MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Not just because this happened…did I decide this needed to be subheaded Unicorn Edition.  But also because I fin my unlikely group of attendees at the situationally Friday Monday Night Supper Club to be unique in so many ways that they are unicorns in their own right.

I considered subheading this Full House as a cute entendres about the two married, gay and (most rare, at least in PDX) monogamous gay men and the three single gay men that seem to be the last three gay men in Portland that not only believe being single and feeding your libido a steady stream of strangers is not the apex of the human relationship condition, but also possibly the last three capable of actually entering into a relationship as an equal.

A full house, if you will, for all you card players out there.

Plus, five grown men and one torbi with an oversized catitude is literally a full house in my little condo.I joked about Myrtle being my typical Friday night date, but when The Canadian and The Cajun arrived, I dispatched The Silver Fox to bring them up and Myrtle made herself comfy at the bar.  

I originally called this monthly-ish gathering of friends Monday Night Supper Club because I hosted the inaugural edition selfishly on my Saturday night.  Since then, my friends have moved it once to Saturday to accommodate my schedule changing and then it bounced to Fridays because people do shit on the weekends in summer, like leave town.  However, the moniker hasn’t changed, although Diezel was kicking no around an acronym he liked for a while, but between us we never really landed on something that worked, so I still call it MNSC.

Everyone else just calls it “dinner”.

Oh, and now it happens to fall on my Sunday night.  Admittedly, I’m a little sleep deprived as I tap this out on the way to work after squeezing in about 4.5 hours in the rack.  This was after a less than smooth segue from hosting duties to slumber last night.

But I only left one dirty dish in the sink!

Well, one dirty dish and a decanter with about two undrank glasses of wine left in it.

Talk about a Unicorn!

At least in my house.

But, in addition to four bottles of wine, the menu included my go-to carbonara, summer favorite caprese salad – with mozzarella balls and halved cherry tomatoes from mom’s (and dad’s!) garden and a Watergate Salad courtesy of The Cajun’s kitchen that had me unreasonably excited!I didn’t snap a pic of the pasta, once it’s made, it’s eating time not picture taking time!

I love carbonara.

Disputed as it is in the pantheon of real Italian food – some placing it on the same level of authentic Italian as Americano coffee – carbonara is an easy Italian.  No huge prep, no super processy sauce…just simple carb-coma-inducing, hearty goodness that takes little more time to prepare than boiling the pasta.

I like to mis en place before I cook and clean as I go when I cook, this dish is perfect for that!

Dice a shallot and some garlic…”just a hint of garlic!” was a favorite exclamation from the kitchen of my turn of the century neighbor that inspired – or nurtured – my MNSC idea.

Slice some pancetta.

Grate some pecorino.

Poof!  Prep done!

Then it’s just boil the water, put the pancetta on to brown before throwing in the roots while the pasta cooks, separate some eggs and mix them in with the parm – and heavy whipping cream, if you like. 

Once the pasta is drained, throw in the cheese mix and stir it all together with the pancetta and it’s time to eat!

So.

Good.

Which is exactly what company of this caliber deserves!

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Monday, Part V

Well, I just missed my train to work.

Hardly surprising, given my morning…but it all started out so promising this morning.

I.

Had.

A.

Plan.

It’s my Friday, you see.  Typically, I’ve been working later shifts on my Fridays to have more cross over time to support and develop the junior managers.  Well, on my Thursdays and Fridays, but now I have a spin class I go to on my Thursday night, so…screw ’em.

I joke.

But I’m still giving them one more night a week than they had been getting, so there is that.

Anyway, the added benefit here is that this gives my body a practice day for sleeping in on my weekend, so I’m not waking up at 5 am with my body patting itself on the back for the extra sleep.  Normally, I’ll wake up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:45 to be at work by 5 or 6.  On my late day, I’ll set an optimistic alarm for 8:30, but I’m usually awake by 7, at the latest.

Today, I was up and at ’em at 6:00.  I had my laundry going and had showered, dressed and answered work emails by 7:30.  I was then on my way to do my recycling…my goal being as few errands and chores left over on my weekend as possible to maximize my screwing around time.

The bottle drop opens at 8 and I was seething about being fourth in line behind three of the founding members of the Portland Millionaire’s Club.

90 minutes later, caught up on all my Facebook and Instagram goings-on and Words With Friends plays, I was still waiting.  

Next.

In.

Line.

The guy in front of me was by far the slowest – and judging by his relatively meager cart load of recycling – and poorest of the three people ahead of me.  I moved to leave so that I could go home, drop off my recycling and make it to the 9:24 train to PDX when the guy turns to me and says, “I’ll take those for ya, if you’re not gonna stay!”

Like he’s being helpful.

I’m already pissy because my recycling will have to intrude on my weekend.  Also, its reached the point where it’s about more than I can comfortably carry on foot.  If much more accumulates, I’ll have to make two trips or impose on a friend with a car.

<Looking at you, Silver Fox>

But I also realize his slow and challenged behavior was part of an act.  He wanted me to just drop my recycling and leave them for him to claim.

Nice try, my street bound Rockefeller.

You’ve got to get up pretty early to catch me before the tidal wave of grumpiness overwhelms my day.  I only recycle now – mostly – because of my grumpiness.  Most of which – in this situation – I actually blame equally on homeless people and apartment/condo dwellers, since we are largely to blame for triggering the bottle redemption deposit to go from $.05 to $.10.  

The other reason I recycle is cuz I’m cheap and a dime is a lot of money to just throw down a recycling chute.

So, no.  But, thanks…I’ll bring my recycling back tomorrow.

What iced my Monday cake for me was walking the last block of my foot commute to the train at 9:22 and seeing my Redline train to the airport pulling away.

Calmly, I walked the last block while screaming, “Fuuuuuuuuck!!!” inside, pulled out my phone, texted the boss I’d be a few minutes late and started this blog post.

Also thinking, “You’ve got to sign up for the Bottle Drop recycling program, you cheap, old bastard.”  Seriously, the only reason I have resisted is because I have to buy the drop bags and I estimate that they cost about 10% of my overall redemption.  But I’m thinking the frustration it would relieve and the amount of time I would save standing in the aroma of despair would probably be worth $.01 per bottle…there’s my bright side of this fifth Monday of my work week.

Also, I was just reminded that I made plans for tonight.  They are about three hours before I get off work, so I get to share my shit iced crap cake of a day with someone else, now.  

I could really use a mental health day.

Monday, Part V

Fitfy: 49.21

Here’s a draft from almost two months back from my Fitfy theme of posts.  Look at the second bullet and you’ll see how a little encouragement is definitely not what my innate procrastination skills need.

– I finally started my sugar detox.

– The hall pass from the Fox.

– Watching Working Girl…Melanie Griffith is only 10 years older than me and looks like hell.  Sigourney Weaver is almost two decades older than me and is an untouched, statuesque beauty.  

– What’s that teach me?

I’ve been aware of my lack of follow through on this weekly theme.  It’s a combination of reasons, really:

– I wasn’t feeling 100% physically after my first three months back into a gym routine and needed to let my Needle Man do his thing without interfering in that healing.

– Mentally, right around the end of June/beginning of July was challenging for me because it was right when the work conflict with Capt Can’t began.

– As I was feeling physically better and wanting to jump start myself out of my emotional funk, The Fox went down so my gym buddy was out of commission.

But while in my notes I had made a point of using Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver as a cautionary tale regarding aging and how shortcuts in the moment can cost a lot superficially in the future – something I knew from my past use of fat burners and performance enhancers – it was that last bullet that really proved most valuable.

What’s that teach me?

When I review my posts from the first quarter of this initiative, I can see how quickly they turned into a pedantic laundry list of a workout journal and a food diary.

Neither of those are bad things, in and of themselves, but neither was anything other than a part of the whole result I was aiming for by my 50th birthday.  I wanted to come out of this year with a more whole-istic happiness with my older self, letting go of the narcissistic twenty-something shell person that I was half a life ago and valuing my being based on my internal qualities as an individual.

And I wanted a healthy shell to carry that individual around for the next few decades.

Food diaries and workout journals were really a small fraction of the task as a whole.

Frankly, it was the downward spiral that Capt Can’t initiated that pulled my nose out of the ass of those two elements.

Sidebar:  is “downward spiral” redundant?  I never hear anyone refer to an upward spiral.

So, there I was…all butt-hurt because a co-worker bullied me.

And got away with it.

It took a while to realize – or remember, at any rate – that I have no control over another person’s actions or behavior.  I was stuck emotionally reliving each of the other significant bullying moments from my past – and there have been too many – every day at work and self medicating with comfort food and too much of Oregon’s craft beer and wine every night.  Seriously, in a four week period I drank every night but one.

It was quite a cycle.

So, I focused on letting go of that cycle and embracing a different one.

My bicycle.

Since then, I’ve been wanting to write a Fitfy post about cycling but have also been wary of just falling into that same pattern from earlier in the year.  I will post again in Fitfy, but I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get back to the right balance before I do.

Y’know, the balance between a person who is emotionally at 100% and physically determined to go from being 110% of a person to just 100% of a person – zing! – without cutting into that initial sense of emotional well-being in the process.

Yeah, that sounds easy.

But standby, maybe your patience will be rewarded…

Fitfy: 49.21

Mental Health Day

It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for one’s peace of mind.  

A change of routine, even for a day.

It really proves the old adage about getting away from it all.

The Silver Fox asked me if I wanted to join him for a day at the Fox family beach house a few weeks back.  Just down and back in a day.  The house actually belongs to his former wife and current traveling companion, Sallory, but he still gets visitation rights when it’s not rented out.  

Or to punch out a honey-do list, as was the case here.  The house has just had its kitchen expanded and a yurt added to increase its capacity.  As if the view alone wasn’t enough of a selling point for potential renters.

But why limit the view to eight tightly-packed-in eyes?  Plus, the one bedroom beach house was perfectly fine when it was just mom, dad and two young sons.  Now that they’ve added a daughter-in-law and grand-toddler to the mix, I’m sure the yurt will make the beach house much more Fox family friendly.

Of course, I declined the invite.

He had planned his trip for a Wednesday.  My typical days off are Thursday and Friday, so the timing was a non-starter for me.  He suggested I just take the day off and I humored him with an “ok” and a chuckle; I think we both knew I wasn’t going to pursue that option.

I’ve never wanted to do drag.  I half-heartedly dressed up once for Halloween back in the 90s and got compared to a True Lies-era Jamie Lee Curtis, but past that, costumes were never my particular brand of escape.

Nevertheless.

I have a semi-roster of potential drag names in mind.  I mention this because in this instance my drag name would be Sarah Dippity.

Yes, in a rather serendipitous turn of events, my boss reminded me of a vendor sponsored golf tournament taking place soon and suggested that I take the Wednesday in question off in exchange for “working” through 18 holes on what would normally be my Friday off.  Now, a) I thought the thing had already come and gone without any follow-up and was fine with that; and, b) the tournament would involve my peer manager who has provided me with enough reason to afford him the absolute minimum amount of attention from my favorite person.  You could say that this golf outing exceeded that bare minimum threshold.  You could also say after his out of control demonstration of hostility toward me in early June – and subsequent absence of apology or even hint of remorse – that I was in no way considering getting within a golf club’s length of him.

One of the primary reasons I needed a mental health day, right there.

So, I told my boss that I would take Wednesday off and then (hu)man the shop while he and my festering wang of a peer went off and played golf.

I probably worded that a little differently, irl.

I excitedly agreed to the day trip with The Fox.  Well, excitedly with conditions: I got to drive.  I don’t drive myself and I’m a terrible passenger.  There’s a winning combination.  Why The Fox is my friend is sometimes so not obvious…but luckily for me, he is and off we went.

The first leg of the trip was Portland to Monmouth.  The first stop was at his youngest son’s house and then we moved on to Sallory’s home, which is located on a picturesque hilltop parcel of land.  

It’s a literal idyll, as was much of the drive between his son’s house and this majestic, old family home.  We took these back roads around fields, along the river, over small hills, through fields.  So serene, calm and beautiful!

Of course, I was manic.  The excitement of driving once again, being out of my routine, with my best friend and out of the city kinda overwhelmed me.  It was euphoric for me.

We had stopped at Costco for gas.  “Because it’s the cheapest price!” – a common consideration in fuel purchasing with The Silver Fox.  

I did my best not to do the Rain Man math on what the savings on that cheapest price equates to in real money.  Last time I’d done that – a total of $2.30, if you’re of a curious mind – I think I’d been kind of a buzz kill.  I mention this because I think the restraint I showed in not announcing the savings our pit stop at the Costco had generated along with the ebullience I was feeling just being out on this day trip left me defenseless against my own personality when I looked down at the dash after a few miles and side roads, only to realize that an idiot light had been engaged.

“Oh, god!  What’s that?!?”  Strangely not the last time I’d blurt that out on this road trip. I sure hope I remember to tell you about the spider!

Jolted away from his true best friend – er…I mean, his phone – The Fox looks up and does that crazy head thing that people do immediately after hearing the words, “Don’t look now, but…”

“What’s the small car over the big car with the squiggly lines between them mean?”

“What?”

I repeated myself.  Enunciating very clearly and speaking slowly as if it were the words themselves that he hadn’t understood.  I knew he was capable of deciphering my gibberish, but I hadn’t provided him sufficient context to really give an answer.

“Google it, quick!  Before we lose cell service.” I commanded, because: country back roads.

A few moments later, he waved something in front of my side-eye and giggled “George” at me.  My first thought was, stop showing me pictures of the damn dog and look up this light!”  In my mind, we were clearly in a crisis situation…not just impending doom but also me breaking his car.  Upon turning to face him, I realized he was showing me the Owner’s Manual for the car, complete with bite marks where his pooch had gotten hold of it.

Ok, maybe I’m his best human friend, third overall.  The top two spots are a toss up.  Hehe.

“It’s a traction control system of some sort”, he mumbled.

I was doing 60-65 on the back roads of Monmouth – which is saying something, since most of the non-back roads we traveled usually came with a brief history of the major thoroughfare that road used to be.

“Well, it seems to be kind of an anti-rollover system”, still distracted.

I semi-slammed on the brakes upon hearing that as we were moments away from a 60 degree turn and still pushing 60 MPH.  I’d prefer to have all anti-rollover assistance functioning properly under those conditions.

Thus began my erratic litany of pointing out each occurrence of potential disaster – I guess “occurrence” and “potential” don’t really go well together, alas – the possibly malfunctioning anti-rollover system would be helpful in avoiding.  You wouldn’t really think I’d have a lot of opportunities to exploit that system failure, but did you know that River Road used to be – I know I’ll get this wrong – the old hwy 99?  

Plus, it just follows the river, so it’s super curvy.

Plus, plus, it’s right on the river, so it’s sunk and warped over the many decades and was super bumpy.

I had many chances to amuse myself before we finally arrived at Sallory’s.

The old family home is beautiful in and of itself, but add in the decades of family history and it becomes so much more than a nice house with a breathtaking view.  Recently, The Fox mentioned the three generations of Sallory’s paternal ancestors’ portraits lining the stairwell walls and I couldn’t recall ever noticing them…I definitely needed to make a point of checking out this additional rich layer of family history this trip.

That moment in the stairwell turned patriarchal hall of fame paired nicely as a bookend to the momento of the more recent family that I encountered as I wandered the grounds.  I’d taken a moment to chase a loose chicken – being away from the city was clearly having a positive effect on my state of mind – I chased the chicken stiff-armed like a child, enjoying the mild alarm the chicken displayed as she ran just fast enough to stay ahead of my shuffle.  

Her alarm suggested she knew a chicken choker when she saw one.

Ok, I couldn’t help that entendres…I threw it in strictly for Diezel’s prurient reading pleasure.  Plus, I’m not really one to abuse animals.  Living with Myrtle is the only defense I need there.

When I stopped, I found myself on an abandoned basketball court.  Touched only by time for the last decade or so.

A testament to the kids who had grown up here in this place with parents who cherish them.

We were just stopping long enough to pick up some items needed to re-stock the kitchen at the beach house and were surprised to find some homemade jam left out for us to take home as a thank you.  Freezer jam is my absolute favorite, so I was touched by the unexpected gesture.  

Sallory had recently confessed to me that The Fox had pretty much converted her to iced coffee drinks over hot, specifically cold brew, and understood that I had turned him on to it.  She then went on to tell me about this great cold brew she’d found at one of her local stores and how she’d convinced the other local store to carry it also.  It’s called Stok, and she loved it.  I told her I’d have to keep an eye out for it, since I trust her taste.

Funny, when I said that, I hadn’t thought that we would find a stash of six bottles in her garage fridge.  Maybe The Fox had, he used to live here, after all.

You know what goes great with freezer jam?

I’ll gotten gains, that’s what.

The car is loaded up.  The grounds are surveyed and revered.  It’s time to point the car toward hwy 20 and get going.  

The Fox asks if I need to use the bathroom before we leave, that’s a negatory.

Strangely.

“You sure, it’s about 90 minutes away”, he persists.  I’m oddly conflicted in my consistent negative response after the Monster I had before we left and the cold brew I had on the way down.

“Actually, I think I’d like to crack open one of those Stok bottles and have another cold brew”, I say.

“That does sound good!  But let’s grab some out of the fridge!” he declares as he emerges from the car with our two empties.

“Are you drinking the melted ice water out of my cup, through my straw?!?”, I demand. The Fox literally stops.  Disengages his lips from my straw slowly and sheepishly responds, “Yeah…oops?” as if it’s more question than answer.

“Do you have another straw?” I ask, channeling my best Chandler Bing.

“No.”

“Fine”, I grumble.  “I’ll just turn it around!  What gets into you?” I smirk at him as he heads into the garage.  I think one of the things I enjoy most about my relationship with The Fox is how my faux exasperation is met so perfectly by his unflappable and amused “who’s going to care in 100 years?” demeanor, which makes him nearly immune to my butt-hurtedness.

We’re driving again.

He’s telling me how they’ve been working on a bypass on hwy 20 that cuts about 15 minutes of old single zig-zaggy lane highway off our trip.  The new construction veers off the old highway and then rejoins it on the other side of the hill, taking you over the top of the coast range, through some of the clear cut forest.

It.

Was.

Beautiful.

I doubt that I’d been on this road within the current century, so every turn was new to me.  I could definitely – usually – tell the old highway from the new, still…it was like seeing it all for the first time.

The panorama of the ocean in the distance over the folds of mountain between us and it from the top of the pass.  Not to mention the briefest glimpses I got of the view 180 degrees behind me.  Well, not for the first time, I resisted slamming on the brakes to get a better look.

Oh!  The idiot light stayed off after I restarted the car when we left the Monmouth house.  So, one less thing to worry about!

I’m overcome by new natural beauty at each turn in the road.  My soul is swelling with new energy.  I can feel the peace of mind returning.

We get into town and it’s time to decide, once and for all, the answer to the question that has haunted the second leg of our drive:  Oscar’s for a burrito for lunch or Mo’s for some ubiquitous beach food?

I confess that I’m feeling some Mexican food, which The Fox says is fine.

We’re driving up the coast highway.  

Newport.

“Hey!  Was that THE Oscar’s we just passed by?!?”

The Fox looks up, “Oh, yeah! I guess we’re going to Mo’s!” and flashes me that sheepish look for not-the-final time on this trip.  Decision made.

Depot Bay.

Beverly Beach.

I’ve moved on from announcing potential rollover situations to declaring “I’ve been there” in a monotone as we pass places where – get this – I’ve been.  

No context.  

Just a simple, “Been there” as we pass by.

For his part, The Fox either ignores me or dismisses me with a “Wow.  You’ve gotten around” that lacks a certain curiosity.

Otter Rock.

I pass the gravel alley known as A Street that the beach house is on and park by Mo’s.  It’s lunch time and The Silver Fox treats me to fish tacos…which I have actually never had before.  I gobble them up while giving the trio of families traveling together the stink eye.  This place, as you can see from the picture, is tiny.  There’s four tables on each side of an aisle that allegedly each seat eight people.  They are occupying two of them and blocking the bathroom door with their sprawl.

Oh, now I have to pee.

Despite my urethral discomfort, when we leave, I bee line it for the railing overlooking the Devil’s Punchbowl.  The Fox bee lines it for the car.

I stop.  

“We’re not going to go look?” I ask dejectedly.

“Nah, I’ve seen it a hundred times” he replies.

I shrug.  I kinda have, too, but I still manage to inject my acquiescence with a qualifier, “It’s just been about a decade”, I mumble, getting in the car.

I mention this for no reason.

Really.

None at all.

Speaking of mentioning things…the beach house is occupied when we arrive.  This fact had been shared with me during the drive.

I mention that fact not because it bothers me…having been an airBnB host for a couple years, stayed in pensiones while traveling abroad and spent a couple of college semesters in dorms…I’ve shared space with strangers.  The house guests are a retired married couple.  Only the husband is home when we arrive and he is outside washing windows.

On his vacation.

People are funny.

He and The Fox are familiar with one another and chatting away.  He’s a bit hard of hearing, I decide, and is yelling in that way people do when they can’t hear themselves that well.  He’s explaining that he’s a putterer and when he sees something that needs to get done he just does it.  

Like the windows.

Or taking the top of those shrubs over there down a few inches to improve the view, he’s yelling.

This view.

Yup.  Nothing wrong with that!

I head out back to check out the new yurt.  Locked.  But I know I’ll get to see it later.  I turn to leave and am hit with this.

Whatever they charge for this place, it ain’t enough.

The Fox shows me my job.  I’m there to schlep stuff out of the bedroom closet and back into the kitchen.  It’s like four shelves of stuff.

Easy, I say.

“Well, there’s stuff in the shed, too!” The Fox says, promising to show me later when he shows me the yurt.

Told ya.

I’m about three shelves complete in the bedroom when the wife returns.

“Oh, I’ve just been out to The Devils Punchbowl for a walk!  It was magnificent!” she says.

She’s not un-right.

We’re introduced, and she finishes her story.

“There was a mother whale and her calf playing right off the shore!” she exclaims.

Thats the last time I see that look of his this trip.  Hopefully, it’s not my last chance to see a mother whale and her calf in my lifetime…from a safe distance.  I just look at The Fox and he looks at me like he’s busted as I think, “Seen that a hundred times?!?” knowing that he probably has and sparing his ears of the actual words.  Poor Fox.

“C’mon, I’ll show you the yurt and the shed” he says, changing the subject.

The shed is about four more shelves of kitchen stuff.  This is the easiest conscripted labor that I’ve been forced into in, like, ever.  I knock that work out in several trips and then finish up the closet.  It felt like it took about 20 minutes, and that includes the time I took to screw around taking pictures and staring at the view in – what was surely open mouthed – awe.

But my best friend made it easy on me, telling me to put the stuff on any flat surface I could find and he’d start putting it away.

Deal.

As I walked in with the last of the kitchen supplies, I announced that I was done, telling The Fox to have fun and that I would be outside if he needed me.

The wife-in-residence chortled, caught off guard by my jovial abdication of assistance.  I’d forgotten that we had an audience, and she had a view of a kitchen with stacks and stacks of wares on flat surfaces that were no longer visible.  

The Fox was standing in the midst in open-mouthed shock at my announcement.  He hadn’t even finished wiping down the insides of the cabinet and drawers.

“A deal is a deal”, I declared, paying him back for the missed whale watching opportunity.

Of course, I helped him unpack and put away.

We were finished by mid-afternoon.

Suddenly, we looked around and there was really nothing to do.  I further realized that for the past several minutes, we had just been kibitzing and tweaking things…and I realized that our definitions of finished would take a back seat to Sallory’s final assessment so we could really just be done.

We still took a few minutes to play with the myriad light switches in the kitchen, realizing that there were lights everywhere in this new space with multiple controls…I say “realizing” meaning he’d turn one light off and I’d see a switch across the room that was “on” and turn it off, reactivating a light that he’d already turned off from across the room.

It was like a chase scene montage in a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Jinkies.

Back in the car, we admit that whichever route we take home we are going to hit the final and unavoidable obstacle in our drive – I5’s Terwilliger Curves – during the peak of rush hour.  The Fox gives it over to the fates of his electronic best friend’s wisdom and tells me we are going home via hwy 18, which will take us north through Lincoln City and the west into Portland.

A route that passes two casinos.

Give me strength.

To distract myself, I resume my monotonous travelogues, keeping The Silver Fox up to speed on places I’ve been.

I even sprinkle in some stories about the context of those visits, once even earning the coveted ✌🏽prize.  That’s an award I’d created for The Fox to stop him when he shared a story with me for the second time. I was very excited to have my old brain validated with this momentary trophy.

But I still finished my story.

We had a few hours to kill, after all.

As if a day with your best friend spent in beautiful, scenic locations needed to be better, we arrived back in town for an impromptu wine tasting being held at our neighborhood wine shop.  

Of course, we stopped in for a taste.

And then split a bottle.

And ordered some bruschetta from the Italian cafe a couple doors down…which their adorable waiter delivered to our sidewalk table in front of the wine shop.

After which, I went home and slept like a damned baby.

Mental Health Day

I Tried

If you hang around me long enough, you’ll hear me say – in a strictly non-pejorative way, I swear – “Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”.

Or something like that.

After writing about the pending increase in Oregon’s Bottle Deposit last year, I knew that I was a part of the problem and committed to action. 

In my own charmingly procrastination prone style.

$.10 a can or bottle is a good chunk of change to literally throw away.  

Well, recycle.

Whatever.

Fine, it’s a good chunk of change to figuratively throw away.

What I ended up with was a utility room chock full of empty cans and bottles.  Heck, some were even non-alcoholic!  I was even bringing home the empty soda bottles from my lunches at work.  I was Xtopher in action.

Which, with the slightest amount of effort becomes:  Xtopher inaction.

A new problem.

Luckily, attempting to live on a budget and save money on my…quaint lil paycheck finally lit the fire needed to get me to recruit The Silver Fox as a driver and haul my recyclables to the Safeway.  

Call him conscripted.

I had fully intended to just walk to the Safeway every other week or so with a bag of empty cans and bottle jingling over my shoulder.  I try to go every Friday to stock up on lunch supplies for the coming week, anyway.

I couldn’t shake the mental image of me doing my best homeless person shamble there the streets of Portland’s swanky Pearl District.  My natural procrastination was well fed by this imagery.

Which is how I ended up in The Foxes SUV for a ten-ish block trip.  He dropped me off, parked and made the most of the inconvenience by going inside the store for some much needed oranges…

“When life gives you lemons, exchange them for oranges!” – The Fox.

Ok, he didn’t say that.

But about the time he was walking down the stairs from the parking garage to the store, I was standing in front of the Pearl Safeway’s two reverse vending recycling machines.

Oh, excuse me…the two broken reverse vending recycling machines.

Fuck me.

A homeless guy I’d woken up by walking in groggily said that someone had gone into the store to alert them to the crisis.  That sounds helpful until you factor in my uncertainty in his ability to tell me what day it was.

A very nice employee showed up as I was hauling my bags toward the ramp to the parking garage and offered to hand count my returns for me.  I gratefully accepted.  Then she suggests moving somewhere less stinky.

So I’m standing outside on the sidewalk watching helplessly while she counts my empty cans and bottles.

Of course, a crowd of homeless people with a couple bucks worth of cans each starts to gather ’round.

Oh, the optics.

If I harbored any hope of a future relationship, this would be the time our paths crossed.

$11.40 worth of counting later, I’m on my way.  I’m feeling rather unaccomplished and briefly consider drinking even less beer and soda than I have lately.  

Wine bottles are somehow exempt from the Bottle Bill.

That night, I’m wandering by The Brodega by my house and notice their new taps are featuring Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack and make a date with The Fox to grab one the next night.  

Hashtag: brainstorm

They also fill growlers.

That’s the key to my participation in improving the recycling issue: refillable growlers instead of six packs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle after all!

So, in I walk with my growler the next night.  They fill it with an extraordinary amount of waste, but I’m kinda ok with it since The Brodega is she-she expensive and this growler will probably cost $19, based on their normal over-pricing.  By comparison, a growler fill at The Big Legrowlski is $16, I think.

$12.

That’s what my growler fill fist at The Brodega.

My favorite goddamned beer at bargain basement prices AND I just juked the whole bottle tax vs recycling conundrum.

Yes, please!

Hashtag: winning.

I Tried

This Was Me Yesterday…

…right around 8:20 PM.

To riff on the prophet, Sinead O’Connor, it had been 71 hours and six days.

It was quitting time.

Time for my weekend.

48 plus hours of elsewhere being.

My only plan was some hang time with the Silverest of Foxes and some exercise.

Oh, and a quick Sugar Detox to shock my system a bit, as my mother reminded me yesterday.  I had decided to start it on my Friday and maintain it throughout my weekend to minimize the hangriness at work…but come Tuesday night, I realized how much leftover food I had in my fridge.

Naturally, I deferred my detox plan.

Can’t waste food!

So, number one on my weekend to do list is still gym time.  Here’s a glimpse at what other big plans I hope to accomplish:

  • Finish up my leftovers, starting with this Costco size bag of Chicago style Cretors.
  • Finish s4 of Sherlock.
  • Mail Fathers Day card.
  • Do some wrap up writing…I have 18 pieces in draft status.  I’d like to get that down to 15, which seems like a reasonable goal although, I prefer to keep my projects to 10 or less.
  • Do my recycling.
  • Finish s5 of House of Cards with The Fox, but that is still eight episodes.  That might be to loftily lazy.
  • Mop the floors.
  • Find Myrtle.  When I returned from morning coffee with that aforementioned Fox, she was nowhere to be found and the place was fairly trashed.  She’s probably hiding, knowing she was a bad kitty.  But maybe my bandit – one of those drafts – got in and kidnapped her…

But, first!

Imma knock these two off my list:

Right.

Meow.

This Was Me Yesterday…

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?

…and I mean one of those weekends, really.

glenne-headly-dirty-rotten-scoundrels-1988I was on my way home from work yesterday when I read the news that Glenne Headly had died.

Say what now?

She couldn’t have been that old.

<opens google>

“62?!?”, I think.

Then – I kid you not – my next thought is, “Lucky.”

What.

The.

Hell?

I’ll tell ya what the hell, I’m staring down 50 this year and I’m conflicted about a long life versus going out possibly early with a high quality of life.

I think I’ve got 50 in my cross hairs like this:aliens-ripley-geared-up

But, I think sometimes it’s more realistically this:sigourney-weaver-as-ellen-ripley-in-alien

What’s a gay to do?  This is not the culture for Oldie Hawns, and – let’s face it – America ain’t getting greater these days.  That doesn’t just impact my patriotic identity…in this case, it’s a factual planet killer.  By extension, a long-lived Xtopher can potentially look forward to some Thunderdome bullshit in his longevity.

Then I think of my parents.

They’ve both crested their eighth decade on this dying rock, call it their early 70s.  They remarried after 20-some years of divorce.  While that’s a story that I’m sure they would say is none of my business to tell, I’m not thinking of that particular life event or even that time in their lives in this particular moment.  What comes to mind isn’t their first marriage or even their second.

It’s the time betwixt.

When my parents originally split up, we were assembled in California.  My father having pre-located there for a job, my mother and the kids joining after the school year ended for her two youngest.  I joined in the move.  For reasons I won’t bore you with here.

Other than:  California.

Being California, and divorce being trendy…Bob’s your uncle – or at least your divorce lawyer – I guess, they split up a year-ish after the SoCal reunion.

Mom took off back to the fairer pastures of Oregon with…oh, every one of her chirrun but me, also because:  California.

What’s an early 20s newly minted gay to do?

It was a decision that was quite beyond my control.

Ironically, I ended up living only blocks from my dad in SoCal, so I had a good seat as to how he stared down his own demons in his 40s.

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t quietly, as is his style.  While simultaneously doing what needed to be done.

He sure as fuck didn’t start a poorly-trafficked blog.  You know, sharing this on your social media pages would hardly kill you people.  I’m just gonna leave that hanging.

I had a chance to change my geographic scenery a few times in my early and mid-20s, be it for the wrong reasons – like a boy – or for slightly less easily judged reasons – like work – and ended up back in Oregon.

The prodigal gay.

That gave me the opportunity to witness how my mother stared down her own adversaries in her 40s.

Well, she’s my Ellen Ripley.  That same quiet acceptance of what must be done that my father demonstrated, but with the additional obstacle of responsibilities like – oh, no big deal – being a single mother.

I don’t know when this turned into some sort of vague-albeit-late Mother’s Day card or a slightly early Father’s Day post…but, well, sometimes my digressions can give you a little insight into the people – the real people – that shaped who I am.

Don’t make it weird, people.

Anyway, my psyche checks me when that unbidden “Lucky” pops into my head over Glenne Headly’s death with a “What the fuck, you little wuss…buck up.  Your shit is nothing like your parents’!”

And, so I buck uply and put dear Glenne out of my head-ly.

Sorry about that.

You know what fuckery I am met with the following day?  The reward for shoring myself up as all things nearly 50 converge on my weak-assed self?

Any guesses?

Here’s a little hint:Launch Party For The "Family Guy" Game

Adam West.

Batman.

Not to mention a killer caricature of himself.

Dead.

Aged 88.

And still cooler than I ever will be.  Just look at that bad ass.

My weak-assed little self’s least favorite counterpart – my self-bullying-snarky-assed self – was right on point to ask the big question, “Do you think your parents hear this news and think, ‘Lucky’?” because he had to live soooo long?

“No.  They probably fucking don’t, because they had to work for what they have:  a comfortable retirement in which to enjoy their family and each other – reconciliation after two decades of divorce is a goddamned gift, albeit an in the moment costly one – they didn’t have their shit handed to them by fame…so buck up, Buttercup.”

Sometimes I just want to punch my snarky-assed self in the balls.  Other times, I’m sure most everyone else does.

Looking at you, Silver Fox.

Knowing my parents, they probably think something more along the lines of, “Poor Bastard” because, while his death will be mourned by the fans accrued over the course of decades of Batman notoriety, they measure their success not in fans or dollars, but rather in their shared pride in the family they built and will leave behind.

Whatever legacy Adam and Glenne leave behind, we – as adoring and appreciative fans – cannot measure or judge the pride they leave behind for their own families; merely in the absence of their future celluloid impact.  What I’ve learned from my family…parents, grandparents, extended family and chosen family, is that that’s the yardstick.

Right there.

The so called wake of your existence.

So, I’ll get up tomorrow and honor the example that real people set for me and set aside this morose nostalgia for people I’ve not met and live a life that will make my parents proud.

Quietly.

As quietly as grumpy, old Xtopher can, anyway.

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?