbor’s – whose blog name I have forgotten, but I recall that it was a completely not subtle acknowledgement of his all American slash wholesome hottiness – place.  It’s not trespassing since his door is most definitely more off the hinges than on.  Thank you, shock wave.  I’m picking around in the debris as I head toward the kitchen to forage imagining how it must have looked pre-nuclear holocaust.  My foot catches on something and when I lift it from the ash, it has a leather harness hanging off of it.

My all American hottie neighbor had a secret.

Make that, my most likely dead all American hottie neighbor…but The Silver Fox would be gloating right now because he used to tell me that he had seen my neighbor kissing a guy outside on one or two occasions.

a-boy-and-his-dogBefore the thought is even completed, I’m on the stairs and heading across the park to The Fox’s Lair when I run into him in the park.

With George.  Of course his inherited pooch survived, making my The Fox Don Johnson from A Boy and His Dog.

I here I thought this was gonna be a Thunderdome-type dream.

What, you don’t have those?

The Fox and I lament how the absence of coffee would add to our post apocalyptic catch up sesh in the park and make a plan to get out of town since the survivors all seem to be radicalized and hungry.  I suspect I get his drift all too well, so we decide to hike out toward my family’s homes outside of town.  My brother and brother-in-law are both former military and my bro-in-law is law enforcement, and we figure we could do with the skill sets inherent with those vocations for the foreseeable future.

We pack up and head out on our journey.

I don’t know why the two day hike finds me holding out such assured hope that my family has likewise survived, but I upon discovering the error of my assumption, my grief is somewhat mitigated by the fact that they will be spared the future left to humanity as well as the warmth of knowing my mother and sister would both approve of the faith that sustained me on the journey.

The Fox and I decide to keep heading out Highway 30, finally taking that road trip to Astoria that I’ve been not so subtly suggesting to The Silver Fox for the last couple of years.  Although, I’m fairly certain that the breweries I was anxious to visit will still be around at this point, it seems like as good a plan for our final days on earth as any.  I’m awoken in our cave-campsite on the second night of our hike to the mouth of the Columbia by George’s incessant barking.

Of course, what would normally annoy me, terrifies me given the current circumstances.  I turn to check on The Fox, only to discover that he’s not there.  I let my eyes adjust and try to listen for movement, I creep on my stomach toward the opening of the cave.

All I hear is that damn barking.

Until I don’t.

I quickly belly crawl as deep into the cave as possible before I hear intruders rustling in our – I guess now it’s just my – campsite.  From where I am perched, I can hear the nonsense Bible versus they are quoting about how the lord hath provided for them yet again.

I can vaguely make out a red ball cap that one of them is wearing and I suspect it was made in what used to be China.

Those people.

I am powerless to do anything to defend myself or my makeshift campsite and resign myself to waiting them out.  I am not afraid that they might find me, nor of what would happen to me if they did.

They leave.

I lay there planning my next steps; ultimately deciding that whether I’m to live or die, I’m going to do it where I call home.  Magically, I’m standing in front of my building as dusk settles…it’s not so much something I visually observe through the grayness of our nuclear winter so much as simply sense.

I also sense that I am not alone.

I begin backing toward one of the giant tree stumps that used to shade the park B.T. and I can see something darting around my peripheral vision.

Something hits me from behind with a feral hiss and I fall to the ground, rolling onto all fours as I look for my attacker…knowing who it is.

I am jolted awake just as the yellow green eyes of an only slightly more feral than normal looking Myrtle runs directly at me…with the instant realization that I had slept through the whole night.

I hadn’t woken once in almost eight hours, not even to pee, which is way out of the ordinary.

Experiencing that fucked up dream seems like way too high a price to pay for a night of physically undisturbed sleep.

Anyone want a cat?

The Red Shirt Diaries #7

I Stand With Reality

And if you know me at all, you know I don’t mean Reality TV.

Based on recent occurrences in conversations with people whose rights I defend, I’ll probably get lambasted for co-opting the “I Stand With PP” or “I Stand With Orlando” tag line.

But, just #LetChrisSpeak for a second.

I went to bed last night sad.  Inconsolably so, and it bothered me.  But I knew that it was just because it was the end of another day in what I have to keep reminding myself is not the new normal.  Yesterday was a particularly hard day because it was the day that The Wicked Witch of DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education.

Yet another head scratchingly unqualified nominee to the new White House administration’s clown car-esque cabinet of cronies.  It was the first time that the VP in his role presiding over the Senate had to cast the deciding vote on a president’s cabinet member.  But, hope against hope, I had held out that one of the Ratpublican Senators would join the other two from their party aligning against DeVos to make the VP vote unnecessary.


crying indian.gifWhen I woke up this morning, I was still sad.  I might have sobbed a bit in the shower.

Nothing too dramatic.

It didn’t help that when I had woken up, I caught the news blurb that Elizabeth Warren had been sidelined by Mitch McConnell for the rest of the debate over the cabinet pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, if you can fucking believe that abomination of a name.  No wonder he turned out to be a racist, sexist, homophobic piece of human garbage as an adult.

In case you missed it, Warren was censured for allegedly speaking ill of another member of the Senate when she read a letter from Coretta Scott King calling out Sessions’ unfitness to fill a federal judicial appointment he had been nominated for.  It was offensive to read what is now an historical document in America’s political and racial history.

I’m riding into the airport on Max and I catch this incredible Danish commercial that got my feels running hot again and as I’m sitting there, watching this commercial, I realize that it’s stirring me up because it’s what America is supposed to be and then I realized how far from that ideal we have all gotten.

It’s all fucked up.

I re-watched it and posted it to my Facebook page because I want to make it true again.

The commercial brought back old nostalgic feelings in me, like the way that I felt during the Puppy Episode of the Ellen sitcom where she comes out and Oprah (playing her therapist) gives her a cake that says, “Good for you, Ellen, you’re gay”.  Such a simple declaration to celebrate someone living their true self.

That’s what I think America should be.

We’re no longer the land of the free and home of the brave.

We’re a country of scaredy cats that feel strong and whole when they can legislate away someone else’s freedoms because they don’t agree with them.

I was just getting more and more agitated as I thought on it.  I got distracted by how upset and inconsolable I was.  I tried to remember the last time I had been so upset that I was just walking around in a state of…numbness.

Then it hit me.

The Pulse massacre in Orlando.

You think that’s your full circle Xtopher experience?  Just wait.

Somehow, I make it through the day.  The nice thing about work for me is that it can truly be an escape.  If I can make it through the first five minutes without discussing what’s bugging me, I can probably back burner that shit for the entire day.  And I do.

I’m riding the Max home 11 hours later and I see that Sessions has been confirmed.  I think the headline was “Put On Your Sunday Hood, Jeffie, It’s Time To Celebrate!”, but I could be paraphrasing.

I run to the RiteAid on my way home to pick up a prescription refill and leave with $30 worth of comfort food.  Damn you, RiteAid and your 2-fer deals…

Did I forget to mention that all this time, I’m watching a CNN show where Jake Tapper is making nice with KellyAnne Clownfish?  It turned out to be something to finally celebrate, or damned close to it:  Tapper was using the word “False”.  I think he used it 50 times in a half hour.  I say this is damned close to something to celebrate because he needs – or someone does – to use the word “LIE” when calling these people out on their bullshit.

It’s an inescapable conclusion with so many of these issues.

An issue that, had the media not been so…generous with the candidate’s honesty on the campaign trail, I think we’d have an actual president today and not this Cheeto-In-Chief we got stuck with.

Nevertheless, a corner has been turned.

Hopefully, a floodgate opened.

Tapper had Conway on the ropes for most of the segment and he was so civil during the exchange, even when calling her out on trying to spin the question into something she wanted to talk about.  I think that was the segment where they were talking about the assertion that CNN and other news channels hadn’t been covering the acts of terror that prompted the – allegedly prompted – travel ban a few weeks back.  He was reading from a list of attacks that CNN was accused of not covering while a graphic was going up with screen grabs of CNN reporters – Tapper included – covering said events.  One of those events was…The Pulse Nightclub shooting, which I think was covered by Tapper…if I remember correctly.

See?  That’s full-circle Xtopher.

He asked how she could defend that list and she started complimenting him on his network’s coverage.

Didn’t buy it.

She started talking about how sad it was that 49 innocent lives were lost in that massacre, and of course, I’m screaming inside that it was 50 innocent lives, because Omar Mateen was a victim just like the rest of them.  He was just victimized over a longer period of time to become the man that could shoot 49 people dead in some twisted ideological agenda.

The only thing that would have made this better – and I don’t want to be selfish here – is two things:

He let KellyAnne spin some vague tale about a reporter who had called her at her daughter’s recital and asked her to comment on a story he was writing based on a post on her social media page.  She didn’t elaborate on the content and she didn’t name the reporter or the news outlet.  I’m thinking when you try to defend your integrity, you best be using some verifiable facts.  Admittedly, not this administration’s strong suit.

God, now I’ve got to remember the second thing.

Shit.  It’s gone.

But, man…proof from Jake Tapper that there is reason to always be hopeful.  It may take a while to get here, but slowly and surely, truth and reason will prevail.




I’m sad that we have to live through two weeks of this mis-administration, let alone two years until the midterm elections and we can restore reason to Congress.  But at least I can live this time knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is there and getting bigger.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out to be a mushroom cloud.

I Stand With Reality