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…
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.
20 year coma.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
And their boxed Mac was only $.34/box!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
The womenstrippers 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.
To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.
Someone once said about the wilderness that everything in nature was trying to kill you.
Another someone said that it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you
Well, readers…I am where those two potentials intersect. I’m going to leave you to look up sources yourself, because I have a short tale to tell.
For years, my dad has – as is his way – quietly espoused the virtues of soup. More recently, the Silver Fox has hijacked that same bandwagon – as is more his way.
The other week, The Fox and I bellied up at Tanner Creek for a dinner and some drinks. His – and potentially my one day – neighbor and I ordered the radicchio and apple salad, which we both love. The Fox opted for…soup. He does this occasionally, he likes soup.
I can take that low key degree. He’s no soupaholic after all. But just before his soup arrives, the chef comes out and says hi to us. We’re all three chummy with her, so we expect a drop-in if she’s working.
Cookie: Did they tell you about the special?!?
She’s glowing – which as a newly in love person, isn’t big news. This night, however, it’s because said special is a soup.
The Silver Fox is beside himself. Losing more marbles over this disclosure than I thought he had remaining in inventory. Immediately, he orders it.
Me: You ordered the other soup, are you switching?
Him: No, I’m ordering a second serving!
I could see he was shocked I would seemingly suggest two were too many soups.
Him: I don’t care. I love soup!
Yeah, yeah…a septuagenarian right of passage, it seems. Although, one he seems perfectly willing to pretend has been a constant in our dining out universe.
Cookie: Our soup of the day is gaslight.
Not to be outdone, mom and dad show up a few days later on the calendar for lunch. They have cleaned grandpa’s “non-perishables” out of his cabinets. I notice because when I climb in the back seat, there’s a ripped paper bag still trying to be full of canned goods sitting next to me.
After commenting on the condition of the bag, knowing the embarrassment of paper bags at grandpa’s and wondering why someone wouldn’t double-bag canned goods, they are proffered to me: the favorite child and also the least likely to take an interest in my own sustenance.
I demur, despite the box of Kraft’s finest nestled into the pulpy gash.
After lunch, they take it up again. This time, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach them the consequences of being too polite. No part of me thinks they thought it mentioned “Hey, let’s bag this shit up for the oldest disappointment boy!”
So when they insisted, I decamped the backseat and too the bag. I looked positively homeless or hapless walking into my building with this bag of canned goods cradled in my arms like a stolen child.
Later that night, when I unpacked the bounty, I felt guilty and sent this text to mom.
Yeah, I’d taken a bag of soup out of my dad’s backseat.
Of course, that passed the next day when I made the purloined Mac & Cheese…
November of 2017?!?
Turns out that was a box of Kraft Karma & Cheese!
I’m not complaining, I figure this event has two benefits:
First, balance. As much as the older generations cling to their passion for all things slurpy, I reach back to my Mac & Chz like Linus and his blanket.
Second…resilience. My toddler-in-college diet hasn’t killed me yet and 5+ year old Mac & Cheese didn’t manage the task. For all I know, this is what kept grandpa going until just weeks shy of his 100th. Obviously, I’m not done suffering meant to be here. I’d like to see a cockroach do as well against that aged box as I did. It would die before ever getting it opened…and I ate the whole damned yellow-dye-#7-including thing in one sitting.
Come at me, karma!
I shouldn’t tempt fate or beg…you just know that means I’m going out Elvis-style – sans drugs, of course! I’m a good boy.
…and since I’ve mentioned all of that, I may as well tell you that I’m 40% of eating my way through those soup cans! With my dad and The Fox as role models…I never stood a chance against them!
As I mentioned in my last post, another year of my life recently expired. I believe I may have also mentioned that January has been a crap month.
Where. To. Start…
Let’s see, for those members of the TL/DR club who don’t get the above references or click on the links: my car, Angela, spent a week in the shop getting a surprise two-day repair completed. A week. The repair was $2500 and the extra time in the shop cost me another $1500 in driving income. Additionally, I forked over several thousand dollars to Multnomah County for unpaid business taxes that I was unaware TurboTax did not file. Note to self: start a GoFundMe.
In the middle of all of that, my grandfather died. We’re saying he pulled a Betty White, kicking it just seven weeks shy of his 100th. In my mind, I’m choosing to believe he either A) likes older women and wanted to keep his afterlife opportunities with Betty open; or, B) was taking a shot at teaching his family one final life lesson about getting our hopes up since I think we were all looking more forward to him becoming a centurian than he was. Either way, well played, gramps.
He died on the ninth and my birthday was on the twenty-first. We buried him on the twentieth.
You know where this is going…
When the year starts off like a twisted version of a John Hughes movie plot, it can’t be a good harbinger. Is this the theme for the coming year…Sixteen Fifty-four Candles?
If that’s the case, then this year better end up with something like this
Sidebar: The burial was pretty sweet for as fucked up a thing as death is. Back in the 70s, in a fit of post-divorce adulting, grandpa bought two cemetery plots – one for him and the other for his mother. Well, in ‘74, his older brother passed himself away committed suicide and grandpa gave up his plot for him since his wife and kids basically disowned him after that final act. His thought was that he’d pick up a neighboring third plot at some point and they’d all lay there together until the next asteroid. Well, after his mom died in ‘7…8? – maybe ‘76, I’ll lean on that old memory trope as a scapegoat – he pretty much forgot* to do it. So my dad and uncle decided to have grandpa cremated and then buried over his mother’s grave. Aaaaw. Now the three are together, almost as planned.
It’s a good thing he was cremated, too, because in a fit of communication breakdown between my sister and I, we listed several of grandpa’s non-epic-mid-century furnishings for free online – don’t worry, we’re selling/trying to sell the epic stuff. Sis took CraigsList and I went to Facebook Marketpkace. The breakdown came in regards to grandpa’s bed. When sis said to list it for free, I assumed she meant with the mattress, since the other two bedroom sets were similarly listed.
The spare room beds were used for days each year, while grandpa’s bed was used daily a lot more. But I listed it as a headboard, frame and mattress…and someone was happy to take it for the low, low price of $0.
They picked it up one day before the rest of the crew arrived. When the fam eventually did arrive, I tried to steer them into grandpa’s bedroom for a nice surprise. When they didn’t bite, I told them. My sister went and looked – I don’t think she didn’t believe me, but it was still funny that she chose then to go down the hall.
Sis: Where’s the mattresses, did you move them to the garage?
Me: (laughing) No…they took them.
Sis: They did?!? Chris! Why did you let them have them? They were so old and gross.
Me: <cough, cough> Things grandpa’s last date said! <cough>
It was then that I told her that the takers were lesbians.
It may help to know that for a couple decades, I openly referred to my grandfather as The Grand Dragon for his backwards thoughts on minorities. While everyone else in the family seemed content to write that off as “the way he was raised” I couldn’t. Especially after coming out myself – something I feel the need to state as fact since there’s almost literally no evidence at all to support it aside from a moderate and only randomly occurring lisp. I wasn’t convinced he would change, but I wasn’t going to give bad behavior my tacit approval by granting him my presence. Lo and behold, the man shut up. I have to credit him with that, whatever prompted the change in behavior.
Me: Good thing we had grandpa cremated, because if we hadn’t, you know he’d be spinning in his grave right now!
Mom: (out of nowhere) Christopher!
Damned Mom Ears.
Ok, back to me!
My family didn’t go full Sixteen Candles on me – probably because I mentioned the fact that this timing was drawing potential attention away from me, but since it wasn’t a big birthday, that was…ok. My sister suggested she and her hubster take me out for drinks after we put grandpa in a hole the service and that I should invite the Silver Fox – yes, that’s what my family calls him, too.
Then they showed up to the service with my mom and dad in tow. Apparently, dad wasn’t feeling super the morning of the burial, so they came together. Fortunately, he rallied and we all went for drinks after, with The Fox meeting us.
That’s plenty for me. I joke about wanting attention. It’s only a joke. Let’s not remind me of what my traitorous mirrors refuse to let me forget.
But my sister being the nurturer that she is, brought me a lil something to commemorate the occasion
Plus a couple of beers from a local brewery where she lives – but photo evidence of that is not available for whatever reason. Now, it would help to know that she put on her Hints From Heloise hat during our vacation after seeing the white paint scarring my Angela’s bumper – she’d been attacked by one of the posts in the Silver Fox’s parking garage. Unbeknownst to her, I had listened to her and gotten the Magic Erasers as she had recommended. They worked great…and then I apparently forgot (see above) to mention it to her, so now you’re up to date.
On top of that, and either because of the timing of my birthday and grandpa’s service or just because he’s awesome, The Fox had enlisted Diezel’s help in a Sunday night dinner to celebrate my birthday. They took me to Farmhouse Kitchen – which was highly recommended by another blogger Dr Maria – and we filled up on ridiculously good Thai food. And drinks, of course, who’s style made me wonder if this restaurant chainlet was owned by a K-Pop group.
I mean, seriously…a drink in a disco ball glass. But it was amazing. I just tried to not think about the poor bastard who has to wash these glasses! And just take in what you can see of the decor in the background…I told you it looked like a tax shelter for a K-Pop band!
Obviously, I’m well cared for by my friends and family. And remember from the above- referenced post that I was too busy with family stuff and driving that I didn’t have the bandwidth to check in on the birthday goings-on on the FB, which I felt bad about. Turns out, there was no need for guilt as I’d forgotten that I’d made my birthday private sometime during the pandemic…if you’ll allow me to lean on the old brain trope once more. Last time. I promise. Today.
Despite hiding my birthday on social media, I still got several calls from friends and former colleagues – that I ignored, because how dare they! – and texts from acquaintances. Not to mention this lil package that showed up late one night last weekend.
It was from The Kids. At first I thought it was just some cute Christmas treats, but then opened the card. It was a Sorry For Your Loss card and just said the sweetest things. Made me all mushy inside. They’d also included a very flat, very smooth stone that they suggested I rub my worries out on (don’t go there, Diezel) and a $20 to have a couple of drinks on them.
Can you fucking believe it? I was certainly surprised.
So much for the pity party I had planned to throw myself. Fucking awesome friends…where do they get off? The gall!
Now, I feel like I should do something to live up to the attention I’ve had heaped upon me…maybe some Xtopher New Year resolutions – yes, I have my own New Years. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that.
*Side-sidebar: Things grandpa didn’t get around to doing in a century of life; A) purchase third burial plot; B) notarize his will. So this is fun times, but now you know my proChristination comes hard-wired into my genes.
If you haven’t watched the movie Pig, stop reading and do it now.
I’m waiting. I’m also not guaranteeing this will be a no spoilers situation. Not sure how I feel, and since I write by the seat of my pants…who knows what will happen in a blog post?
I’m usually as surprised as anyone.
Here’s a shorthand of the movie.
I shit you not. Watch it and tell me I’m wrong.
I watched this today during my “lunch break” with the Silver Fox. I was not prepared for the storyline or the execution.
I’d heard it was one of a couple recent Nicolas Cage films that showed a return to independent versus studio films. And I knew it was filmed in Portland. Let’s face it, I’ll watch any show that was filmed in town.
I love Portland. When the city costars in something, I have to watch it. It’s simply quite beyond my control.
All I knew going into the film is that it starred Nic Cage and had a pig in it. I was all, “Well, that’s Portland enough for me”…but then couldn’t rally myself to a theater to see it in a pandemic. FWIW, Tom Holland couldn’t get my old, gay ass back to the theater, and you can stick your NAMBLA (Google it) jokes in a sock. Suffice to say, it’s been a long road to recovery for this I’ll-see-anything-as-long-as-there’s-popcorn moviegoer.
But this movie brought more than just a weird guy in the forest with a pet pig. It poked fun at Portland’s foodie scene, from the diners to the service industry folk that make it work – at least I hope that underground restaurant fight club scene was tongue in cheek. But then it juxtaposes those scenes with scenes so raw about how chefs create not just food but future generations of chefs and restauranteurs that will make you cry with just a few words.
Then there’s the storyline of the second person you see on screen – and instantly hate. Well, disrespect. Watching the relationship between these two evolve over 90 minutes is amazing.
After the last couple months of TV viewing as a distraction from what I reluctantly call a life…this film is a welcome and quality break.
Did you watch it? Tell me what you thought in the comments. And if you haven’t yet complied with my earlier instructions…the pig dies at the end.
Sidebar: there will be no sidebar tangent on the whole “they” phenomenon of deferring judgment of our own to that faceless, possibly all-knowing cabal known only as they. But you just know I’m dubious of their wisdom. Especially if they simply turn out to be nothing more than garbage-variety stupid Americans. <gasp>
There does, though, seem to be a first time for everything.
Just about two weeks ago now, I got my first non-5-star ride rating from a passenger.
I was amazed at how much this affected me. I mean…
Out of about 7300 rides at that time, one measly 4-star rating. I couldn’t tell if it was the loss of my 5-star streak after almost two and a half years (August 2019-December 2021) or the overwhelming randomness of its presence against over 7000 other ratings.
I mean, I know not everyone bothers to rate me after a ride. In those instances, my rating defaults to a 5-star automatically.
Maybe it was that she chose to click a box to support her rating.
Yeah….that was probably it.
I’m not meant to know who these ratings or comments come from. But this was a particularly gnarly week. It was the holiday week. And it snowed.
Of course, that created some shitty driving conditions. Particularly since the snow followed a day of rain where about 2” fell before sundown and carried on into the night. Snow was really only falling in the higher elevations…y’know, like 500 feet.
That’s high elevation for Portland!
But on Highway 26, coming into town, that created a real shit show driving situation.
That highway is a steep grade down hill into town – heck, out of town for that matter…I’d hydroplaned going uphill on this freeway on my way to the pickup. That takes some doing.
I digress. Water was running across the lanes and down hill, then running even deeper with traffic where tires had grooved each lane. It was like a liquid tic-tac-toe board.
Since we were still at about 400 ft above sea level and a good 150 ft above the valley floor, there was snow coming down with the rain. But not just any snow. It was big, wet flakes. Like Mother Nature’s minions had confused Portland’s weather with their children’s home room winter decor.
Seriously, these snowflakes looked like they were cut out of construction paper by second graders, they were so huge. When they hit the windshield, they made an audible thwack.
It was no Snow Falling On Cedar moment,
Highway 26 is also windy – in both senses of the word, but in this case you just need to know it was twisty and turny. Did I mention we were heading downhill?
Even going only 40 mph, I hydroplaned. Twice.
And this is the weather this suburbanite chose to go into town in.
Lucky me, I got to drive her.
And then she said my driving was unsafe.
Girl, your judgment is unsafe!
Best part? She tipped me!
That’s what really made her stand out. I knew it was a white knuckle ride. Mainly because I’m referring to my own knuckles! But I remembered seeing the tip and thinking that was really generous of her, given the hairy road and weather conditions.
Then she fucked me in the comments.
It wasn’t that big a tip.
Anyway, the app itself does a fairly good job of building in an occasional rogering for us drivers, too. In this case, it’s that we don’t see individual ride ratings, we get a weekly recap about nine days later. That means that I’ve given between 50-100 rides between the time someone rates their ride and I see the recap.
But! There’s an appeal process.
All I have to do is scroll through my history to the ride in question, mind you, this is all we see in our ride history
No addresses, rider names, rating…just the date, time and earnings. So, sure…let me scroll back through the rides for that day – I give 20-40 on Fridays and Saturdays – and take my best guess and then tap “I Was Rated Unfairly”. I can narrow it down by filtering out the riders that didn’t tip, but I’m usually getting tips from 40-60% of my riders, so of the 15 rides I gave that night during that nightlife ride window, I’m still gonna have to take my best guess out of about nine possible rides.
Nine days later.
On the plus side, the app does default to a 5-star rating if the passenger does nothing. And it’s not like I’m really suffering…
I mean, roughly 20-25% of my passengers enjoy the ride with me enough to bother to tap a button telling Lyft I’m friendly or go above and beyond during their ride. Hell, 1445 riders tapped a button saying I’m a good driver.
So, why let one rider out of 7300+ get under my skin?
I dunno. Maybe they are right. Maybe with me, it’s always gotta be something.
But, honestly? I think it’s C-PTSD. My therapist talked a little about this with me during my too-brief mental health tune up this past summer when Black Sheep Bro came prodigally back.
I can’t let go of something that’s wrong. Not easily, anyhow. It’s why I left my last professional job, and why I left my part time gig with Amazon. Not to mention one of my temp jobs – credit to me, though, I finished the assignment but passed on the request to extend when the owner asked for me to stay longer.
All of those situations had me in places where I was witnessing bad behaviors from leadership. I had to go. That’s my trigger, bad behaviors. Specifically, people gettingaway with them. Especially if that creates a double-standard.
This? This was just one passenger prioritizing Saturday night fun (or whatever night it was) over personal safety and then making it my problem/fault she felt unsafe. And tipping me to cushion the blow.
Or at least that’s how my mind spins the blanks that it fills in. Blanks that are created by the absence of immediate feedback.
Whaddyagunnado, though, right?!?
Normal People: Fuggeddabowdit!
I tried to shake it off. Carry on like normal. Move on.
How that manifested in the doldrums between Christmas and New Years, though – when ride demand is down because people are holed up with family, not to mention the exacerbation Omicron added to the mix – was me trying to soldier on but failing to be busy enough to distract myself from the trigger.
I went out Monday to do some afternoon/rush hour rides. Because New Years weekend was so slow – seriously, NYE was a Friday and it’s typically my biggest night of the year…I did half the business I do on a regular Friday night! – so I quit “early”. After the ball drop, before last call. So, I had three make up rides to pick up in order to true up my Lifetime Rides number.
What? I like it to end in a 5 or 0. That’s not weird. It’s tidy. I’m fastidious!
I was in my third make-up-rides ride, trying to decide how awful long another five rides would take – those three put me at the two hour mark, usually I do 3-4 rides in one hour – when one of my drinking buddies texted me. I saw the preview drop down from the top of my phone, “Tanner Creek at 530?”
Fuck, yeah! That was a much more therapeutic better use of my time!
The next day, I got my 4-star ride. I didn’t drive again until Friday. Outside of my vacation in October, I hadn’t taken three days off in a row since…I don’t even know when! In non-challenge weeks (where I drive about 25-30 hours), I’ll take three days off, sometimes even four. Just not together.
I didn’t get out of bed until after noon each day, including Friday. That was the week of bad Bruce Willis flicks where I stayed up until daybreak at least twice. I over ate, over drank, smoked too much weed and didn’t exercise at all.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give that week a…4.
But I came out the other side of it, so there’s that. Note to self: I gotta stop letting things get corkscrewed up into my psyche.