So, How’s Your Monday?

You’d think I’d know a good sign or minor omen when I saw one.

Not this guy, nope.

When I woke up at 3 AM in a manner that caused Myrtle to not just jump off the bed, but land outside the bedroom…that’s not a sign, right?

That the cause of my sudden consciousness was that I’d dreamed I had been bitten by a snake while sleeping in my actual bed wasn’t a symbol, right?

In the dream, the snake had latched onto the outside/pinky edge of my hand and was not letting go. It was also making eye contact with me in my dream whilst doing so. After what seemed like a minute in my dream, I reacted…by shaking my hand until the snake was flung clear of the bed.

Or so I thought.

But I was distracted from checking by Myrtle crash landing in the living room, so I forgot about the snake as my brain woke up.

I called out for Myrtle as I realized my hand still ached where the dream snake had bitten me and wondered if Myrtle had been the actual perpetrator. That would explain why she wasn’t answering my call – like she ever does.

Then I felt something scrabble up my neck and into my hair. I shook my head and loosely ran a hand through it to free it of any critters that had become entangled in my mane.

Realizing my error, I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light and then flung back the sheets in search of any blood sucking little predators.

Nothing.

Heart pounding and semi wide awake, I turned to go to the bathroom. And then a snake…of hair flipped forward on my face.

Now, wide awake and fortunately still needing to use the bathroom, I answered nature’s call. I tried unsuccessfully to calm my nerves while washing my hands, examining the one for what I hoped would remain phantom injuries as I did so.

Failing at a return to normal breathing, I stopped at the freezer on my way back to bed and took a shot of ice cold tequila right out of the bottle.

Might not help, couldn’t hurt that much.

After a little tossing, I hear Myrt looking for a new place to sleep. She’s trying to open the drawers on my dresser to nest for the night. When I finally grow too frustrated listening to her to focus on my own sleep, I get up and shoo her under the bed.

She’d succeeded in opening two of the eight drawers, but she’s happiest in the third tier, explaining why she hadn’t gone silent.

But as long as I was up…I fed Myrtle her breakfast so she wouldn’t wake me too early.

And took a second shot, to be sure I’d not be awake too early.

Worked like a charm.

I woke at 8, thinking I’d like to sleep more, but knowing the daylight would fight me. Hardly a surprise, given the dawn I saw breaking through the windows when I fed Myrt.

So, I got up. Only to be rewarded by this.

I hate that cat.

Sometimes…I swear I added that in my mind as I typed.

Seriously, I know dinner was late because I didn’t get home til 8 from mom and dad’s…but it was Father’s Day! Cut me some slack. You’re really gonna eat breakfast when you aren’t hungry just because I put it out? And then puke it up while I sleep?!?

What a loathsome creature.

I clean up Myrtle’s un-eating and brush my teeth. Rib had been texting me about a cappuccino machine he thought he’d talk his hubby into getting – the exact machine he already has, but with an integrated milk frother, which is so him – so I was painfully aware of my lack of coffee or energy drinks in the house. Throwing on a hat and sneakers, I’m off because obviously, a trip to Nossa Familia was in order.

You can barely tell I’ve had a rough night and soon to be rougher morning. I arrive on the sidewalk to this.

Just come the fuck on.

I’ve had these tires about a month.

Luckily, I wasn’t planning on driving. I stomp to the cafe, telling Rib I had dibs on their old machine as I went along. When I arrive, I order and the barista asked if I want to use my free drink that I always forget about.

Yes! Yes…but add the $5 back as tip!

If Monday has it in for me, at least I can try to get in good with Karma by tipping well.

Worth it.

I go back home, water the Silver Fox’s plants, grab his mail and then steal his Dyson handheld to go vacuum my car while I try out the compressor that came as a GWP with Angela.

Worked like a charm – only took about 5 minutes, too! Now to shower and run up to Les Schwab to see if they can patch up or replace the tire they sold me. Hopefully, they can resist the urge to tell me I should replace all 4 tires again – which I fell for last time. Since these have less than 4K miles on them, hopefully my x-drive suspension won’t notice that one tire has 0 miles on it.

Gawd.

I hope that $5 tip worked. I don’t want to spend $250 on a new tire, let alone another thousand on all 4…wish me luck.

So, how is your Monday treating you?

So, How’s Your Monday?

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

I own it, but don’t think I wear that label with pride. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know my triggers and how to avoid them.

It’s not all that hard. Try to behave like a decent human being, try to be considerate of others, have a bit of integrity…pretty low bar shit.

It’s that try business that both makes these criteria easy and challenging. And a bit forgiving at the same time.

I never said I wasn’t complex – but still, when there’s wiggle room, how hard does one have to try to remain on the wrong side of grumpy old Xtopher?

And if you’re going to put any effort into a relationship with me…how bad at effort do you have to be to end up remaining on that side of me?

Enter – or re-enter in this case – Black Sheep Brother. If you haven’t read about him, try looking for the black story, er, back story. Seriously, I just did and failed.

Long story short, Black Sheep Bro bailed on the family because he needed some time away. This was maybe 2005-ish. I was still with Sacha, so maybe it was even earlier…2002? I know it was – well, never mind. Short story is already long.

I told him at the time – as he was my best friend. Wow, it just occurred to me that this was pre-Silver Fox! Anyway, he told me he needed a break and I warned him to not just disappear, “Do it right”, I told him, “That way re-entry won’t be a bitch. Or impossible.”

Flash forward to now.

Now.

After I acceded to family pressure to reach out to him after he got married, moved to Shittatle and had a kid. Since we both lived in Seattle, reaching out was the obvious choice – just ask my mom and sister! Hehe.

So I did it. That was three hours of my life I’m not getting back. During that talk, he finally told me “the reason” he needed a break. I apostrophenated – Chrisism – that because the reason defied reason. He said he was disappointed that mom hadn’t been more supportive when he got his DUI.

“I expected more from you”, he said she said.

“But your DUI was years ago”, I said.

“No, the other one”, he replied.

I know I failed to hide my reaction to that, but his excuse still smelled like bullshit. “I think that’s a parent’s job to say stuff like that”, I tried.

It all ended with him showing me he had a full deck of victim cards, but at least I tried.

Flash forward to 2013-ish and he’s moved to Texas with his wife and now two kids. To be near his wife’s family.

In their state of bliss, they both take turns drunk dialing me to talk about how awesome they are. The wife trying to back channel a relationship for BSB and his family, for their kids.

Black Sheep Bro slurring out conditions the family must accept in order to be rewarded with the presence of him and his progeny. Your basic shit show. Now, he’s laying out conditions like “As long as I don’t have to be around That Man“, which genuinely confused me. Of course, I asked, got no clarification and eventually started guessing. For my effort, I was rewarded with a “He knows what’s he did” when I guessed he’d been referring to our father.

For the record, I think both of my parents are pretty damn awesome, so he’s partying alone in this Blame Game.

I also pointed out that last time he laid the blame for his abandoning the family at mom’s feet. I also told him that conditional returns were not something I was going to condone.

Apparently, he doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life. I’m a real buzz kill, I know.

But since then, I’ve not heard boo from him or his wife, even though I’ve been privy to the goings on because mom and his wife are friends on the Facebook. I’ve also managed to deflect suggestions from the family that I reach out to BSB for his fiftieth. That suggestion arose from his wife’s accurately interpreted vaguebooking that his marriage was ending.

I considered myself fortunate to have been able to beg off that chore since I had an outdated number.

Until.

Present day…I get a text from my sis asking if I’d also received a friend request from BSB like her and our youngest brother.

I hadn’t actually. I chalked this up to our last conversation and noted my surprise that he’d not blacked it out. But I also was only manufacturing any offense I presented because over the years I’ve been friended and unfriended by both him and his wife multiple times and received vague attempts at reaching out from Facebook profiles with fake names and no pictures – all claiming to be Black Sheep Bro.

If I wanted to chat with faceless blank profiles, I’d spend my time on Grindr.

But of course, my friend request came in a day or two after everyone else’s. And goddamnit, I wrestled with it – even while entertaining myself that he’d cared enough about me to do something petty like ask for my friendship last.

Me being me, though, I found a way to be actually – and in my mind, rightfully – bothered. I was offended that after all the water under the bridge we’ve had, he just sends a friend request.

That’s all.

No nothing else.

I didn’t know what to do with that. For a while, I leaned toward just accepting it without comment. How passive-aggressive of me. Realistically, I rationalized, this will probably result in him de-friending me yet again, so why not?

But, then around midnight last night, I decided to demand an explanation.

Via Messenger, because two can play the Drunk Dial game – I’m just playing the 2020 version.

Really? Just showing up after all these years and all your vitriol with a “Hey, y’all!”?

You’re not Paula Deen, yo.

Why? Because your wife left you? Now we’re worthy of your attention?

Tell me why you aren’t sticking it where you and I both know I should tell you to. What’s changed? How have you *suddenly* grown? Because all I want when I see this is to groan…I feel bad for you. But not badly enough to sign up for the same BS behaviors you’ve delivered in the past.

And, y’know what? I genuinely felt that he owed me – us, as a family – some goddamned context. To just blithely send out friend requests on the Facebook without it left me vacillating between he felt entitled to our forgiveness and/or that he felt his actions weren’t in need of forgiveness.

Neither option carried any generous feelings with me.

I have to say, his response presented me with a third option that I’d not considered: that he didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness.

In retrospect, it was a fairly obvious option. But the rest of his response left me a little dubious that his rationale wasn’t entitlement all along.

And how would you have me reach out after all these years? I would follow the example you set…if there were one. Yeah I turned to a long lost family relationship in a time of personal adversity. But don’t recall asking you for shit. You’re still the sanctimonious prick aren’t you. And real angry about it apparently. You wanna tee off on someone else just for making an effort? Try a therapist or your ugly cat.

How cute.

Deflection.

Name calling.

Smells like a Trump supporter-level argument to me.

But, to clarify, he’s trying to equate my living in distant parts of the country with his actively departing the family after dropping a blame bomb on mom. Then dad. The reality there, which he’ll not acknowledge since it’s a fact – and we know how Trump Supporter Logic works with facts – is that I still called and took calls from the family. I still came home for holidays.

I was coming to terms with being gay. He was having a mental breakdown in the heart of a well-known river in Egypt.

I think there’s a big difference there.

And he wraps up his indictment argument by shaming me for kicking him while he’s making an effort.

Trying, if you will. And I won’t, as it turns out. If the level of effort he’s willing to put into this after almost two decades is to tap a button that says “Send Friend Request”, then that’s far too little and way too late. Here’s a parting gift for you, Black Sheep Bro, pardon me while I spray liberally.

It makes me sad. And I’m sure it will or could result in awkward family gatherings down the road. But I’ve traveled those roads before, so I know the terrain. One of the things that I said in my texts with my sister was this:

I feel bad for her and dad. Never having been a parent, I can’t imagine how that parental “never give up” thing must feel. Like on one level it’s, “Oh, here we go again” and on the other, “But he’s our son”…so they can’t not sign up for the potential hurt once again. Just in case it pays off this time.

It’s like me and dating, I called it the Lottery of Love.

Maybe this time

I’ve got a good supply of forgiveness. It’s just not endless – even for my brother. If he wants back into my life, it’s not gonna be with spin like saying his relationship with the family is “long lost”.

He abandoned us.

For me, I’ll sprinkle some of my forgiveness on the situation when he’s accountable for his actions. No more “She knows what she did” or “That man” or being offended that I don’t let him piss on my leg yet again while telling me it’s raining.

He’s still my brother, that won’t change. But I’m fine with the present state of our relationship – which he forced upon me – until he does.

If that means I’m the bastard, so be it.

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

Dos Peliculas

Here’s the Quarantine Level of procrastination I’ve achieved. I am openly admitting that I can do one thing per day.

Now, don’t think this means I have to decide between showering and eating. I’m factoring those basic activities – that I almost always succeed at on a daily basis, almost – out of the equation. Likewise, involuntary biological functions like breathing and pooping. Although, I had Chipotle today, so let’s put that last one on standby for a bit, eh?

No, these are what you’d call larger scale accomplishments that I’m succeeding at in the singular.

Writing.

Exercising.

Lyfting.

Things that require a chunk of time.

The pisser is that I started the quarantine off with promise.

I exercised consistently every third day for the first month. I took 5+ mile walks around town on my off days. The amount of time I’d put into being at least somewhat physical each day was anywhere from two to four hours, and I felt great. But then I deprioritized exercise – claiming an off week and considering what changes I wanted to put into the routine after my test week. Never went back.

I participated and completed NaNoWriMo’s April writing camp, exceeding the 50k word threshold and getting to within what I’d say is two chapters of completing my first draft on a new novel. I’d easily spend four hours a day considering how uncomfortable my barstools are while tapping out anywhere from 2-5k words each day. I even went into that goal determined to come out of it and go into editing my second non-fiction book, but that has also gone to hell.

I’d drive four days a week, committing to a 10 ride goal and usually spending about four hours, minimum in the car on my drive days. I actually have been focused lately on stretching my driving shifts so I can tweak my week to three days of driving while still achieving my weekly financial goal. That’s been more miss than hit, though. I’ve only hit what would be the revised daily dollar goal twice in the last two weeks. Regardless, though, on days where I actively choose not to write or exercise, I’ll generally make myself drive.

That part isn’t so bad. I’ve finally started making extra principle payments on Angela – the new to me BMW, because cars need names! – and finally bought a router/modem combo so that I can tell Comcast to shove theirs up their ass. If I recall correctly – dicey, I know – they charge either $11 or $14/month to rent theirs. Whichever it is, what I spent on those monthly charges in a year easily amounts to more than I gave Bezos to buy my own. Even if I have to replace my personal modem every year, I’ll save money. However, I’ve had my current Comcast modem for three years. You’d think they’d write it off as paid off at this point.

Bastards.

As a result of this lack of motivation and accomplishment, I’m watching movies that have been buried in my queue for friggin’ ever.

Hardly an accomplishment to offset what I’m not accomplishing. But, here I am – notably dragging you along with me now, dear reader.

Last week I checked two such movies off my list – hence the name of this entry. In Spanish, no less.

The two movies were 2012’s Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2017’s Death of Stalin, both of which I had wanted to see in the theaters when they were out. In each of those instances, I had also failed to motivate myself to accomplishing a simple goal.

I guess in that frame, maybe watching them is an accomplishment to crow about.

Especially Death of Stalin, as it turns out. What an ordeal.

Let me tell you, if you’ve ever felt proud for saving $15 on a movie ticket by not seeing a movie, you know how I feel now. This show had such promise for me. A movie about an actual historical event. During an oppressively and globally sad era, no less. And it was billed as a comedy!

Right up my alley. But then they threw in bonuses like some of my favorite performers – Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi and the now disgraced Jeffrey Tambor – doing experimental acting by playing real life Russian political players but using essentially their native accents. So, you’d think I’d have loved it.

It was so boring.

I was looking forward to something close to Stooge level neurotic bumbling through these real life occurrences as these actors portrayed Stalin’s closest confidants attempting to manage the situation his death created.

No.

Just like quarantine is two months (and counting) of my life I won’t get back, this was two hours of my life I’d like a do over for.

Here’s hoping The Death of Trump is a much better movie – that can’t be made soon enough. Keep popping those hydrochloroquil pills, champ!

Perks of Being a Wallflower, on the other reel, was a delightful surprise of a movie. Ezra Klein, Emma Watson and Logan Lehrman in basically introductory lead roles for the two males and Emma’s first post-Potter Star turn. I was kind of irked at myself for depriving myself of the experience for nearly a decade. It was truly a movie that I could identify with:

An out gay High School character – representing for me the freedom I didn’t have available to myself in HS.

Small town life in the 90s or early aughts.

Unrequited love.

Basic Anywhere, USA HS angst.

A great soundtrack.

Writing that captured a moment but pulled you into the story – at least for me – as more than an observer.

Oh! And actual mix tapes.

Actually, I plan to watch it again – and not just for the procrastination value of that act.

It was a good example of what procrastination can result in – seeing these two films.

On the one hand, I put off something that I’d wanted to do that resulted in a sense of relief at having deprived myself in the moment.

But on the other hand, the way I felt at having missed Perks for so long…well, it’s giving me something to ruminate on concerning my procrastinatorial (Chrisism) ways.

Getting stuck in my head over that oughta kill a few days…

How about you? Are you still posting pics of bread you baked or the Caldona Coffee you’ve made or are you starting to struggle to keep yourself and your discipline away from the couch these days?

Dos Peliculas

We Need A Flood

You’d think a little forced iSolation would be just the thing to keep an old grump like me happy. Or at least quiet.

But, no. Even in the end times, I can find something to kvetch about.

Ok, ok…somethings.

At least I had to put more effort into it this time than simply opening the Facebook like the last time I aired out a good ire here on WordPress.

This time, I had to go all the way to Gross Out to write off the chances for humanity.

Hey, I heard there was a wine sale.

I had to get up and go out, anyway. The Silver Fox had snuck back into town to clean out his remaining supplies and thought he’d forgotten a bag on the counter. Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack the bag, which gave us both a good chuckle.

He’d lured me out by innocently mentioning crackers – not knowing I’d been craving them. For my efforts, I Kramer-ed said crackers and tipped myself his pesto.

So, now in addition to wine, I needed some cheese. Don’t worry, mom…I was also out of broccoli and salad kits and had those on my list, too.

As if the disappointment of arriving and seeing no wine sale signs wasn’t enough, the other shoppers were apparently willing to bend over backward to drive my regret home.

It all started out so promising, too. They had set up a DeCon station outside for people to wipe down their carts before beginning. Even though there was a cute guy there doing just that, I grabbed my cart by the horns and went right in without lingering.

I think I already mentioned how easy it is to screw up DeCon, so I make my concessions for cleanliness and accept the risk of going out during a pandemic. Also, I made a mental note to observe this guy shopping. Sure enough, no gloves and no wipes inside.

But he put on a good show of Pandemic Correctness and was easy enough on the old peepers.

Aside from the DeCon set up outside, I was impressed that Gross Out was taking Social Distancing seriously and had laid down directional arrows to make aisles one-way. That effort reduced the amount of passing traffic in the aisles, making it easier to have a 6 foot space between shoppers.

Or should have.

Fucking idiots.

Like, if they put some effort into their cluelessness, they could reach the level of disdain I generally have for the garden variety stupid Americans our country churns out…folks who aren’t really dumb, just oblivious.

As I’ve observed on many occasions in the past, though,

There is no bar so low that an American can’t climb under it.

That needs to be on the Statue of Liberty. New Colossus can find a new home.

Fine.

New Colossus can stay, but I should at least get billboards for my slogan.

Or needlepoint pillows…

Anyway, the jokers I was shopping with were ignorantly pointing their carts whichever direction they pleased, arrows be damned. Then they were standing around talking.

With the people in their shopping group. I looked at them like, “Can’t you talk in the car on the way home?” Or at least talk and walk?

No.

For the solo shoppers randomly careening through the market, I considered offering them the opportunity to lick me in order to truly avail themselves to my available germs, but decided against it.

I did allow myself a couple opportunities to glare at oncoming shoppers and then look pointedly at the nearest floor arrow before getting out of the way of some of my fellow shoppers.

That’s when it hit me.

These people oblivious to the establishment’s efforts to protect their customers (from themselves, as it turns out) were the same customers that were wearing gloves and masks. I even saw one person wearing protective goggles.

I knew goggle-guy was just a stupid American and not a weird Portland denizen because they weren’t ski goggles.

Surely, these numbskulls weren’t all symptomatic and venturing out. No, they knew. Like some kind of Hillbilly Scout Troop had taught them to prepare for people dumber than themselves.

So, there I was, suddenly feeling vulnerable to all these people who protected themselves from others with the same uncommon sense as their own.

That’s when I thought a plague from a vengeful god wasn’t enough. We needed a flood.

These yahoos might be able to hoard handiwipes and masks, but let’s see how long their lawn chair flotilla protects them from raging floodwaters.

Actually, I’d probably be taking gulps – at least of wine – if a flood came. I bought enough groceries for 10 days – although I’m not sure how my wine stock will hold out – so I don’t have to venture back too soon. By the way, that’s about 10x what I normally buy when I go to the store…

I also bought myself a little dessert treat, since I’d been craving chocolate cake lately.

If I learned anything from Zombieland, it’s to enjoy the little pleasures – preferably one with a long shelf life. Sadly, the $5 bottle of wine I bought was one of the tastiest red blends I’ve had in a while…regretting not picking up a couple more.

And just to end on a fun note, here’s a little quarantine meme for yas.

We Need A Flood

Due To Whelming Feedback…

…from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

“This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

  1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
  2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterday’s post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    Scared New World

    Welp, I made it three days.

    I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

    Obviously.

    Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

    Friday: 6

    Saturday: 3

    Sunday: 4

    Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

    Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

    That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

    Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

    C’mon!

    Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

    Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

    I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

    Nope. Those days are over.

    I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

    I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

    Including tip.

    Smart!

    And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

    After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

    So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

    This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

    Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

    However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

    Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

    But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

    One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

    Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

    That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

    I was not wrong.

    Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

    Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

    So here I am.

    I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

    It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

    While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

    This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

    Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

    I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

    Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

    Horrifying because – well, lots.

    First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

    It’s pathetic.

    Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

    Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

    Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

    What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

    I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

    Scared.

    Stupid.

    Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

    Scared New World

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

    “They” even made t-shirts!

    Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

    Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

    Apparently, January seems like a long month…

    Maybe it’s all the exercise?

    Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

    Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

    For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

    What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

    But not this year.

    Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

    On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

    That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

    I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

    Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

    Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

    I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

    In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

    I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

    I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

    That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

    Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

    To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

    I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

    Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

    And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

    How do I know?

    I average 25% in tips each week.

    Also,

    Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

    Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

    She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

    Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

    I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

    I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

    The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

    Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

    I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

    It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

    At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

    She never sent it out.

    This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

    Nothing.

    What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

    Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

    The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

    I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

    But she didn’t send it.

    So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

    People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

    Idiots.

    Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

    So I did.

    Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

    Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

    I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

    Of course, I checked the payroll database…

    Once.

    She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

    Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

    Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

    Bless her pointy little head.

    Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

    Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

    And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

    But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

    Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

    🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

    But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

    Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

    That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

    Really, I wouldn’t!

    Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

    I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

    As a company employee.

    I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

    Just kidding, I was born during the day.

    But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

    Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

    Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

    But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

    Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

    Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

    And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

    And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

    But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

    January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    Well, That Was A Surprise

    You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

    ~150 words

    ~400 followers

    It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

    Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

    True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

    Frustration.

    Location.

    I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

    But then I also got texts.

    Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

    FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

    But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

    It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

    Yup. Still dumb.

    Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

    C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

    Take it from Antoine.

    I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

    What do we expect, though?

    I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

    People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

    It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

    I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

    Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

    I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

    Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

    Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

    I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

    I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

    She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

    I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

    At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

    School is government funded daycare.

    Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

    United in denial, by the way.

    Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

    We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

    That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

    How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

    Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

    I think there is an absolute difference.

    Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

    Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

    Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

    Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

    Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

    Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

    Money.

    I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

    First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

    I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

    In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

    But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

    So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

    Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

    Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

    When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

    After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

    That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

    That a few people actually read what I have created.

    Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

    And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

    Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

    I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

    …without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

    As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

    *Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

    Well, That Was A Surprise

    Going Out Of Business!

    Portland Edition.

    I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

    The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

    Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

    It’s an 8×11 street grid.

    There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

    Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

    I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

    Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

    Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

    At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

    When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

    The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

    There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

    But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

    Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

    Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

    Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

    Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

    Alas.

    Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

    Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

    Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

    Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

    On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

    It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

    Redevelopment

    Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

    And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

    Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

    Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

    But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

    Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

    Case in point, The Rodney.

    This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

    That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

    A bigger problem?

    The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

    Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

    But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

    Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

    It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

    Then silently came down.

    More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

    And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

    Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

    Then, poof!

    Gone.

    Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

    Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

    Then, the rumors came.

    Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

    On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

    Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

    The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

    Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

    Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

    Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

    If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

    A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

    Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

    Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

    The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

    Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

    Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

    There’s that greed again.

    That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

    Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.

    An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

    I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

    Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

    Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

    Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

    The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

    Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

    Greed?!?

    Perhaps.

    Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

    Let’s compromise and call it both.

    The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

    Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

    The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

    Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

    It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

    The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

    It should.

    After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

    Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

    What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

    I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

    The rub?

    It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

    Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

    Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

    REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

    Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

    In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

    Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

    Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

    It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

    Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

    The way to control real estate expense is to move.

    It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

    For everyone.

    It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

    But how likely is that?

    The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

    Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

    Until then?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

    Or not approving it.

    I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

    With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

    We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

    I think the current situation has proven that.

    Going Out Of Business!

    Awkward Things I Did This Week

    Ok, how this isn’t an ongoing theme for my blog…I just don’t know.

    Maybe I should try making #ATIDTW a thing.

    I realized after my walk this morning – doing prep for a larger entry tomorrow – that I was wearing mismatched socks. No biggie…it’s just a Saturday morning walkabout.

    It was the second time this week. No, they weren’t the opposites of the other mismatched set. Yes, last time was a workday.

    I guess I should be more careful about golfing laundry in dim lighting.

    Or around wine.

    I barely avoided sending a snarky email to the owner of the company I am consulting for the other day. I realized I had somehow chosen to “reply all” as I was proofreading it – I’ll explain what that means later, Silver Fox – and decided it was safer to just tell her in person.

    In a small victory over my own awkwardness, I fell into my chair at work without spilling my coffee. I was attempting to sip coffee, hip-check my chair so it spun so that I could sit down and turn around all at the same time. My foot landed on one of the casters, sending me off balance as I turned and my chair skittering in the opposite direction from my vector.

    I fell backward.

    Somehow, I hit the chair.

    Arms flailing.

    Coffee sloshing but not spilling.

    Thank gawd I was alone in the office, but I still looked to make sure not even the Chief Feline Officer was present to witness my derp.

    No, neither of those three things – socks, reply all or near fall – happened on the same day.

    I am only in the office three days a week, so I’m batting 1000 in the awkward department for this week.

    I had a date this week. Someone I met online and decided to throw $20 at to see if he was as good in person as he was online.

    He was!

    A cute construction worker type. Maybe 5’8″, so right there in my shorty sweet spot.

    And while he was an engaging conversationalist, he was also a good listener. Letting me prattle on about me-things while he listened attentively and encouraged me with relevant follow up questions instead of scrambling to get the conversation back to himself.

    Turns out…he was 20!

    Is. Fine.

    Goddamnit!

    While he was trying to sell me on the fact that he was almost 21, I was asking him if he voted in the last election.

    “Nope. I wasn’t old enough, silly! But I’m voting in 2020, for sure!”

    “Nono. In the midterms!”

    Blank stare.

    At least I came away from the encounter with something more upsetting to me than his age.

    And to cap off my week in derp, I stopped on my walkabout this morning for a coffee. It was my backup coffee shop because it was geographically desirable, plus my primary shop opens at 9 on Saturdays and it was only 8-ish.

    I haven’t been in in about a month because my Barista Boyfriend has a girlfriend now. Or at least he did last time I was there at the beginning of November. We were the only two people sitting on the mezzanine and he stopped by to kiss her.

    No kiss for me, though. But fresh off a really good kiss (goddamnit!) from The Toddler yesterday, I figured there’s worse things than being fake betrayed by fake boyfriends.

    “Oh my god! It’s been so long!” – Female Barista, Boyfriend Barista was looking on, smiling from behind his La Marzocco.

    “Coma.” – Me

    “You look all flush! How are you feeling now?” – FB

    “I think it’s just walking in the cold. Or maybe my scarf is too tight! I miss Elvis, though.”

    “That was a long coma…”

    We went on to chat a bit more, then finally convincing me that I needed a hot coffee if I was going back out. Might as well be a peppermint mocha, too if it’s the only hot coffee of the season.

    Winning argument.

    I also found myself without my reusable bamboo straw, this being a spontaneous event. FB convinced me to get one of the metal straws, since it had a silicone tip and she could chew on it.

    “Well, you can chew on the bamboo straws if you really want to.”

    “P’shaw…I’m not a panda!”

    “Whatever you say, Ping Ping.” – Me, in perfect deadpan.

    That was the awkward, by the way….

    “Well, I may be Chinese, but I’ll leave the bamboo chewing to the pros. I’ll still answer to Ping Ping, though, but only for you!” She gives her coworker a little side eye warning.

    She was laughing, as was Boyfriend Barista and I thought Ping Ping could stick. Still, there I was…totally feeling like a latent racist for bringing panda names into the conversation with someone who turned out to be of Chinese heritage.

    It registers on some level with me when someone is a POC. But that level is the same level as hair color.

    Still, when race comes up, so does my guilt. Honestly, I couldn’t profile an Asian person’s race if there was a million bucks riding on it. For a cool mil, I might make a guess. Otherwise, I just don’t care.

    One of my best friends is Philippino. Something I only remember because she nicknamed herself Filipina Fox. The Silver Fox’s daughter in law is Asian, but I have no idea what race. She’s from Las Vegas and Seattle, the end.

    Anyway, with Ping Ping, I decided to ignore her race drop in and pivot. I segued to panda trivia.

    “Did you know that it costs $10 million a year for China to loan out pandas? That’s per panda.”

    “No! Really?”

    “Yup. Key word: loan.”

    “Goddamn. That’s quite a racket!”

    “And any pandas born while they are on loan belong to China, not the host country! No anchor pandas allowed!”

    The discussion went on from there, but I never got to impress them with the full extent of my panda trivia because people came in.

    I’d bought my cool reusable straw –

    – but I did manage an aside to my two-timing Barista Boyfriend as he topped off his latte art with a few dollops of chocolate whipped cream.

    “Hey, if anyone asks for a loaner straw for their drink, charge them $10. Per drink, no free use on refills!”

    “Right? Why should China have all the fun?!?”

    I don’t think these things only happen to me. I do kinda think that it’s possible no one embraces their awkward with as much vigor as I do, though…

    Awkward Things I Did This Week