505

If numbers could stalk, I’m convinced that 505 would be my stalker. The anecdotal backup for this suspicion goes back a good – or occasionally good – dozen years.

Back to Rib.

When we started dating and I found out his family was from a reservation in New Mexico (he was born and raised in SoCal, but spent summers on the rez growing up) I honestly didn’t give it too much thought. If anything, it was more a matter of, “Well, that has to be better than either of the Dakotas, right?”

Anyway, my home state’s area code is 503 and I found it interesting that New Mexico’s is 505. That’s all it was, though, a passing point of interest that amused my brain, that our area codes were adjacent.

Ironically, Rib’s also the high water mark in this story. Deservedly, so – don’t get me wrong. Our relationship was good. Fulfilling, even. Eventually it just ran its course and instead of letting it die a slow death, I pulled the plug on it. We’re still friends, too, so like I said…he’s earned his position at the top of the heap in this story.

I moved back to Portland a year or so after Rib and I parted ways. Shortly after that, I started dipping my toe back into the toilet disguised as a pool that is dating in Gay Kulture. It’s my usual rhythm, too: I was usually single about half as long as my prior relationship. In Rib’s case, that penciled out to about two years.

For me, not him. He was single for about three weeks. I never said the transition from dating to friends was smooth.

Literally the first guy I showed an interest in turns out to be a transplant from New Mexico.

…aaaand enter the Broken Poet. My dumb ass thinks it’s a second chance at the 505.

Three chaotic months later, he’s run off back to New Mexico to live with his dad.

Flash strangers forward about six months and I start running into the same guy all around town. Jeo. All around town is overstating it. I rarely leave my quadrant, so more like all around my neighborhood.

Mind you, this is not his neighborhood, so it’s fairly remarkable. But we share coffees, the occasional slice of pizza and even rarer adult beverage. He’s not much of a drinker, but down to watch me drink – not something I’m a fan of.

My favorite moment with him was introducing him to my favorite guilty pleasure – Ground Kontrol. It’s a classic video game arcade in Old Town, just across Broadway from my place. As we walked in, I finally noticed the address of the business immediately nextdoor: 505 NW Couch.

Hilarious. Of course, I pointed it out and mentioned he oughta feel right at home.

Turns out, the reason I ran into him all around my hood is because he works here. I was usually catching him before or after a shift – or in between work shifts. Turns out, both of his jobs were in my hood.

Gotta love gumption.

Anyway, it was fun. I was enjoying getting to know someone without the unspoken agenda of getting them between the sheets and then between their legs.

Growth.

All courtesy of me not being particularly attracted to him – probably not busted up enough for me, knowing my type – and him being emotionally unavailable. Turns out, he shared one day, that someone back home had kind of strung him along and he was still emotionally tethered to him.

I had found out early on that he was also from the 505 – as I was now openly calling it. It would be a couple more months before he told me the guy’s name and I eventually figured out it was the Broken Poet.

This could only happen to me.

Anyway. I wish I had a better lock on my WordPress archives so I could find the Broken Poet posts to link for you. But I don’t, so you give the search a try. Maybe it’ll work for you from the hashtag menu when I post this.

Jeo didn’t get a hashtag. I don’t know is it’s because we never really dated or if it’s because he wasn’t the typical Lost Boy that Gay Kulture tends to barf out at me. I’m leaning toward the latter. I enjoyed our time as friends and hangout buds. He just didn’t have a ton of spare drama overflowing onto my sneakers.

Refreshing. To be sure.

Until he kissed me out of the blue one day.

Caught me off guard, he did. I wasn’t offended, I just wasn’t prepared…and I don’t think he understood the difference between the two responses.

I’m going to jump ahead now. I’ll shorthand the interim with this: there were other guys from the 505 that I came in across and didn’t suffer, I’m less optimistic about the caliber of person that area code can produce than I was back with Rib. Hell, when I was a hiring manager, I had to actively set aside my misgivings about the residents of the 505 to avoid them coloring my decisions and potentially putting my employers at risk. I’m glad I’m either self-aware or professional enough to know to do so, though.

Flashing forward to the fall of 2020, I find myself down a “You busy?” fella. Someone to bang out with – now that I’m openly retired from dating. It’s not so much about efficiency as it is about boundaries around my own self-care. I can’t put it as succinctly as “come, cum, go”, because I do enjoy an intimate connection with my occasional erection. But I’m not investing long term here.

I’m sampling the menu, not buying the restaurant.

Enter BiBoi.

I’ve done a 180 on my attitude toward bisexual men. When I was younger and seeking a relationship, they bothered me. Most likely as ungettable. Now that I’m post-dating and more into relating while mating, they hold a functional and appealing disqualifier. Or, rather, I do: no titties. Or whatever it is that appeals to those fellas who can’t commit to a single gender dating pool.

We’ve been on and then off and now on again since November of 2020. Our first run was populated by interrogatories like “How long was your longest” this situation and “Do you think I’m maybe just mostly gay” type things, which I deftly batted aside like I’m King Kong atop the Empire State Building and they were attacking bi-planes instead of questions from a bi-guy.

The notable break came when he started dating a rack seriously and failed at juggling me to meet his needs that she could not.

“To thine own grumpy old man-ness, be true”, Me

Turns out, I’m not only his “what’s missing in his relationship” but also his adult, because when she dumped him…back, he came. Not for the sex, which he eventually got, but for the perspective, methinks. I don’t tell people what they want to hear. But I do tell them what maybe they need to hear.

He was in a mood to hear it this time around. To his credit.

Oh, and did I fail to mention he’s from a small town just north of the border in an area code known as the 505?

Sorry, that’s just bad storytelling.

Seriously, though…I am left to wonder why this isn’t my second question to someone. First, who are you? Second, from where are you?!?

Out, it always does, though. Surprised by it, less and less am I. Because, of course you are from the 505 if you run into me.

Ironically, that’s not where this story ends – even though BiBoi is texting me now that he’s off work.

Nono. As my neighbor, CrazyTown, has ridden further and further off into the insanity sunset, I’ve become more and more interested in leaving my building before I become associated with a tragic headline.

This has manifested in my joking to the Silver Fox that I was going to just move into his condo across the park. Mostly, that threat was meant to spur him into recamping to Portland from his ex-wife’s country estate. I get that being decamped there provides him with stimulation – not that kind – that he doesn’t get from life in the city: a free range dog, gardening, ok…farming, hot tubbing under the stars, non-tent-dwelling neighbors, no neighbors. Things the city life can’t offer.

Still, he has a two-decade long history with every older person’s most significant of others: doctors. If not for them, I might never have seen him after his pandemic escape. And his condo just sits there. Empty, aside from the every-other month-ness of his doctor appointments or even rarer relatives coming through town and crashing there for a night or two.

His counteroffer to my idea of establishing squatters rights? Use his Fox Network of relationships, both established and newly formed in pursuit of a friend’s in-need-ness, to find me a place in his building that is not…his.

Understandable.

The not-yet-exhausted option he’s sourced?

Yup…unit 50-fucking-5.

Because, of course it should all culminate there for me. If it happens, I don’t see myself getting out of it alive. It’s too neatly wrapped up.

Not that it comes with an executioner, by any means. But, don’t be surprised if it did!

No, I just mean that with the familiarity I have with his neighbors after running into them in elevators and hallways and (unescorted by a building resident) on the rooftop deck and on sidewalks and bars over the past couple decades, it would feel like home.

For as long as I myself, alone (of course) shall live.

There’s a certain fucked up I don’t know what-ness about the potential. We’ll see how the 505 saga ends…

505

Tire(d)

The Silver Fox says I have the worst luck with tires of anyone he’s ever known. Despite his proclivity for hyperbole and my natural resistance to it when I hear it…I’m inclined to take that statement at face value.

To wit: last Sunday night, I was driving up Sandy Blvd on the east side of the river and was getting excited that my nav was turning me onto NE 57th, as that 5-point intersection was this epic entity during my childhood in that neighborhood. I was considering whether my nav would take me off 57th onto Fremont and right past my childhood home on the corner of NE Fremont and 60th.

That’s when I heard was the airbrakes of a semi or bus misfiring nearby.

Nope.

Instead of getting louder or fading away as the vehicle approached or receded, I was noticing more of a cyclical sound. I shut off my radio.

Then I opened my window. It was like a pressure release valve.

Then my dash gave my clueless ass the answer.

Low Tire Pressure.

“Rear drivers side? That’s different.” I’m not even surprised by that alarm from Angela anymore. No, it’s the location that surpass me.

And it was surprising. Of the three sets of tires I’d had since buying Angela three years ago – ooh, foreshadowing! – the majority of leaks I’ve had have been on the rear passenger side tire.

Hooray for noticing patterns.

It was dark. It had briefly stopped raining, and I had a leak in my tire that I could hear over traffic.

Gamely, I got my compressor out and tried refilling my tire. I could hear sir hissing out of the tire over the high pitched rumble of the compressor.

Because of my track record with leaks, I carry a can or two of fix-a-flat with me. I put it into the tire and pulled forward a hundred yards to spread it around and hopefully coat the hole. Reattaching the compressor, I tried filling the tire again to no avail.

I called a Lyft. I hadn’t opened either the driver or the rider apps since they boondoggled me off their driver platform last February, but it had been on my mind lately, since I become eligible to drive for rideshares in Portland again at the end of this month. I was conflicted for the duration of the ride, listening to the driver’s stories of mixed successes. Casually, I attributed her moderate enthusiasm to her own situation, mostly not driving when demand is highest because of her kid. The right decision – for her.

The next two days were absolute hell at work. Year end in a Payroll department of one…what can I say?

I was supposed to go into the office on Wednesday, but my car was still sitting on the roadside in northeast Portland about 70 blocks from me. Reluctantly, I asked my boss to use one of my banked holidays from working Christmas (observed) and Winter holiday (it was a payroll week) so I could get this taken care of. Unfortunately for me, it was another payroll week and I had to be available Wednesday morning to make any last minute corrections before she submitted the batch, but I could take a half day.

After my recent luck with tires, I’d taken the advice of the Silver Fox as well as a fellow blogger and stayed away from the Continental tire brand, which also meant staying away from the conveniently located Les Schwab tires, since that was the only brand they carried for my vehicle – and special ordering tires there was crazy expensive. This is how I ended up with my third set of tires – Bridgestones – coming from the Costco, courtesy of The Fox’s membership…in the next town over.

At least they had been on sale! I think the whole ordeal had come in several hundred dollars below the cost of the special order at Les Schwab, and under a grand. Oh, the winning!

Not so convinced now so much as I had been that Continentals were to blame as I was beginning to come around to the Silver Fox’s thinking that I had a tire jinx – not to mention the two courtesy patches I’d gotten from my neighborhood tire shop recently free of charge – I called Les Schwab to ask about my options. The thing is, I’d heard the one-tire tragedy often enough during my time waiting at Les Schwab for prior patches to know: one does not simply replace a single tire.

I ended up speaking to the manager of the shop. He told me that 30k miles into an 80k warranty put me in an iffy place. If I was at 70% tread depth, I could just replace the one – which surprised me. Then he hit me with the story I was more familiar with: with an all wheel drive car like mine, the recommendation was always to replace the set.

I’d convinced myself that part of the schtick was always to leverage their in-house financing. That’s the part that always made me feel creepiest to witness.

Then he said two things that surprised me.

First, that I should stop by their shop over on 29th & Sandy and pick up a tread depth gauge since it was close to where my car was stranded. If I was over 70%, I should take it back to Costco for a warranty replacement. Second, if it was under 70%, bring it to them because the warranty wouldn’t matter and there was no point in paying extra to have my car towed further to Costco.

So I did.

I’d forgotten how much I liked riding the bus in Portland. Reluctantly, I got off at 29th instead of riding the bus all the way up Sandy to where I hoped Angela was still in one piece.

When I asked for a tread depth gauge, the person I was talking to immediately started walking toward the door, all assurances that he could help me. Knowing my car wasn’t in their lot, I followed him, since my choice was talk to his back or talk to no one. Once he realized I wanted to borrow or buy one, he started talking to me like he wasn’t sure he was looking at the more dominant of my two heads.

Great. I’d gotten off my bus 30 blocks early for nothing. I checked my phone app and walked toward the next stop along my route. When I arrived, I saw the bus was still five minutes away and decided to walk to the next stop.

Then I remembered what I didn’t love about riding transit as the bus passed me a block from the next stop three minutes before it was supposed to be at the previous stop. Fine. It’s only 20 more blocks, I’ll just walk it.

It started raining.

I really don’t know how I don’t win a lottery. You’d think my cumulative bad luck would circle back to good luck at some point.

Knowing how long it had taken to get a tow when my alternator/battery had crapped out on me at the beginning of 2022, I decided to use my spare time setting up a tow. The guy told me 30 minutes, just as I was closing the last block or two to where I’d left Angela’s fate to the whims of Portland’s mercurial population.

Surprisingly, she was intact. Well, mostly.

Since it was now daylight – and I had 24 minutes yet to kill – I started looking for the source of the leak strong enough for me to hear and feel.

Of course, I had to pull forward…

I had some time to kill before RedKing towing showed up, so I texted my roadside savior from last year – Diezel – to tell him that inflation was fake news. It was only costing me $20 more this year to have my car towed. He then told me that it was exactly one year ago to the day that he’d helped me off the side of the road. Well, him and another tow truck.

Does that strike anyone else as weird timing?

Anyway. Two more surprises: first, the guy at RedKing towing with the Russian accent didn’t name his company RedKing as a nod to his heritage, his last name is Redkin. Second, he was on fucking time! And took less than 10 minutes to get my car on his flatbed – versus the 35 it took last time.

Once I got to the Costco, I learned they didn’t have my tire in stock, but could have it there the next day, Thursday. They were oddly optimistic they could patch my tire, but ordered a full set anyway. A move I was certain was done just to drive me into a conspiracy spiral. They told me I would be ready the next day and they’d call me.

Unfortunately, they called at 4:40 and I had plans to drink my dinner with a friend at 6, so I put them off til Friday after work.

Oh, and they had to replace the tire, but the road hazard warranty covered most of the cost of the tire do it was only $168 for that tire.

But they had to replace the other rear tire, too, at a minimum since the tread was at 50%. For whatever reason, the road hazard clause only covers one tire, despite the pressure to replace the set. My total for the two tires was going to be $447. I was strangely relieved, even though I was having trouble figuring out how the second tire cost $279 and the warranty covering $111 of the first tire was most of the cost.

I came to to the question of whether I wanted them to go ahead and replace the front tires since they had an extra day…and had ordered the full set of tires. Oh, and the recommendation for all-wheel…yeah, yeah.

That would be $1018…somehow costing even more per tire.

“No, but I imagine I’ll be back for them soon enough, given my luck.” I was not down for a fourth full set of tires in 35 months.

My tech told me that to that end, they were putting the patched passenger side tire in my trunk so I’d have a spare if one of the front tires went south. I kind of appreciated that. They didn’t have to do that.

At the same time, I don’t want to encourage my bad tire carma, so I’m not sure I really want it. I have it, though.

More specifically, the Silver Fox’s parking spot will have it as soon as I unload it. Hahahaha.

What? If he could blame Les Schwab for selling me bad tires before, he talked me into Costco tires. Ergo, he’s clearly complicit and can store the tire!

No? Fine, agree to disagree.

Tire(d)

Irresolved

Welp, it’s 8:38 on Sunday morning. I’ve been up since 5. 4:30, really – I got up to pee and optimistically tried to sleep more before I had to get up at 6:30 to take the Silver Fox to the airport so he could anon to Tahiti.

8:38 on Sunday morning and I’ve been up since 5.

I’ve read the news.

Exercised.

Showered.

Completed said airport run.

Filled Angela’s tank.

…and called myself a dumb bitch three times. I’m averaging once an hour today. I suspect it’s having nothing to do for the foreseeable hours remaining in the day.

So I thought I’d do something productive to snap myself out of that self-effacing doldrum.

Can you have a single doldrum? Maybe that’s a torpor.

Neverthemess…I debated asking my parents to breakfast, but I don’t want to drive in this halfhearted rain, so I’m not going to make them do it.

That kind of leaves writing. Am I going to finish my Christmas week post? Finally? No. No, I am not.

I’m jumping into ‘23!

I’m not one for resolutions – or proper English simply for the sake of proper English, hence the nonsense title of this post – but at the same time, I realized in the shower today that I was presently living out a fairly common resolution.

Call it wasting less or doing something for the environment, but that’s what I’ve found myself in the middle of. (There’s some more bad English for ya.)

As I was heading out to pick up The Fox, I had the thought that I should take my redeemable recycling with me to drop off after. I had to stop at Freddy’s anyway to get Myrtle more cat food on my way back from the airport – her breakfast sounded like only two or three kibbles when the feeder went off at 5. Then I surprised myself when I realized I was short of my two bag usual for a trip to recycling and decided to leave it. Besides, who knew whether the Silver Fox would have bags that needed to go in Angela’s cargo area? Best not to risk it.

This is when I realized I’d left my fob to The Fox’s building in my car last night, so I’d have to have him meet me at the door to get in. That was dumb bitch #1.

Then as we were driving to the airport in the dark, drizzly wee hours, I was struggling to see clearly and remembered that I’d intended to bring my glasses so I could see better, but didn’t have them: dumb bitch #2.

On my way home, I took backroads to avoid the blurry freeway. This also took me right by the home of the bi-guy I’ve been banging out with lately. That was kind of a fun realization – but now I’m horny. Sadly, I’m withholding with him because last time I saw him he left a mark like we’re fucking high schoolers.

Do I seem amused?

I stopped off for gas before hitting the grocery store. I’d been at 31 miles to empty when I left for the airport and was at 11 when I made it back to my ‘hood.

Then I forgot to stop at the store for cat food: dumb bitch #3.

Crap! I just realized I’d miscounted my dumb bitches, so that’s dumb bitch #5!

#4 was walking to the RiteAid up the street for cat food and not realizing they don’t open until 9 on Sundays. Staffing issues.

So, yeah…I need some positivity this morning. That required reflection, so I reviewed my day.

I had a shower victory this morning. Two, really, if you count showering so early in the day as a victory (I do). But I finally figured out the “right” number of swipes my shampoo bar requires for a good lather. It’s two.

Two.

I’d picked it up at Trader Joe’s last time I was there – purely on a lark. I’d been looking for a candle and struck out. But right next to where candles should have been was their personal care section and for $3.49, I figured why not give a shampoo bar a try? I knew I was getting close to empty on my current shampoo bottle at home., so this was also an opportunity to be proactive versus finding myself shampoo-less in the near future.

The first time I used it, I gave myself three swipes on each side of my head.

Waaay too much. I looked like a shampoo commercial on crack.

Plus side: this bar produces an insanely rich lather. I noticed this as it covered my shoulders and oozed toward my navel.

For the next week or so I regrouped at two swipes per side. Still too much, but I wasn’t mad since it smells so good! It also does an amazing job of pulling the prior day’s product off my hair, so why under-do it?

But this morning I was in a hurry – I know, up at 5 and end up rushing my shower to be on time, can you believe that didn’t earn me a dumb bitch? – and shaved a second or two off my shower by giving each side of my head one swipe.

Realizing that two swipes total was plenty left me looking at the bar in amazement. It looks barely touched after a week+ of daily use. At this rate, if it only lasts me six months, I’d be surprised. But in that half year, it’ll keep three plastic bottles out of my (non-redeemable) recycling.

Looking back on that made me feel pretty good. I felt even better when the reason behind me not having enough redeemable recycling to merit taking it with me when I left the house hit me.

I bought myself a soda stream late last year. I’m actually rather enjoying it. At first I was conflicted about it for political and environmental reasons.

It’s a company based in Israel, which is ire-some to some.

Plus, I don’t like bubbly water just for the sake of bubbles. Hence, the flavoring syrups in front of it. The Bubbly brand concentrates come in glass bottles and make around 12 liters. The larger containers say they make up to 9 liters, but I’ve only been using 3/4 the recommended dose, so they’ll each get me around 12 liters, too. So for the environmental price of two plastic bottles, I’m keeping about two dozen plastic bottles out of the system. Add another dozen for the glass bottle of flavorings and you’ve got quite an impact.

I’m ok with the return on that trade off.

I realized that over the course of a year, that will be hundreds less plastic containers coming out of my home. That made me feel pretty good.

And it all happened without setting out on a resolution spree.

Not bad for a dumb, ol’ bitch, eh?

Irresolved

Mental Venn Diagrams

I’ve been taking some deliberate time lately. Grabbing back what I can of “me” time versus running from work (from home) to social engagements immediately after. Or making a point of taking a lunch to workout and shower before the back half of my day instead of working from 8-5 (or later, many days) without taking a lunch break at all.

I’m not mad that the job I ended up signing on for keeps me engaged at that level. I’m just forcing myself to remember, my work is only one part of my identity and happiness.

To that end, sometimes I’ll leave work (from home) and meet friends – or not – for drinks, maybe dinner. Others, I’ll leave work (from home) and go do dinner deliveries for a couple hours to get out of the house for a bit.

The thing that was missing there wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Just really revealing itself last week – the week before my vacation.

Me time.

All of my activities involved being a participant with someone else. Not that I know the intent wasn’t there. I know I would intentionally set out take myself out for a solo drink often. Sometimes neighbors would drop in to the local watering hole. Others, just the staff would pull me out of my solo time to just be at zero, thinking Xtopher things and recharging my spirit, if you will, so I was ready to put my best self out into the world again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad about being world famous on my block. I just remember from my days of career management, I always had my me time.

I was missing it.

Since my usual activities weren’t providing the recharge I needed, I ripped a page out of the Silver Fox’s playbook and just started staying home. There’s a bit more to that, which I’ll get into later this week or this weekend, but I looked at what I was doing and made a conscious change to change my results.

Like a damn smarty.

It’s kinda hard to stay home. I don’t have a big place, and there’s literally a bookshelf dividing my desk from my couch. Ergo, if I’m looking to get away from work, and “get away” isn’t physically executed…what’s giving me that perceived distance?

Since I’d joined HelloFresh, there were two nights of cooking built in as that get away. That was nice. Keeping the kitchen clean from its newly increased full-function usage versus the usual fridge and microwave abuse it was accustomed to could provide a nice transition one night a week. Can’t say I was keen on turning that critical cleanliness as an escape mindset loose on the rest of my home, though.

It’s a mess.

Last night, in a fit of semi-boredom, I cleaned to metal light fixtures that hang over my kitchen bar. The years of cumulative dust and cat hair since their last cleaning – lacquered in place by kitchen grease now that I’ve taken up cooking again – made it quite a task. I’m not lying when I say each fixture took closer to ten minutes than five to clean. Since it was hands over shoulders work, that added some extra humility to the exercise.

But I needed it last night.

Why? Why did I need a couple 5-10 minute tasks?

To give my mind time to make decisions in the background while I was focused on something else.

It’s a good trick.

And there are just too many TV show options to be able to decide!

If I were a younger gay man – or just one interested in blending my DNA in with the rest of the Gay Herd – I’d have opened up the loathsome Grindr and used that to kill time. But I’d still bet that I’d stand out from the other livestock there by thinking about something while there…

Are you shocked my dilemma is essentially nonsense? What TV show to watch…this is a first world problem of the highest order.

Here’s the deal, though. Last week I’d watched My Policeman – more on that in another blog – and had seen Don’t Worry Darling available to stream on another recent scroll through my entertainment options. In that moment, as the credits rolled, I was able to ask myself, “Self, do you want to watch both of Harry Styles’ current cinematic offerings in one night?”

I quickly responded – reflexively, even – in the negatory. I also dismissed switching to Disney+ to watch The Eternals as some sort of Harry Styles Plan B (he’s in the end credit scene).

Somehow, my addled brain ended up watching the first Kelvin Universe Star Trek movie to scratch the itch I was feeling. It’s Harry Styles adjacent since Chris Pine plays Captain Kirk in Star Trek but also co-stars with Styles in Don’t Worry Darling. As an extra Venn moment, the teaser at the beginning of the film – the moment that we later find out was the break from the standard Trek canon to Kelvin Universe – is Kirk’s birth. Kirk’s dad is played by none other than Chris Hemsworth, known for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which The Eternals is a part.

Exhausting, right? And I didn’t even mention that Zoe Saldana plays Uhura in the Klein Star Trek films and Gamora in the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. See? I pulled a punch for you in describing my insanity.

It took more effort and time to type that out than it dI’d to process and execute in real time. And I mention that because yesterday I finally got around to watching Booksmart.

Amazing movie. It did a fantastic job of presenting a story that should be relatable across multiple generations. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

As the credits rolled I found myself thinking, “Should I watch Don’t Worry Darling? Wait. Didn’t I just watch it a while back?” You see, Booksmart was Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Darling is her sophomore effort.

This is why I needed to B-reel the question. I couldn’t recall whether I’d watched Don’t Worry Darling recently and I also wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate an afternoon/evening geeking out on one director. It’s neither star Trek nor Wars, so giving something multiple movies in a day elevates it.

So I cleaned light fixtures.

Ultimately, the media drama – not buzz, drama – surrounding Don’t Worry Darling made me decide to give it a watch. It was time to see the thing that created the opportunity for all this other stuff people were talking about to exist.

Couldn’t find it.

I was goading myself in an attempt to sharpen my focus or resolve to succeed because I knew I had seen it available recently. Did I need to rent it to play out my plan?

Nope. Wasn’t even available for rent on any of the streamers I have.

I popped over to IMDb to see where I could watch it. HBOMax. I don’t have that one, and I wondered if I’d seen it advertised to watch while watching House of the Dragon with the Silver Fox at his place. Didn’t seem likely, the last time we’d watched TV together was too far removed.

Maddeningly, I couldn’t find it.

Gave up, I did. Watched Star Trek: Into Darkness instead, I did.

And, no…it wasn’t because of the Uhura thing since the overlap didn’t exist. But since Benedict Cumberbacht plays Khan in this movie, it was enough to derail the fleeting impulse I had to pull up Disney+ and watch an Avengers et al movie – because Xtopher definitely does not watch one Marvel movie, it’s “Sayonara, rest of the week” if I start down that rabbit hole. So the MCU crossover double casting in Into Darkness satisfied the Marvel impulse while also finishing up the two best Kelvin Universe Trek films. Sorry, Star Trek: Beyond, you were…fine.

Interestingly enough, Beyond also dips into the MCU casting pool with Idris Elba as the bad guy. Crap. Guess now I have to watch it. It’s not like I have to get up early tomorrow, so…why not?

I guess this blog was tonight’s B-reel activity. How nice you got to experience that realization in real time right along with me.

Mental Venn Diagrams

The Blight

It started at the north end of my indoor garden, with my dracaena – Ming the Merciless. At the time, I attributed the yellowing and now darkened leaf tips to the attention Ming was getting from a truly merciless creature: Mistress Myrtle. She was quite keen on sitting on the edge of my TV console and rubbing her cheeks on Ming’s point tips. Eventually, she worked herself up into enough of a frenzy to take some live bites off the tips – which she then unate somewhere else in the house for me to clean up when I stumbled up (read: slipped on and nearly fell into) it.

But then that yellowing and darkening phenomenon spread to the side of Ming that Myrt couldn’t reach. Soon after, water just started running through the pot when I watered him – so I think the roots died and the plant is surviving off cannibalizing itself. If that’s something plants even do.

Then it started its spread south, this blight. It arrived at the other end of the TV console and hit Moppet.

At first, it – Moppet was <sniff!> agender – just dropped a couple leaves from the base. Again, Myrtle was my first suspect. I definitely allowed for some wildcard causes like trauma caused when I watered it, since the base leaves had to be moved in order to avoid water simply running off them and onto the floor; or, I’ve never seen a plant like Moppet before so maybe this was part of its growth process – dropping lower leaves and having more of a canopy of foliage.

Then I came home one day to find Moppet’s top half had broken off and fallen to the floor. There were some new leaves popping out around the base, but they are withering now, too. RIP: Moppet. I barely knew ye.

Still, these two situations I can accept. Either as the result of a simple numbers game at work or the likely more accurate result of my blind luck with plant keeping situationally running out. I’m not avid gardener, I just water the things, chat with them every now and again about world events and try to keep Myrtle from molesting them too aggressively.

Sure, every now and again I’ll take a stab at advance actives like repotting a plant or propagation. That’s definitely an exception to the daily routine.

But then this blight became a true curiosity. A phenomenon – and one that was not welcome.

It jumped from the TV console to Spiderella.

Spider plants are a curiosity in and of themselves to me. As a kid I could grow them like nobody’s business. As an adult, they die. Makes me wonder if mom was giving me an anonymous alley-oop in my youthful endeavors. She absolutely would because she wanted her kids to have confidence and accomplishments they could take pride in. A little behind the scenes assistance while I was at school wouldn’t surprise me – although, I’d like to know where it was when it came time to clean the gerbil cage.

Anyway, Spiderella was hit and declined quickly. Her crazy Liza inspired ‘do looks like it’s had one too many colorings applied in too short a time. That’s almost an overnight change…nearly as sudden as hair color changes themselves, no? This morning I trimmed off “The Kids” and put them in water to see if they’d root. Maybe something positive can still come of the sitch.

The weird thing is that if this would have started with Spiderella and moved north, I would have attributed it to changing temps. You see, my south wall is all windows and notoriously drafty. As the temps cooled – now dropping often into the 30s at night – it would have made sense for those closest to them to suffer a bit.

That’s not what happened, though.

Plus, it’s not like the inside temp in my place ever gets below 65 degrees. Still, maybe cool air from one direction and warm from the other just fucks unnecessarily with these poor plants’ sense of season and they don’t know what they’re supposed to do – so they die.

I think I just somehow blogged myself into moving when my current lease expires this coming spring. Luckily, I’ve been chiding the Silver Fox in an attempt to manipulate him into permanent residence in town by telling him I plan to move into his place during his Tahitian vacation in January, so…I’ve already got a plan! Plus, that would give me three months to proChristinate my move out cleaning. That’s a win-win.

I kid, of course. Except I really should think about moving at the end of this lease.

The issue with my drafty windows affects the whole stack, so the fix needs to be covered by the HOA and no one has even brought it up with the Board yet, so the solution is years away.

On top of that, I learned last Saturday night that I have a new upstairs neighbor. At midnight. Because he was singing in his bedroom loud enough to wake me up in mine.

The HOA Prez sent out an Unknown In The Building email that ended with us both learning he was the new renter above me. His email handle is Jeremy4Christ for Christ’s sake. The song he was singing loud enough to wake me in those wee hours was about his gun, so this is bound to be a shit show.

Pass.

I think I’ll just take my plants and myself – and, yes…even Myrtle – and find a new place. It shouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere with better weatherizing and peace of mind.

Y’know…where I’m the craziest person around. That I can live with.

The Blight

Grim ‘Rona

That’s as close to a portmanteau as I can promise y’all at the outset of this post. But even though I dodged it while it was all the rage – just like my refusal to watch Game of Thrones when everyone else was watching it – the coronavirus finally landed at my doorstep.

The weekend before Thanksgiving.

Because the universe likes to play for extra credit, it arrives on the first day of my vacation.

But I shall not be reapt, so Grim ‘Rona is what you get.

And you think I’m bitter. What kind of force of nature plays that dirty. So petty.

Like I said, in true “This could only happen to grumpy l, old Xtopher” fashion, it happened on a national holiday week, so I spent Thanksgiving alone, which should make the universe happy.

I’ll make a joke about dodging a Grim Reaper’s best efforts, but in reality, this was a shockingly low key event. So much so that I didn’t even think to take a home test until Sunday. By then my symptoms were nearly a memory.

Two days. That’s all the longer I suffered. I joked with my doc when we spoke that the side effects from my second vaccination were worse. Those lasted a full, miserable week. My symptoms consisted of two nights of fever and the dreams that too often accompany them and a cough so intense, I’d have believed I had consumption over COVID.

I’m also willing to chalk those dreams up to being my own pharmacist those first couple of nights. I’d been taking DayQuil that Friday afternoon, thinking I was just getting a cold. That evening, I switched to Tylenol. Then NyQuil around 8 pm.

None of these doses seemed to last through the window their directions prescribed. There was a lot of overlap in the efficacy potentials…which could explain what happened next.

I was in bed at 830 that first night. I may have (most certainly did) back up my NyQuil dose with a Tylenol PM before turning in. I left my radio on versus setting a fader to shut it off after an hour or two like I normally do. That ended up being the catalyst for a truly lost weekend.

Seriously, it was the radio, not the drug cocktail I had on board at bedtime – that was supplemented every time I got up. Remember, Friday nights my local station plays a program of 80s and 90s music from 8-midnight so I was thinking that would ease my fever tortured mind.

Nah.

I slept like a champ. My consciousness was still drifting in and out, but my body was dead to the world. My mind would come nearly to briefly and overhear my parents talking outside my bedroom door in hushed tones.

This absolutely did not happen. It was an excellent throwback to my childhood illnesses, though, where id overhear those hushed tones from the hallway and swear my parents were discussing things like what to do with my room after I died or whether the other kids were dumb enough to fall for my parents just pretending I never existed versus explaining a dead sibling to them.

That happened to everyone, right?

I also briefly experienced a moment of near lucidity where I was listening to the DJ who does the station’s Sunday Brunch radio program from 7-noon on…Sundays. I thought “Damn! I slept all through Saturday!” before drifting out of consciousness again.

So that’s where my brain was when I finally acknowledged I needed to use the can. I remember thinking it was super dark for 2 pm on Sunday when I saw the clock on Myrt’s automatic feeder. Also acknowledging a moment of gratitude that I was sick on a weekend of shitty weather. When I came out of the bathroom – yes, I washed my hands – I had to stop and look out the windows because it was such a dark afternoon.

It was 2 am Saturday morning and I’d been asleep for less than six hours. But I’d managed to convince myself it had been closer to 42.

Lucky for me, I thought to pop another Tylenol PM as I crawled disbelieving my back into bed.

You cannot imagine my surprise when I woke up at 730 Sunday night and realized moments later I’d only been asleep an additional five hours. I may not have been able to believe I’d been asleep less than 12 hours at that point. But I felt rested.

To celebrate, I took a dose of NyQuil, went back to bed and slept another five hours.

The rest of the day felt like the week after setting my clocks back an hour on the Fall Equinox.

On meth.

But one more night of that nonsense and I finally mustered the wearwithal – or is it wherewithal? I never know, but “wear with all” seems to make more sense than “where with all”, so I’m sticking with it regardless of what spellcheck thinks of that decision – to take a COVID test.

Not shockingly, it was positive.

More shockingly – and in true what-the-literal-fuck-ness that my life requires like oxygen – I immediately started to feel better.

Like, symptoms gone.

I wondered if the combination flu shot and MPOX vaccination I got at my doctor’s office on Tuesday could have created a false positive. I actually requested a phone consult to ask just that question. Sure enough, Monday afternoon my doctor was talking to me in that measured tone of his that he uses while trying to get me to accept both reality and his credentials as a medical professional versus asking questions like how far from the bottom of his class he graduated.

I don’t feel bad. He’s highly compensated and it’s a legitimate question.

But his calm tone lured me into believing that I should accept the Rx he had called in for me for Paxlovid. He assured me that if nothing else – given my weak ass symptoms – the Paxlovid was likely to reduce the chances of me drawing the Long COVID card.

You’re sure this home test couldn’t just be like a false positive on s pregnancy test?

Instead of answering that question, he asked me if I had someone who could pick up my scrip. Well played, doc…we’ll played.

Fortunately, the Silver Fox was in town.

Through that afternoon., when he had to leave to pick up his son at the airport for the holiday visit.

Despite my pharmacy’s efforts to derail his plans to leave by telling him my Rx wasn’t ready and then never following up as he seethed in the waiting area for 45 minutes.

Paxlovid might reduce the risk of Long COVID, but someone should really warn you that it leaves your body like too much garlic.

My mouth tasted like I’d been chewing iodine tablets like candy. The aftertaste was tangible. I was actively secreting this foul taste from my salivary glands.

When I woke up the morning after my first dose, I regretted the cozy night I’d spent sleeping in a sweatshirt under my weighted blanket.

Well, not instantly, mind you. It hit me – literally – when I crossed my own scent chemtrail on the way back to the bedroom after taking a whiz on Tuesday morning. In a fit of bad judgment, I tucked my nose into the collar of my crew neck to double-check and my legs buckled.

Not my wisest moment.

But I stuck it out. Five days, two three pill doses per day. All the smells to make you ungrateful for not losing your sense of smell or taste as a result of COVID…but I took every damn one of them. And you know if anyone is gonna not fall in line with the “helps reduce the risk of Long COVID” that it’ll be me.

So there’s that to dread not look forward to.

I have to say, if I had to lose the COVID lottery, I feel like I still won my figurative ticket money back. Sure, it might have hit me on my vacation causing me to isolate for five days and then mask another five on my nine days away from work. Yeah, it meant not spending the holiday with my favorite people who have no choice but endure me.

Most regrettably, it deprived them of the holiday tradition of heckling me while I make them gravy for their Thanksgiving meal.

Seriously, they insist it takes me 45 minutes, but you know how women (and bottoms) complain that sex only lasts three minutes when you know you go well into double-digits?

Well, this is the inverse phenomenon.

Gravy doesn’t just happen, beloved family.

But I’m sad that this year it didn’t happen at all. Next year, I’ll take twice as long to make up for it.

Unless I die.

But as I learned in Thanksgiving, if I die it won’t be from COVID, because…not COVID, just fat.

Grim ‘Rona

114

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm literally forever because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express me feelings on this issue…

114

114

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm “literally forever” because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express my feelings on this issue…

114

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