The Word of the Day is: Myopic

No, no…not a Mayo pic.

Myopic.

I’d dare say not many would accuse me of lacking imagination. And thanks to my mother’s apparently favorite game when I was growing up – What If – I think that I’ve a well-nurtured sense of foresight, and I’m on the look out for all the possible outcomes I can imagine. Also courtesy of my parents and their desire to provide me with a good education and hold me accountable to a respectable return on their educational investment, I think I have an above average grasp of intellectual insight.

All of this provides me with the wherewithal to ask with a straight face:

What the fuck are you people doing?!?

It also provides me with the ability to analyze my own history of asking such challenging questions and determine from the past patterns of behaviors what the response will be.

And yet, knowing that…I still ask.

I think being raised the way I was, having the values instilled in me that my parents and education provided and then living the life I have as an adult keeps me from writing these stupid, stupid Americans off as a loss as so many do. And encourage me to do as well…but I can’t.

When even Melania Trump gets it enough to even articulate if not fully understand her own First Lady branding, well…I guess with that low bar I expect just about anyone to understand how to Be Best.

Or better. Or whatever the hell slogan she puts on the hats on her website.

Ah, found it. It’s Be Best. And here’s a picture that sums up the execution of her own initiative about as well as anything else that this administration has done:

Although, I particularly enjoy this iteration, too…

So, why am I rambling on about myopia?

Honestly, it’s mainly because I continue to be broadsided – and I mean that I’m a completely genderless manner – by people pursuing their own myopic interests, usually in an overtly selfish manner. But on occasion in a super nice looking cloak of larger social issues. Even if that cloak doesn’t actually go with the rest of their outfit, if you know what I mean.

For.

Example.

Exhibit A:

I was just caught off guard by this guy chatting me up on A4A while I was responding to a message from a guy I’ve been trading platonic, neighborly messages with since he lives down the street from me and the Silver Fox seems to have abandoned me. (By the way, SF, you’re out of everything again…😂)Remember the guy I was there chatting with? He’s close to me, just like I am to this guy. Perhaps my failure to demand to see his junk has somehow retarded the advancement of our friendship. Nah, I kid…it’s because he doesn’t drink.

Anyway, I declined this Hungjock1995’s offer to view and assess my junk, assuring him I was a fair and modest representation of my race and gender. He didn’t want to take my word for it.

See how he throws out himself as representing “the normal” of The Gays as a pejorative? Our prior few messages were all one word replies from him, which is the challenge you see at the top of the frame in the first pic. As his criteria for engaging are: attractive, nearby and big dick, I can’t disagree with that assessment, I just won’t accept it and speak out against it when I encounter it.

Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from someone whose screen name is Hungjock1995 and can’t muster the fortitude required to have a face pic on his profile. It seems like my habit of telling people my name when I engage with them and unabashedly decorating my asocial media profiles with a picture of my face makes me unique.

And that was my catalyst for finally tapping this out. This guy can’t see past the tip of his own dick far enough to act like a normal human being. Nor can he muster any sense of shame or appropriate mortification for his behavior when it’s pointed out to him. He just sinks back into the cesspool of collectively acceptable human behaviors, indicating that other people let him get away with it so it’s ok.

Quite a dichotomy at work there: unapologetic about crap behavior, smart enough to at least not associate his image or sully his good name with those same behaviors.

Seems like he is hung in the “all frank, no beans” way. Cuz his cowardly behavior clearly indicates the absence of a set of balls.

His myopic world vision is at least self-serving in an immediate way: he wants to get his (apparently sunflower seed sized) rocks off.

Other people’s recent nearsightedness has had a more immediately dangerous impact. Actively treating others with disrespect in pursuit of your own selfish desires only demonstrates the minimally acceptable behaviors to the people who’s paths you cross, setting an example for them to live down to. Given my parting shot before – I assume – getting blocked, people don’t experience bad behavior anymore and think “I didn’t deserve that”. Nowadays, they look at those experiences and the takeaway seems to be “Ok, so that’s what I can get away with, too!”

Exhibit B:

There’s this local activist whose Instagram profile I came across as I’ve been witnessing my anarchist jurisdiction of a hometown’s protests from the mostly safe distance Instagram provides. So I followed him. When I see good content, I want to keep seeing it – and these protests are too important to not see. Yes, I just worked Nazi into this example that is centered around police brutality.

Then he followed me.

Then he followed me from a secondary account.

Instead of making a nice veil out of that red flag to match the dress and continent dragging train I’ve made with the other red flag behaviors men give me, I just took it at face value and let it lie.

See? Sometimes I can be chill.

Ok, maybe I called it out a little and accepted the response that one was his personal page and the other was – and I’m paraphrasing here – more of his brand page where he could catalogue his participation in the protests. Just like he didn’t overreact when I observed that his accounts both seemed to like each other’s social media activity quite a lot.

That’s the way it’s done.

Gawd, I really loathe that rationale.

But I’m chill. I let it go.

He’s got good content on his protest page. The messaging is responsible and he’s not glamorizing any of the more destructive elements of our local protests – which makes his content a lot more focused on the point than the news seemed to be able to do.

And as I watch his feed for the next few months and we trade messages that are sometimes nearly long enough to qualify as a conversation, I begin to feel a familiarity. Like we’re people who could meet in real life and have a not-awkward conversation…yes, this is the bar these days.

Of course, then he starts working in videos of his remote viewing experiments and I think, “Oh, here we go…all aboard the Crazytown Express”. Not too long after that, I see him on the Grindr and am not even upset that he’s a Top/Vers, because I’m not thinking like that. However, I also see his profile blurb and wonder why men even bother to speak. Gay men in particular seem to do nothing with their mouths of any value unless their lips are wrapped around a – well, never mind. His profile ends with him imploring people to “be realistic”.

The implication there not being that it’s not realistic to expect him to be polyorgasmic or ready to settle down on the first date. No, the implication was more, “Look how desirable and hot I am! If you aren’t as hot as me, don’t bother.”

I may have only nearly avoided experiencing a remote vomiting episode.

Which is really disappointing after the effort he’s put into polishing up that turd of a personality on his other social media profiles. But I get it, it’s 2020. People compartmentalize their needs in order to meet them expeditiously. Truly, I believe that compartmentalization is part of how people become so myopic. They forgive themselves their shitty behaviors by locking them away, out of sight and view themselves only through the filter of their better qualities they keep on public display.

For instance this guy’s Grindr profile presumably meets his sexual needs as well as his need to posture and establish himself as superior to others.

But I let that go. I thought about calling it out, because, really…it’s one sentence. How hard could it be to edit it out or carry on with the burden of ignoring advances from unworthy and unrealistic people? But I’m chill, I let it go.

Then last night I saw him attending a wedding on his Instagram.

In Texas.

I’d only recently gathered that he’s from Texas, as a story from the day before was his family singing happy birthday to him – so I also assumed that was the reason for his trip. I get that. I’ve experienced the familial pull to come home when living away.

But, in a pandemic?

To Texas?

And the birthday story seemed to be evenly split between people who take their health for granted and people whose age puts them at risk on top of any other underlying conditions that may be present.

I kept it low key with a private response to his post…

He seemed so much smarter than that level of behavior. He consistently wore his mask while at protests – not even doing that dumb thing people do where they pull down their mask to talk.

But here he was, traveling to Texas and immediately exposing his family to whatever he brought in from Oregon as he loaded up with whatever the Texas fam had to give him to bring back…by not wearing a mask at either the birthday party or the wedding.

And then he publicly posts my private message to him on his story.

It was super nice of him to block out my profile pic – which is just the cover of my first book, including my name but no picture of mine truly. His response was…uninspired.

And after that, I was done with the conversation and went back to watching The X-Files. If he’s in that headspace where he’s defending his brand over his individual wants and whims, I have heard that song too many times.

That’s his nearsightedness. I didn’t really feel the need to let him practice his validations and rationalizations on me.

Little did I know, he wasn’t done. When I checked back in before bed, he’d added like four new thoughts to what had become his one sided conversation. Apparently, he was going to practice his PR regardless of input from me.

So, I spared my words in response and gave him the “Sure, Jan” and “Live Long & Prosper” emojis and went to bed.

It’s amazing how hard someone will work to defend their actions instead of thinking, “Geez, people will probably have an issue with this action…maybe I shouldn’t post it until a future date, if at all”.

One path certainly seems like less effort.

But also…less attention.

You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is saved by people clapping? I think that’s what it is, clapping…it could be something else. And not to draw any unintentional lines between The Gays and stereotypes like Tinkerbell…but that’s what’s going on here. This guy can’t not do the right thing and not engage in risky behavior by attending a wedding in Texas – which was certainly a myopic decision in and of itself by the bride & groom. Nor can he not get the attention – positive or negative, because he comes right out and says that he knew people would take issue with his decision – for participating so he just throws out his videos for the world to lavish him with attention in any form.

Look. The Fuck. At. Me.

I see you.

No, no…I see you.

Your validation for going is that it was your best friend, who apparently holds you in such high regard that he invited you to his Hot Zone Wedding. You back that up with some Swiss cheese pseudo-scientific BS about keeping your masks on until picture time – and I’m sure that the virus would certainly respect your need for photos at this wedding and not take advantage of your naked faces. Just like smoke did in bars when it was permissible – it never made anyone’s clothes reek of smoke but the people who actively smoked inside.

Riiiight.

For good measure, he reminded me that he’s a social worker and that two of his friends that attended are teachers and parents.

That didn’t make me feel any better at all for the future. Actually, it made me feel low key bullied…so I haven’t engaged with him about his going on three day layover in Seattle on his way home from Texas – so much for that quarantining he assured me he was going to do when he returned.

Please, be realistic

Exhibit C:

I’m taking a break – I’m exhausted reliving this…should I mention it all happened over the course of 30 hours? From the first Exhibit, which is actually C, to now – the point at which I need a break because my eyes are crossing from reliving these experiences…

BRB.

Aaaand…it’s been two days. Trust me, Exhibit C is just continuing to make me believe that we are going to “evolve” into nearsighted cyclops.

Cyclopses? What the hell is the plural of cyclops? Moreover, should I just know this by this point in my life?

I don’t know…

So, longtime readers/followers should have a ton of problem picking out my triggers from this post I found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Wait, I guess it’s my feed, but the friend’s post appeared on it.

Anyone want to go first?

No? Ok…<deep breath>

First, generalizations. All non-cis-male and non-white people were rioting prior to RBG’s death. ✅

Second, they attacked white cis-men, while not acknowledging that up until maybe two years ago, they enjoyed that label, even if only as a product of other people’s assumptions. ✅

Third, they are using emotionally charged words and absolutes. Also, misusing the word “literally”. Absolutes OM particular are credibility dealbreakers for me. When people say things like “everyone” or “all the time”, etc, I pretty much crack my knuckles and prepare to slap my trust buzzer. Hard.

Fourth, and there’s no way you could have known this – they posted this shit from Norway, where they enjoy dual citizenship thanks to a parent with the poor judgment to move to Amerikkka during the Bush 2.0 years. When it got too stressful here, they booked a trip the fuck outta here, so…yeah, tell me again how you’re out protesting the state of America before the white cis-men?

Fifth – for extra credit – yes, it only took two comments before the impact of the potential damage this inaccurate shitpost could create became clear: a commenter asked them to make it shareable and by the time I screen shot this, it had been shared 3 or 4 times. So, basically, this inaccurate and emotionally malignant post was being shared as some sort of internet wisdom.

My comment – which was third – was exactly

Generalize much?

That earned me only a 😡 reaction from the poseur poster, which I had to call out along with enumerating my issues with the factual and moral issues I had with this post. The response I got was basically “What I meant was” followed by the same inaccurate statement including absolutes and emotionally charged words. But in all caps, apparently for clarity.

We’ve gone back and forth for three days now. And I say “we”, but really, it’s been me engaging three friends of theirs, two of whom blocked me after responding, which earned them the nickname of Seagulls since they just flew in, shit on me and then flew off again.

Have I mentioned that using the block button usually signals to me that someone knows on some level that they have no valid position to argue, so they don’t. But instead of admitting their error, they just block the person who pointed out their error.

Very mature, I know.

Anyway, this original poster has popped in twice after his all cap non-response. Once to reply only “Yikes” to a rebuttal of mine to one of their friends. The other to comment something like “Yeah, see?!?” to another friend’s comment to me – which was basically a personal attack like “This is why no one likes you”.

This example of myopic behavior – nothing matters but my rights and I will tell you if you’re supporting me wrong – is particularly bothersome to me. The implication is that they aren’t happy and the cost for that is that no one else can be happy.

Only then will things be right.

In this case, the wronged party is a trans woman, whose deadname I respectfully forgot – also CRS – in spite of the fact that their chosen name reads like syphillis. Even though I know their chosen first name represents the Earth in Norse mythology and is also the wife of Thor.

Humble, no?

People who fancy themselves social activists need to be responsible. The theme of the rebuttal comments were basically targeted at the gall I displayed by daring to challenge a minority group member’s inaccurate language.

Imagine. Me, an old white man. I seemed to be the only one concerned with how close this post came to demonstrating that equality wasn’t the goal, punishing people who had more or got more sooner was the only acceptable outcome.

These individuals had zero problem setting aside the fact that we were members of the same subculture – that being the LGBTQI+ community – and how dare I call for unity when I am white and cis-gendered.

Really?

I most certainly made a comment that they – the original poster, not all commenters (gender neutral pronouns are sometimes real head-scratchers in conversation) – were behaving immaturely as evidenced in both their irresponsible choice of words and their intractable stance at how potentially destructive they were. But I followed that up with the fact that despite how often I see posts that I feel miss the target, I’m still supporting my community with my vote.

Not because they prove through their words and actions that they deserve equality – they don’t, as a matter of fact, Pride season any more just makes me want to stand on a corner holding up a cardboard sign saying “What have you actually done to feel proud?” because I can’t tell what it is anymore – but because equality is the right way to vote.

Despite the fact that marriage equality – since it was the example used in the post – isn’t something I vote for for my own selfish reasons, as my marrying ship has sailed. I vote for candidates who espouse continued support of that right and others – DACA, Roe, ObamaCare – because the rights of younger generations with their futures ahead of them deserve these rights.

Despite the fact I’ll likely not personally avail myself to them.

In spite of the petty manner in which they demand these rights and the manner that they destroy their own culture from inside in pursuit of them.

I vote for what’s right.

Sometimes I feel like our country can be divided into two factions that are beyond politics or religion:

Binocular Vision vs Monocular Vision?

That seems like a fairly safe way to phrase it. It’s only vaguely threatening to a myopic citizen’s ego.

It’s certainly safer than a more overt but nonetheless accurate Adults vs Children. Not that it matters, regardless of how one labels the two factions, I’m not sure the adults can stop the children from what I’m convinced will be a pyrrhic battle to get their way.

I’m sad and scared to think of how much further into the bowl this country can swirl before it disappears.

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

What Year Is It?

If I can paraphrase the prophet, Morris Day…

Who, by the way, played a house party gig at the frat that tried to recruit me into their coven house in college.

Pike for life!

Anyway, 2020 has been a hell of a decade…so far.

I believe it’s day 11 of smokepocalypse (credit to The Kids for bringing that moniker to life) and to be honest, the last 11 days feels longer than the last 6 months.

I can’t see the sun.

One day, things look like they are improving to merely unhealthy air quality, the next we’re bitch slapped back into hazardous air quality by a Mother Nature who seems quite clearly to have had enough of our shenanigans. On the third day of smokepocalypse, the day the high east winds stopped, there was blue sky over Portland. For whatever reason, the smoke bank was cleaved in two and sat over Salem and Vantucky. It was like that for two days, both ended with the smoke rolling back in as dusk fell.

On the third day – day 5 of smokepocalypse – the smoke bank stayed and hadn’t left since.

During the pandemic lockdown, I was able to escape my daily detente with Myrtle by hitting the road for 10 rides and a few hours. As lockdown wore on, those 10 would become 15 and then 20 and once even 30 as people ventured out on missions of essential work or restocking.

Sidebar: I’m finally down to my last roll of crapping paper – having split a Costco pack with the Silver Fox back around December ’19…if you ever wonder why I seem full of crap, apparently it’s because I pace myself?

Anyway, I’ve discovered something that will finally get people to obey Stay Home orders – and even mask directives, for the most part – over the last 11 days: living in the city with the worst air quality on the planet. Seriously, I celebrated having an AQI under 300 yesterday – normal is <50 – only to have it rocket back up to the high 300s after dark.

It’s too bad, though, this sudden willingness of people to stay home. Not only has my escape from solitude disappeared. No longer can I escape to my strictly social, non-alcoholic happy hour in my car. These days, going out means as long as 20 minutes between rides…and I’m lucky to get 5 before my eyes burn from the smoke entering the car as people get in and out.

On top of that, the trips are short! Like, “I’m so glad you’re driving so I didn’t have to walk (3 blocks) in this” short. While I’m glad they don’t have to walk in this either, those bitches and bastards and whatever similar label is appropriate for non-binary folx that resent heteronormative labels could bother to tip.

I mean, if they really did appreciate my effort. I’m not filling the tank with a half dozen minimum fare rides. I didn’t expect tips when I started driving, but now they motivate me by representing a real-time report card on my efforts. There’s a star rating – that I’ve managed to maintain at a 5-star level over my ~2300 rides.

However, since it defaults to 5-star if the rider doesn’t specifically override it, I don’t consider this much of a barometer. So I gauge my performance off of the percentage of riders who tip. 50% is what I call “needs improvement” and normal for me is around 65%.

Sadly, there have been too many days like this

Thank the Lyft Lords for that Lux ride, but do much for that 10:05 ride. I never mind picking up peeps at strip clubs – although, I find the performers to be far better company than the clientele – except when it’s a 35 minute closing-time ride with a woman hating Eastern European woman hating man. That $5 tip was not enough to unhear the crap he spewed.

Ugh.

But, in his defense, he was one of two tippers that night. Overall for the day, less than one-third…if I bend over backward far enough, I can convince myself that tip levels like that are a micro-factor of the overall economy.

It’s easy enough to believe. Shit is pretty bad in a service industry town like Portland these days.

Which could also be a factor in why people are staying home – smoke or no.

Fortunately for the sake of my (in)sanity, I’ve mentally edited a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on. Meaning, I haven’t actually done anything.

But I’ve also indulged in some creative problem solving. Here’s my prevailing theoretical solution for Portland’s smoke problem – since the weather people can’t seem to conjure any rain:

The 2020 Proud Boy of the Year Awards

Yes, it’s still 2020.

Think of it, this faux ceremony could draw even the Grand Dragon in Chief himself! Something like this is about the only way to lure Trunt to liberal Portland.

Because of the numbers I expect, we would need to hold this outside, even though that skirts dangerously close to following guidelines for larger gatherings. Maybe the event could take place at Waterfront Park. I know the Proud Boys like to hang out there…at least when liberal groups announce they are holding a rally there.

Note to self: get BLM supporters to volunteer as ushers.

Of course, no masks would be expected. Not wearing them would be encouraged.

And that’s the brilliant part! These stupid mouth breathing lame-o-sapiens Americanus would filter the smoke out of the air while hate screaming their assundry – is that not a word? – and mind boggling mantras.

Then they would all go home and die of emphysema or asthma or whatever lung related terminal malady you prefer. Rasping with their last death rattled breath,

See? I told you COVID was a hoax!

Poof.

Clean air in Portland once again and fewer harmful minds reproducing and replicating their ignorance just because unrestricted coitus is their right.

Damnit.

So, yeah…how are you passing time in the smokepocalypse?

What Year Is It?

Hey, You!

Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

Just Arizona.

I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

Simple pimple.

Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

Okay, then.

Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

Do you even need more than one guess?

Arizona State.

Why?

Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

“They have a great business school”.

Wharton is a great business school…

<crickets>

From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

Hey, You!

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