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.

Nothing.

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>

“OK…you!”

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

Yeah.

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.

Ish.

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.

Fired.

Duly.

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 #10

Wow.  Ten entries on weird ways I might legitimately meet my end!  Well, or amusing examples of how my psyche leaps to the worst case scenario.

What can I say?  My mind is a psychedelic trip without the messy drug habit.

Case in point:

I was walking across the tarmac today at work – yes, my subconscious tried to kill me at work again – when I noticed an ambulance adjacent to one of the Southwest gates.  This was the second time in a week I’ve seen an ambulance – no, third!  I just thought of another – parked outside a Southwest jet.

Hey, at least it wasn’t United.  

Too soon?

So, there I am, pushing a rolling rack of long sleeved Portland tees across the tarmac as fast as I can – we sold 118 in two days – so our stores were looking a little naked today.  In the back of my mind, the theme to 30Rock is playing at an insane pace.  

Duh-duh da-da-da-da dum-dum da-da-da-da-dum on incessant repeat.

The faster I walk, the faster the music plays.

I’m approaching this unlikely and probably unwelcome (to at least one person) airplane/ambulance pairing and a thought leaps unbidden to the front of my mind, “Ugh.  Some poor bastard Carrie Fishered”.

Speaking of too soon.

I acknowledge some appropriate empathy elbowing its way past my other snarky thoughts about the same time I register something flit across my peripheral field of vision as I continue walking.

Duh-duh da-da-da-da dum-dum…

“Great.  Zombies.” my mind involuntarily concludes.  Because:  of course.

And, scene!

Zombies.

Really?

WTH, brain?

Out of all the myriad ways to die on a tarmac, you’ve managed to come up with loose tigers and zombies.  Not getting sucked into a jet engine or run over by a runaway luggage cart.

Tigers and zombies.

Man.  I gotta stop drinking Chablis at lunch!

Joking.

Like I’d drink Chablis.

But, on the overthinking this hand, it’s not hard to see the corollary between tigers, zombies and reality.

What?  It’s not.

Tigers are obviously the meanest cat on the planet, who I have the thankless job of feeding on the daily.

Wow.  Zombie eyes.  Go figure.

Then there’s the zombies.  Obviously airline passengers.  AKA: the reason I’m on the tarmac in the first place.  It’s way easier to maneuver my way around airplanes and luggage carts than it is to push my rolling racks through a crowded concourse filled with people who have managed to slightly overcome their default speed of idle.  If I want to get shit done, I take them out of the equation by hitting the tarmac.  God help me if it rains.

Or if there’s zombies.

The Red Shirt Diaries #10

Worlds Collide

Well, in a fit of what can only be rampant Xtopher’s persistent survival, today at the gym I found myself caught between two of my ongoing musings:

The Red Shirt Diaries and Fitfy.

Just a real quick glimpse for you into what happens when those two worlds collide…we’ll call it Fitfy 49.7 and The Red Shirt Diaries #8.  Don’t worry, I am sure I’ll find more to share on the whole Fitfy phenomenon later in the week for the half dozen of you with nothing better to do than wonder whether I’m eating right and exercising…we’ll call that Fitfy 49.7.5 but don’t look for it until Saturday, my work schedule changed a little this week.  The upside is that I get a mid-week break from my early mornings.  The downside?  Well, there really isn’t one that I can think of.

Since I’m off today and working Friday, that effectively ruins my standing Friday morning coffee – and occasional gym – date with The Silver Fox.  I made sure to tap him for coffee this morning.  Can’t have my best friend feeling neglected.  He accepted, but seemingly on the condition that we actually go to the gym after instead of just talking about it.

So, really, this is all his fault, now that I type it out.

I wake up at 7, after a luxurious eight and a half hours of solid sleep.  Seriously, this was some coffin sleep if I ever have experienced it.

Coffin Sleep, for those unfamiliar, is basically falling asleep on your back and sleeping so deeply that you wake up in pretty much the same position you fell asleep in.  No tossing, no turning.  Just sleeping.  The repose is reminiscent, I suppose, of a body in a casket, hence the name.

I felt friggin’ fantastic.

Naturally, I resisted getting out of bed, even though I was completely refreshed.  I laid in bed for an hour and a half; playing Words With Friends, checking The Facebook and Instagram and reading news…then I texted The Fox and shared my self-indulgence.  Turns out that he’d been engaged in basically the same.

We met up for coffee about 20 minutes later, dressed for the gym.  Me, freshly showered, because that’s how I go to the gym.

Coffee passed with our normal blend of chatter and phone checking, either for additional discussion topics or to phone fact check something in our conversation.  I think most of the latter was related to his recent re-decent into the rabbit hole that is Game of Thrones…what I recall with certainty was IMDb entering into the equation.

 

No, wait…he was looking at IMDb because we started chuckling at a meme he had sent me, which brought Jessica Walters into the conversation.Naturally, that created a tangent, as often happens with our conversational relationship, and I wondered aloud whether Jessica Walters was yet 75.  Seventy-six, it turned out, a fact he shared right before he realized that she had been in Play Misty for Me and shortly thereafter he started waxing nostalgic about Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates.

Neverthemess…we make our way over to the gym and find our respective favorite cardio machines.  His is a couple rows back and over to the left from mine.  I’m well aware of this fact, but don’t usually check on him, outside of an occasional text to see where either of is in the progress of our sesh.  That said, I wasn’t surprised to get a text from him at about the 55 minute mark.  I was surprised that it said he’d taken a pee break and needed 15 more minutes.

Here’s what he missed:

Me, almost dying.

I was huffing and puffing away on my elliptical when I got this weird feeling in my stomach, right below my sternum.  I thought maybe I swallowed wrong and took a couple of deep breaths and a swig of water to clear it.

Nevertheless, it persisted.

Of course, I started to worry that something was wrong.  Well, not something generic, specifically:  abdominal aneurysm.

sanfordI grab the handholds and just brace for the worst, hoping I don’t shit myself in the gym as my circulatory system makes like the Oroville Dam and I ride out of this world like Fred Sanford.

Of course, having successfully failed at finding a partner to spend my life with, there’s no Elizabeth for me.  I’m just hoping I don’t get “Carried” at the Pearly Gates.

Of course, amusing myself with Fred Sanford and the Sanford & Son theme playing in my head whilst dying at the gym prevents me from realizing that I’m in good company…Douglas Adams having suffered a similarly public demise.

Of course, that wah-wah-wah-dum theme music in my head also prevented me from following the life lessons Douglas Adams tried to impart in one of my favorite books of his – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Namely:dont panic

And, of course, everything was alright.

Seventy-five minutes of cardio, a haircut and a shower later, I was having a delicious mexican lunch with The Fox, including a well deserved margarita to calm my near-death nerves.

Worlds Collide

The Red Shirt Diaries #4

Can you spot the fake?

img_1524 Tooth.

Myrtle tried to kill me Sunday night.

Again.

Which is why this is the 4th edition of TRSD and not the 3rd.  I described her prior attempt in another blog post – maybe Mercury Poisoning? nonono…it’s this one, but Mercury Poisoning is still a pretty fun read on everything that can possibly go wrong in my life – so I retired TRSD #3 in acknowledgment of her previous efforts.

Plus, who would have thought my near death reporting would need to come so soon on the heels of issue 2?

But this wasn’t a dream where I died or my acceptance of the potential to die being hit by a car going the wrong way on a one-way street.

This was my pet tolling the bell.

Again.

You’d think she’d show a little gratitude for buying her – after months of considerable effort to find her an palatable option – the good stuff.

Or scooping her litter box.

And if not gratitude, at least a little subtlety.

No, no Myrtle. Continue reading “The Red Shirt Diaries #4”

The Red Shirt Diaries #4

The Red Shirt Diaries #2

breakfast-of-sickosI’ve been sick since last week…and it’s a weak, yet persistent little bug.  It’s annoying.

But, at least being medicated gives you some interesting dreams!  And this morning, with the help of NyQuil and wine before bed, followed by DayQuil and a breakfast of Monster Lo-Carb and black RedVines for breakfast…I finally feel like sitting up long enough to scribble down some of them.

Or one, in particular.

We’ll see if I have any mojo left for the others.

Not to bury the lede, or anything, but I’m not particularly afraid of spiders.  I’m not the type of guy that runs around picking them up and taking them outside…but after the initial revulsion, I tend to tolerate their presence.

So, I’m laying in bed the other morning – wheezing – trying to go back to sleep.  My throat is on fire, probably from sleeping with my patio door open so that the murderous Myrtle can go in and out as she pleases…which is solidly just defensive thinking to hopefully get as much undisturbed sleep for the night as possible.  It’s 6:58 in the morning and I can hear the construction team warming up outside my bedroom window prior to beginning their work on the hotel project next door.

My sleep window is usually a pretty tight affair.

I’m stuck between getting up for some Naproxen and Melatonin so I can just knock myself out for a few hours (I’m out of NyQuil at this point) and successfully dozing off and on.

I’m actually dreaming – or hallucinating, depending on your definitions – in my moments of unconsciousness.

img_1519I wake up, sensing something crawling on my wrist.  My hand is tucked underneath my pillow, supporting my head, but close enough to the wall that I briefly consider what might have crawled out of the crack before dismissing the sensation as my pillowcase brushing one of the hairs that grows away from my skin versus laying down with the rest of my arm hair.

I’m chuckling at what on Earth would ever lead me to believe there might be monsters under my bed.  Surely, a cat as intelligent as my murderous and blood thirsty Myrtle wouldn’t just stare at my bedskirt for no reason whatsoever…would she?

I fall back asleep.

Only to be woken up by my neighbor leaving for work.  Two doors slamming is his farewell – the first is the door to his unit, the second the fire exit door since he takes the stairs down versus the elevator.

My throat is on fire.  I decide that I’m not going to get any more sleep without serious sleep inducers and just decide to get up.  I do some serious coughing as the phlegm in my throat shifts position from the horizontal to the vertical.  I’m having trouble expelling any of it while I cough.

I hop in the shower to wash the sick sheen off my body after a night of erratic feverish sleep.  I keep coughing as the heat further loosens up my throat.  Aren’t you glad I didn’t say “phlegm” again?  I’m feeling better overall, even though I know that the heat from the shower is going to mess with my body temp for a few hours to come.  I’m finishing up, brushing my teeth and enjoying the steam wishing I could clear my throat.

Yeah, I brush my teeth in the shower…what of it?

I’m rinsing the toothpaste from my mouth when I’m hit by a huge throat tickle.  Spewing water and toothpaste suds all over the shower wall, I successfully avoid drowning myself and double-over, coughing.  I’m bracing myself against the wall with one hand, just getting in a killer ab work out as I cough.

A nearly solid chunk of phlegm flies onto the shower floor as I finally cough up what was in my throat.  It’s about the size of a date.

Gross.

I’m still coughing a little, my throat is still a little tickle-y.  I’m staring, horrified, at what just came out of me when I notice that it’s kind of darker in the core and lighter and whitish at the edges…and that there’s a…spider leg sticking out of one edge?!?

Eeewww.

I lean my body against the shower wall imagining how easily a spider could have crawled into my mouth given my tendency to lay flat on my back with my mouth wide-open when I’m congested in order to suck as much oxygen in as possible while I’m sleeping.  Snoring, some might say.

I’m hit by another round of small coughs, which result in some splatter on my hand…great, I’ve probably coughed my throat raw and am actually bleeding.

The splatter starts moving around.

My throat explodes outward with baby spiders as my body explodes upward in bed.

Well, now I’m awake.

I prop up pillows behind me and grab my iPad to read.

“Let’s search the place for Hex Bags before we go canvass the neighborhood and talk to his friends…see if anyone strange has been hanging around the neighborhood or if this guy had any enemies.”

I’ve fallen asleep again

More likely, I’m in that semi-asleep state between being truly awake and truly unconscious.  I soothe my active mind into just going with it.  I’m curious to see what has been going on with my subconscious self lately.

“Cut!” someone yells, and I push myself up from the floor of the shower just in time to see Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles walk away from my mostly naked self.

I really need to stop binge-watching Supernatural while I’m taking cold medicine.

The Red Shirt Diaries #2