Take A Seat, Karen

We all know a Karen.

Or Susan…or whomever.

She’s the gal who says about herself,

I’m 100% that bitch

And everyone who knows her suffers silently while thinking, “We know, we know!”

She can be anyone from this nightmare type

To this angry racist

All the way to this vacuous type

Really, Buzzfeed, should I be following someone whose life goal seems to be getting shirtless selfies in as many different countries – undoubtedly on someone else’s dime – as possible? That will somehow enhance my life in ways I simply cannot comprehend?

As you can see, there’s a rather wide range, like the head that holds her hairstyle or the pew that supports her rear or the wallet that supports his heels.

The common denominator?

They know everything that’s hot in pop culture, fashionable, the best exercise classes, the best restaurants or other micro-minutae. Nothing real substantive coming out of their iced or pumpkin spiced coffee holes, unfortunately.

Essentially, they’re nothing more than poseurs, following in the too prevalent basic lemming-slash-bitch mentality of today: elevating teenaged performers to icon status based on a lyric from a pop song.

What the hell is wrong with our country?!?

I mean, Taylor Swift was praised last year – or possibly the year before – for finally speaking out against gun violence. She was heralded as a savior for “using her social media for good”.

She’s 29.

Now, long time readers will know my thoughts on Social Media Influencers. But I’ll give Swifty a pass for speaking out. She does have the following to reach a large audience, so good for her.

But when it comes to the vapid followers who got behind the message?

It was the same thing left leaning politicians have been saying since the history of mass shootings began in this country. Thanks for finally getting the memo.

A friend of mine, @Britebarb on the Twitter, once said,

You aren’t entitled to your opinion, but you are entitled to your informed opinion.

I probably butchered the exact quote, but you get the point. When our opinions are informed by pop culture instead of actual news, facts and self-education…well, you’re not a Karen or a Susan.

You’re a Molly.

Lets don’t be Molly, shall we?

This actually brings me to my larger point.

Those Susan and Karen types? What do you think they do to our culture?

It used to be cute that Karen would have a hostess fired for seating her by the kitchen. Today, Karen is having hostesses fired for not seating her party of 14 fast enough while parties of two and four that came in after her were seated first.

It was tolerable for one person to have a racist anachronistic opinion. They were your aged grandparent who was written off as “being from another time”. Then some charismatic someone pooled that grandparent’s money together with a bunch of other racist grandparents and build a megachurch.

Put our glamorous and hunky gay Instagram traveler at a drive-thru window – not the one he sits on, an actual drive-thru – and see how he does. We used to take basic service industry jobs and make the fabulous most of our minimum wages. Now, we complain about a free trip to Coachella instead of questioning the politics of the promoters…ignoring politics we could never support because the line up is lit.

Molly, you should be calling out the performers for working for that promoter, not instagramming your free trip.

It’s not all bad. This past week, Stephen Ross hosted a lunch for Trump.

There was glitter fallout.

Ross is the CEO for the parent company of Equinox Gym and Soul Cycle. These are $100/month plus gyms heavily trafficked by the gays and the Karens of the country. Sorry, Susan…you’re praying away the body issues.

But we’ve been here before.

Chick-fil-a.

Barilla pasta.

I’ll come up with some others later.

Maybe.

But those two kind of make my point: we don’t remember.

It kind of relegates our ire to the level of the so-called Million Moms. I think they struggled to sustain a roster of thousands of moms.

Why?

Thumping bibles is hard, for one, ok?

But also, do you think a million moms want to piss off the gay that cuts their hair and end up with a Karen haircut? Or worse, piss off their personal trainer and end up with a Susan ass?

We people…not so consistent. Setting aside the extremes on either end of the blue or red political spectrum, I think the grey area in between needs to take over. Regardless of which way you lean – left or right – the middle has the numbers to do what’s right.

Stephen Ross and Trump and the Chick-fil-a folks – ironically, the family surname is Cathy – don’t care about our boycotts.

Hear that?

It’s them laughing all the way to the bank, either way.

Making money? Great! Put it in the bank!

Losing money? Great! Write it off on our taxes or short our own stock!

Our protests hurt the people in the front lines. The mother of three working two part time jobs and asking if we want Waffle Fries with our chicken sandwich.

Of course we do! But we want the Secret Waffle Fries that our Equinox trainer won’t find out about!

And those trainers who lose income because their spin classes are empty? Another of the real victims of our righteous ire.

Why?

Because we don’t hold our politicians accountable to holding our best interests and not their own.

Why don’t we have gun control or reform in this country? Because Tay-Tay isn’t in Congress.

Conversely, why do we have Trump as president? Because he had the best soundbites.

Tax cuts!

Crooked Hillary!

But her emails!

And because we’re largely entitled when it comes to our opinions, we ran right off the cliff at the ballot box without ever informing ourselves about our opinion.

A couple years back, I wrote about what one of my employees told me after proudly stating that he and his wife voted on behalf of their family of five for Trump.

After my eyes rolled 360 degrees in their respective sockets, that is.

The shorthand is the tax cuts and that they didn’t trust Hillary.

We think we’ll be better off with Trump in office.

“Financially?”

Well, yeah…

That last part was delivered like he worried that I didn’t understand that nothing more mattered than their bottom line.

For my part, I think I showed a lot of restraint.

You know you work in Portland, right?

“Yeah…”

And your job pays more than minimum wage – which in Oregon is 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, right?

“Well, I mean, I know I make more than minimum wage, but it’s not enough.”

Setting aside my recollection of the conversation we had where he volunteered that he had preemptively had his four upper front teeth removed because it was somehow easier, I went on,

You do know that republicans opposed the minimum wage bill in Oregon, right?

“Not really, I don’t pay much attention to politics.”

Well, then you frankly shouldn’t vote.

“But every vote counts and it’s my right!”

Stupid Americans.

Being ignorant

I didn’t say “retarded” because people get mad at me.

isn’t a right, it’s a handicap. Liberals provided the higher than average minimum wage that you’re making $1 more than per hour. If you’re going to vote, maybe support the people that support you. Have a little friggin’ loyalty! If you want to support the people who stand on your backs to get what they have, is like my $5 an hour back.

That last part went whizzing right over his head. Basically, he’s in a place where he’s making $200 more per week than people doing the same work outside of Oregon. And this basic Karen votes against the people who gave it to him.

As his employer, forced to pay for it – but happily doing so – if he doesn’t appreciate it, I want it back.

Idiots.

Plus, he wasn’t that great of an employee. More a “Needs Improvement” versus a “Meets Expectations” because his opportunities weren’t a matter of not knowing the job expectations or not having the tools to succeed.

He delivered the minimum effort he could get away with. Absent was the mentality to do a good job. His goal was a factor of doing only as much as he had to do to be considered “good enough”.

And he got away with it…because the management – my boss – was kind of the same. But much better paid.

This…this is the fallout from our Karen and Susan attitude. People who act in their own interest versus in the interest of the greater good. Doing what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right!

We seem to take more of a WIIFM approach to doing what’s right. Failing a personal net positive in the What’s In It For Me test, we do what’s easier versus what’s right.

As far as what’s in it for me goes? I try to come out on right versus easier as often as possible. Of course, when that means leaving a job that paid alright versus tacitly condoning the poor management ethics, it’s downright hard to do.

On the flip side, I hold others to the same standard. On that front, let me explain the title of this post:

Take A Seat, Karen

You wanna talk to the manager and get a waiter fired for a perceived slight?

Hold. My. Beer.

I had an entire company fired.

I don’t mess around. For me, right and wrong isn’t about getting what I want – in life, at the ballot box or what-have-you.

Saying that my issues with my property management company started last year while I was on vacation is only partially true.

Sure, my building unexpectedly pulled the key core from the building’s front door.

Yeah, this meant my pet sitter – aka: the Silver Fox – couldn’t get in to feed Myrtle since I only had one fob and he used a door key to get into the building.

My relationship with the management company warped into a wormhole when I reached out for help in the situation.

Expectation: something along the lines of “Oh no! Have your pet sitter swing by the office and he can use our fob until you get back!” Y’know…something to help proactively resolve the immediate issue with maybe a little appropriate empathy.

Reality: they (mis)quoted my lease to me. “As per your lease, you were given one key to your unit and one door fob. If you want additional fobs, you’ll need to buy them.”

Meanwhile, my cat isn’t being fed.

In reality, while I was trying to tone down the shriek-level in my response, it occurred to me that this wasn’t where my problem began with them, this was where their poor performance became intolerable.

My problem with their performance began a month before I moved in. I had failed to negotiate a lower rent in my old unit by speaking logic to my unit’s owner. The unit next door was the same size and renting for $300 less a month, she offered a $50 rent reduction.

I moved.

But for the three weeks while that conversation was happening, the smoke detector was giving off a replace battery beep in the empty unit. I actually arranged a tour of the unit initially only to tell them to replace the battery.

The agent apologetically agreed to get it taken care of.

Then…nothing happened.

This was when my problem with their performance began. But weighing the issues – a bad battery or $250/month – I moved anyway.

That’s the grey area I mentioned earlier. Both unit’s owner/management failed, casting the larger issue in grey. I chose the least wrong, which also happened to financially benefit me. A grey lose-win-win.

I can solve the battery issue by putting in a new battery and disconnecting the unit when that doesn’t fix it.

The starving cat issue was harder to solve and just a much larger issue overall. But I – and The Fox and the HOA prez, Joe – solves it outside of the property management company’s ineffective performance.

And the lease they quoted? It actually said a key to the unit and a mailbox key. Nothing about fobs. Thank god I had a front door key for the building, a copy I made of the key my old landlady gave me. Additionally, I’d never gotten the mailbox key because the owner had accidentally taken it home to Seattle with him. Just like the battery, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I use a PO Box.

But three months later, when they tried to raise my rent $100/month, I asked the question,

What have you done to support the rent increase?

Sure, it was the owner’s idea but they were his agent. It was their service that I was weighing against the rent increase ask that the market would simply not support.

Their performance came up short and I refused the increase, offering to move instead and pointing out that my old unit next door had been vacant for the entire time I lived here. They acquiesced, with a “We recommended no increase to the owner, but he insisted” reply.

Oh, okay…

Not sure how I’m a saner voice to the owner than the management company he employs…but, suuuuure.

All this came to a head in July when I paid rent through their portal.

Just like normal.

I paid on the 29th of June with a checking account draft. I learned the hard way that using my debit card versus a draft resulted in a $45 “convenience fee“…because it’s 1990 in their IT department.

BTW, their response to that complaint was

Perfectly acceptable and professional response, right?

A few days later I paid the rest of my bills via bill pay and debit card, noticing that the rent draft still hadn’t cleared.

The next business day, my usual monthly bills all cleared, but still not my rent.

Unpleasantly, the next business day a charge from Kelly’s for a couple of beers also cleared, leaving me $6 short on my rent. Damn their credit card processing company!

In a fit of “this could only happen to me” ness, my bank rejected to rent draft when it finally poked its head out of its technology shell.

This began a two week cascade of “I’ve had it with you people” ness for me as I tried to resolve the unfathomable “why would you not cover me for 6-fucking-dollars” issue with my bank and the head-scratchingly larger issue with my management company.

For whatever reason, this prompted them to audit my ledger and add in a $75 late fee for April’s rent – when I paid on the 5th of the month because I was waiting in checks to clear.

This was on top of the $75 late fee and $50 NSF fee my returned check was costing me for the current month.

I didn’t have an extra $225.

Just. Didn’t.

That’s not my lifestyle these days – and may never be again. I’m kind of ok with that compared to working for a company with a double standard. I don’t love it, but by god…it’s ethically right.

One of the other handicaps this so-called-management company’s online portal suffered from was an ability to make partial payments. Given my newer more meager financial situation, I wanted to make biweekly payments of half my rent.

Can’t.

Fine, I lived a year being super-financially-disciplined (for me) and was only late once.

I rallied.

But in July, I hit a wall. After talking to my bank, getting their overdraft fee refunded, cleaning out my – and The Fox’s – recycling closet and cashing in my coffee can of change, I had the extra $150 fees my July rent required.

I didn’t have the April “Oops, we suck at our jobs” $75. And…no partial payments, so I couldn’t pay rent.

Could I have asked The Fox or my family or just about anyone I’ve ever me to front me $75?

Fuck yeah.

But I didn’t because it was wrong – in my opinion – for them to randomly choose this moment to audit my ledger. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily piling on in a bad situation.

It.

Made.

Me.

Angry.

Y’know, one of those pesky righteous angers that causes you to quit good jobs versus the kind that makes you fight traffic tickets when you were, in fact, speeding.

I emailed the owner.

He’d asked me in an email – after a five week process to get my AC repaired during the first heatwave of the Summer – how everything was going.

Well, my best friend let in the AC repair guy – since having to schedule ten days out resulted in them being able to do the work on a day I had to work – in for me, went home and decided to get his own AC checked out. Called a different company and was offered an appointment the next damn day, got his unit checked out and the part ordered for some preventative repairs and delivered and installed before my five week ordeal was resolved through your management company…

Seemed like an out of line response, so I let it lie and said nothing.

Like I was raised to do!

But after two weeks trying to give this company money, it was time.

And I fucking went to the mattresses.

Maybe it was a little personal. Dealing with my shelter and my money, after all. Seems kind of personal.

To the management company, it was “just business”, but because they all appear to employ the same ethics as my Trump supporting former employee…they were happy to do as little as possible to earn their money.

So I asked to speak to the manager. You want to know how I started my email to the owner?

You need to fire this management company.

Flat out. No preamble, right to the mattresses.

Then I made my case.

He got involved, told them to waive everything, I paid my rent and seethed on…dreading my next encounter with these people.

On August 2nd – two weeks later – the owner sent me an email telling me he’d put them on notice that he was taking over on September 1st. True to form, three days later, the management company sent me a letter saying as much.

I thought about replying to them. Especially given that they’d provided zero context for the change in their message.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving and less competent group of bastards!

That seemed like gloating. Plus, as vocal as I was about their shortcomings in each of my encounters with them, I would imagine they expected that from me.

So I withheld. My internal grumpy old man just sat back, breathes a stress-free sigh of relief and thought

How bout dat, indeed, Karen?

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Take A Seat, Karen

Oh, You…Universe, You!

It’s a wily cosmos out there, that’s for sure. The last couple of weeks have proved that to me in spades.

Whether you believe it’s the Universe, the Lord, Karma or some other idiomatic dark horse…behold my recent story. I’ll try and make it as follow-able as possible.

So, y’all know that I self- published my first two books – one nonfiction and fiction work each – in March. I consciously chose self-publishing since my research showed that writers lucky enough to get a publishing contract got dropped as soon as the contract ended if they didn’t turn out to be the next James Patterson.

The differences here – aside from the looming publisher break up – were that self publishing pays royalties monthly versus twice annually but there’s no up front money. So I might get a monthly payout, but it was gonna be ~$500 on average versus an advance of anywhere from $5-25k that you may never make back, hence the writers I talked to getting dumped.

I opted for the slow burn even though so far my earned royalties aren’t even what I made in a day when I worked at Macy’s.

God, I miss Macy’s money.

Anyway, I just pushed publish and silently hoped that some industrious producer discovered me.

So, while all that’s going on, I’m wandering around the Pearl and see this sign in the window of a store that I managed for three months four years ago.

Now, I could have called that outcome when I left there. I’m actually surprised that they lasted this long. I came on right after the founder retired and promoted the Vice President/Buyer to run things. He was grooming the District Manager to take over his role and I was brought on as a DM in training to run the store in the Pearl District until that change occurred.

It quickly became apparent to me that the dipshits in charge couldn’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag…so, like I said – I’m surprised they made it this long.

Still, I feel bad for the employees. Sorta.

Anyway.

Things are getting pretty tight at Casa de Xtopher. In February, my unemployment was suspended because they think I’ve been working and not reporting my income. This stems from a quarterly report from my temp job at Amazon – irony alert: that’s who I self-published with – that indicates a status change in my employment with them.

I wasn’t surprised at this, the timing the unemployment office described to me put this blip as a termination for not meeting my one shift a month commitment as a temporary employee.

Of course, the brainiacs at the unemployment office completely melt down and don’t know what to do, so they pause my benefit without telling me.

Seriously, how these people have jobs and I don’t…?

My question to them was

“So y’all require employers to report quarterly employment changes but you can’t differentiate between a new hire and a termination on those reports?”

Idiots.

We straighten that out and then – before a single benefit week is paid, some troll in their office comes up with, “Yeah, but his waiting week in October was paid. He has to pay that back.” To which I replied,

“I worked with your own clowns to figure out the correct timing and claimed earnings as I should have. Go pull the tapes.”

Sure enough. That was right, but by that time, the state had already withheld the week and a half of benefits from me for the payback.

Whatever.

I figure that will just extend my claim by a week and since I’m already over the hump of not having that week of benefits, I let it lie. So naturally, the next week I claim, I get an error message that my claim has run out or expired.

What fresh hell is this?

“Oh, yeah. You contested the original ineligibility decision back in April of last year.”

“And?!?”

“Oh, and that means your benefit may be reduced by eight weeks. We sent you a letter. Lemme find it…ah, here we are!”

And this very nice, surprisingly competent sounding woman reads the letter they sent me verbatim. “Blah, blah, blah may cause a benefit reduction of eight weeks blah, blah…”

“Right. ‘May cause’ not ‘will cause’, please allow me to explain the English language to you…”

“Oh, well we don’t right the letters ourselves…”

Because, of course not. If I had patience with incompetence and a lack of accountability, I’d just be leaving my job at Storables. That means that I’d never have gone to work at the airport, but if I had…I would have loved it there since competence and accountability are their scariest boogey men.

I count back eight weeks from my original claim on April 6th of last year to my last benefit payment…yup. They nailed it.

At least I come out of that experience knowing that the unemployment office is as good at stopping benefits as I am at not working for poorly run companies. What I did learn from this last contact, though, was that my claim can be renewed on April 7th, but at just over half of the original amount.

Not that I’ll believe that until I see a check.

Naturally, I’m panicking. I think my rent is paid through May, but my other meager bills will be dicey.

By The Way

Too subtle?

But, then…

I see on the Facebook – of all friggin’ places – that The Container Store is hiring for an Ops Manager. Of course, I apply!The Container Store and I have a long peripheral history. Way back in the 90s, the store I worked at – for a decade, lest you think I just can’t hold a job – carried a modular storage brand called Elfa. The Container Store eventually bought Elfa.

I was their customer after buying my condo in Seattle in the aughts. I outfitted my closet with their Elfa system. When I was looking for work up there, I got to the final round of interviews with them, but ended up missing out on the offer.

Then I went to work for Storables – which I nicknamed Regrettables – and learn that the owner had been aligned with the owners at TCS but the partnership disintegrated and he struck out on his own.

So, here I am. Still applying for jobs, wherever I can and at any level from janitor to manager.

Nothing.

I get a call. Turns out it’s from the owner of a chain of convenience stores here in Portland with a terrible reputation. I once saw a six pack of craft beer that’s $12 at the she-she brodega across the street from me for sale there for $19!

He pretty much offers me a cashier job on the spot for $12/hr, which according to him, “Is pretty good pay.”

It’s literally minimum wage in Portland.

Nevertheless, I’m freaking out about how to buy cat food for the meanest cat in history. I also think,

“Well, between this, the book royalties and maybe my unemployment – if someone there finally manages to get an answer right on the first try – I can pay my June rent. That’s something.

I’m really good at covering up my urges to leap from tall structures these days.

Incidentally…

Naturally, since my belly is now full of swallowed pride (shut up, Diezel) on the last day in the year since my last day at my nightmare airport job, I score an interview with the Area Manager for TCS. It goes great. I’m not just optimistic for the opportunity, I’m motivated by the conversation. She says she’s passing me down the chain of command to her local manager for a face to face.

Then, nothing happens.

No call yesterday.

Except today on the anniversary of my first day off work after quitting my job at the airport, I get a call from the local guy at TCS!

He wants to talk Monday, before he leaves for a week, but he wants “to get this rolling”.

That’s a good sign, right?!?

Naturally – since this is my life, here – Monday is my first day of work at the crappy, humbling convenience store job. So here’s what Monday looks like:

5:30 – wake up!

6:30 – start work at the convenience store.

2:30 – get off work at the convenience store (I hope!)

4:00 – interview with The Container Store.

Basically, I have 90 minutes to hoof it home to change, steal the Silver Fox’s car and drive 12 miles in Monday rush hour traffic.

The most heartbreaking thing is that I will have to walk right by my favorite dive bar – Kelly’s – on my way home from the convenience store.

But you best believe I’m fucking doing it. All of it.

And I’m getting that job!

Oh, but still…

Oh, You…Universe, You!

I Don’t Like Anyone

Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point in my life and I like you.

Or even worse (for you) I call you friend.

Because I think the “like” department is either out of stock or never reopened after the Partial Government Shutdown.

I started thinking about this a couple weekends ago, after back to back dinner parties. But yesterday, it really crystallized for this old grumpopotamus.

I haven’t enjoyed the company of new people at all for at least a month!

Friday, I had an interview with MudBay. Again. Having breakfast with my parents beforehand, they even seemed caught between optimism and incredulity that this interview process was still going on. To be fair, I started with one DM in November and then got switched to a second in January after nothing happened with the first.

It was fine by me, DM #1 didn’t leave me feeling like she liked me as a candidate. This was after she just happened to be present when I did a drop in with a Store Manager that a former colleague recommended I talk to.

DM #2 and I seemed to really jive during our chats. So I was excited about Friday, even though the pay is pretty meh. It’s still seeming like a company that 99% aligns with what I’m looking for in a company.

So I show up out in BFE yesterday to have what I hoped was a final interview.

DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

FFS.

Our conversation this time – she did more of the talking between the two of them – seemed better. DM #2 swoops in at the end to say she’ll be calling all the people they speak to in this round by Wednesday to let them know their status. I would hope that means a yea/nay on the job offer front. Regardless, it was specific. That’s way better than the way DM #1 left me hanging after our surprise first meeting.

I’ll call you when we’re ready to move forward with interviews!

Too chipper.

Also, I didn’t know this was an interview, so she didn’t have my resume to walk away.

So she didn’t have my contact info.

Or. My. Last. Name.

I can find you in our applicant tracker!

Too chipper.

By first name? You said you got hundreds of applicants. From a job that posted in June of 2018…and it’s November.

I can search by referral source, since you were referred by an employee!

Too chipper.

Plus, she should have said Muddy, since that’s what they call one another.

Well, that might narrow down the applicants with my first name. Assuming she remembered it. Or the Muddy’s name that referred me…

So, while I can at least appreciate that this conversation was a good one, I’m still a little rankled by the Shanghai Round Robin style interview.

Mostly, because I don’t like people anymore, it seems.

I actually got to have a spur of the moment lunch with Little Buddy a few days later while she was in my hood doing errand-type things. She was detoxing some family stuff with some fun adult lunch time.

I’m glad I can be that person for someone!

But, naturally, I ruined it by telling her I didn’t like the new people that came to her dinner party.

Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

I dunno. The woman seemed intent on being the star of the party.

Pish. She’s fine, she just didn’t know anyone but me. You know how we can be in a group.

Fair point. But it all seemed like showing up to a wedding in a prettier dress than the bride to me.

I’m pretty sure we left that at a neutral assessment that I am just crazy.

Since it snowed here this week – with an anticipated 4″ on Friday – the wine event LB, 2.0, the Silver Fox and I were all going to Saturday got canceled.

Of course.

Naturally, the snow never materialized…

My walk to f&b for coffee was completely un-treacherous. The Fox joined me and we couldn’t decide if there was an unusual amount of families passing by outside or if there was just too few not families out to dilute their presence.

We were decidedly the only two people in the cafe for the most part until he left at 1:30. There was a couple of ladies who walked in and declared they had a half hour to kill and could they just hang out.

It had started snowing. Big, fat flakes. But, still…no! Buy a goddamned coffee and wait. Sheesh. These ladies looked to be 60-ish.

But the type of 60-ish that are entitled and well to do. Terrible combination. In my opinion, that question cost more in dignity that a $3 cup of coffee would have cost them.

I’m probably just mad because I know the cafe is struggling. Their rent is going up and likely to cut their barely double digit profit margin in half, making it likely they’ll close.

All because they’re in a convenient rendezvous area. And too nice to say

Buy a goddamn $3 cup of Joe or GTFO. Ma’am.

At two, I said goodbye to the staff and wandered next door to wash the taste of coffee out of my mouth with a Pallet Jack. Since I was in the area.

There was a cute and nice couple at the bar when I walked in. They chuckled at the catch up conversation the bartendress and I had but settled up, decanted and left shortly after I sat down. That left me, the bartendress (I’ve gone so long without giving her a nickname that I’m afraid she’s just going to become The Bartendress Without A Name…I guess I could call her T’Bwana, thoughts? It’s an acronym portmanteaus!) and a couple at one of the two tables by the window.

We continued our chatter while T’Bwana did her side work and tended the occasional need of the couple.

A third couple came in with a Plus One from New Zealand. They were fun, but not from around here, so I was over them quickly. Another regular came in and sat at the table behind me, reading.

Then.

It.

Happened.

Eight people came in. Fine. Whatever. I’ve made my peace with this illogical occurrence. Party of eight walks into a bar of mostly two-top tables.

What.

Ever.

I get it, you’re entitled, too. Maybe you’re looking for the old gals next door?

What ticked me off was that they pulled the last two tables in the main bar together for a sit down. The entire room next door – The Rug Room – is empty!

Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

This whole tome, there’s been a couple in The Rug Room. They came in, ordered drinks and went into The Rug Room. T’Bwana went in to check on them a while after and came back in with that “I’m So Sure” head tilt girls do.

What?

Is it weird that there’s 8 tables and 15 chairs in there and those two are sitting cross legged on the floor?!?

Kum-bay-yes! What the what?!?

Regardless, plenty of room for this octet in The Rug Room is the point. Instead, they decide to become a black hole in the middle of the main bar.

And they pulled the last two tables together crooked so there’s no good path around them that doesn’t involve a hop on one foot.

Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

Loudly.

I might have mentioned something to T’Bwana as I was settling up.

So, I could make an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall for ya…I know you work for tips and can’t piss these oblivious bastards off.

T’Bwana texted me later saying they’d left shortly after me.

Huh.

Ok, one last example of how I don’t like anyone…and it’s my favorite story from the last couple weeks, so I hope you hung on.

This could only happen to me.

The Silver Fox had a dinner party. Me, him and his new neighbor. His new neighbor is having trouble making friends. Now, normally I’d give this type of invite a wide berth, cuz it’s an obvious setup, right?

Well, The Fox has me covered

Don’t worry, you aren’t his type, he likes younger guys, too.

Ouch.

But he’s right. He’s seen a guy I flung with once getting off the elevator on their floor. Me, being the Devil. No. Devil’s Advocate, mention that maybe the NY transplant gay couple on his floor are Portland-ing it up with a random third?

They’re in Palm Springs.

Nertz.

His assumption is solid.

I meet this guy from LA and – more recently – down the hall and he is just so friggin’ so.

Precious.

I’m calling him Jimbo.

A) because he’s from New Orleans, originally.

B) he would hate that nickname. And,

C) if you pronounce the “J” with a Spanish accent, you get “himbo” or a male bimbo, and he was!

He monopolized the conversation with unamusing anecdotes about how precious he is.

He has two houses in New Orleans.

He wants to buy a house in France when he retires. But not alone! Why not? I’m sitting here with you and my best friend, and I’m feeling pretty alone!

His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

He can’t believe that condos in this building are selling for a half mil more than his house in the Hollywood Hills. Thank god he rented that instead of selling!

Why?

Topping it off, he has a friend visiting from Seattle soon.

Ok, that’s all your problem in meeting friends. No one compares to you. You’re fresh off the boat from the west coast city with the most superficial people, importing people from the west coast city that has yet to learn how to deal with its near instantaneous wealth and living in the chill city trapped between them.

Yeah. That’s your problem.

Shortly after we finished dinner – asparagus risotto and what must have been 24 ounce steaks! – he was talking about a shoe dilemma. He’d just mentioned he was a clothes horse.

The Fox gamely interrupted with a question about Marie Kondo. I loved that.

Of course, since Jimbo’s name isn’t Marie Kondo, he didn’t have time for the question and went back to his shoes. Apparently, they’re his faves but he needs to have them resoled and worked on.

I haven’t tried the guy you recommended, but I just can’t find a good shoe guy up here.

Welp, at least you’ve clearly overwhelmed yourself by turning over every stone.

He went on to share his decision on his ultra first world problem…

I have to go to LA in a few weeks for work. I’ll just take them to my old shoe guy. But I’m gonna tell him he has to get them done in a day.

Because, obviously.

One couldn’t trust this gifted shoe tradesman to be able to mail a shoebox. No, Jimbo needs his shoes now. This guy is so lucky to have a customer like Jimbo. I’ll bet he threw a party when she left town,

The Fox gave his dog, George, a doggie downer before the guests arrived. It had kicked the hell in.

Hard.

George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

The Fox got up to get dessert. I was so full, but…dessert!

You know what, G? I’m so full! But I’m still eating my dessert! Yeas I am. Yes I am! I’m just gonna fart to make some room and blame you! Yes I am!

A few minutes later, I pick up a decidedly not doggie scented fart coming from Jimbo’s end of the couch.

Oh, FFS. Really? You’re a precious homosexual…could you please act like it?!?

I debated telling him I was just joking about farting and blaming the dog. I may lack a certain – or any couth, but I have manners.

I can hold a fart – usually – until I get home.

Then he did it again.

Oh, this. This!

I really don’t like most people. But the ones I don’t like most are really amusing. For sure, not in the previous way that they think they are amusing, either. And the people I do like enjoy the shit that happens to me just as much as I do!

Because, it really would only happen to me…

I Don’t Like Anyone

The Haircut Saga

If you can even begin to understand what it’s like to be me for just the shortest of moments, it won’t surprise you to hear that in November I left my barbershop thinking,

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

It was the second time since I considered recreationally growing my hair longer that I’ve walked into Bishop’s in the Pearl with the intent of getting cleaned up around the edges and walk out with a haircut that was basically ready for junior high school picture day.
My goal in my mission to recreationally grow out my hair – into what I call crazy old man hair – was something like a low key version of this:img_3453
What I really meant by stating my goal to grow out my hair was just to openly defy the current hair style conventions of that ridiculous hard part haircut. You know, this one…img_0516
Hard part? More like hard pass!
And I’ve had the same haircut, essentially, for the last 10-15 years, so something of a change was in order…just not what I considered to be the current incarnation of The Big Gay Haircut. Going longer was my only safe bet.
Except…
Not so fast, old Xtopher.
In late September, I walked into Bishop’s, told my gal what I wanted and walked out with this:
img_3454
Fine.
I grow it out a little, about seven weeks, and then go back toward the end of November for my holiday haircut in late November. Gotta make myself respectable for my visit to mom and dad! I make myself very clear that I only want it cleaned up over the ears, not blended all the way up since I want to grow it longer.
“Got it”, she says.

Flash forward twenty minutes…
img_3454

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

I leave thinking that I’ll give it until the end of January. Maybe if I need to cave for something important – like an interview – I will, but otherwise, it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time…so this can be my lil hobby.
Toward the end of January – my birthday – I ask the Silver Fox if I should be thinking about getting a haircut. I hadn’t heard from my family about birthday plans, so I was beginning to suspect something. If my family is planning something, I figure I should mow the shag a bit to look presentable.
“Your family isn’t planning anything”, he says.
Fine. No worries.
“But I’d get a haircut if I were you!” he laughs.
Of course, I reasonably assume that he’s taking a chance to return some of my snark and take it in stride.
He wasn’t.
img_1108
Great. Now he can keep a secret.
Not to worry, I think I pulled the shaggy look off…
img_1342
Notice how the longer hair distracts from my growing girth?
Anyway…lesson learned. I had said I was giving it until the end of January and here it was, the 21st. I figured I could see this through the final ten days and then hit Bishop’s and see if they’ve learned any new listening skills.
The Fox and I head up to Trader Joe’s later that week – he usually lets me tag along so that I don’t have to hoof it 20 blocks with my groceries – read: a half case of wine – which I certainly appreciate. On our way back, we pass right by Bishop’s and I’m looking in and thinking that it figures they aren’t crowded now, but just watch…when I want my hair cut it’ll be like the week before picture week. Then I see it.
Oops. Him.
This guy that I used to…socialize with, privately, if you get my drift, when I first moved back to Portland. He was a complete and utter mess. I’d cut ties with him by the end of that first year back in town.
Of course, the next year, he turns up at a happy hour with Linda Belcher. She had invited me down to Old Town to grab a couple drinks with her common-law husband, Bob’s Burgers, and some of his acupuncture co-horts.
This guy shows up. Mostly because this is my life and this is just what one should expect when one is me. Also because he was engaged to a classmate of Bob’s Burgers.
F.
M.
L.
I learn that he’s in the Hair Program at Paul Mitchell over across Burnside. I’m actually surprised that I don’t see him more often, since I pass by there every time I go to the bank or movies…surprised, but grateful.
A year or so later, I do finally end up seeing him outside. “Long program”, I think to myself, but I’m on the far side of the street, so he doesn’t see me.
Maybe another year later, I see him again and wonder if he’s teaching there, but just assume they are smart enough to not let that happen.
So, here I am, less than ten days away from a haircut and I see him on a smoke break outside. Finally working after taking the better part of three years to graduate from what I gather is a seven or eight month program. My friend, JOrtis is a teacher at the Aveda institute and I just figured, why not ask how long the program should take. I think he said months…but knowing this mess, I could see him spacing out a seven or eight week program with a few trips to rehab.
Nonetheless, it explains something about my last two trips into Bishop’s for a haircut.
Turns out my petulant departure in November contained some pretty true words.
So, here it is, the first week of February and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’m still not doing anything…oh, wait”, but I’m still not really putting any emphasis on my hair maintenance.
The Fox says that he’s getting used to it, which I somehow gamely twist into a compliment.
And…since this is my life we’re talking about, I get an in person interview.

Screw it. This interview process started in November. If they ask, I’ll tell them that I am not getting a haircut until they offer me a job out of protest.

So, if The Great Job Hunt finally comes through and I get the job, I’ll trim this shituation up, otherwise, this is what they get. Until then…img_3453

Whatever I decide to do with this shaggy mane, the…let’s say lucky barber will have plenty of material to work with!

The Haircut Saga

Feed Yourself

That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

Still, he stuck with me.

He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

Just.

Saying.

Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

“You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

I was jazzed.

It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

Joint…

Cigar…

Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

I can make this work…

I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

“You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

“Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself

Tappa-Kegga-Day

That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

Today is a day of rest.

Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

Or, not-problem.

The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

Jerk.

Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

Resolutions for the new year?

Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

2) Not cut my hair.

I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

Why not?

Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

But not inside.

I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

– Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

– Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

Decisions, decisions.

The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

Surprise!

My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

Or,

Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

Sneaky.

Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

Hats off, sis!

My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

They were surprised by my statement.

Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

“It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

This is why we’re friends.

Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

There’s worse ways to wake up.

We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

Yesterday was one of those days.

That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

The Search Continues!

I went to the gym recently. Everything appeared normal as I approached…

Until I rounded the corner and approached the front doors. Normally, I feel a little intimidated walking into the gym.

Doors are heavy!

For whatever reason on this day, I tore my eyes away from my feet. I like to mind my steps, because falling down would hurt. Also, I tend to become easily distracted by attractive and unattainable men.

What I saw when I looked up filled me with a minor sense of optimism…

We’re Hiring!

Well, sure.

Why not?

I went inside, making sure to smile at the check-in biometric machine that was on duty…just to leave a good impression. Then I did my little fitness thing.

When I got home, I went to the gym’s website to apply for my next dream job!

Alas…it wasn’t listed as available. Which means that someone out there has my job!

But I’m going to go back, obviously. When I do, I’m going to keep my eyes open for the person with my job.

If I see them, they’d better hope it’s not near the top of the stairs. Now that I’ve set my mind on it, I won’t be satisfied until I can hold my head high as a member of my gym’s team.

As the Before Model.

The Search Continues!

So, It’s Gonna Be Like That…

Eh, Universe?

Just before New Years, I got an email from my property management company. They were letting me know they’d be raising my rent…effective March 31.

Nice to get plenty of notice.

I signed a 15 month lease last year – well, 2017 – in mid-December. This was after my landlord in the unit right next door refused to negotiate my rent after this unit sat on the market for $200 less than mine…for six months!

When she finally agreed to talk pricing, my current unit had dropped another $100. When she came to me with a $50 reduction, I wished her well and opted to save $300/month on my largest expense. I iced my decision-making cake by telling myself that having a property management company versus a weird mix of hippy and dilettante for a landlord would be better, anyway.

When a property management company can’t figure out how to change the batteries in a smoke detector, run! That was indicative of each of the issues I’ve had since I moved in.

Garbage Disposal: 2 weeks to get a repairman here, 10 minutes to fix.

Balcony Doors Warping: 2 weeks to schedule a handyman, they show up to assess and three weeks later, still not fixed.

But it’s ok…it’s just winter and cold air is just pouring in around the edges of the door.

By all means, though…send me that rent increase email while you’re proving you’re not worth it. That 7% increase is pretty high, given that rents overall in Portland decreased 3% year-over-year from ’17-’18.

But at the same time, I knew I was getting a fairly good value. If they hadn’t been such foot draggers about repairs, I wouldn’t think twice about the $100.

However, since my old land lady had yet to rent my old unit, I thought about reaching out to her. I was curious about her plans for the unit. I thought maybe losing $20,400 over the year versus dropping my rent $200/month might have put her in a mood to negotiate.

Plus, the board president had let slip that her HOAs were in arrears. Oops.

I figured, get past the New Year holiday and see how she felt about a March move-in.

Then a BBQ showed up on my old balcony.

Eight months after I moved out, she put my old unit on the market for $50 more than what I last paid.

Remember how rents went down 3%?

Yeah, she didn’t get the memo.

Two months later, she drops the rent to what I wanted to pay before I moved out. It still took a month to rent and the new tenant moved in this month.

The BBQ was disappointing enough to see show up – our building doesn’t allow them. But now I’m wishing it was just a BBQ.

He’s gonna be one of those neighbors.

So, here I am, thinking of moving out of a building and area that I really love living in. I don’t have much else to do besides think – ok, obsess – go to the gym and write. This was a good lil back burner thought exercise.

Then, out of the blue, I get an email from MudBay about a job. It is a position I applied for in mid-November at the urging of an old colleague of mine. She works for them in Seattle and thinks of me every time there’s an open position.

I applied a couple of years ago, but nothing happened.

This time around, she not only insisted I apply, she arranged a drop-in with a former manager of hers who had moved down here to Portland to open a store for them.

Alright, alright…I’ll go!

The District Manager just happens to be there the day of the drop-in and we all talk for 45 minutes in what felt less like a drop-in conversation and more like a full-on interview. It also felt like they were trying to talk me out of the position. They both kept reiterating how hard it was for people to come from outside retailers because their culture is so different.

Well, at the end of that conversation, I offered to send the DM my resume and asked for her card or contact info.

Oh, that’s ok. If you applied, I’ll find your resume.

“But you said that hundreds of people applied…”, I say, not adding that the job has been posted for five months.

Oh, I’ll be able to find you.

“But you don’t know my last name…” Yeah, this is sounding like the end of a bad date.

But you were referred, so that’ll narrow it down!

She sounds so peppy and sure of herself. Still, I’m thinking for a company that’s so different from other retailers, this feels the same as a lot of other “don’t call us, we’ll call you” interviews I’ve had.

Ah, the joys of the great job hunt.

Whatever, happy-fucking-holidays.

To say I was surprised to get an email requesting a phone interview…well, that would be an understatement. Nowhere in my mind was the thought that she had actually liked me as a candidate. Or even a person.

That she forgot who I was, well…that was firmly planted at the front of my mind.

I debated reminding her, but then as the conversation began

Before we start, you read the job description – and that’s just the framework of the responsibilities of the role – but do you have any questions about it before we start?

…it really became obvious that she didn’t remember me. At the second question, I was really feeling like we were covering redundant territory.

So, I stopped her and asked, “Just out of curiosity, you aren’t the same person I spoke with in November at the store on Hawthorne, are you?”

I don’t think so…no.

– she says, sounding rather uncertain.

There are two District Managers for Portland.

I was thinking she was worried about stepping on someone else’s toes. But the way she said it made me reconsider.

She doesn’t like her counterpart. I was pretty damn sure I was right, but resisted sharing my experience to suss out my suspicion. Frankly, I found that to be a plus for me.

Sure enough, we went on to have a fantastic hour-long conversation. I think my only obstacle as a candidate for her is my salary; my floor is $2k over their max.

That could be a sticking point.

However, the landlord story above? Yeah…I live in one of the most expensive parts of town. If I get further into the interview process and she/they begin to understand where their openings will be…I could move closer to my assigned store and save a couple hundred bucks a month. That puts me back in the salary/expense ballpark I want to be in.

The Silver Fox would hate that plan – not that I’d be wild about losing the spontaneous nature of our neighborly friendship. But for a job with a company I want to work for? Maybe it would be the right thing to do.

To that, I say

C’mon, 2019!

So, It’s Gonna Be Like That…

Tse Tse & Me

Isn’t that lil bugger adorable? Not sure what’s going on with the tail end condensation there…maybe he got ahold of some olean products.

Cute, anal leaking or not, this guy has been in my mind the last couple of days as I’ve found myself succumbing to spontaneous involuntary bouts of unconsciousness. I’d guess that I’ve slept 34 out of the last 48 hours.

Realistically, since I am sleeping at night, turning in around my normal midnight bedtime and easily sleeping through until ten AM, when Myrtle’s hungry, bitching meows finally succeed in waking me, I know it’s not Sleeping Sickness. The Tse Tse Fly bite generally causes nighttime wakefulness, prompting daytime slumber.

I’m only suffering from that last part.

On Sunday, I woke at 6 AM after heading to bed at 10 the night before. I was unusually relaxed after three beers at Tanner Creek Tavern next door to my house. A couple of months ago, they stopped ordering Breakside IPA, a favorite of The Fox and me as well as a top draw for us to belly up. The staff is fantastic and pretty easy on the eyes, but y’know…what I can drink up with my eyes is a minor part of my bar allegiance decision making process. Discovering that Tanner Creek had brought in a Barley Brown IPA to placate our Breakside Boycott – an act of resistance that included the Silver Fox and I walking into the bar with 22 ounce bottles of Breakside that we purchased from the Brodega across the street – lured us back.

That the new addition was also an 8.5% ABV promoted a nice, early bedtime after three doses.

I didn’t think much of my early rise, since it was a legitimate eight hours of sleep. Still, I managed to procrastinate my way through the morning until I had to get ready for a noon:30 meet up with Jortis and Little Buddy for our semi-regular theater going at Portland Center Stage.

The show was at 2:00, but we were meeting for…brunch, yeah…brunch at 12:30. I sat down on the couch to kill time while my hair dried and woke up at 1:30. I’d fallen asleep in a seated position.

Ridiculous.

I rarely nap. I want to say “never”, but when I’m sick, it happens. Or when I’m getting sick. Confused from my unconsciousness, I texted my apologies to Jortis who had sent me a text when I was 10 minutes late, which is kind of unlike me. Not that I’m not usually the last one there, since I live closest and usually head out on the four block walk at our designating meeting time…

A couple hours later I awoke to a response text reminding me that the show started at 2:00 and at the time it landed there was still 30 minutes before showtime.

It was 3:30.

Having failed at making my only plans for the day, I put on a movie and promptly fell asleep again on the couch.

When my excessive sleep followed me into a second day, I began to shift my neurotic hypochondria to more realistic sources – having not been to the Congo recently.

I spent some of my few waking hours wondering if the teenage dream disease-slash-excuse for doing nothing for an entire school year had actually caught up with me.

Out of all of the symptoms listed, I was only experiencing malaise and fatigue. I for sure wasn’t experiencing any loss of appetite, having made a pound of pasta and 18 meatballs on Sunday night, finishing it for breakfast on Monday morning.

The Fox posited that my symptoms might have been a result of my return to exercise greatness last week. I was experiencing some good delayed onset muscle soreness, but was reluctant to chalk my excessive sleep up to exercise. Knowing me and my tendency to procrastinate at the drop of a hat, it was a problematic diagnosis.

Having successfully not only remained awake for a solid three hours straight but also cleaned myself up and dragged myself out of the house, I’m beginning to accept the notion that what had me down the last two days was something much simpler.

Last week was the end of Portland’s first real week of Fall weather. Lots of rainy afternoons. That, plus 4 PM nightfall could easily trigger a little SAD in the most diehard PNW natives.

And I’m not much of a diehard…I even use an umbrella! But only when it really rains.

Pair that basic root cause with what is likely to be my last attempt at dating for the year – if not ever – and I can see where my defenses against a torpor spiral could have failed me. Especially when I think of how my persistent seeming unhireability contributed to weakening those defenses.

Ugh, and then there’s the holiday.

Maybe Portland’s first Fall Storm was just the icing on the perfect emotional storm cake that’s been baking in my psyche these past few months. But at least my response was to simply ride it out with a nap, I’m pretty sure that could have been worse.

Like I said earlier, I’m out and about today, which is a good change of pace. I’m looking at other changes in behavior that I can stop/start/continue to maintain an upward emotional trajectory.

I think dating can easily fall into the stop bucket.

Enough of that emotional mayhem.

I know, emotionally exhausting as it is, that I must continue my job search. I need the sense of purpose work provides. However, I’m kind of battling the whole mentality of the pursuit. I want a job that aligns with my interests and values. Jobs like those pay me every day versus every two weeks. But my phone – and the job search alerts it sends me – seems to be pointing me in a different direction.

Really, LinkedIn? Three decades of retail management work experience and you’ve managed to scrounge up an open position at 7-Eleven? They also like to throw a management job at a local gas station/convenience store chainlet at me once or twice a week. That job has been open for six months!

Talk about a red flag.

The struggle for me now in my job search is not applying for jobs like that out of a desperate mindset. While they pay 1/3 of what I’m realistically worth, and half of what I accepted when I embarked on my last professional misadventure, the last thing I need is to be rejected for a position for which I’m grossly overqualified.

So, unfortunately, job search falls into the continue bucket. I just need to silence the voice in my head that is chanting the definition of insanity.

Maybe the start I need in my career search is developing new skills. I’ve been low-key exploring getting a professional certification in Human Resources after my last job. Generally, I hold an organization’s HR department in fairly low esteem, having experienced the execution of their dual responsibilities – the best interests of the employees and protecting the organization they serve – manifest as pencil whipping their job description. I’m not eager to sign up for professional impotence. If I want a poor return on my efforts, I could keep dating.

Then again, it pays well…even if the pay off isn’t professional satisfaction.

Alright. So I’ve got some vague marching orders. The local cafe has chosen to not play music today and the corner I’ve tucked into to enjoy my coffee while I write my way out of my torpor has now been surrounded by cubicle dwellers escaping for lunch.

All of those misophonia triggers have positioned themselves close enough to me for me to smack them, as their poor table manners require…so I should GTFO of here before I end up accidentally assaulting someone with my empty mug.

Off to the gym!

Plus, I just farted.

Tse Tse & Me

When The Chickens Come Home…

I recently lamented that my job search – targeting companies I’d aspired to work for either because of reputation or an alignment of values and lifestyle – was now becoming more a competition of companies racing to prove themselves unworthy of their reputations…

Case in point, I just completed an interview review on Glassdoor for an interview I had with Columbia Sportswear. I’d been talking to people about it for a while and finally decided that bitching and moaning might be therapeutic to me, but it rarely solves a problem.

Here’s the thing, a couple months ago I applied for this store manager job with them. It’s a role I’m extremely qualified for and Columbia Sportswear is an iconic Portland company. It’s also practically a B Corp, so good values, too.

Impressing me even more, the district manager called me the very next day, which was a Friday. We set up an interview for the following Monday, then he signed off saying something like, “If anything changes, I’m in the stores this weekend so just call”. I countered with I hadn’t expected him to be working the weekend when I suggested Monday as my interview day. He offered to meet me Saturday and I agreed, knowing that Mondays in retail don’t usually leave a ton of time for interviews.

Interview wisdom dictates that the best timing for interviewees is either to be the first or last person interviewed. If you’re the first person and crush it, everyone else has to overcome the bar you set. If you’re the last person and stick your landing, everyone before you suddenly blends into one big amalgam of an applicant.

I was first, in this case and learned the DM was only seeing three people before making an offer on Tuesday.

I did not crush the interview, by any means. For whatever reason, the DM hadn’t offered to take my jacket when we got to the office. Once he closed the door, the office immediately began to heat up. Within 10 minutes, I was sweating like the proverbial whore in church and took off my jacket. It took me another 10 minutes to stop sweating.

It was insane.

However, we joked about it and I kept knocking his questions out of the park.

What’s with my gay ass and sports analogies I have no business making?!?

His questions were biplanes and I was fucking King Kong. That’s an analogy I can back up.

He makes a point of talking about his husband. I make a point of not asking if they are in one of those ridiculous open relationships that is the herpes of Portland gay culture. Still, I ran a back burner argument during the interview about why him basically coming out to me during the interview bothered me when I know if he’d been a woman talking about her husband I wouldn’t have even noticed it.

I left the interview entertaining myself about being able to finish third for a job after a string of second runners up. In reality though, I knew I crushed it. But that whole sweating thing was bugging me. I finally felt comfortable with my answer to why I left my last job and we seemed to find common ground in my statement that if companies were going to go to the trouble of printing an employee handbook, they should bother to ensure their executives take them seriously and hold management teams accountable to supporting them. It was good, finally not awkward or defensive.

So, the following week I get a voicemail from this guy asking me to call him back so we can discuss the job. I held the phone away from my face, surprised that I might have actually gotten the job.

I call him back, only to have him tell me that he went with another candidate. What kind of fuck you tom foolery is this? You can leave that in a voicemail. But he goes out of his way to say he liked me as an applicant and wanted me to know that he’d keep me in mind for future openings.

Normally, I give these words my best Shania Twain. They don’t impress me much. But he’d gone out of his way to make sure we spoke. Who knows?

Flash forward a month.

A month.

The job is reposted.

I wait a day and verify through multiple sources – including the company’s own website – that the posting isn’t just a ghost from the earlier ad.

It’s not.

So I email the guy.

No answer.

This kind of surprised me and kind of didn’t. He hadn’t responded to my “thanks for your time, blah-blah-blah” email that I’d sent after my interview either. I’m more than willing to accept the margin of error associated with me mistyping an email address. This was also all pre-Craigslist new laptop, too. It could easily have happened.

So…I called him.

Voicemail.

I leave a great voicemail, balancing my continuing interest in position with an absolute absence of “neener-neener-neener”.

He never calls back.

Fine.

Except, that whole conversation we had about companies walking the talk keeps hollering back at me. After a couple of weeks, I go onto Glassdoor and leave an interview review.

Y’know, I remember when I was a young buck, the thrill of getting a waiter fired on the flimsiest of pretenses, even though the reality was that he probably just failed to flirt appropriately…

Then white women with a certain haircut ruined that for me and I had to satisfy myself with a certain generic grumpiness. Imagine my surprise, if you can, to seeing this pop up on my phone today.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I doubt this guy was promoted in the days and hours following my Hiroshima moment on the Glassdoor…

In short,

When The Chickens Come Home…