The Red Shirt Diaries #19

Portland’s Got Stabby edition.

I admit that walking through Old Town on dark or early mornings gives me more pause than I’d like to acknowledge.  It’s always been a little dodgy.  When I would drive into town back before the turn of the century – yes, we had cars back then – to go to the downtown bars, it was with the knowledge that there were strangely high odds that my windows could be punched out when I returned.

Luckily, I had a Jeep ragtop.  

Leaving the bars and heading back to my car, I could count on seeing a couple of cars that had been broken into along the way.

You could discourage this by locking up stuff in your trunk versus leaving it on the seat in plain sight.

No need to beg for it like a dumbass.

Over the decades since, Portland’s Old Town has gotten increasingly developed.  Mostly, or firstly, by Central City Concern…an organization that has used its property to provide affordable short or long term housing for the disenfranchised.

The disabled.

The recently out of rehab.

Some battered spouses.

And the mentally questionable.

In addition to providing low – like sometimes free low – housing, these places provide resources for the residents to get back on track.

For those willing.

Portland is famously liberal, pretty much single-handedly turning a would-be red state blue.  Low to no cost healthcare, a police force that is more tolerant of homelessness than it is our Little Beirut liberal protests…and they are pretty tolerant of those, outside of a few notable exceptions.

All of this has led other cities with less tolerant officials to sometimes remedy their own homeless problems – er, situations – with bus tickets to Portland.  The last report I read said we had about 30k homeless residents.

Most living or killing – sometimes literally – time in Old Town.

Not to lay this stabby streak on the homeless, they only get partial credit.  However, the dozen or so Urban Campers that I walk by during the pedestrian portion of my commute put me a little on edge when they rustle the wrong way.

Sue me.

The stabbing seems to happen once a month or so anymore.  Most don’t reach my consciousness unless I happen upon them shortly after or during the investigation.

That’s a pretty sad realization, but in my defense, I don’t watch much news.

The ones that tend to hit my radar are the incidents involving my community like the local nightclub DJ who was stabbed and later died in what was presented in a manner that easily suggested a hookup gone wrong.

Thanks for that, Main Stream Media.

Of course, there was the MAX stabbing last year that had the whole city running cold for weeks afterward.  A man had been harassing two young women on a train, one wearing a hijab, when three cool portland types came to their defense and ended up stabbed for their efforts.  

Two died.

The three named murderer said, “That’s what you get for your liberalism” or something along those lines.

Great, our mentally ill population is woke.

No, the ones that get my attention aren’t those truly horrendous incidents or the white trash brawls and domestic disputes.

Those I notice are the true Portland-weird fashioned occurrences.

Like last weekend’s apparent workplace dispute…with a kukri.

Oh, good…you can pick this up on Amazon.  I wonder if there is free shipping.

Really, Portland?

Or this one.

Pink Bunny suit…let that sink in.

Pink

Bunny

Suit

Unless the victim was Ralphie from A Christmas Story or Donnie Darko or even Glenn Close, then I can’t even guess what the fuck this was all about.

It was a couple months before the Onesie Party

So, just…really, Portland?

Really?

But, at this point, I could reasonably see “Really?!?” being one of my last words as I’m chased by a samurai wielding bear dressed up as an Oops. I Did It Again Brittney Spears…

Advertisements
The Red Shirt Diaries #19

Birthday: Food

My birthday was a week ago.

There may be (there is) a cake and fork situation in my refrigerator.  Only just barely, now, though…

But that cake is just the icing on a fantastic birthday celebration.

This is my big landmark birthday and it fell on a weekend.  The perfect recipe for breaking those diet resolutions I never bothered to make.

So.

Much.

Food.

Plus a secret gold star that I survived…but might be too big a shock for people who know me to survive.

The food started on Saturday with a solid four dozen peanut butter cookies that a couple of my co-workers made.  They were taking up too much desk space so I pared them down by a good half dozen in the first half hour.  

A full third were gone by day’s end.

At which point, I had to run out to get ready for my surprise party.

God bless The Silver Fox, but when Little Buddy called dibs for Saturday night, I knew something was brewing.  For his part, he kept the bond of trust, never admitting there was a jig, up with which to be.

And I threw out some doozy theories in the week leading up to the big day.  Seriously, I had the whole thing being filmed by any surviving Zapruder.

Little Buddy had told me she was inviting The Fox, who then made his apologies in advance for missing the get together because he had tickets to a play with Sallory.

“Like you won’t be changing those plans!”, I taunted.

I went on through the week with scenarios like, “The big surprise will be when I show up and announce that I’m only 40”.  

The Fox invited me to join he and Sallory at the hotel bar next door – he and I are…regulars – and kept changing the time.  I teased him with accusatory questions like, “How long does Little Buddy need to sneak in and decorate my place?!?”

It’s not that big and there’s nowhere really to hide.  But if that was the plan…I’m fortunate to have folks who would be bothered to go out of their way  for me.

He insisted that wasn’t the case, but when he had casually suggested the day before that we stop and get his Key Buddy key made for my new place…well, c’mon.  You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber conclusion jumper to arrive at the too easily drawn…conclusion.

All my scenarios be damned, though.

I show up at Tanner Creek Tavern and it’s just The Fox and Sallory.

We have a beer, they ordered food because somehow they hadn’t changed their tickets. There is only one opening night!  Even at The Armory.

I’ve been wrong a lot in my life, so I rallied pretty easily.  Plus, Sallory had brought me a present!

Presents: that which I secretly love but publicly play it cool.

This was still a nice upgrade from last year, though, when The Fox had bothered to be out of the country for my birthday.  I just love busting his chops.  He could light me on fire and he’d still be the best friend I’ve ever known.

This year, Rib and his new boyfriend had taken a page out of The Fox’s birthday playbook and gone to watch the Australian Open live, which inconveniently occurs around my birthday.

So, there we are, us three.  Beer and wine raised to toast the eve.  I’m happy to have them for even a little while.

And while I’m enjoying a simple moment with dear friends, I find myself following four eyes across the bar, focused on black balloons parading from the door and headed in our general direction,

Ok, that one I did not see coming.

Little Buddy.

2.0.

Breitbarb.

The good and getting better friend…he really will need a blog name at some point.

All parading toward our table.

Well, that can’t be a coincidence.

Wires having been crossed, I was expelled from the bar and left to cool my heels in the hotel lobby so our table could be staged with all the required fiftieth birthday party accoutrements.

You know, I’m lucky to have people I love in my life who also tolerate me.  Less surprising to me, but perhaps me alone, is that there’s a bar in my life that doesn’t mind setting aside a table for my friends to mark my pickled ass’ birthday.

On a damned Saturday.

In downtown Portland.

On the Onesie Pub Crawl weekend.

Whatever.  I was here first.

When I returned from my lobby exile, the Filipina Fox and her husband had joined the birthday melee.  So had a new instant friend that I’d met at LB’s and 2.0’s wedding last summer (more on that in a later blog, promise) and her younger, better looking and more Asian blooded version of my doppelgänger boyfriend.  Little Buddy had rallied quite a bar busting group for this lil surprise shindig.  

I was pleased.

So, Little Buddy had made this cake.

It was glorious, but also a shituation, as I learned.

She had been aiming to do a cake-homage to both my Star Trek fandom and my Red Shirt Diaries blog theme.  The red fondant hadn’t cooperated and she’d scratched it and taken it back to the drawing board for a slam dunk of subtlety that bumped the overt Enterprise shaped 30th birthday cake to second place in the Best Ever Cake category,

Sorry, not sorry, Sacha.

It was a Tribble Cake.

I mean, I ate a bunch of those tribbles and a healthy slice of cake.

And a second beer, duh.

Happy as I was, I learned that this party was portable.  There was a table waiting for us at Nostrana.

It’s a tres she-she Italian restaurant that I’d never been to.  I’ve eaten several times at the Pearl District sibling restaurant, but that’s just a front for $50 pizza.  Nostrana is a mother lode restaurant.

We ate the pants off that place.

Remember, I was full from beer and cake.  

Let that stop me, I did not.

2.0 started us off with a charcuterie plate that featured typical sliced cheeses and cured meats as well as a few terrine options and fucking lengua.

Yeah, that’s beef tongue.

It.

Is.

So.

Good.

Little Buddy corralled the Som for some wine.

We were also downing bread like Dr Atkins was heading our way in slo-mo with a scale.

Then.

Then…the pasta main course.

The plan had been to take my Michael Douglas ass out to a bar after dinner but the trifecta of the Onesie Bar Crawl, 2.0 comfort considerations (in a gay bar) and my grumpy old man refusal to pay cover to be ignored in a bar landed us back at my place drinking The Fox’s wine.

It was perfect.

But the weekend wasn’t yet done with my belly.

Sunday morning was brunch with The Fox. No doubt penance for not canceling his opening night plans the night before.

No.

Check that…obviously he shouldn’t have made those plans in the first place.

Obviously!

I mean… he knows how extra I pretend to not be.  It’s like we had never even met.

But a one on one brunch with my NSLP – Non Sexual Life Partner – was beautiful.  What a delightful way to usher in day one of my 50th.

It’s surreal to type that.

Post brunch plans included a pre-family dinner nap…and I kind of needed it.  One big meal left in my weekend and I was already ready for my food coma.

We were eight for dinner.  I definitely didn’t get too hungry for dinner with eight.  But I nearly ate my weight with those eight.  If only our table had been at 8:00, that could have been a seizure inducing alliteration.

Alas, my family all traveled the 20-30 miles into town to join me at the newest Pok Pok. This is a Portland “It” restaurant from years past.  I’d never been, so they had opened a new place “ten” blocks from my place to tempt me.  I’ve been meaning to get there for months since they opened.

This was the perfect excuse.

I think we split nine entrees between the eight of us.  They recommend an entree for two people to share, so we were a little over that ratio given our census.  But best safe versus sorry, right?  Plus, I think I forgot a few in my tally.

Here’s my gold star moment:

My whole life, I’ve been a picky eater.  My list of “No’s” for food looks – and probably is – longer than any single person’s list of disqualifies for potential mates.

And yet, I don’t starve.

Because in my years I have learned to think of others, I made sure that our order included the mushroom salad for my mother, who may have single-handedly in life made mushroom farming a viable vocation.  

Seriously.  She loses it for mushrooms.

One of my favorite mom/son bonding stories is of our family table growing up.  At our pre-Chuck family dinner table on La Cour, I had a side of our six top table to myself.  My sporty siblings sat across from me and I sat next to my mother on my side of the table, obvious gay son dinner table placement, right?

Me being the petsnickety culinarian and my mother making her food budget pennies scream to feed her Galby Five, there were a lot of what I would call lesser filler ingredients.

Onions.

The Peppers Bell.

Mushrooms.

My awesome mom would sit next to me and eat these Xtopher-only deemed lesser ingredients off my plate.  Right out of their individual and separate piles I’d created for each at the perimeter of my plate.

Talk about a Niles Crane worthy OCD moment.

Talk about symbiosis!

Obviously, I stipulated that this Xtopher anathema of a mushroom salad be placed at the end of the table nearest Mom-Donna, furthest from me.  You know that bitch mushroom salad ended up getting passed to everyone and ended up at my corner.

It was my personal hell.

Me, being both a newly minted legitimately grumpy old man and a dick, I quietly engaged in the dinner table conversation with my family while quietly – and for attention only – eating off the mushroom salad plate.

No,

One.

Noticed.

Goddamnit.

I even casually and without irony said things like, “I think there are mushrooms in this” and yet…nothing.

I’d only had a glass of wine and a complimentary glass of champers at Thelonious Wines before dinner and a cocktail with, so I wasn’t even buzzed when I made the decision to choke down some mushroom salad, defiantly.

And no one noticed.

So I went home and ate some of Little Buddy’s bday cake…planting a fork in it for future and what turned out to be frequent use!

I’m still full a week later.

And that’s my birthday.

Of course, with so many people I hold dear in my life turning out to celebrate, my grinchy old heart might just be so full that it’s pushing down on my stomach, making me feel that I’ve over eaten.  

Toss up, eh?

For your amusement, the song Pandora barfed out as I’m wrapping this up was Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan…you can’t make this shit up.  It’s my life!

Birthday: Food

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

I’m back from coffee with the Silver Fox, our normal Thursday/Friday ritual, where I announced undramatically that I thought I had colon cancer.  It’s a legit back-of-mind concern as I enter the year of the colonoscopy, but The Fox downplayed my announcement.

Oddly, cancer came up again later when I mentioned my stomach had been a little wonky since our beer date last night.  We were at our favorite watering hole, The Big Legrowlski, enjoying a new IPA option from our collective favorite brewery, Barley Brown.  It was an unfiltered IPA called Feast From the Yeast, or something thereabouts.

Anywho, that yeast was doing a number on me.  In addition to feeling tipsy after just a few sips, my stomach just began feeling fluttery as I quaffed.  Not a general flutter, a focused flutter, which is what made it weird.  

Of course, I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying a second pint!

But when I told The Fox about my 14 hour strong stomach flutter, he put me at ease by diagnosing me with pancreatic cancer.  It’s like we were playing hypochondriac poker.

Fortunately, the acid from the two cups of coffee pretty much killed – and then escorted out – whatever it was that was funking up my gut.

Instead of thinking about how cancer or heart disease will probably be my ultimate undoing, I thought I would share another of my less-likely-lethal ends while I sat here uncomfortably on my couch with Mistress Myrtle, who is in an uncharacteristically cuddly mood.

Sacha once corrected my comment about one of my irrational fears by telling me that all fears are irrational.  I disagree, I think my fear of heights and falling a distance is a healthy fear.  Darwin would be proud.

My fear of sharks is irrational.

Fully.

It’s not that I’m a frequent diver off the Australian Great Barrier Reef or South African Coast or even off Hawaii…then, perhaps, a fear of sharks would be quasi-reasonable.

I’m afraid of a shark attack in any body of water.

Ocean.

River.

Swimming pool.

Jacuzzi.

Bathtub.

Irrational.

I blame the Jaws movies.  Well, watching them at an impressionable age, at least.

Seriously, how cute is this?

So, after seeing those films, I became aware of a reluctance to put my head underwater in a swimming pool.  It was a discomfort that remained a fairly stagnant dis-ease as I rarely swam.

However, after Sacha left me and I came out of my post-breakup funk and dipped my toe back into the dating pool, I met this guy who called himself frigginfantastic online and we went on a few dates.  He lived on Hayden Island here in Portland and invited me to go kayaking with him on the Columbia River.

I went.

It was cool.

And disgusting.

Sitting in a kayak, you’re only a few inches from the filth that floats atop the river’s surface.  Discarded styrofoam from a decade ago, plastic, that gross foam and natural debris like twigs and leaves all combing to create a stinky, frothy, disgusting barrier that is quite un-see-through-able.

That lack of visibility awakened my fear of being caught off guard and general vulnerability.  I vascilated mentally between being grabbed by Jason from Friday the 13th and pulled under or just being attacked by a shark.

This was not too long after a news story of a confused shark swimming upriver, so…y’know, top of mind.

Not too long after this, The Fox and I became friends.  We took a trip to his family beach house about a year after meeting and spent a night there as well as at his ex-wife’s house about an hour inland.  I remember standing on the bluff at the beach, watching the surfers bob idly on their boards, waiting for a rideable wave.  Their feet dangling off their boards into the water…I shudder just thinking about it, a shark grabbing their lower leg.

When we got to Sallory’s place the next night, I was confronted by a more tangible challenge to this runaway fear of mine: a drink in the hot tub.  

At night.

The view of the night sky in this rural part of Oregon was awe-inspiring.  Leaning my head back against the side of the tub allowed me to enjoy the celestial view while also completely freaking out about my entire body being underwater and a potential target.  Mentally, I envisioned being bitten in half by a mammoth great white, legs and shoulders being all that was left, bobbing in the hot, frothy, bloody hot tub waters.

I felt the same discomfort last year sitting in my gym’s jacuzzi.  Because I’m obviously deranged.

The apex of this personal terror came during a vacation with Rib.  We’d rented a yurt on an island in the San Juans.  He was all jazzed about renting sea kayaks and paddling out to a nearby island, oblivious to his own mortality like only a 26 year old can be.

Irrational fear of sharks plus kayaking in legit Orca territory equals fuck me.  My heart was pounding so hard the entire time that I’m quite surprised that I didn’t end up with fractured actual ribs.

But, survive, I did.  Fear:  confronted.

Speaking of actual fractures, this was a couple of years before I fractured my tibia running.  The first occurrence.  My doctor decreed that I was retired from running and suggested a less stressful form of exercise, like swimming.

Yeah…no.

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

I’m A Hypochondriac…

Kinda.

It’s hypochondria, but in a cute way.  For my own amusement, really.  It’s like a non-fatal version of The Red Shirt Diaries.  Just a little mental entertainment.

Am I secretly an only child?  Someone who grew up as part of a brood shouldn’t really have developed this idiosyncratic inner realm of self-sufficient entertainment.

Maybe I imagined my siblings as part of this rich (now semi) private head-world I retreat to.  Do you think my parents just play along with it?

“Humor him.  He might be dangerous.” – The Parentals

More likely, this is all the fault of the prophet Bill Murray and HBO.  One too many viewings of What About Bob during my delayed onset formative years.

Too much hair in my sink?  Alopecia. 

Stiff neck?  Cancer, obviously.  This is actually happening right now.

Gastric distress?  Norovirus.  No way that it could be too much garlic in last nights dinner…

But at the same time, those self-diagnoses have created some interesting ironic moments in my doctors office.

I say interesting, he says, “Stop googling symptoms and just come into the office”.

I don’t know why he’s such a killjoy.

Well, maybe one or two for instances come to mind…

Like the time I had self-diagnosed with shin splints.  I’d been increasing my running after making myself single again in an attempt to rid myself of the dreaded Relationship Body.  Somewhere in there, my mind decided I was at that age where I needed to dip my toe into the realm of Extreme Sports, as people do as they age.  Nothing crazy like the Iditarod…just the Seattle Marathon.  

Having been (note the tense…foreshadowing!) a lifelong runner, I just decided to gradually lengthen the duration of my runs.  Some training plan, eh?  It was that increased training intensity that led me to attribute my lower leg pain to shin splints.

Power through, bucko…just a few weeks left and then you can back off.

Or, y’know, mention it to your totally self-absorbed doctor during your annual check up.  I hadn’t planned on it, I was just so caught off guard when he asked me about me during my appointment that it just sort of came out.

Like premature ejaculation.

Literally, since he followed up with, “How long has this been going on?”

“About a month…maybe six weeks?  But I just assume it’s normal with the extra training.” AKA: it happens to everyone.

And just like that awkward sexual encounter, my running life was over.

“Call this guy and make an appointment.  And for gods sake, stop running.”

Me:  

Him:  You fractured your tibia.  You’re retired from running.  Find some other way to exercise.

Me:  <puts gun in mouth>

But I’ve written about that struggle in other blogs.  Go find it if you’re that curious.  

Then there was that time that I’d followed orders and not googled my symptoms.  Just meandered across the intersection and into the office.  

It’s really great when you live diagonally across the street from your doctors office.

I mean, no reason for google.  It was just a cold I couldn’t shake.  But it was terrible:  headaches, snot, fever.

“Do you have allergies?”, he asks like he doesn’t have my entire medical history right in front of him.

“What, are you playing solitaire on that thing?!?  You’ve been seeing me for almost a decade!  Of course I don’t have allergies.” I get cranky when I’m sick.

Crankier.

He goes on to make his case, trying to sell me on his theory.

I’m sitting there, shaking my head and thinking I got that doctor that finished last in his class.

Desperate for relief, I ask – for the sake of argument – what the treatment would be for allergies.  Maybe there would be some benefit even from the wrong medicine.

Him:  I’ve already sent some prescriptions to your pharmacy.

Smug bastard.

Turns out, I have allergies.

So, maybe he wasn’t the worst student in his med school class.

That doesn’t mean that that pain in my knee wouldn’t be better served by my insurance company approving knee replacement as an elective surgery.  Acupuncture is working just fine at reducing the pain and increasing functionality, but, c’mon…it’s just delaying what is obviously the inevitable.

To a recreational hypochondriac, anyway.

I’m A Hypochondriac…

The Red Shirt Diaries #16

What?!?

Back to back posts on the same day?

Within the same theme?!?

What next?  Liberals and Conservatives coexisting?

Next stop: anarchy.

The fact of the matter is that I just finished a 12 hour day and need something to focus on for my MAX ride home from the airport so that I don’t fall asleep and end up in Hillsboro.

Again.

Ergo, the MAX Blog Challenge hashtag.

But also, after my 5 am to 5 pm shift today, I’m feeling pretty jazzed because I got a shit ton of stuff accomplished today.

Not everything, by any means.

But, a shit ton.

Not bad for my work week’s Wednesday, eh?

Well, I should say, the first Wednesday of this particular work week since I’m in a friggin’ six day stretch.

If I survive tomorrow, aka: Second Wednesday.

You see, my boss has been on vacation the last ten or so days.  I took the initiative – in my spare time, trust me – to do some Spring cleaning.  I’d say it’s 70/30 whether he kills me or praises my initiative when he returns tomorrow.

He’s not the quickest to embrace change, you see.

Also, he’s a pack rat.

I’m not the apex of organization.  The Filipina Fox…she’s the poster child for organization.  If she walked into our shared office…yeah, she’d rather fly full speed into a black hole than spend a full minute in our office.

I’m coming up on a year of working in this environment that is equal parts chaos and clutter.

So, it’s time.

And it’s not that The Boss is on vacation, it’s that – really – I am productivity-wise on fire this week.  Might as well strike while the iron is hot, eh?

I’m averaging personally processing three garment racks worth of apparel each day.  I average a garment rack’s sales value to be around $2500, so that’s something.  Plus, in addition to eliminating some backlog in our apparel processing, we have inventory in a few weeks…getting this stuff hung will be way easier than trying to inventory it in boxes and on pallets.

Speaking of pallets, I broke down four pallets today, too.  Three personally, one I had an alley-oop on, as someone else off loaded the pallet and I put it away.

Those accomplishments alone would make me feel like I earned my sore back – er – paycheck this week.  However, in addition to my normal daily store support and HR duties and those two achievements I’ve also been onboarding a new junior manager.  He’s doing great so far and his attitude is just the can-do shot in the arm our environment needs!

This week – his second – didn’t require as much 1-on-1 time (shut up, Diezel) as his first week, but we probably spent a good six hours together.  That’s 15% of a 40 hour work week.

So, for whatever reason, on top of all that great stuff, I decide to clean my rat’s nest of an office.

I felt like both sides of Indiana Jones’ persona:

Carefully excavating the top layers in my archaeological dig to preserve anything of value below,

and;

Heroically overcoming seemingly overwhelming odds to complete my mission.

Aside from the uncertainty of The Boss’ reaction, I’ve also had to face the present danger of navigating the motivation behind the praise of Capt Can’t.

He seems to have enjoyed encouraging my efforts and reassuring me that they’ve tried to organize around The Boss before, but then telling me it always ends up the same.

Hearing that, my gut says this

But my innate optimism and grumpy old man-ness says this

And if The Boss hates it and goes postal…at least I didn’t die on a pile of retail debris.

But in addition to my 70/30 chances he’ll either hate or love it, I’d say that if he hates it that there’s a 50/50 chance he has a stroke from the shock.

So, tomorrow oughta be pretty exciting!

If we both survive and he does hate it – if I did fall into a trap laid by Capt Can’t – there’s only three more work days until my vacation.

Or my last day…wudyagunnado?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s my hump day.  And you can believe that tomorrow – on Second Wednesday – I’m gonna double my pleasure!

Yeah, right.  I’m gonna go make dinner and then fall asleep on the couch.

The Red Shirt Diaries #16

The Red Shirt Diaries #15

Dressed to Kill Edition

Maybe it’s just walking through Old Town too early, too many times…recently on my way to work instead of on my way home.

Maybe it’s that sometime late Friday or early Saturday, there was another stabbing in Old Town.  Same building, one block off my route.

Maybe it’s that Old Town pretty much seems to be a quarter owned by Central City Concern.  Don’t get me wrong, it has done great things with the cheap properties it bought back before the turn of the century.  Before the Pearl really took off.  Now they are sitting on a fortune in real estate.  They provide housing for low income people.  They provide a place for people to bounce after drug or alcohol counseling.  

They do a lot more than that, too.  Trust me.

Unfortunately, they draw the crazies into Old Town and the Pearl, too.

Equally unfortunate is that for all the housing they have, they are usually at overflow status.

So…there’s a good population of Urban Campers in my neck of the woods.

I’m ok with the folks who are sleeping one off in the park blocks.  I’m ok with the pan handlers.  

I’m really ok with the colorful folks – like the one I nicknamed the Mayor of Old Town.  He really deserves his own blog post.  I like my work days that begin at 6 am, I usually see him heading to the not-yet-open John’s Diner.  Cafe?  I dunno.  It’s one or the other.  He chills on the stoop until they open for the day and then goes in for breakfast.

I’ll work on that.  For now…back to my point.

Maybe it’s just that I watched too many scary movies when I was a kid.  

That’s where I encountered Dressed to Kill.

This – along with the movie(s) Psycho – were enough to give me a lifelong noise sensitivity during shower time.  Much to my parents’ unknown delight, this was the cause of my 20 minute showers becoming significantly quicker…more of a down to the basics endeavor.

Conversely, this movie had an unknown – or at least unregistered, I knew on some level – effect on me.

Fear of elevators.

I don’t know why…

Oddly, I’ve got it turned around in my mind.  I expect to walk into en elevator and see a slasher in waiting, versus being on an elevator and having one board on a different floor.

Regardless, neither option is optimal for my ongoing survival.

So, yeah…that little combination does a good number on my sense of well being when I’m walking through Old Town on the way to MAX at 3:45 or 4:45 am.

I blame cable.

I’m just grateful this movie didn’t give me any significant fear of men in drag, because then living on the edge of Old Town would be impossible!

Spoiler: the killer is Michael Fucking Caine dressed as a woman.  Pretty good cover, eh?

The Red Shirt Diaries #15

The Red Shirt Diaries #13

Apoc-eclipse Edition.

Regardless of your curiosity and enthusiasm, this is happening.

How does this fit into The Red Shirt Diaries – given that it’s really just a tongue in cheek monologue about my potential demise?

Well, a variety of ways, depending on your beliefs surrounding apocalypses and the opportunity for either mystical or man-made mayhem.

I can dispatch with the mystical variety pretty quickly…since I’ve been known to be brief never, you can feel free to be skeptical.

I guess if you run into your doppelgänger during an eclipse, you’re supposed to resist the temptation to fight them.

Now, I have no idea where this piece of advice originates or why it assumes my instinct would be to fight my doppelgänger, but let’s be honest here:  does it really seem likely that either of us would win a physical confrontation?

No.  No, it does not.

One of the other things I’ve heard is that animals will behave strangely during the eclipse.  Specifically, I’ve been warned not to respond to talking dogs.  Luckily for me, I just left all of my family dogs in Sunriver yesterday so that I could be at work at the airport during the eclipse, leaving me safe from canine kind as well as the Supreme Overlord of the Earth, Mistress Myrtle.

AKA:  The Most Disturbing Feline In the World

But just to be safe, I think I’ll steer clear of the airport’s Pet Relief Area.

Speaking of vacation…my family planned its vacation in Sunriver last year and just happened to do a Monday-Monday trip to – get this – avoid the vacation traffic that comes standard with all Summer Sundays.

Yeah, that’s Monday, August 14th through Monday, August 21st.

The eclipse is on August 21st.

Sunriver is close enough to totality that I could spit on it…and I’m not a particularly accomplished spitter.

Fretting that my family would be stuck in traffic with the anticipated hundreds of thousands of eclipse watchers – and possibly their dopplegangers – I chose to leave on Saturday versus Monday and risk being late to or unprepared forwork Tuesday.

Not to worry, my boss expected me back on Sunday.  It’s nice to be needed.

Making margaritas of the situation, my family extended their stay until Thursday.

Ah, retired life!

But, since I mentioned vacation in the path of totality, let’s delve into a more likely death scenario:  Fatality in Totality.

Obviously, I’ve already cheated death by flying home in a puddle jumper and evading totality – see TRSD 14 – but it’s still on my mind because I really can’t wrap my mind around 100,000 people surviving a weekend in a town that is normally populated with a measly 6,000 souls.

Or 12,000 soles, assuming a zero amputation rate.  Aw, hell…I’m using round numbers anyway.

Seriously, Capt Can’t has trouble anticipating bottled water needs for our five stores at PDX and its 25,000 daily travelers…and he does this every week and has 11 years experience.  How can we reasonably expect a literal small business in a small town to figure out the bottled water needs for an assumed number of people for an uncertain duration of stay during a once in a lifetime occurrence?

And would that small business want to?

It’s a big risk and logistical nightmare for a small business to assume.  This should literally be BYOEverything.

But last week – no, the week before – I was at lunch with my parents and mom mentioned seeing a story on the news about people renting semi trailers to park on the roadside, stock them with water and essentials and sell that shit right off the back of the trailer.

Those crafty bastards.

Of course, we assumed this would be strictly a cash endeavor…what could possibly go wrong?!?

And there you have the perfect storm for man made mayhem:  demand outstripping supply and a trailer – literally – full of money.

Goodbye, humanity.

Of course, by the time we were on the road, headed toward totality, we’d moved past that fear.

We realized that each of us having packeda case of wine – 24 bottles, total – that we (they, remember…I bailed out early like the corporate coward that I am) could fill our emptied wine bottles with water for the ride home.  This took care of recycling, hydration and waste disposal all in one if the historic traffic jam came to pass.

I wholeheartedly support my family’s decision to extend their stay versus risking getting stuck in 10-12 hours of traffic jam and potentially having to pee into a wine bottle in front of one another.

Our mutual reluctance to end up in that position proves we are related.

And ensures we’ll all live to see whatever the next overhyped once in a lifetime occurrence is!

In case you’re curious, by the way, we order about 13 pallets of water each week.  If I recall, a semi trailer holds 28 pallets.  So for 175,000 weekly travelers – 100% of whom do not shop at our stores, either, because they don’t have to sustain themselves like they’re trapped in a Mad Max movie – we order nearly half a semi of water.  

People camping outside in the peak of the Central Oregon High Desert?  Yeah, that’s gonna be some serious Thunderdome shit right there.

The Red Shirt Diaries #13

The Red Shirt Diaries #14

I’m waiting at Redmond Airport in Central Oregon for my flight home.  I’m flying home from my family vacation and was reflecting on my growing dis-ease with flying.  It seems the more flights I successfully complete, the more worried I get about becoming too cocky before boarding any subsequent flights.

My palms are actually clammy right meow.

I’m reminded of something I said to my sister when she invited me to go on a rafting trip with her and her family.

I told her that I didn’t want to die with a bunch of strangers.  Further, that I didn’t want to be the only one on the rafting trip to die because I was worried they would all judge me for being weak.  My exact words escape me, but it was something along the lines of, “It’s not like a plane crash, where I die with a bunch of strangers…because we ALL die in that scenario!”

Somehow, that makes it a smudge better, although still far from preferable.

Seriously, though…remember Western Airlines ad campaign from way back?

The Only Way to Fly!

I’m just pointing out that “fly” rhymes with…yeah.  So there.

Then again, as I rode with my parents over the twisty highways across the state at the outset of this too-short vacation, I reminded them of the same trip during my formative years that we witnessed a crashed car being recovered from a ravine.

They didn’t recall.

I did.

For some morbid reason, I took this picture on the drive over.

It’s steeper than it looks, but there’s really no shoulder.

To recap…can’t drive over to Oregon’s beautiful high desert without facing unlikely doom nor can I fly home without the same.  There’s really no pleasing my neuroses.

I had to pause and board my puddle jumper home.  The cute ground crew dude was a temporary distraction…until I realized he kinda held my fate in his hands.

It’s been a bumpy flight.  Hard to believe that I used to find puddle jumpers exhilarating.  

There was a flight I took from Houston to New Orleans for Mardi Gras about…lemme see, it had to be 27 years ago?  Yeah, we flew that bitch right through some crazy southern storm.  Rain, wind…the plane at one point experienced at least a sudden 10-15 foot drop during the flight.

People were barfing and holding their loved ones while I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Maybe my dis-ease with flying is just karmic retribution.

I’m putting the issue aside for now, I’ve just bounced down at PDX…safely on the ground, once again.

The Red Shirt Diaries #14

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