Conspired & Expired

Someone once said about the wilderness that everything in nature was trying to kill you.

Another someone said that it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you

Well, readers…I am where those two potentials intersect. I’m going to leave you to look up sources yourself, because I have a short tale to tell.

For years, my dad has – as is his way – quietly espoused the virtues of soup. More recently, the Silver Fox has hijacked that same bandwagon – as is more his way.

The other week, The Fox and I bellied up at Tanner Creek for a dinner and some drinks. His – and potentially my one day – neighbor and I ordered the radicchio and apple salad, which we both love. The Fox opted for…soup. He does this occasionally, he likes soup.

Fine.

I can take that low key degree. He’s no soupaholic after all. But just before his soup arrives, the chef comes out and says hi to us. We’re all three chummy with her, so we expect a drop-in if she’s working.

Cookie: Did they tell you about the special?!?

She’s glowing – which as a newly in love person, isn’t big news. This night, however, it’s because said special is a soup.

The Silver Fox is beside himself. Losing more marbles over this disclosure than I thought he had remaining in inventory. Immediately, he orders it.

Me: You ordered the other soup, are you switching?

Him: No, I’m ordering a second serving!

I could see he was shocked I would seemingly suggest two were too many soups.

Him: I don’t care. I love soup!

Yeah, yeah…a septuagenarian right of passage, it seems. Although, one he seems perfectly willing to pretend has been a constant in our dining out universe.

It hadn’t.

Cookie: Our soup of the day is gaslight.

Not to be outdone, mom and dad show up a few days later on the calendar for lunch. They have cleaned grandpa’s “non-perishables” out of his cabinets. I notice because when I climb in the back seat, there’s a ripped paper bag still trying to be full of canned goods sitting next to me.

After commenting on the condition of the bag, knowing the embarrassment of paper bags at grandpa’s and wondering why someone wouldn’t double-bag canned goods, they are proffered to me: the favorite child and also the least likely to take an interest in my own sustenance.

I demur, despite the box of Kraft’s finest nestled into the pulpy gash.

After lunch, they take it up again. This time, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach them the consequences of being too polite. No part of me thinks they thought it mentioned “Hey, let’s bag this shit up for the oldest disappointment boy!”

So when they insisted, I decamped the backseat and too the bag. I looked positively homeless or hapless walking into my building with this bag of canned goods cradled in my arms like a stolen child.

Later that night, when I unpacked the bounty, I felt guilty and sent this text to mom.

Yeah, I’d taken a bag of soup out of my dad’s backseat.

The guilt!

Of course, that passed the next day when I made the purloined Mac & Cheese…

November of 2017?!?

Turns out that was a box of Kraft Karma & Cheese!

I’m not complaining, I figure this event has two benefits:

First, balance. As much as the older generations cling to their passion for all things slurpy, I reach back to my Mac & Chz like Linus and his blanket.

Second…resilience. My toddler-in-college diet hasn’t killed me yet and 5+ year old Mac & Cheese didn’t manage the task. For all I know, this is what kept grandpa going until just weeks shy of his 100th. Obviously, I’m not done suffering meant to be here. I’d like to see a cockroach do as well against that aged box as I did. It would die before ever getting it opened…and I ate the whole damned yellow-dye-#7-including thing in one sitting.

Come at me, karma!

Please?

I shouldn’t tempt fate or beg…you just know that means I’m going out Elvis-style – sans drugs, of course! I’m a good boy.

…and since I’ve mentioned all of that, I may as well tell you that I’m 40% of eating my way through those soup cans! With my dad and The Fox as role models…I never stood a chance against them!

Conspired & Expired

Touched…Appropriately

As I mentioned in my last post, another year of my life recently expired. I believe I may have also mentioned that January has been a crap month.

Where. To. Start…

Let’s see, for those members of the TL/DR club who don’t get the above references or click on the links: my car, Angela, spent a week in the shop getting a surprise two-day repair completed. A week. The repair was $2500 and the extra time in the shop cost me another $1500 in driving income. Additionally, I forked over several thousand dollars to Multnomah County for unpaid business taxes that I was unaware TurboTax did not file. Note to self: start a GoFundMe.

In the middle of all of that, my grandfather died. We’re saying he pulled a Betty White, kicking it just seven weeks shy of his 100th. In my mind, I’m choosing to believe he either A) likes older women and wanted to keep his afterlife opportunities with Betty open; or, B) was taking a shot at teaching his family one final life lesson about getting our hopes up since I think we were all looking more forward to him becoming a centurian than he was. Either way, well played, gramps.

He died on the ninth and my birthday was on the twenty-first. We buried him on the twentieth.

You know where this is going…

When the year starts off like a twisted version of a John Hughes movie plot, it can’t be a good harbinger. Is this the theme for the coming year…Sixteen Fifty-four Candles?

If that’s the case, then this year better end up with something like this

Sidebar: The burial was pretty sweet for as fucked up a thing as death is. Back in the 70s, in a fit of post-divorce adulting, grandpa bought two cemetery plots – one for him and the other for his mother. Well, in ‘74, his older brother passed himself away committed suicide and grandpa gave up his plot for him since his wife and kids basically disowned him after that final act. His thought was that he’d pick up a neighboring third plot at some point and they’d all lay there together until the next asteroid. Well, after his mom died in ‘7…8? – maybe ‘76, I’ll lean on that old memory trope as a scapegoat – he pretty much forgot* to do it. So my dad and uncle decided to have grandpa cremated and then buried over his mother’s grave. Aaaaw. Now the three are together, almost as planned.

It’s a good thing he was cremated, too, because in a fit of communication breakdown between my sister and I, we listed several of grandpa’s non-epic-mid-century furnishings for free online – don’t worry, we’re selling/trying to sell the epic stuff. Sis took CraigsList and I went to Facebook Marketpkace. The breakdown came in regards to grandpa’s bed. When sis said to list it for free, I assumed she meant with the mattress, since the other two bedroom sets were similarly listed.

Wrong.

The spare room beds were used for days each year, while grandpa’s bed was used daily a lot more. But I listed it as a headboard, frame and mattress…and someone was happy to take it for the low, low price of $0.

Lesbian someones.

They picked it up one day before the rest of the crew arrived. When the fam eventually did arrive, I tried to steer them into grandpa’s bedroom for a nice surprise. When they didn’t bite, I told them. My sister went and looked – I don’t think she didn’t believe me, but it was still funny that she chose then to go down the hall.

Sis: Where’s the mattresses, did you move them to the garage?

Me: (laughing) No…they took them.

Sis: They did?!? Chris! Why did you let them have them? They were so old and gross.

Me: <cough, cough> Things grandpa’s last date said! <cough>

It was then that I told her that the takers were lesbians.

It may help to know that for a couple decades, I openly referred to my grandfather as The Grand Dragon for his backwards thoughts on minorities. While everyone else in the family seemed content to write that off as “the way he was raised” I couldn’t. Especially after coming out myself – something I feel the need to state as fact since there’s almost literally no evidence at all to support it aside from a moderate and only randomly occurring lisp. I wasn’t convinced he would change, but I wasn’t going to give bad behavior my tacit approval by granting him my presence. Lo and behold, the man shut up. I have to credit him with that, whatever prompted the change in behavior.

Me: Good thing we had grandpa cremated, because if we hadn’t, you know he’d be spinning in his grave right now!

Mom: (out of nowhere) Christopher!

Damned Mom Ears.

Ok, back to me!

My family didn’t go full Sixteen Candles on me – probably because I mentioned the fact that this timing was drawing potential attention away from me, but since it wasn’t a big birthday, that was…ok. My sister suggested she and her hubster take me out for drinks after we put grandpa in a hole the service and that I should invite the Silver Fox – yes, that’s what my family calls him, too.

Then they showed up to the service with my mom and dad in tow. Apparently, dad wasn’t feeling super the morning of the burial, so they came together. Fortunately, he rallied and we all went for drinks after, with The Fox meeting us.

That’s plenty for me. I joke about wanting attention. It’s only a joke. Let’s not remind me of what my traitorous mirrors refuse to let me forget.

But my sister being the nurturer that she is, brought me a lil something to commemorate the occasion

Plus a couple of beers from a local brewery where she lives – but photo evidence of that is not available for whatever reason. Now, it would help to know that she put on her Hints From Heloise hat during our vacation after seeing the white paint scarring my Angela’s bumper – she’d been attacked by one of the posts in the Silver Fox’s parking garage. Unbeknownst to her, I had listened to her and gotten the Magic Erasers as she had recommended. They worked great…and then I apparently forgot (see above) to mention it to her, so now you’re up to date.

On top of that, and either because of the timing of my birthday and grandpa’s service or just because he’s awesome, The Fox had enlisted Diezel’s help in a Sunday night dinner to celebrate my birthday. They took me to Farmhouse Kitchen – which was highly recommended by another blogger Dr Maria – and we filled up on ridiculously good Thai food. And drinks, of course, who’s style made me wonder if this restaurant chainlet was owned by a K-Pop group.

I mean, seriously…a drink in a disco ball glass. But it was amazing. I just tried to not think about the poor bastard who has to wash these glasses! And just take in what you can see of the decor in the background…I told you it looked like a tax shelter for a K-Pop band!

Plus, cake!

Obviously, I’m well cared for by my friends and family. And remember from the above- referenced post that I was too busy with family stuff and driving that I didn’t have the bandwidth to check in on the birthday goings-on on the FB, which I felt bad about. Turns out, there was no need for guilt as I’d forgotten that I’d made my birthday private sometime during the pandemic…if you’ll allow me to lean on the old brain trope once more. Last time. I promise. Today.

Despite hiding my birthday on social media, I still got several calls from friends and former colleagues – that I ignored, because how dare they! – and texts from acquaintances. Not to mention this lil package that showed up late one night last weekend.

It was from The Kids. At first I thought it was just some cute Christmas treats, but then opened the card. It was a Sorry For Your Loss card and just said the sweetest things. Made me all mushy inside. They’d also included a very flat, very smooth stone that they suggested I rub my worries out on (don’t go there, Diezel) and a $20 to have a couple of drinks on them.

Can you fucking believe it? I was certainly surprised.

So much for the pity party I had planned to throw myself. Fucking awesome friends…where do they get off? The gall!

Now, I feel like I should do something to live up to the attention I’ve had heaped upon me…maybe some Xtopher New Year resolutions – yes, I have my own New Years. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that.

*Side-sidebar: Things grandpa didn’t get around to doing in a century of life; A) purchase third burial plot; B) notarize his will. So this is fun times, but now you know my proChristination comes hard-wired into my genes.

Touched…Appropriately

That’ll Do, Nic. That’ll Do.

If you haven’t watched the movie Pig, stop reading and do it now.

I’m waiting. I’m also not guaranteeing this will be a no spoilers situation. Not sure how I feel, and since I write by the seat of my pants…who knows what will happen in a blog post?

Not me.

I’m usually as surprised as anyone.

Here’s a shorthand of the movie.

Divided by

Plus

Equals

I shit you not. Watch it and tell me I’m wrong.

I watched this today during my “lunch break” with the Silver Fox. I was not prepared for the storyline or the execution.

I’d heard it was one of a couple recent Nicolas Cage films that showed a return to independent versus studio films. And I knew it was filmed in Portland. Let’s face it, I’ll watch any show that was filmed in town.

I love Portland. When the city costars in something, I have to watch it. It’s simply quite beyond my control.

All I knew going into the film is that it starred Nic Cage and had a pig in it. I was all, “Well, that’s Portland enough for me”…but then couldn’t rally myself to a theater to see it in a pandemic. FWIW, Tom Holland couldn’t get my old, gay ass back to the theater, and you can stick your NAMBLA (Google it) jokes in a sock. Suffice to say, it’s been a long road to recovery for this I’ll-see-anything-as-long-as-there’s-popcorn moviegoer.

But this movie brought more than just a weird guy in the forest with a pet pig. It poked fun at Portland’s foodie scene, from the diners to the service industry folk that make it work – at least I hope that underground restaurant fight club scene was tongue in cheek. But then it juxtaposes those scenes with scenes so raw about how chefs create not just food but future generations of chefs and restauranteurs that will make you cry with just a few words.

Then there’s the storyline of the second person you see on screen – and instantly hate. Well, disrespect. Watching the relationship between these two evolve over 90 minutes is amazing.

After the last couple months of TV viewing as a distraction from what I reluctantly call a life…this film is a welcome and quality break.

Did you watch it? Tell me what you thought in the comments. And if you haven’t yet complied with my earlier instructions…the pig dies at the end.

That’s what you get, punk.

That’ll Do, Nic. That’ll Do.

4

There’s a first time for everything, they say.

Sidebar: there will be no sidebar tangent on the whole “they” phenomenon of deferring judgment of our own to that faceless, possibly all-knowing cabal known only as they. But you just know I’m dubious of their wisdom. Especially if they simply turn out to be nothing more than garbage-variety stupid Americans. <gasp>

There does, though, seem to be a first time for everything.

Just about two weeks ago now, I got my first non-5-star ride rating from a passenger.

4.

I was amazed at how much this affected me. I mean…

Out of about 7300 rides at that time, one measly 4-star rating. I couldn’t tell if it was the loss of my 5-star streak after almost two and a half years (August 2019-December 2021) or the overwhelming randomness of its presence against over 7000 other ratings.

I mean, I know not everyone bothers to rate me after a ride. In those instances, my rating defaults to a 5-star automatically.

Maybe it was that she chose to click a box to support her rating.

Unsafe Driving.

Yeah….that was probably it.

I’m not meant to know who these ratings or comments come from. But this was a particularly gnarly week. It was the holiday week. And it snowed.

Of course, that created some shitty driving conditions. Particularly since the snow followed a day of rain where about 2” fell before sundown and carried on into the night. Snow was really only falling in the higher elevations…y’know, like 500 feet.

That’s high elevation for Portland!

But on Highway 26, coming into town, that created a real shit show driving situation.

That highway is a steep grade down hill into town – heck, out of town for that matter…I’d hydroplaned going uphill on this freeway on my way to the pickup. That takes some doing.

I digress. Water was running across the lanes and down hill, then running even deeper with traffic where tires had grooved each lane. It was like a liquid tic-tac-toe board.

Since we were still at about 400 ft above sea level and a good 150 ft above the valley floor, there was snow coming down with the rain. But not just any snow. It was big, wet flakes. Like Mother Nature’s minions had confused Portland’s weather with their children’s home room winter decor.

Seriously, these snowflakes looked like they were cut out of construction paper by second graders, they were so huge. When they hit the windshield, they made an audible thwack.

It was no Snow Falling On Cedar moment,

Highway 26 is also windy – in both senses of the word, but in this case you just need to know it was twisty and turny. Did I mention we were heading downhill?

Even going only 40 mph, I hydroplaned. Twice.

And this is the weather this suburbanite chose to go into town in.

Lucky me, I got to drive her.

And then she said my driving was unsafe.

Girl, your judgment is unsafe!

Best part? She tipped me!

That’s what really made her stand out. I knew it was a white knuckle ride. Mainly because I’m referring to my own knuckles! But I remembered seeing the tip and thinking that was really generous of her, given the hairy road and weather conditions.

Then she fucked me in the comments.

It wasn’t that big a tip.

Anyway, the app itself does a fairly good job of building in an occasional rogering for us drivers, too. In this case, it’s that we don’t see individual ride ratings, we get a weekly recap about nine days later. That means that I’ve given between 50-100 rides between the time someone rates their ride and I see the recap.

But! There’s an appeal process.

All I have to do is scroll through my history to the ride in question, mind you, this is all we see in our ride history

No addresses, rider names, rating…just the date, time and earnings. So, sure…let me scroll back through the rides for that day – I give 20-40 on Fridays and Saturdays – and take my best guess and then tap “I Was Rated Unfairly”. I can narrow it down by filtering out the riders that didn’t tip, but I’m usually getting tips from 40-60% of my riders, so of the 15 rides I gave that night during that nightlife ride window, I’m still gonna have to take my best guess out of about nine possible rides.

Nine days later.

On the plus side, the app does default to a 5-star rating if the passenger does nothing. And it’s not like I’m really suffering…

I mean, roughly 20-25% of my passengers enjoy the ride with me enough to bother to tap a button telling Lyft I’m friendly or go above and beyond during their ride. Hell, 1445 riders tapped a button saying I’m a good driver.

So, why let one rider out of 7300+ get under my skin?

I dunno. Maybe they are right. Maybe with me, it’s always gotta be something.

But, honestly? I think it’s C-PTSD. My therapist talked a little about this with me during my too-brief mental health tune up this past summer when Black Sheep Bro came prodigally back.

I can’t let go of something that’s wrong. Not easily, anyhow. It’s why I left my last professional job, and why I left my part time gig with Amazon. Not to mention one of my temp jobs – credit to me, though, I finished the assignment but passed on the request to extend when the owner asked for me to stay longer.

All of those situations had me in places where I was witnessing bad behaviors from leadership. I had to go. That’s my trigger, bad behaviors. Specifically, people getting away with them. Especially if that creates a double-standard.

This? This was just one passenger prioritizing Saturday night fun (or whatever night it was) over personal safety and then making it my problem/fault she felt unsafe. And tipping me to cushion the blow.

Or at least that’s how my mind spins the blanks that it fills in. Blanks that are created by the absence of immediate feedback.

Whaddyagunnado, though, right?!?

Normal People: Fuggeddabowdit!

Me: …

I tried to shake it off. Carry on like normal. Move on.

How that manifested in the doldrums between Christmas and New Years, though – when ride demand is down because people are holed up with family, not to mention the exacerbation Omicron added to the mix – was me trying to soldier on but failing to be busy enough to distract myself from the trigger.

I went out Monday to do some afternoon/rush hour rides. Because New Years weekend was so slow – seriously, NYE was a Friday and it’s typically my biggest night of the year…I did half the business I do on a regular Friday night! – so I quit “early”. After the ball drop, before last call. So, I had three make up rides to pick up in order to true up my Lifetime Rides number.

What? I like it to end in a 5 or 0. That’s not weird. It’s tidy. I’m fastidious!

Sheesh.

I was in my third make-up-rides ride, trying to decide how awful long another five rides would take – those three put me at the two hour mark, usually I do 3-4 rides in one hour – when one of my drinking buddies texted me. I saw the preview drop down from the top of my phone, “Tanner Creek at 530?”

Fuck, yeah! That was a much more therapeutic better use of my time!

The next day, I got my 4-star ride. I didn’t drive again until Friday. Outside of my vacation in October, I hadn’t taken three days off in a row since…I don’t even know when! In non-challenge weeks (where I drive about 25-30 hours), I’ll take three days off, sometimes even four. Just not together.

I didn’t get out of bed until after noon each day, including Friday. That was the week of bad Bruce Willis flicks where I stayed up until daybreak at least twice. I over ate, over drank, smoked too much weed and didn’t exercise at all.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give that week a…4.

But I came out the other side of it, so there’s that. Note to self: I gotta stop letting things get corkscrewed up into my psyche.

4

Must Distract TV?

I freely admit that my TV watchlist is certainly no “Must See” NBC Thursday Night Lineup, but a good many of the programs that streamers have put in front of me lately are barely presenting as fodder to keep me…let’s call it sedated.

While, not great shows for a variety of reasons, they are at least doing a fair job of keeping me disengaged from the surreality of the world around me. I can’t say that’s their explicit intent, but that assumption just seems slightly more generous than declaring them simply bad shows.

A sampling:

Leverage: Redemption

Maybe my memory of the original run of this show being “good” is clouded by the reality that it was shot in Portland. Maybe I’m just old and forgot that I didn’t like it originally, but tolerated it – see also: my first point.

Woo-boy, though. Lemme tell ya, the reboot sucks. Hard. Unless the point of the reboot is to showcase these actors’ skill in reading a line, then this is just painful to watch. And back to that whole “bad memory” possibility? I seem to remember thinking Noah Wylie could act at one point.

Just goes to show that acting is not like riding a bicycle…

Elite

Soapy and schmaltzy, this show is pure, dubbed brain candy. With a healthy side of nudity – which if I didn’t know these actors playing high school students were in their mid/late 20s, would make me feel weird. And since – as I pointed out to the Silver Fox – the nudity has a hearty, if not almost exclusive boy-butt-focus, that weirdness could be assuaged by handing me a priest’s collar, I’m willing to absolve myself.

And, boy…there sure are a lot of murders at this high school.

Grace & Frankie

I know…calling a show with such overt gay themes makes me a traitor to my own community. Again.

Me, the Voice of Treason.

But, again…it’s older actors demonstrating they can read a line off a cue card. Some of the writing is funny. Some of the scenarios are kooky fun. But it’s a little late in the game to reinvent the whole Lucy/Ethel trope which this show leans so heavily upon.

At this point, I just think it’s just Netflix pandering to older audiences to keep them engaged with Netflix as a viewing platform. If that’s the case, at least they are doing so with story lines designed-ish to appeal to younger, woke audiences: like the late in life gay story arc. In that regard, if they succeed with drawing Boomer and Greatest gen viewers, they are also engaging them with potentially mind expanding content.

There is a certain value to that.

The Snarky Car Insurance Commercial:

This was a surprise to me. But it’s a tip of the hat to the ridiculous horror movie writing paradigm.

Two couples run out of a corn field. One guy suggests they hide in the cellar, his girlfriend counters with the attic. A crying girl suggests they just hop in the already-running car, while her boyfriend popularly points out they could just hide out behind the wall of also-running chainsaws.

A masked man with dubious intent slowly shakes his head.

The voiceover states “When you’re in a horror movie, you make questionable decisions…”.

And when Americans are in lockdown, apparently, we do as well…medicating with stupid soapy TV (and plenty of booze, I’m sure) to make our way through.

As far as this commercial goes, though…can we just disable celebrating stupid? It’s like we learned nothing from 20+ seasons of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Stupid people are not entertainment. If we can’t use the word retarded to describe stupid people, let’s stop airing what equates to mutually-exploitative content featuring people with intelligence that…has not progressed in pace with the majority of people of similar age. TV like this, celebrating vacuous nitwits has just seemed to drag its audience of already stupid Americans down to their level.

It’s weird, I started this post as a draft in October! Then, in typical creative old Xtopher fashion, abandoned it. But this week I realized that my TV viewing hasn’t necessarily improved over the past quarter.

Sure, there were some standout binges with – and thanks to for making the content decisions – the Silver Fox on several of his trips up from his self-imposed exile in the hinterlands of Oregon. Shows that were new seasons of proven winners like Hanna and Lost In Space. Or the coming tomorrow new season of Euphoria.

Then again, I only got sucked into Elite as a result of his content suggestions, so…<shrug emoji>

On the other hand, though, lay my own questionable decisions. Decisions that are either better or worse since they are movies versus entire seasons of TV shows, so at best I’ve only lost a couple hours.

Right?

Nah.

Because it started with an innocent viewing of Divergent after a late dinner earlier this week. But then I proceeded to immediately watch the next two movies in the trilogy, resulting in a 6 AM bedtime. That’s right, I pulled an all-nighter for a Young Adult movie series.

Blame it on the imminently watchable but better on low volume Theo James.

The worst part? I couldn’t immediately fall asleep because I couldn’t figure out if I disliked Shailene Woodley more than Jennifer Lawrence from the Hunger Games movies. I fell asleep at least knowing that I like Hunger Games more than these movies…

As a palate cleanser, I decided to watch 12 Monkeys after reading an article about Bruce Willis’ “19 Best Movies”. Plus, I missed my annual Christmastime viewing of Die Hard (#2 on the list, BTW). I remember thinking, “Well, he’s made way more than 19…” and then got distracted by not being able to find 12 Monkeys for free on any of my streaming apps. Having just spent ~$15 getting burned by renting the Divergent movies, I decided it was best to try to scratch my Bruce Willis itch with a free movie. On the plus side, it was less than 90 minutes long, so I’d be on with my day in no time!

Nothing. No satisfaction whatsoever. A Bruce Willis Itch FAIL. And, that was 90 minutes of my time I wasn’t getting back. Lesson learned: when Willis isn’t the top billed actor in an action movie, that’s a red flag. So the next day, on to another.

I began to wonder if this guy ever actually made good movies. When you read in the trivia section of IMDb that Willis shot all of his scenes in one day…maybe don’t let your curiosity get the better of you.

It’s like I didn’t believe myself when I said “If Willis isn’t the top billed actor in an action movie, that’s a red flag”. Maybe this just proves that old actors reading lines isn’t limited to just TV series.

Or maybe it proves that I didn’t want to watch 12 Monkeys so much as I wanted a shot at seeing Brad Pitt drop trou. Hard to say. I did finally manage to scratch my Bruce Willis cinematic itch by watching Looper. Now, that was a hidden gem. Or one everyone else knew about, but I missed. And with Joseph Gordon Levitt as a co-star, I got a collateral Hollywood Heartthrob fix to satisfy the Brad Pitt’s naked butt quotient.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read a book.

Must Distract TV?

I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Not to steal Liz Lemon’s thunder, but…I can. The Silver Fox even said so.

What is “it all”?

Well, nothing but kind of everything? Situationally, to me, at least.

First, there’s the Dry Happy Hour that I call work. Driving for Lyft. Seriously, I just sit around and chat with strangers. How is that work? Legitimately, if we had drinks it would be exactly what I do at Happy Hour when my friends aren’t around to join.

Well, I’ve struggled to get my mojo back since vacation in early October. I usually put in around 25 hours a week, but the second a third weeks of October, I didn’t always manage that. Plus, before vacation, I’d been putting in more hours to allow me to save for…a new condo next Spring.

I’m no longer sure that’s my goal, and I know that is part of my recent apathy: no clear goal. So the bonus that Lyft runs occasionally was a welcome jump start at the end of October. It’s an up to $377 bonus for giving 135 rides in a week. It usual means a 45-50 week of driving.

Then there was this day to ice that cake:

Yeah, I drove all night on October 30th and earned $1031! Not bragging, specifically, but I’m too amused y earning “Halloween” dollars on Halloween Eve.

Then Lyft dropped the same bonus for a second consecutive week. I was pretty wiped out from last week and only managed 16 rides Monday-Thursday. I’d kind of resigned myself to not meeting the 114 ride minimum threshold for the first tier bonus. Then I had an epic Friday night, where I “one more ride”-ed myself to a personal record of 40 rides in one night and suddenly the first tier was within my grasp.

Gotta love rainy weekends for lots of short rides.

I’m on my way out to wrap up the final 24 rides…but then I saw this in my app this morning.

A third week?!? Here’s what I sent to The Fox that prompted his all-caps support.

Ten thousand dollars in four weeks? It’s within reach, and would certainly help me get October’s derailing back on track.

Except

There’s the whole exercise thing. Since getting my Peloton, I’ve managed to work out about 5 days a week. Even during my vacation! But looking at my October results, you can see the struggle.

Ugh.

So my balancing act challenge has been to get in some exercise and drive. Pretty achievable…except October.

And now I think I can add in a third objective: NaNoWriMo.

Oh, the absolute hubris.

Fifty thousand words on a novel project in the month of November. I sat it out last year – because I struggle to do anything that I think of as “work” at home.

Writing straddles that line between work and hobby.

Blog? No worries.

Novel? Nah, that’s work…other people make money doing that type of thing.

But, while I haven’t been able to manage working on any of my story ideas at home, I’m capable of kicking around ideas all day long, no matter where I am. I hit the ground running – kinda, you should read that as proChristinating – with NaNoWriMo. Five thousand words in the first two days. Then I got back into gear with driving on Friday and have only added a couple thousand words since then.

It’ll come back, though. I wrote 50k on my first NaNo in two weeks. I’ve still got three weeks left in November, so I’ll definitely get across that finish line.

But the next week is gonna be a frenzied hell trying to manage all three of these goals.

Remember, though…I CAN HAVE IT ALL! At least for a week.

I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Conversations With My Cat

Me: Is that you or me that smells like cat poop?

Mistress Myrtle: I think it’s you.

Me: And I think it’s you, Myrt.

Mistress Myrtle: <gazes at me inscrutably>

Me: So, you admit it was you? <sits up>

Mistress Myrtle: <continues staring>

Me: Oh, god…you were right. What did I eat?!?

Mistress Myrtle: How did you not even realize you farted, Stoopid Hooman?!?

This is pretty much the disdainful regard that I expect my cat holds for me. Despite, it seems, a post-vacation affection she also seems to be displaying.

Like, we’re talking daily cuddles versus the pre-vacation quarterly allotment I was afforded. It could be a throwback reflex to her early childhood abandonment issues.

I was, after all, her fourth home when I adopted her at a year and a half of age.

Still, if that were the case – gratitude at my tolerance for her return-to-the-pound-worthy behaviors, why not have graced me with these cuddly rewards earlier in our going-on-six-year relationship?

The answer?

Tortitude.

That’s like catitude on steroids.

Torties are notoriously and viciously psychotic.

Psycatic, if you will.

So I’m reveling in this abandonment-flashback-induced post-vacation affection that I’m receiving.

To wit:

<End photo dump>

Mind you, this is against the backdrop of the Silver Fox’s caretaking. He seemed proud that my dire warnings of Myrtle’s Protest Poops seemed unfounded. A smug security that lasted only until Day 5 of his sentence tenure feeding my lil beast. Then he contritely provided photographic evidence of his dethroning as a special human in Myrtle’s estimation.

Ironically, in a post-vacation conversation, he also divulged his slight concern that she only peed once while I was gone. I was all, “No, Boomer, she peed. She peed…” knowing that this damn cat of mine prefers peeing in carpets versus in her box.

Specifically, area rugs. I’ve gone through three area rugs, a hallway runner, my neighbor’s doormat, a bathroom rug and a bath mat. Having removed all common area rugs from my condo and kept the bathroom door consistently closed, I had foolishly thought myself out of the woods.

Alas, the rubber-ish sweat mat under my Peloton seems to work just fine for her in whatever she perceived as a pinch. I’m a crazy twist, her litter box in a foot away from my exercise bike.

But, to let me know that I’m still at the top of her disdain list, she gifted me this little Myrtle Bomb 30 hours after I returned.

And, yes…she bothered to do this while I was home.

I’m going to eat some therapeutic junk food…

Conversations With My Cat

People

…and other petty nuisances.

I kid, it’s just people this time. Or…once again?

I gave up on finished my driving “shift” earlier than I anticipated tonight. Usually, when I drive on Friday or Saturday, I’ll do “doubles”, meaning I’ll go out for ten rides early in the day, take a break and then go out for another ten later to get the Party People to the places they need to be. I’d planned to drive a double today, since it’s a holiday weekend and most folks are off tomorrow. But a regular ten usually takes about three to four hours. However, today that ran to five hours and I’m just kind of done. Thankfully, they were long rides, but since I had an idea of how my day would go – drive, home to exercise, second shower, eat and then drive some more – and that went off the rails, I decided to call it at 8 o’clock and catch a beer at my local, since they are closed tomorrow.

I walked in and there were two parties waiting for tables, no surprise. There were five stools at one of the corners of the bar – two on one side and three on the other – so I walked in and casually placed my order before my butt hit the stool.

I’d chosen the stool closest to the walk-through into the bar area, which was on the three stool side. My beer lands in front of me, I grind some salt onto my napkin/coaster to keep it from sticking to my glass as take a therapeutic lil sippy-sip.

Immediately, my bladder whispers “Hey, remember me?”, so I anon to the can to decant.

I return to find one of the waiting couples has wised up and decided to eat at the bar versus waiting for a table to open up.

Geniuses. Genii? I dunno, let’s go with geniuses.

Not so smart, mind you, that they’d each taken a seat on the corner so they can look at each other without craning their necks, as the Silver Fox and I do. Also, not so considerate that they sat on the two-stool side.

Yup…they chose to sit right fucking next to me. Now, because of COVID, they pulled the stools away from mine, so partial credit, but…still! You know what’s further away than pulling your stool away from mine? Sitting at the other two damn barstools!

People…<facepalm>

To make this perfectly horrible, the woman decided on the fish tacos, which I find particularly – and poorly – fragrant. Ugh.

I would like to assert that misophonia is contagious and mine has spread from my ears to my nose. The smell of these fucking tacos makes me mad. I suggested to the owner that he raise the price to steer people toward other menu items. Surprisingly, he didn’t agree with my logic.

Now, for the short observation behind this post.

Have you ever noticed the inverse nature of the relationships people have with their horn and their turn signal?

Seriously, I swear it’s a thing – and this is coming from a native Portlander, a city frequently called out for its bad drivers.

When someone wants to switch lanes, you can count on at least one tire to be in your lane before their turn signal is even activated. They’re changing lanes before signaling their intent…almost as if no one taught them the proper order. Let alone the entire process, teaching them to check their blind spots and then signal their intent before changing lanes.

<blink>

That’s right, then it’s literally one blink. I liken that to a civilized one-finger salute.

Conversely, let’s say you’re driving along and inadvertently make an error. Not letting someone zipper in on a merge lane, stopping too fast for a pedestrian…whatever, nothing life or death is what I’m saying.

Oooh, let the horn leaning begin!

These people, these fine, upstanding folk that will retroactively inform you of their intent to change lanes will honk like it’s literally a life or death situation.

What gives?

How can people who are so blithe about their responsibility to others be so egregiously offended when the same happens to them?!?

I ask here, because I assume it’s a safe space. At least a physically safe space. I know the interwebs can be a mentally abusive space.

This, by the way, comes from the guy who was menaced on the freeway today as he watched a motorcycle rider zig-zag in and out of traffic in his rear view mirror for about a half mile. Then he whipped right around me in a matter of seconds. As he passed, I saw his holstered handgun sticking out from under his jacket.

I guess when you drive like a jackass, you need some kind of backup. God bless the Second Amendment…

People

Upcoming Mask Mandate

One of the three counties Portland sits in announced it was implementing an indoor mask mandate, effective Friday, 8/13. The next day, the Governor made the same announcement for the state.

A while ago, I’d have made the joke that I’d prefer a masc man date over a mask mandate, but I don’t think it’s true at this point in my life. I’ve not fully given up the practice of masking up when I leave the house. I definitely put my mask on when entering a business. Well, before entering it – and I think that’s an important distinction.

The Silver Fox is in town for a while, so naturally I’ve been demanding he belly up with me as nightly as possible. Lost time and all.

Last night was no exception. We were sitting at the bar next door and I was low key astonished at how many patrons were walking in without masks and even moving about the restaurant maskless. I had my mask off while seated, which I get is nearly as arbitrary as the “smoking section” of bars back in the day.

Almost.

It’s as if these Stupid Americans have collectively decided to not see the rationale for announcing a start date. Namely, yo allow businesses to ramp to have policies and signage in place by the mandate’s start.

It’s certainly not a new restriction for patrons or businesses, just a return to a prior restriction. Anyone leaving their house should have a pile of these masks ready to go. As a citizen, our ramp should be immediate – although, I have heard stories of people therapeutically trashing their masks after the restrictions were originally lifted. That’s more of an exception, not a rule. Yet, here we are, customers largely running around businesses bare-faced and empty-headed until they are required to do the right thing.

So selfish.

Meanwhile, most businesses I frequent have had their staff back in masks for weeks – despite the latitude they had to behave otherwise. The grace period that I believe is for their benefit is largely unneeded.

At least I’m the businesses I regularly frequent.

This is why we’re all gonna die. Well, maybe. But it’s definitely the reason we’re all gonna be stuck in traffic forever if we do live.

Selfish animals, we are.

Upcoming Mask Mandate

I Joined A Cult

What? I’ve had free time, what did you expect an unsupervised, grumpy, old Xtopher to do…watch Mrs Doubtfire until 3 AM?

Ok, I did that, as well.

Phair warning, Fill – wait, that doesn’t look quite right – you might want to stop reading now. Just this post, though…tune in again next week.

I bought it. I’ve talked about it a little here before with mixed to neutral reactions…but I bought a Peloton.

Because it’s me…well, several things:

Alpha) I bought it used, because I’m cheap – which goes well with me being poor. Well, poor for a gay white guy. Privilege acknowledged.

Beta) I picked it up and took my first ride on April 1st…again, because it’s me and my fucked up sense of humor wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gamma) Crap. I’m having a C.R.S. moment…hopefully, it comes back to me in proof mode.

I’d planned this post for the first of July, just to give it a quarter to get some results under my belt. Then I lost 20 lbs in my first month of riding and could barely hold back posting about it then.

Luckily, my natural apathy and proChristination allowed me to resist that impulse.

But I really felt I needed to give myself a full quarter to develop consistent habits. Seemed fair enough, since I’d been holding the purchase out as a reward for consistency on my New Year’s Resolution of being more active and eating better.

Oh, it’s back!

Gamma) Since I am a grumpy, old man, I wasn’t going to wait 60 days for delivery. I was low-key scouring Craigslist for a used bike to jump the line. Like hell I was joining a club with a waitlist. I don’t do lines.

Anyhoo…slap my ass and call me a meteorologist, because I manifested a perfect storm. I got my bike without waiting and saved $800 by getting it second hand. The poor schlub I bought it off had decamped to his house in Hawaii over the pandemic and couldn’t find a moving company to take his bike from the she-she West Hills to Hawaii…so he just bought a new bike to be delivered there.

Glad I don’t have his unmitigated gall problems.

So, like I mentioned, I dropped 20 lbs in the first month, which I was very happy with. Month two got me to the right (for me) side of 200, which made sense as I started putting mean mass back on in my lil toothpick legs.

Definitely a trajectory I wouldn’t mind holding. That, of course, put me at my colonoscopy month. If you know the prep routine, you know…if you don’t know, I won’t ruin the surprise.

I didn’t expect to hold this weight – again, if you know… – but I could see it on the horizon. Today’s weigh-in put me right at 195.

Not a lot of wiggle room. But I’m getting plenty of salads and veggies – by comparison to the Before Diet, I’m sure my doc and mother would still happily see me eating more – so I expect between that snd continued consistency, sub-190 weights are within reason over the next 2-3 months. It would be great if I could get into the 180s by the six month mark.

See, we shall, hmm?

It’s been a fun <ahem> ride this far. I’m still excited to get on my bike, whether it’s participating in the monthly challenges, following specific crushes instructors, taking Artist Series rides or just the dreaded schlep to the scale that gets me there is a variety I can appreciate. Keeps my motivation from stagnating.

For instance, the first month I rode, I focused on getting Gold Medals in the Miles Rode and Days Active challenges. The thresholds are 50/100/150 miles ridden and 10/15/20 days active. Even taking Bronze in either is a win for anyone, regardless of one’s fitness level.

Month two, I was focused on streaks. In April, I managed a couple low streaks of active days. This was mainly due to my focus on riding versus other classes offered. They offer strength, stretching, yoga, boot camp and…probably some I forgot. In month two, I made sure to add in some strength and stretching classes. And I really needed the stretching! This also enabled longer active days streaks. I set a goal to get to a 10 day streak, and then took a couple days off and went into a 20 day streak.

Which took us to month three. And I’m just gonna say that a 20 day streak may have broken my mojo a tad. My active days dropped by half in July. But like I said, a Bronze Medal in my monthly challenges is better than nothing.

But after a month of “rest” – ie: active 14 days instead of 26 – I relearned something. Rest is a good thing! For the first week of August, I PRed four times out of four active days.

Apparently, not resting on my laurels equated to…

And, yeah…

So, between joining Peloton and doing an Artist Series ride featuring Justin Bieber music…I’d say I joined at least one cult. But considering I’m a native Oregonian, I could have done worse.

Again, if you know

Alright, now that I’m “out” about it, I’m accountable to people other than my own inner voices – who are also totally real people. Even if that also means getting filleted by Phil in the comments. Hehe…I’ll take it, because that also comes with the Silver Fox telling me that if I lose any more weight, I’m gonna need new clothes. Better that than the reality that I had one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts that fit at the beginning of April…and a whole drawer of tee shirts that didn’t fit. Still working on the fit looking good, but I’m enjoying the “fresh” wardrobe options after burning 30 lbs.

I Joined A Cult