Mourning…Glory?

When Olive died during last year’s heat dome, I wasn’t prepared for – or even thinking about – how that would hit me. I was surprised at the number of the stages of grief I could identify. But yesterday, I finally reached Acceptance.

For the record, Olive was a plant. Obviously an olive tree.

Olive was the first plant I acquired after moving back to Portland. Even that took a while to accomplish, since I got her in 2016 and had moved back in 2014. She was the product of an in-store event I’d hosted for a local Olive Oil company who had brought a couple trees as set decor for their booth. The owner of the company had offered me one of the three they’d brought up to the event and without hesitation I accepted.

Anyway, I lost her – and everything else on my balcony during our three day heat dome last year. Y’know, the one where our temps in the PNW were the hottest on the planet. That should never happen in Portland, OR. Even watering twice daily didn’t do the trick because the temps never went down at night, there was just no respite. I think that instead of providing relief, watering just changed the heat from baking the roots in their clay pots to steaming them…

That was some Denial right there. Anger was reserved for the climate change deniers and people who helpfully told me that my plants could have survived with even more watering. Bargaining was the ridiculous habit I had of still watering her stick figure remains in hope the roots came back this past spring.

I think what was hardest for me was the throwback memory I have of my first post-relationship gay friend here back in the early aughts. He was only a friend, but we’re really got to know each other deeply since we were both navigating traumatic waters at that point in our lives. He was in recovery for sex addiction before it became a fashionable excuse for misconduct among our powerful and famous men. But something he told me was that one of the steps he had to complete before he could date was to keep a plant alive for a year. It was an exercise in caring for another’s needs.

So, yeah. Losing Olive affected me. I don’t believe I will have another relationship in my life, but I want to know that I still could vis-a-vis successful plant husbandry. How’s that for a new twist on the old “It’s not me, it’s you” trope?

I didn’t replant my balcony for fall as I usually do. Nor did I plant anything this spring. I just kept watering Olive’s carcass.

The Silver Fox picked up his own Olive on one of his trips to Trader Joe’s. Sensing my interest when he told me, to promised to remain on the lookout for me on subsequent trips. But their plant inventory rotates so quickly that timing is critical.

Which is why I was excited to share this pic with him on my way home from a walk to my local TJs for cat treats yesterday.

Lil Olivier. They were out of the cat treats, BTW. The next best option – fried salmon skin – seemed like a sure thing, but Myrtle turned her nose up at them. My current mental exercise is debating whether to risk Olivier on my balcony or keep him inside where I only have to worry about Myrt.

The interesting thing to me is how my inside plants have benefited from my undivided attention over the last year. I went from a roster of four to fourteen in the past year. That’s including a pothos that I propagated a second plant from. There’s a third rooting out now and a jade that has two plants in one pot that I need to split out. My spider plant is throwing off some babies I need to trim and root out soon.

I need to split this jade into two pots, but I’m afraid of damaging them in the process
The pending plant parent

I’m starting to wonder where I can keep them as I look toward a plant stable approaching twenty by year-end. My apartment has limited window space. My living room wall is basically 16 feet of floor to ceiling window. My bedroom on the other hand has only two panes. Plus I’m pretty bad at opening the curtains, but I think that will be one of the next steps.

Right now, I’m using dense clustering as a defense against Myrtle’s rubbing them to death. She loves scratching her cheeks on them, but that’s generally to their detriment. To that end, when I started putting plants on window sills, I learned that I had to arrange the sill so there was no room for her to sit on the same sill.

The climber that’s in the corner was a 4” rescue from the local grocery’s nearly dead section.

Likewise, since my dracaena sits at the end of my TV console, I need to find a way to limit Myrtle’s ability to get to that end since she’s already snacking on it.

And the unsnacking all over the floor.

But enjoy the last few pics of my lil therapeutic plant farm while I resume my mental debate over Olivier’s initial home…

The Christmas cactus on the upper sill was from a cutting from mom.
Cornelius, also a gift from mom.

If you’re in the states, enjoy your extra day off on this three day holiday weekend. I’ll be potting at least one plant today or tomorrow!

Mourning…Glory?

The Year of FREE Music

No, this is not a nostalgia post about my Columbia House membership.

Whilst working from home yesterday, I was planning out my weekend. The focus was getting my weekend blogging goal back on track as well as my exercise regimen – which has been off track since my vacation. Add into that the Silver Fox’s return to town. And this is still on top of wanting to maintain my regular weekend misadventures.

But it was also Flashback Friday on my local radio station. Back when I was living that #LyftLife that meant I listened to the weekly Party Out of Bounds radio show from 8-midnight while driving Friday nights.

All 80s and 90s music for four hours? Yes, please.

Now that I’m living the WFH life, I listen to the morning show until 10 Monday-Friday and maybe switch to a pandora station later in the day. But on Flashback Friday I might put in a little longer on the show because they give away tickets to upcoming live shows from 80s and 90s bands every hour.

I’ve set my limit at 5 calls per hour, if I’m able to call when they throw it out. Sometimes I’m on a Teams or Zoom call and can’t.

It’s fine. I’ve already won seats at their free in studio performances twice this year, so if I miss out, I’m still having a pretty good live music year. Some of the shows though…Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Crowded House. There’s about five shows to choose from each week at a variety of venues: The Moda Center (where the Blazers play), Edgefield (one of our larger outdoor venues), Crystal Ballroom (if you wanna experience a concert on the third floor of a hundred+ year old building, this is your place – and let’s hear it for feeling the floor move beneath your unmoving feet!), or Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka: Portland’s Living Room).

Moda Center
Inside the Moda during concert mode
Edgefield – looking back from the 4th row. More on that in a minute
Crystal Ballroom – home of the “Floating Dancefloor”.
Pioneer Courthouse Square from the air…or an office tower across the street

I’ve been to shows at all of these venues over the years, but my attendance was stagnant recently – pandemic closures notwithstanding. I’ve been to Moda many times, including Fleetwood Mac on three separate tours. I saw Everclear back in the late 90s or early aughts at the Crystal and was “recently” (aka: five-ish years ago!) invited to Echo and the Bunnymen there. Pioneer Courthouse has a couple different summer music events each year. The first is just a “Portland is awesome” type of thing…a free Lunchtime Concert Series every Thursday at noon. Back when our downtown had businesses operating in it, people would throw open their windows in the neighboring non-skyscraper buildings to lean out an watch. People on the streets would be drawn to this packed city block brick plaza. I’ve seen several shows there, too. Notably, the Indigo Girls back in the 90s and I was sad to miss their return to this venue this year. There have also been a couple of community concerts featuring our local Pink Martini to mark holiday tree lightings or punctuate a local event – like a protest concert or to honor the life of a colorful former Mayor.

This is our former Mayor, Bud Clark. I missed his memorial at Pioneer Square, but if it was half as entertaining as he was…

Which leaves us with Edgefield out of the venues listed above. It’s a 7000 “seat” outdoor venue at the edge of town, owned by the same family that owns the Crystal Ballroom, so the music gene is strong. The official name of their music program is Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn…hence the apostrophes around the word seat earlier. I’d been decades ago when it first opened. It was fun to go and cop a squat on a patch of grass with a date or maybe as a foursome with another couple.

But that was decades ago, and my lawn squatting days are behind me.

Enter my drink buddy neighbor. He’s kind of my spirit animal for having a life as a single old man. I don’t know why this eludes me so. I think it might partially be a willful ignorance on my part. It was only a few – ok, closer to ten than five – years ago that I regularly wrote under the blog theme I called the Yes Game. Now I’ve got Jessla fresh off her divorce and recently moved back to the city from the coast talking about her Year of Yes as well as my drinking buddy reminding me that life is meant for living, not waiting for the end.

Anyway, my drinking buddy has adult children with a couple of grands that keep him busy, which is a resource I don’t share. Outside of that, which is plenty for most people, he also has this great life of solo adventures that have inspired me recently to do more than just carouse my way to the grave.

He’s the one that invited me to the Loverboy/REO Speedwagon/Styx show a couple months ago. That, in turn, motivated me to not be resigned to the sidelines of life. I remembered when doing things alone was a source of empowerment for me when I was younger. As I’ve aged, I’ve avoided that source of power while eschewing the source of one of my biggest frustrations: people.

It was good to be reminded that I can do both by planning strategically. While it will take a lot to get me back to the Moda Center for a show, post-pandemic. It was the show that I lucked into last week at Edgefield that highlighted the reality I’d been missing out on.

My drinking buddy ended up triple-booked on a Friday night: a family thing, a Timbers match (he’s a season ticket holder) and a show at Edgefield that he’d been raving about for weeks. It was the last-minute realization that he had a match that Friday and the laster-minute family thing that ended up with me being gifted his tickets to the Edgefield show.

To Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt, no less.

I couldn’t possibly say no! Even though I’d already said yes to walking the Silver Fox’s pooch while he was at the same show. And yes to walking Jessla’s dogs while she was out of town for the weekend.

On top of having a lunchtime doctor appointment…this was going to be quite the Friday. So at lunchtime I put my Out of Office on and hood it over to my doctor. That runs late, so I go right from there to Jessla’s pups afternoon walk. I’m back in my chair just before 130. At 430, I set my status to offline and head up to Jessla’s for a quick pee walk and dinner for her pups. Then I hop in the car and head east to Edgefield.

Did I mention that this free seat is in the 4th row of Reserved Seating?!? But I still have to wait in line with all the picnickers before the show starts at 630, thanks to this post-9/11 mass shooter gun violence world in which we live.

Getting 7000 people through metal detectors takes a minute. Factor in Bonnie pulls a Boomer crowd and you’ve got a real shitshow of a line scenario.

The venue is up there in that stand of trees, this grass will soon be covered in cars

The Fox had been insisting my seats were good, but the seats he had in the Sponsors Section – courtesy of his nephew, owner of Wyld, a cannabis edibles manufacturer – were better. Well, they came with reserved parking and free tacos and drinks, so he was partially correct. Otherwise, we both learned that they had moved the Sponsor Se ruin sometime in the past couple of decades. Here’s a view from my not-worse-than-his seat.

He’s under that white tent…

But that reserved parking was legit. After standing in a line for 45 minutes, what was I finally greeted by when I was able to branch off the mainline to the two measly metal detectors dedicated to Reserved Seating ticket holders?

I’d know that snow cap anywhere. He hadn’t responded to my bored-in-line inquiries about his whereabouts. Probably because he was driving out so he could walk right up to the Reserved Ticket Holder’s entrance. But it amused me – while I was ignoring my darker inner thoughts that he’s seen me and was ignoring me – that he was so focused on the venue that he didn’t notice me until moments after I sent this…

Remember the basement scene in Silence of the Lambs where Bill is reaching out in the dark behind an unsuspecting Clarice?

Anyway, we were both entertained by his level of surprise. A phenomenon I would repeat as I beat a hasty retreat during the encore to get back to Jessla’s pups for their evening walk and ran into the Fox’s former partner’s parents – with whom he’s still friends. The dad was wearing his Timbers jersey, showing support for his team as a season ticket holder since he’d made a different decision than my beneficiary. So we got to chat a bit until we made for our separate grassy parking spaces – turns out, they left early to get home to their dog, too. Since it’s an outdoor venue, I put down the windows and opened the moonroof to listen to the encore as I queued up to exit the lot.

I’m not the guy who runs into someone I know everywhere I go. I’m always the guy with the person who runs into someone everywhere there go. Seriously, it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But in between this happening to me twice in one night, I saw an incredible show. A week later, I’m still in awe.

Mavis Staples was the opener. Let me tell you, at 83 this woman is absolutely killing it. She’s not tall enough to have ever ridden a roller coaster in her life, but onstage? Well, let’s just say that you can’t miss her – even though it was a good minute or two before I saw her head because it was behind a mic-mounted iPad.

What? I didn’t see her take the stage because I was getting a beer! The McMenamin’s brothers started out as beer makers, not concert promoters.

I watched Mavis in awe. Her band and back up were amazing on their own, but in no way making up for any diminished capacity in Mavis’ talent or skill. She might have had to sit down a couple of times during the set – 83 years old! – and the band didn’t lose a beat, but when she was ready to come back, she let ‘em know that the stage was hers again.

I will never not think of this performance when I hear a cement mixer’s engine idling while its tumble turns. That a voice that big comes out of such a small human. Epic.

If that was all there was to this show…it was still a bargain at twice the price. But wait…there’s more!

Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt!

In my concert-going career I’ve been to myriad shows. Folks touring to promote a recent album, storytellers on tour, spectacles of a show that hid lipsyncing artists, intimate venues, stadium tours, has-beens on the State Fair circuit, perennial favorites, career touring acts…and much, much more!

And it’s not like those options are mutually exclusive. It’s more of a Venn diagram.

I’d always thought of Bonnie as a storyteller on tour given my knowledge of her history touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett and John Prine. In this instance she was that storyteller on tour, touring to promote a new album and perennial favorite. I wasn’t super-excited to learn about the new album since that usually draws focus from the library I’m familiar with. For someone whose first album came out 50+ years ago, though? She is still creating amazing content.

Case in point, after talking about touring with Prine and reminiscing about them performing Angel From Montgomery together and how she can’t imagine performing it without him since his death, she tells how that history and loss inspired her to write a song with a similar story behind it. She’d heard a story about a man who showed up on a woman’s doorstep years after she lost her son in an accident…to thank her for the gift of life her son’s heart gave him.

Being an emotional sap is another good reason to go to these types of shows alone.

A few songs later, she performed Angel From Montgomery, and I think everyone was crying when she hugged her guitar to her like it was her lost, dear friend.

Starting the encore

Like I said, I beat feet at the encore, but didn’t miss anything but a 45 minute wait to exit the lot in doing so. Hearing her voice through the trees in the night air of a perfect PNW summer evening while idling in a grass field? It gave me time to think about what I take for granted: the future. Not for granted, so much, more something I look forward to with a sense of dread or contempt.

But this coming-up-on-73 year old and her 83 year old touring companion showed me that people can continue to give to the world around them well into the years of life when others have left their careers. And my Generation Jones aged drinking buddy is giving me an example on how to live life as a single-person without waiting for someone to live it with to enable it – and without caring what others think of my solo-status.

I am kind of happy about my reluctance to return to larger venues for this reason, too. Fringe benefit of going solo to smaller venues alone? I stand out as alone easier in a smaller setting. Hey, if I’m going it alone, I want credit for the finger I’m giving my failure at achieving an enduring relationship. Can’t get that in a crowd!

All of this is by way of telling you that on my fifth attempt at winning tickets in the Flashback Friday offerings yesterday, I succeeded!

Jessla would point out the time was a triple number as an indicator of this luck

You’ll notice it took 22 attempts – versus the weeks of effort that came before yesterday – but someone finally answered the phone! A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the upcoming Shins show at Pioneer Courthouse Square and could not have been happier. Until a few minutes later when the texts started rolling in…

The year of free music rocks on, friends!

The Year of FREE Music

Lucky Me?

Not to overthink the classics, but you’ve heard the old chestnut, “You make your own luck” or the not dissimilar “Luck is what you make it”.

Ok, well…could someone please explain what they fuck I’m doing?!?

Is it bad that I’m crowdsourcing that information? Check it out, though, and weigh in…because I can’t decide if the universe is flirty with me, sending me warning signs or possibly both.

It started with this:

Yes, I have an unread email from 2019…

Ok. Sure. Let’s make a Will. For all of you conspiracy theorists out there, this could be my own fault. I’d literally said “I guess I’d better make a Will” after I opened my parents’ gift from grandpa’s estate.

Not that I’ve got anyone to bequeath my plant collection to – but that’s another blog. Let the government have it. That’ll piss off plenty of folks…just letting the state have my shit. Not my family, of course. There’s perks to being the brokest bitch in my family. Well, outside Black Sheep Bro, that is. But anyone that knows me will tell you that self-referencing “bitch” comment was not figurative and that I’m sure as Hell not rewarding that history.

So, there’s that. I wrote it off to a not-incorrect coincidence and went on with my life.

Then things leveled up a bit.

I came downstairs last Saturday afternoon – thank you, good night sleep herb – and from well inside my lobby, could see bikes whizzing by on the street outside.

Racing bikes.

Racing the wrong way on my one-way street.

The street I was parked on the night before.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

All I’m thinking is that my car got towed. Then I’m incensed because shit goes on in my neighborhood all. the. time. So I know what to expect when something is happening..

This is out of the blue, though. Literally. I’d walked home from my around-the-corner bar the prior evening around 930 pm. Usually, when something of this magnitude is happening, I have – at worst – last ditch reminders…like they’re setting up booths and tents and johnnies-on-the-spot in the park the night before.

Nothing.

And this is the last ditch visual reminders. Before that, there’s No Parking signs posted on the trees lining the streets for weeks ahead of time. Plus flyers taped to the building doors so you can’t miss them.

This? This is gotten a flyer about a half dozen trips to the recycler ago. Ok, fine…it was a good month and a half back.

So, what was it?

They’re riding the wrong way on this street, too.

The Portland Criterion.

I don’t remember this happening in the six years I’ve lived in this building. Apparently, though, it used to happen all the time. Local legend has it that ol’ uniball (Lance Armstrong) used to ride it before he started winning Tours de France.

If you believe that kind of scuttlebutt.

Anyway, it’s a nine block course – if my mental mapping math is correct. A three block straightaway, up a block, back a block, up a block, over a block and down two to the start.

But did I mention that my car got towed?!?

(Un)Luckily, I’d run into the chattiest mailman ever on my way out. He was telling me that the parking situation was a real shitshow. He’d had to park a half dozen blocks away instead of right in front, as is his norm.

“Oh, all the bridge and tunnel folk?”, I asked, knowing full well he is one.

“Yeah! Well, that and all the cars they had to move off the route!” My ears perked up.

“Say what now?”

“Oh, yeah. They call it a ‘Courtesy Tow’, but it’s not doing me any courtesies!”

Ok, maybe my luck is on an upward swing. All I had to do was scour the neighborhood clicking my alarm remote until my lights flash.

Knowing my neighborhood, some crazy would flash me before my Angela did.

My car was right around the corner.

Luck: fully functioning.

I did whatever I’d needed to do that afternoon and then realized there was the neighborhood dysfunction to deal if I went home, and decided to kill some time.

Hello, app of Lost Boys.

It’s an indictment of my decaying subculture that a man my age, in my wavering physical condition can get laid with only a modest amount of effort on these loathsome asocial media apps. But there I was, finding a safe harbor to park my lil tug in to ride out the Criterion storm in my home port.

Fun!

I’m still offended.

It’s like I’m the gay equivalent of Groucho Marx.

Autocorrect changed “gay” to “fat” in the prior paragraph. Oy.

Nevertheless, I am heading home from my afternoon delight and my drinking buddy neighbor from the Silver Fox’s building asks if I wanna meet at the neighborhood joint for dinner.

Dinner. Tomato. Potato. VODKA.

This is also promising because somehow I conflated this with the Criterion being complete.

Good.

“WHOA!!!”

The car in the lane to my right’s bumper literally peeled off the car and flew right at me.

Interesting life choice for a car. Upon closer inspection, though, the car looked like it should have the theme from Sanford & Son emanating from it. Checking my bitchiness in an attitude of that-bumper-missed-me gratitude, I checked myself and admitted that this car was likely someone’s residence.

Oh, yeah, the bumper missed me. Mostly thanks to me not being where I was heading toward being once I saw it depart its logical location.

I pull past this “How is this street legal” moving violation and glance in the window.

Let me tell you, I’d just gotten laid in the first time in too long and my sunny disposition had nothing on this driver.

“So, great, she’s under the influence, too.”

I swear, this shit could only happen to me. A bumper leaves home a few feet ahead of me in a once-in-lifetime occurrence? Yeah, just me.

Nevertheless, I make it home without further whatthefuckness. Until I have to park, and then I realize the Criterion is not finished.

Go figure, my original towed-to parking spot on my “Street Closed” street is taken. Turning around, I pull across the intersection and part in a Loading Zone with 7 am – 7 pm restrictions Monday-Saturday.

It’s 650 pm on Saturday night.

“Fucking ticket me”, I say as I walk away.

Minutes later, when recounting the afternoon’s events to my buddy, I recall that this is exactly what had happened last time I gambled on that. But that was a pandemic ago…so who’s winning now!!?

The next morning, my tire was flat.

Here’s why there will never be a musical about my life: days like last Saturday. You couldn’t write a song about that day. There’s no rhythm to it. My fortunes that day were nothing if not psychotic.

By comparison, a couple Saturdays prior, I’d had breakfast with my parents, they’d cavalierly tossed out a check I with more zeroes than my dating history and they’d bought. Then I went home and watched movies and snoozed the rest of the day.

That’s plenty of Saturday for me.

Criterion Saturday? Do not need.

In other random “luck” housekeeping…

Yesterday – Payroll Monday, as I like to call it – turned out to be just Monday. No payroll. Too much other shit going on, so I decided to punt and process payroll today.

Payroll Monday? Nah, surprise, bitch…just MONDAY.

On the other hand, I got it done in 2.5 hours. This is something that appeared to be taking 16+ hours when I came on board, so there’s that.

Additionally, I arranged to have the local tire joint – who I have unpleasant history with – look at Angela’s tire today. I was betting it would be $100. The Silver Fox was telling me they did it for free whether you bought tires there or not. I just didn’t want to risk putting a can of Fix-a-Flat into the equation and then getting in the freeway to the Costco for the free repair I was entitled to after my tire purchase there.

Right?

Yes, ok!

So, here I am…still living haphazardly but thinking critically!

I’d called ahead and was told a patch was $20. Fine. Get it done.

I drop it off three minutes before they open this morning and hoof it home – cajoling Jessla into a coffee along the way…barely missing my “late” start time of 945.

At 1030, the call me – but I’m on a Teams call and can’t talk. Voicemail. When I get a chance to listen, it’s some guy you know is hot but totally selfish in bed and barely functional in life telling me they couldn’t find a problem.

I hold the phone away from my face and wonder aloud if they were looking at the wrong tire. I watched my onboard count down four pounds of lost pressure on my nine blocks up, eight blocks over trip to drop Angela off. So I call back and tell them to take another swing at it.

It took a few hours, but eventually I got a callback that said they were able to find the screw and patch the hole.

Huzzah.

At 415 I feed Myrtle her 15 minute overdue dinner. Well, half of it because I can tell she’s gonna eat like she’s never had a meal. I figure, I can manage that and feed her the rest after she’s had time to digest a bit.

We’re talking 1.5 ounces of wet food here…and she still threw it up before 430.

I tell my coworker over Teams that I’m fucking off to clean up cat puke and then go get my car. I know I’ll come in tomorrow to an arms length of cat rearing tips – none of which will be “Don’t adopt a cat three other people returned”, but still well-intentioned.

I hike up to the tire place and am told it’s complimentary. Just remember them when I need new tires.

Goddamnit, the Silver Fox was right!

For free…unlike the person they paid to tell me the wrong answer.

Mind you, writing this out, I know it’s all nonsense. I got towed, I got laid, I got a flat.

Whatever, right? Free range bumpers notwithstanding.

But here’s what I didn’t tell ya: I’m between waking up on Saturday and getting laid on Saturday? A lot more happened.

I wouldn’t have been leaving my house at all that day if I hadn’t woken up to this random text message “from my bank”.

“Here’s the one-time verification code you requested”…only, I hadn’t? But, also…I had.

Days before. It was an aborted attempt to link my main account to my car loan – since my car loan had revamped their app (for the better) but had t imported any sensitive data. Basically, I had to set it all up again – because what benefits them, fucks me. Natch.

Sadly, that all ended in tears for the poor bastard I made help me after three failed attempts to link my main account to their new and improved shit.

But did I get three verification codes or just two? Was this random text something their new-but-still-having-a-stroke system buried out after a few days of rest or a legit scam?

I call the bank. It’s noon on Saturday.

By 1215, I’m being told that my account has been closed – for my protection.

“So, basically, you’re telling me I have 45 minutes to get out of bed, shower, shampoo and shine and make it over to my branch to re-open an account before they close at 1 or I can be penniless til Monday?”

“We’re super sorry (inferred, they didn’t say that) but our grocery store branches are open until 3! You can try this one in Portland’s version of Alabama.”

I Google “my fucking credit union’s branches in grocery stores” and counter that asinine attempt of theirs at help with, “How about I just go to this store a mile from my house?”

So I do all of this and end up leaving the branch with a new account and new debit card. It’s 245. I’m dreading all the new debit card ordeals ahead of me.

DoorDash.

GoPuff.

Assorted bill pays I have set up to my debit card.

This is gonna be Billy Hell.

But they’ve assured me that my direct deposit is flagged to transfer. Me, being an adult, resist telling them that that is literally my job so I’m not worried or asking what they do with my money that has them giddy that the flow will be uninterrupted.

Fine. Maybe I’m a little bit of that conspiracy theorist I maligned earlier. But only for my own entertainment!

On my way out, I ask if my pending bank to bank transfers will flow through, since I suspect they are still incomplete. My “transfer to” bank shows the deposits are funded, my “transfer from” bank closed my account without bothering to ask.

“I don’t see anything pending, so everything is good!”

So chipper.

“You’re telling me you could see transfers initiated outside the credit union?”

“Yup. Everything looks good.”

It wasn’t.

I woke up today to an email saying my $3000 transfer (the max allowed) had been rejected because of insufficient funds.

“Or a closed account and idiot banker” I mumble to my phone. Whatever. It only cost me time – since my investment account doesn’t charge for returned transfers and my credit union seemed to at least know not to trifle with that after my Saturday ordeal.

And that’s why I wanted to fuck someone after leaving the bank on Saturday…I knew my own fucking was coming. At least it was gentle?

I swear, if I find out Pam Ewing dreamed this whole thing…well, that might actually explain a few things.

Lucky Me?

Austerity…and Everything After

Feel free to cue up some Counting Crows while you read along, if you’re inclined to give a nod to this post’s title inspo – August and Everything After.

If not, no worries. It just popped into my head last night in a near-literal fit of frustration.

I’d gone into the weekend feeling victorious, namely over finally getting paid the balance of my last week of work before transitioning to a Core employee with the company I’d been assigned to for nearly six months.

Knowing the rhythm of their processes, I know when I get an email saying my paystub is available, my direct deposit hits the next day. Since I got that Friday, I was expecting the deposit Saturday morning. I was just a little surprised when it didn’t land, and left curious as to whether that was a systemic issue or whether good, old RH had one more petty fuck you left for me.

Regardless, I’d planned this weekend to finally get some real time in with DoorDash for the first time in weeks. I think the two weeks I’ve been back from the desert, I’d averaged about 4 hours a week. I just don’t like it!

Just disregard all that foreshadowing.

Admittedly, I’ve been letting the looming of my grandfather’s estate settling allow me to shirk my 35 delivery per week goal. And the damn thing never seems to close – despite the original June estimate back in January! Last I heard was almost three weeks ago when dad told us the attorney said it was time to write checks. My inclusion and my siblings’ is strictly a matter of my dad’s generosity, him committing to share his share with us. For me, it’s moderately life-changing money, regardless of whether it’s equally divided or something just under the reportable threshold.

Anywho. Not having expected Robert Half-Ass to find its wallet at all, let alone in a conveniently timed fashion, I knew this weekend was going to be a rather austere one. In past similar instances, ie: pretty much the beginning of any month this year, I’ve pretty much lived off my Apple Wallet. That’s where my DoorDash earnings deposit. Unfortunately, no ATMs in my area seem accessible via their card-less technology. Go figure.

But I manage. I can always order food and grocery through my Apple Wallet, there’s just no real going out in that first week situation – although, I did discover that Regal Cinemas of all places has a functional card-less point of sale. So, that’s nice. If there’s no movie showing that I want to see, then there’s always new movies I can rent/buy through Prime if nothing grabs me on the streamers.

What I’m saying is, even though it’s tight sometimes, it’s still pretty good to be me.

This weekend, of course, I’m finally motivated. I know I’ve got another week to go before my first two-week paycheck arrives. Further, I was kind of daunted by the prospect of having to budget for two weeks versus getting paid weekly, having just adjusted to that weekly schedule versus the daily pay I’d been used to the last three years.

It wasn’t my strongest beginning. Friday night was tough, after a longer than normal Friday at the day job. When I saw the pay was just base-plus-$2, versus the usual base-plus-$3 I get when I drive, I decided to save my mojo for Saturday night. Why? I don’t know…at the end of the day, it was a $5-10 issue, depending on how long I stayed out. But I stayed in.

I hit the road last night at 6, after buying myself a pop and a lottery ticket. My first order was a two-fer with a total of 3.3 miles for $19. I usually like to stay over a $10 per-delivery average, but it was such a short distance, I took it as a win and shagged it.

Plus, these things usually net up a bit when all is said and done. Especially when an order comes through a secondary app. Even if it didn’t, though, I’d be on my “second” order in about 20 minutes since these first two deliveries were so close.

Except…forgot whose life I was living.

The first pickup was a block from where I accepted the orders and they said they needed a “couple minutes” to finish up. Not surprising, since I’d been so close.

Twenty fucking minutes later…I’m finally on my way. I pick up the next order in less than 90 seconds and am on my way to the drop offs – which are conveniently around the corner from one another. Unfortunately, what I hadn’t realized was that there was a Portland Timbers match last night. These two apartments were two blocks from Providence Park.

What I’d assumed would be the start of a $50 hour finally ended 40 minutes later. As I ended the second delivery, I was accepting the reality that I’d need another delivery set up like my first to finish my first hour in my usual $30-35 range.

Except the app kept reverting to the prior delivery instead of completing and taking me to the Home Screen.

That’s more like my usual life. After I’d crossed the Willamette River that divides the city’s west side from the east, I had pulled over to call support. I’d unsuccessfully tried to complete the order for 10 minutes – Portland is small, you can absolutely cross town on a Saturday evening in 10 minutes – so it was time to get some help.

After 15 minutes on chat waiting for someone to get to me, the chat had ended itself. Fine. I called in to the driver support line. That call started with a recording telling me there was high call volume so they were prioritizing active deliveries. Also fine, since I’d been unable to end my last delivery.

Then the system ended my call. So much for getting into the queue based on a technicality.

Worst part? I didn’t even get paid for the deliveries I did until hours later when I was comfortably stoned on the couch.

That prompted me to try signing in again, not that I was going anywhere. It still failed, so I put it away for the night.

I tried again this morning. Still nothing, and the only troubleshooting I can get to without signing in says, “Just keep trying!” Thanks, Dory.

The support line is still hanging up after the same pre-recorded message, so I’m sensing it’s a bad weekend for a lot of people.

And DoorDash.

But that’s all had a rather disabling effect on my day. This weekend I came into feeling motivated is ending with me not showering or brushing my teeth today until 3 pm.

I did somehow manage to whip up a concoction and eat a 1/2 pound of pasta – but managed to hold off til noon before diving in.

Eat your feelings, Xtopher.

I’ve watched two Harry Potter movies today – save your TERF comments, I’m watching the movies to feel good, not endorse the author’s anti-trans mentality – and suspect a third is coming.

And while I feel like I’ve survived a hardship and tomorrow I’ll wake up with more than $15 in my primary checking account, I’m not feeling a strong sense of relief. Most of my bills are “late” or actually late at this point. I prefer to pay them as they come in if they aren’t on autopay. Autopays are bouncing back – thank gawd they aren’t considered overdrafts! – and the balances on the bills I haven’t paid yet are now larger than the check I’ll get on Friday, so I’ve got to prioritize bills instead of clearing them out.

And given the time of month – I swear I didn’t mean to riff on TERF bullshit there – were in, my next check has to be for September rent. On top of that, I suspect it’s time Myrtle saw a vet, given the size of the puddle I came home to after last night’s abortion of productivity. That couldn’t possibly be a good sign. Or a cheap fix. But at least I’ve talked myself back from my comments to the Silver Fox last night – something along the lines of “Myrtle lives outside starting tomorrow”. And, no…I do not have a yard.

Grandpa’s probate attorney needs to find his damn checkbook. At least this slog of a weekend is almost over. Take that, Sunday Scaries. I’m looking forward to Monday!

Austerity…and Everything After

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

K-GAY TV

Channel 1:

I had an unexpected palate cleanser of a TV experience last night. I watched – at the enthusiastic recommendation of a co-worker with dubious taste – Senior Year on Netflix. Since I don’t really know this person that well, I had to leverage her enthusiasm about the show with the unknowns of her viewing tastes.

I’m an Olympic caliber mathlete when it comes to rationalizing.

Plus, it was the Silver Fox’s last night in town, and he surprised me by taking his guts out for a tentatively exploratory drink with me. I hadn’t expected to see him since he had an afternoon wine date with some neighbors. But after jealously teasing him about what he planned to drink at this wine:30

…he followed up a couple hours later with “I’m saving my alcohol consumption for you!”

How could I refuse?

I had asked if he wanted to go out or stay in with wine and a movie. I think I might have mentioned – his imminent departure aside – that I wasn’t up for starting another series at the moment because, A) I can tell he’s itching to indulge one of his binge passions: subtitles. I can’t blame him. Regrettably, I’m already watching a 50/50 subtitled show and that’s giving me all the fix I need there, luckily it’s one based off of his recommendations so I’m in the clear as far as watching it without him. Back to that list, though; B) I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to invest in another series right meow. And it is an emotional investment. There’s the cost of simply committing to a series, for one thing, but then there’s subject matter to deal with.

We’d just come off of tearing through It’s A Sin on HBOMax and it was heavy! It’s the coming out/coming of age story of six friends who find themselves and each other in 1980s London.

Unlike Sex and the City, the city of London isn’t the unintended co-star. AIDS is. Hence the heavy.

I was glad to watch it, because: important. Even though I lived through that era in America, I needed it as a touchstone to the days when Gay Culture actually contained a culture versus <gestures vaguely> whatever these Lost Boys are trying to pass off as a community or culture today.

But lots of tears, speaking only for myself. So consider yourself warned.

But last night’s drink with The Fox ended up being an out of the house affair, sidestepping my fragility. At least initially. The topic of a movie eventually crept back in, but was ultimately rejected because of the time commitment. Today being a travel day, the Silver Fox didn’t really need to be up past his normal bedtime just to watch a movie. Me, having nothing else going, though…well, I was free to stay up and watch what I pegged as a little Brain Candy.

By and large, it was.

Cheerleader.

20 year coma.

Coma ends.

Cheerleader returns to finish high school at 37.

Brain Candy about brain trauma? Sure!

But the unexpected component was the wokeness of the project. The cast was diverse and the characters representative. I’m quite sure the male actors portraying gender fluid teens and dressing thusly will be quite the trigger for the vocal religious minority in the states.

It might actually account for the low rating on IMDb.

Might? Surely. It’s not a great movie, but the inclusivity that the movie portrays as today’s high school culture squares off nicely against the less-than-stellar experience high school was in reality for most any Millennial or older generational outsiders.

And I needed that optimistic thread in this story to offset the heaviness of It’s A Sin, which I’d say should be required viewing for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community before they’re allowed to take a pic of their junk or download Grindr.

It reset me to where I’d been when the Silver Fox rolled into town two weeks ago. Hopeful that the crop of gay dipshits I encounter every week might somehow collectively find their way out of the moniker Lost Boys.

Channel 2:

Before the Silver Fox made his return to town, I took another of his recommendations and watched Heartstopper.

Oh, my hell. <injects insulin> What a deliciously sweet story.

Goofy, gay art scene high schooler meets straight-but-secretly-questioning jock and they fall in love?

<sigh>

I am so jealous of the environment younger generations are living in. I mean, sure, I know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…plus, they’re inheriting the planet we’ve all but destroyed, so they deserve a more idyllic youth. But this is exactly what my and the generations before me have been living toward these past decades: the ability to live life out of the closet and experience your true self in the open.

All those protests and pride parades and lobbying of politicians for equality under the law?

It was for this. So a couple of queer or questioning kids could fall in love.

Representation matters 100% – which is why people were so mad about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law. Even more so about Disney’s initial silence over such a law going into effect in its backyard. You think your gonna make billions and billions on the back of our collective talent and get away with a shrug when we come under attack?

Au contraire.

TV, movies, theater and music…all of that art both imitates life and portrays the sometimes ugly truth of it. It’s cyclical. Sometimes art is a story or reflection of how something is. Others, it can be a representation of how it should or could be. In those instances, exposing non-allied individuals to something they are uncomfortable with through art can be a non-threatening way to introduce a topic and demystify or de-vilify it for them.

Again, representation matters…and with it, before long – a mere 50 years and counting in America – you’ll have boiled that taboo frog.

It was nice to watch a show – before I knew I needed it – that produced big, happy tears. I was so enthralled by the story and execution that I burned through all eight episodes in one night.

Again, it’s not like I’ve got anything else going on that would require me to be up and at it at a reasonable hour on a weekend.

The Fox’s return was pretty much hot on the heels of that viewing, so when he asked if I wanted to watch Young Royals, my answer was a heartfelt

Despite the fact that I suspected it was subtitled. Turns out, only dubbed. See? The Silver Fox challenges me to be a better me and me is rewarded with less work than me thought a better me would require. Of me.

Another high school coming of age/coming out story? Sure, why not?

And the trope isn’t totally monochromatic.

The boys in Heartstopper were both middle class Brits. This one was about a poor, working class Swede and a literal (well, in the show, not real life) Swedish Prince.

Totally different.

Ok, well different enough that it’s more of a fairy tail tale premise could be digestible for someone who couldn’t connect with a depiction of an uncomfortable topic in the shadow of their own class.

I know I’m aiming high to even think the representation these shows provide is on a straight line trajectory to the people that can’t/won’t/don’t accept the LGBTQ+ population.

I know.

But those who aren’t resistant, just underexposed can see this and be better armed against the hateful rhetoric that seems to be the default of that further out group. That we’re deviants or abominations or – even worse – have designs on their own perceived imperiled and precious little pooters.

No, thank you.

Even better, the representation these shows provide may equip the kids who are questioning their sexuality and where they belong on the spectrum of this intensely important part of the human experience. It might equip them to be able to start the conversation with someone who couldn’t nurture and enable their coming out as their true selves…especially if that someone is themself.

If the weather is t as glorious where you live as it is in Portland this weekend, treat yourself to one of these – maybe not It’s A Sin if you’re new to gay culture. I can’t promise you that you won’t tear up, but I can promise you some feel-good entertainment…and that it won’t make you gay.

K-GAY TV

Sample This…

…exemplary specimen of proChristination.

I have shit to do. Instead I’m gonna do this.

Warned, you have been. To wit:

A friend posted this on the Facebook today. My response: Stop judging my lunch!

And it was no lie, nor exaggeration. I had indeed had Mac & Cheese for lunch that day. A box of it. Keep in mind, while I may lose points for my seven year old’s palate in your mind, I require bonus points for making lunch at 10 AM while on a conference call and then using my actual lunch at 1 PM to exercise and shower.

Juke the system, did I.

Also, this was all in the name of “research”, too, since the Silver Fox had sent me an article a few weeks prior ranking the top 10 store bought boxed Macs and Cheeses.

Obviously, I needed to sample the brands that had never crossed my razor-thin white-ass lips.

Especially since one of them was crowned #1! I felt I had a moral obligation to fulfill and don’t understand how you could possibly see that any other way.

I’m not going to waste your time airing out the scoring system and this particular food writer’s bonafides. But I will tell you that they were both extensive and his Mac and Cheese pedigree rivaled my own – although he never mentioned any enhancements like my very own ripped off from my mother White Trasherole.

Imagine how stupid my dumb face looked when I read that the #1 title went to…belly-drumroll, please…Walmart’s Private Label!

<gasp!>

And their boxed Mac was only $.34/box!

Yes, that’s a liqueur in a sperm shaped vessel…

I spent the week after I read this trying to happen into the vicinity of a Walmart to drop $10 on this experiment. Mind you, before college, I’d never been into a Walmart. And then I think I only went in once. Turns out there’s better things to do in Manhattan than go to a Walmart.

Even if the Manhattan in question lies in Kansas. I’m not counting the two-on-one gay bashing I got in that Manhattan as better. More of a draw.

After that, I wasn’t in another Walmart until 2006. Which would be two decades, depending on how you count the years between 1987 and 2006. I count that as 20.

And believe me, that 2006 occurrence was under duress and orders from my then-boss, a very barely hinged person named Susie. And she may have spelled that one of the crazy ways with a Zed versus the normally accepted basic version.

After that, I wasn’t in a Walmart until…2012 or 13. I wasn’t pleased with the trajectory my Walmart visit’s half-life was taking. But that visit was in a bumpkin-town outside of St Louis booze emergency situation while Rib and I were at his sister’s wedding,

I’m not saying we accidentally started the whole People of Walmart thing, but I will say that I’d never heard of it until after my wedding reception rant about the experience later that same day.

Are you going to call that a coincidence?!?

So I was back in the decade-plus club for time elapsed – lapsed? Phil will tell me! – between visits and was for the first time in my life willingly looking for a Walmart. That’s not a brag, but it’s certainly humbling.

I just had to know!

I mean, this guy had the credentials, but that’s never stopped someone from being a shill, right?

Well, you know what they say about cops, right? Same with Walmarts. Never one around when you “need” one. For research purposes only.

One thwarted week into my research search and I decided to…<gulp> download their app.

By that time, my Mac and-chemically-powdered-cheese-addled brain was desperate to know the answer. I could get free delivery two days later – I think – but I couldn’t wait! I had to know!

Plus, I was starving and had no food in the house, because: bachelor.

There was one delivery window for that baleful day. Same day delivery is $10, so I went for it.

But, being the shrewd consumer that I am? I made that $10 charge scream. But all in the interest of research, right? To that end, I went all in on my experiment. The guy who makes a living writing specifically said he didn’t deviate from the box instructions, in the interest of judging the purest intent of the manufacturer.

I one-upped him and bought all of the ingredients required in the Walmart Private Label brand.

Then I rounded out my cart with other non-essentials (read: things I usually bogart from the Silver Fox when he’s not looking) like trash bags, light bulbs and the like. I mean, it was $4.50 for the 10 boxes on Mac and Cheese – maybe the article was 15 years old, I dunno. Still…$.45/box is pretty good, and on just what I saved on 10 of Walmart’s private label boxes over the $1.89 for Kraft these days, I’d pay for the delivery charge in savings. Then a buck and change for the half-and-half and I think the butter was less than $4. So a $10 delivery charge for $10 in groceries seemed a little nutso. Realizing I was unencumbered by any consistency for the sake of fairness rigamarole like the author, I added in several bags of Walmart frozen peas and cans of tuna so I wouldn’t face limits in concocting meals with my 10 boxes of Walmart’s best.

This was all before I realized there was a hefty tip added in – and I swear, I look for that crap, so I don’t think it was there until afterward. I noticed it when I got a message from the app saying, “thanks for tipping your driver $7”.

Sounds suspect, but wudevs. I’m certainly not stingy with tips, but this just seemed like a shady situation. Plus, it was the Walton family…you can’t honestly think they respect or value their customers any more than their employees. That $7 tip was probably a 70/30 split with the family.

But that’s neither here nor there, really.

What’s both here and there?

It was…good!

Foundational snobbery shooketh.

Before reading this article, I wouldn’t say I had an opinion about boxed Mac and Cheese so much as an awareness for what I was in the mood for. Did I want an unadulterated experience? If so, that meant a splurge on the Velveeta cheese sauce in the box variety. If I was shooting for more of a White Trasherole meal, a box of the powdered cheese stuffs would do just fine.

I was enough of a snob about it to know that was a line that didn’t blur much. I might add peas to the Velveeta but never tuna. But that was the end of my snobbishness.

I had also sampled enough to know that the Amy’s brand organic was pretty lackluster, yet ran about the same price as the Velveeta counterpart. For powdered cheese! Who do you think you are, Amy?!?

Any of the GF varieties I’d ever tried were flat out hot garbage. The reviewer shared my views on this…or at least bore them out with his rating system.

Given that level of situational awareness on the topic, I have to admit to my surprise on the Walmart brand. If I had to find a point of dissatisfaction, it would be…appropriately esoteric. Something like their frozen peas stayed too crunchy, with almost a dryness inside – regardless of how long I cooked them. That or, more specific to the key component, the pasta seems starchier than other boxed pasta.

See? Esoteric.

How much fucking Mac and Cheese do you have to prepare to know how the starchiness manifests while cooking?

Well, I don’t know. I just know two things: A) I’ve cooked a lot of this stuff; and B) starch content affects the bubbles in the boil – the more starch the pasta releases, the bigger the bubbles get in the boiling water.

Oftentimes, this manifests as a slimy film around the waterline of the pot that dries kind of like sunburnt skin. But with the Walmart brand, it’s more like a paste around the waterline. In a People of Walmart level of appropriateness, it’s kind of the same level of repulsive as talking to someone with an eye booger or that white film in the corners of their mouth.

Given those visuals, I usually rinse my pasta, since my body doesn’t have the best reaction to pasta or gluten or starch or something. But I’m an intrepid non-gourmand, so I’m not letting that stop me! And, lest any of that mental imagery curb your enthusiasm around trying this, well…feast your eyes on this lil parting gift again and go forth:

It’s worth the…adventure? Go ahead, save a buck!

Now, if someone writes an article about Walmart having good wine? I don’t wanna know! I’m happy enough with my Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet wines that I have yet to explore what Rib swears is a good selection and pricing paradigm at the Costco. Stay in your lane, Walmart.

Call me backlogged. Or more of a problematic Mac and Cheese consumer than drinker – bet ya didn’t see that rationalization coming.

Sample This…

I Can’t Have It All?

Part 2: What the hell was I thinking?

Damn universe, always teaching me lessons…like crippling humility.

So, there I was…having most of it. Gently nudged into balance by the Silver Fox. I’d gotten Angela all spruced up for her annual check-in with Lyft, but was focused more on those other pillars that make me feel like a normal person productive: writing and exercising.

No big news on the writing front.

Yet….

Couple blog posts. I re-read my prime WIP, by way of seeing where I need to tweak formatting before I hit publish. That’ll happen this month.

For sure.

So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.

Also something?

I exercised twice as many days in March as I had in February. That ain’t nothing. April’s looking good, too, there’s a Class Every Day challenge and I’m on track. But balanced old Xtopher is keeping in mind that some days will be ride days, others will be strength…but mixed in will be days that are just a longer than my usual 5 minute post-ride stretch classes or even yoga classes.

Balance.

Also helpful? And this is where all that foreshadowing nonsense comes in: I got de-platformed by Lyft.

You read that right. Boy, they rogered me but good. Real good.

But that’s another blog.

I chose to look at it optimistically. The removal of a barrier to a balanced day.

The thing is, though, my temp gig doesn’t pay that well. I mean, I can’t complain, it’s not minimum wage – which I’ve certainly done as I explore non-career level employment. And it pays the bills. And-and, in a real Pinocchio twist, they started making sounds about converting me from a temp role to a real boy job.

The pay talk…we’ll see. I’m looking at it as a positive – even though the talk happened on April 1st. That’s just how my life goes. It was a good talk.

Except, the universe being the lesson teacher that it is, I was de-platformed by Lyft after dumping about $3k into little repairs for Angela that I’d been putting off. That was the month after the surprise $2500 I’d put into her in January, no less.

And after all that I had boldly (ie: no drink in hand) faced my taxes.

The day after I’d done my first draft of the taxes was the day I got the dry fuck from Lyft.

I’ll tell ya…I don’t believe in god, but I fully embrace the notion behind the phrase “If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan”.

And that’s what I had done. Made a financial plan that included making quarterly payments to the Feds for my $11k tax bill.

Thank god it was only a first draft. The second draft is a much less traumatic $8k, but it’ll still require an episiotomy after my main revenue stream gave me the same treatment it gave the driver that raped a passenger here in Oregon.

That seems fair. My punishment is the same as a rapist. My crime? I got two speeding tickets in a 12 month period. Yeah, well stick with “sounds fair”.

More on that later, I’m sure. You know how loquacious I can be when I get going on something.

Now, look…I may be seriously fucked right now, but I’m all Mr Bright Side, damnit! Even if that just means I jump off the bridge with the best view in town – that’s a tough one here in Portland – and don’t take anyone else out with me.

So that naive dumbass Mr Bright Side fella is looking at this as a way to achieve balance. Less opportunities for proChristination. Fewer distractions.

Bright side. Mr. Me.

But since my temp job doesn’t keep me in the happy hour budget I like, tax debt or no, nor does it afford the luxurious $30 treats Mistress Myrtle prefers…I need a second income stream.

Reluctantly, I signed up to be a delivery old man boy with DoorDash.

I hate it. It’s boring. It does give me that “in service to others” paycheck I found I missed after leaving retail. So, that’s a plus. And it pays around $7-10 more and hour than the temp job, so there’s that, too.

But it’s sooooo fucking boring.

Bright side? I can really only tolerate doing 5 deliveries in a shift. More than that is excruciating. Ok, that last part wasn’t very bright side, I admit. But, dashing out to do 5 deliveries after work a few nights a week and then a double or triple on a – singular – weekend day leaves me plenty of time for happy hour hangouts during the week – and it gives my budget the wiggle room to offset said indulgence. It leaves me the time for writing and exercising.

All. That.

There’s plenty to be grateful for. And since I hate it, the ~20 hours I give it each week balances my books. Well, excluding the G-men obligation. I might have to see if there’s a niche market for barely out of shape old men on OnlyFans to solve that problem. God only knows what weird shit passing as erotic that The Gays are lapping up these days.

Fucking morons.

But I think I’ve got a third draft of my taxes in me. I just need to make a phone call first. I think we all know how long I could drag that task out. So I’ll also file an extension…sometime between April 14th and 17th.

It’s good to have a plan.

And goals. Since my goals are work, exercise, write and not “pay less in taxes than Trump” I think I’m in a good place.

Fuck, being optimistic is a weird feeling. I should’ve stretched more before this post. Anyone else miss grumpy old Xtopher?

Don’t worry, he’ll be around. Until then, cheers to the bright side and cheers to you for reading. Thanks!

Look how my thigh is about the same size as my thumb in that pic. You go, Chicken Legs McGee!

I Can’t Have It All?

I Can Have It All!

Part 1: Everything’s fine!

I creep into every week with a simple goal – to have a day or several where I succeed in all three pillars of what I consider a “good day”. I want to make some money, exercise and write.

That’s it. Nothing earth shattering. No outrageous goals like cure cancer before lunch.

You may wonder how I struggle to accomplish this. Like, why is my weekly goal “a day or several” and not something more aggressive reasonable like “at least three days a week”?

The answer is simple: go fuck yourself.

Wait. That came out wrong.

I used to run, run, run and go, go, go. All day. I did that for 30+ years, starting in high school, no less!

Now I’m tired. Actually, I’m not just tired…I’m fucking tired.

And after leaving my retail management career behind after 30+ years, I was ready to rest. I liked my little income setup: Lyft 25-ish hours a week and keeping an iron in the temp job fire to keep things fresh. My average for temp placements was 2/year, which I was fine with.

I was a little less fine when I got my W2 for last year’s temp assignments and saw that I’d earned around $1700 in 2021. And that mindset is never the right time to pick up the phone when your temp wrangler calls.

But I did, didn’t I?

Because I’m a dumbass.

Which is how I ended up on assignment in early February. It’s full-time, which I hate because I frankly make more driving. Plus a 40 hour/week commitment seems so vulgar now. But I’m getting used to it.

Stubbornly.

Case in point, I was still committed to getting my minimum $500 in ride earnings in each week after this temp job came through. That goal actually wasn’t much of a problem, most weeks I was clearing four digits. I swear, with Lyft, if you download the app they practically automatically send you $500/week. I think if you go longer than one week without managing to earn over $500, they send someone to check in on you.

What I’m saying is that it’s pretty much a sure thing. People gotta go places, you’re going to make money. I’m ok with that.

Until…the Silver Fox ruined everything. Root of all evil, that guy.

I met him at our local after work one day when he’d come back up to town. Him being all pro-me, he was apologetic or overly grateful or something…stressing that he didn’t want to keep me from making money.

Ooh, foreshadowing!

But I assured him everything was fine. I’d overachieved prior to his visit, so it turned out that Bob’s now my uncle. In assuring him I was ready for a rest – there’s that foreshadowing again – I spilled my prior week’s Lyft earnings to him.

Amazed, he asked how long that took me.

Me: I dunno…like 30 hours? Nah. Less! I dunno…I was getting up at 430 if I couldn’t sleep and going out for the early bonus hours before plugging in to work at 8. Then doing a little driving after work on some days, too. Oh, and then Friday and Saturday!

SF: And you worked 40 hours on top of that doing the payroll thing?

Me: <raises glass to self> Yupperz.

SF: Geez! You worked 70 hours last week!

Me: <blinks cluelessly>. That can’t be right.

SF: That’s amazing.

Me: It never occurred to me that I’d worked that much. Driving doesn’t feel like working. Not at all.

See? He’s obviously the devil.

Anyway, that also drove home the point that my stubbornness had over-corrected and was keeping me from succeeding at accomplishing my other metrics: writing and exercising.

Shift my focus, did I.

Plus, Angela needed some spa days. I’d been putting off my oil change and replacing a fog light some malcontent had popped out of my bumper last summer during our…protests.

Who objects to a fog light being in a bumper where it belongs?!? That’s what I want to know. Stupid protester.

Anyway, I book a few days in the shop for the car and dial back the driving.

Ratchet up my workouts – which had gotten ridiculously infrequent. Like less than two/week.

I still struggled to write. I posted a couple of blogs and opened my laptop to check on a draft…the shock of which nearly fried my laptop.

What? It was a long pandemic.

But I still have WIPs to get out on “in progress” status. The Gays aren’t big readers, so it’s really only for my own sense of accomplishment. It still bothers me that they are languishing there in WIP status. That’s on me. No one reads them? That’s on someone else.

Shockingly, that stubborn streak of mine asserted itself in a strangely non-self-sabotaging manner. I started choosing to exercise or write versus choosing to drive, aka: proChristinate.

It was oddly liberating.

And motivating.

Maybe I could manage to have it all several days a week after all?!?

Tune in soon. See if that next shoe that drops is a platform heel with a goldfish living in it or a cross-trainer that washed up on the shores of the Puget Sound with an amputated foot still in it.

Yeah, I think we all know which way this is going for foolishly optimistic old Xtopher….

I Can Have It All!

Well, Now I Feel…

Something.

Bad?

Nostalgic?

Accomplished?

Formerly accomplished?

Probably that last one. So…thanks, Facebook Memories.

Three years?!? How has it been that friggin’ long already…since I’ve had a date?

Kidding. Trying/not trying.

But I guess it’s just one more reminder that it’s been a long pandemic. If we factor those two years out, then it’s only been one year!

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make hay out of the forced free time we all gained with the 2020 lockdowns. In April, I started NaNoWriMo – despite having two WIPs from prior NaNos still waiting for completion, then didn’t finish. Again.

I think I got derailed after a Twitter battle with a local stripper, who I’m sure knew nothing of my existence until I dared to correct him on his feed. Then I was all he could focus on, earning me featured status in his social media stories where he called me old and ugly. Not to mention a failed writer.

The young people are so woke – which seems to manifest with being disagreeable and combative. That’s regardless of the validity of their initial point. What moxy.

Sure, I’d only finished three books at that point, clearly, that’s failure in the eyes of a stripper who leaves the stage in a thong.

I actually finished all tasks associated with my job title, son. I have to imagine that a stripper’s job isn’t complete until they are clothes free. But what do I know? When I was a young man, tracing on one’s flesh was viewed differently than it is today – and I appreciate the evolution of sex work from villainized and humiliating to artistic expression and empowering.

This kid was – pardon the entendres – a dick.

Ultimately, that all stopped when he blocked me – the penultimate admission that he was wrong. The ultimate expression being actually saying it. But this is hardly the United States of Accountability, let alone Admittingyouwerewrong.

Anyway, as this was going on, I flirted with the idea of going to one of his shows and tipping him one of my books – yeah, I’ve got a few copies laying around. My overt grumpapotamus self imagined reading wasn’t high on his hobby list, see also: how he got to his current level of misery in his life.

Judgy.

The women strippers I meet driving with Lyft are all – every damned last one of them – such interesting people. Very engaging. Great stories. The male strippers I meet are all cunts. And not in that cool English slang type of way. At best, they look at me, and treat me like, I’m an ATM. Not that I go to strip clubs often…none of them have palatable beers.

I also considered going and tipping him $.02, since me giving him my figurative two cents was what set him off in the first place. Ultimately, I decided my absence was the best action for me.

Still determined to make some productive hay out of the lockdown, I pivoted to another project I’d been kicking around. When I finished my third book, it came in at a whopping 530-ish pages. I hardly consider myself a gay George R. R. Martin, so I sought out opinions from a few beta readers. They all told me it was fine.

But that length made printing costs pretty high and I think the lowest price I could charge was $19…and that was with me making less than a buck a copy. I knew there was a logical plot break that I could use as a kind of cliffhanger if I chose to split this into two books, I just hadn’t.

But with one half finished draft from April’s NaNo making me feel guilty, I decided this was the perfect time to tackle that split.

Obviously.

And I did it!

Well, “did it” so long as completing the split and edit of the first half. I knew I needed to flesh out the second half to beef it up a bit. It had originally suffered under the pressure of me knowing the page count was running high for one book. This was my chance to flesh it out.

But my first goal was to get the newly shortened second installation in my No One Of Consequence series back up online. Then I hit a formatting snag. Just a teensy one, but it proved to be overwhelming to my lockdown self and I never went back to finish it. I couldn’t imagine jumping to the third installment to get that story wrapped up, it just seemed wrong.

Four frustrating months go by. I spent a lot of that time considering the optics of dying during a pandemic with unfinished works. I thought it looked pretty good. Other artists somehow pull it off.

Margaret Mitchell.

Elvis.

No, wait…Hemingway! That’s a better comparison. I’m a drinker, not a druggie. And we’ve established the fact that 500+ page books are not my style, so…yeah. Hemingway.

That was probably my biggest self-soothe of the pandemic.

It carried me through the next three months. Right up to the next NaNoWriMo event, the big one in November. Now I can finish!

Or…start another work.

The following April?

Ok, this was pure motivation. And adrenalin.

I had just gotten my Peloton and was jazzed to pick up the autobiographical trilogy I’d fancied when I wrote Dating Into Oblivion. When I wrote that, I was nearing the end of a year long blogging theme that had resulted from a friendly intervention at my 50th birthday party.

Rude.

As a result of the collective will of my well-intentioned friends, I leaned into a blog theme I had just finished that I hashtagged fitfy. It was a play on fifty, an age I had been determined to reach with some progress toward accepting my aging self with a healthier attitude toward diet and exercise.

I’d been having trouble forgiving myself for not being able to eat and exercise like an idiot twenty-something. Naturally, my 51st birthday had involved me tapping a keg of my favorite beer at my then-favorite bar.

Anyway, knowing I had that “fitness in my fifties” notion in the back of my head, I decided to tackle dating in my fifties. It gave me something to do, at any rate. I figured the trilogy could round out with working in my fifties. It was a notion I rather fancied.

The problem was, there wasn’t much I could actually do since I’d just gotten my bike. I considered harvesting stories from my year of fitfy blog posts, as I had when I put together Dating Into Oblivion. But I considered that would have been only a portion of the project. I needed new content to complete the story.

Another partial credit NaNo for old Xtopher. PaCreNaNo? Kind of sounds like a pancreatic medical crisis.

Maybe that stripper was right.

Shudder.

Possibly, but improbable. Maybe what I needed was the motivation of writing something people might be attracted to en masse. My current accomplishments and WIP library all featured what I call gay shit – and I hate to break it to you, but The Gays aren’t known collectively as big readers.

It’s the pandemic – everybody else was pivoting, why not me? That sounds like a riff of a Cranberries album.

I picked a theme close to every Portland NIMBY’s heart: the homeless. Came up with a mystery plot. I even created a nom de plume based off of my parents middle initials and old world naming paradigms – JT Robertson.

Finally…in November of 2021, I completed a NaNoWriMo! Have I published? No. I’m mentally kicking it around, polishing it up. Completely retooling the voice. Flipping the plot 180 degrees.

Y’know…the basic writer’s nightmare.

April’s NaNo is weeks away.

Weeks.

I’m determined to finish something from my WIP list before adding anything else to it. I figure at this point, if my goal is to have a WIP library consisting of a prime number of works – it isn’t but I need to set boundaries of some kind – then I either need to finish one or add four!

I think seven is enough of a library. Let’s see if this Facebook Memories shaming is enough of a motivator to get NOOC2 published and back online. Lord knows that providing airplane reading material for a friend’s trip to Africa last month wasn’t it, so fingers crossed.

Sure enough, I woke up this morning, uncovered my laptop…and started organizing my tax receipts. Then I got this text

RUDE!!

So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.

To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.

Well, Now I Feel…