Three Act Plays

That’s what they all are, right?

Plays.

Three acts is the norm. Sure Billy S did some shit back in the day. Then there was the occasional epic endeavor, like Angels In America, that had so many kicks to the heart balls to deliver that it needed to be broken up into two three act plays.

But overall, three gets the job done. Two, and people feel blessedly cheated. Four, and no one likes you.

Plus, there’s the whole “I can nap at home for free” chestnut among reluctant theater-goers. Four acts seems less like a nap than an entire damn night of sleep.

At least for my nearing-geriatric sleep patterns.

Why is this on my mind tonight?

Well, I just poured my third glass of wine. Emptying the bottle.

Heavy pour.

But it is in deference to a Silver Nugget – a phrase coined by Little Buddy about the secrets people started sharing with me when I turned 50. She – Little Buddy – is not yet 50, but enjoyed my sharing of privileged information here on this blog, and felt compelled to come up with a name for these aged secrets.

Being the Little Buddy that she is, this process involved an evolving train of thought on a text thread.

It was impressive, and I know I’ve failed to retrieve the best of her efforts from the impenetrable vault that is my memory. The fallout is mine to deal with.

The Silver Nugget in question came from my sister, who was not yet 50 at the time of this nugget’s disclosure. It was more of a hybrid wisdom: things of a life hack nature combined with parenting perks.

In this case, it was my sister pulling the epically resonating parental sacrifice offset of having my tween nephew refill her wine glass for her. He comes back into the room heeltoeing his way to her throne chair in order to avoid spilling anything from a glass that was filled so full, its meniscus existed only on a theoretical plane.

Being a highly decorated and multi-faceted snob, I had to make mention of the situation. It was also helpful – and I credit my Catholic upbringing for this skill – in deflecting my own uninhibited imbibing. An ongoing situation – clearly – for another time.

Being a mother, my sister coolly spared my judgment a total of zero fucks and set me straight.

“Why waste the trip?”

Fair point, but my snobbery was feeling robbed of a Karen moment.

Being in high end kitchen retail for several of my career years, I knew things.

I knew that a bottle of wine held five pours.

I knew that a proper pour was five ounces.

And I knew that wine glasses came in varietal sizes, designed to enhance the drinking experience by combining the sinuses and the palate for an optimal flavor experience. Overfilling the glass defeated these design endeavors.

Adding a total of zero additional fucks after hearing my objections, for a total of…<carry the none>…yes, zero actual fucks, my sister completely poo-pooed my criticism of her life choices.

I now know that was a mom life hack.

And now embrace it.

On a Monday morning, approaching 2 A.M.

And as I watch crappy movies from the earliest of aughts featuring the best of actors, I find myself wondering if I’m enjoying my wine in three acts better than these movies in their own three act efforts.

I think I am…but now I’m on my last glass and still have an hour and a half of Under Suspicion left to go. I think I should have made sure to have some backup spiked seltzers for this crisis.

Here’s one of Little Buddy’s bronze nuggets – which evolved during a fit of pandemic drinking: anything under 5% ABV is hydration.

So my spiked seltzer backup is…health food.

Technically?

Don’t argue with your elders.

Three Act Plays

John Lennon Was Right

Instant karma got me.

Or, car-ma…as the case t’were. I’m accepting that it was my fault for kvetching about one measly 4-star rating out of two and a half years of 5-star rides.

Hence the karma pun.

Anywho…Angela crapped out by the side of the road tonight. Actually, it was in a drive lane, but it was the curb side of the road – if you’ll allow me to split that hair.

I had called my friend, Diezel, before she died. He sometimes works on things like brake pads for me – hey, he works for burgers! His take on it was that it was an alternator and/or battery issue.

Angela had given me a “charging malfunction” error before I had called Diezel. When she had died the first time, giving me a last minute “drivetrain malfunction” message as she locked herself down in a parking lot.

The middle of a parking lot.

At sundown.

In The Numbers. Let’s just say that’s nowhere for an old white man to be broken down. Particularly after dark,

I Google “drivetrain malfunction” + “BMW X3” and learn that I can probably restart it after five minutes. I find a tree, take a whiz and go back.

<Le poof>

She starts up.

Knowing what to expect performance-wise, thanks to the prophet Google, I set out for home. I’m crawling, since Angela isn’t feeling like giving me more than 20-ish MPH.

Sticking to arterial surface streets, I had called Diezel as I limped westward. He tells me to look for a side street to park on and he’ll come get me and take me home, I can have her towed tomorrow.

I know he’s right – he’s an engineer and a rational thinker. I am an emotional thinker.

Emotionally, I want to get home. Knowing Diezel is right, my fallback is to get out of The Numbers.

Shit goes down there. BiPOC folx who live on the west side are reluctant to head to that part of the eastside when it’s dark. Last year was Portland’s deadliest in decades: gun violence, fire deaths, homicides, traffic deaths. You name it, if it was violent or deadly, we either broke a record last year or came damn close.

The Numbers – a nickname based on the blocks between ~122nd and 180th on the eastside of town – had more than the lion’s share of traffic and gun violence deaths last year. Don’t even get me started on the record number of stolen cars last year – October and November had around 13k stolen cars for the two month period.

Two months.

I didn’t want to leave Angela there.

We made it into the double-digit block numbers. I’d just crossed 102nd and was promising Diezel I’d pull off as I hit the 205 overpass at about 93rd.

She died. On the uphill approach to the overpass. I briefly considered jumping, but only therapeutically. Well, mostly.

I told Diezel what happened and he told me to drop him a pin for my location, he was leaving that moment.

Friends like him…they make me feel like I don’t deserve them as friends.

I throw a little pity party while I wait.

I’d just squared up my Multnomah County business taxes from 2019 and 2020, because TurboTax small business doesn’t do them – nor does it tell you that ain’t happening.

The county, though. They tell you. Two years later.

Well, that’s when they told me I owed $1400 in tax for 2019…the year I started driving for Lyft. In August. I decided to get ahead of 2020 – when I’d driven the whole year and made 4x what I made in ‘19 – and dig it out before the county hit me with penalties like the 2019 miss had created.

So much for buying a new place this year.

It wasn’t looking good, anyway, based on financial timing and the likely prime rate boosts coming down the pike this year. At best, I’d be looking at two hikes before I had mutual acceptance.

I’d accepted this. It was nice to at least have a goal to work toward, however briefly.

But here I was again, in crisis mode.

I was startled out of my pity party by a pair of headlights in my windshield.

Diezel!

But…not Diezel.

A Good Samaritan!

Yes! This was the Portland I knew and loved.

It was a woman who had passed by and pulled a u-turn in front of me to pull up to my hood grill – let’s not call it a hood whilst stalled in The Numbers. She walked up to my passenger window and asked if I needed a jump. I told her, “heck, yeah!” and she was off to her cargo area for her cables.

BMWs are weird. The battery in my X3 is in the back, but you jump it from the front. Actually, there is a positive post, that’s it. I’d been watching videos on this, so I kind of knew this – but she wanted to check in with her significant other, so we FaceTimed him. He agreed with my guess that we just needed to attach the negative to a hunk of metal and we were good to go.

She started her car and I got in mine to give Angela a wake up call.

She started right up. I revved her a few times. I was ready to let her sit and charge for a few minutes, but my Good Samaritan was antsy to go. I couldn’t fault her, but knowing about jumping cars from watching my parents do it while growing up in the 80s, that was my best guess for next steps.

Sadly, she was already talking about how to disconnect the cables with her Boo when I came around. He agreed I was good to go, so I yielded to their current information.

As soon as she turned and left, I put Angela in gear…and she re-died.

Diezel immediately pulled up behind me.

My first and third savior of the night.

“Galbs”, he said to me, “you need to call a tow truck to take this to a garage.”

I knew from his tone that this was his way of telling me this repair was beyond his capabilities. At least as far as roadside repairs were concerned.

He gave me a towing company name and number. Three hours.

He pulled another from his list and dictated the number to me. One hour!

Between calls and hold times, Diezel had been amusing himself by blowing his air horn at passing cars that had cut their lane change around us too closely. One of those blasts had clearly scared the towing company dispatcher shitless.

Fifteen minutes later, Diezel decided to get out and strobe his flashlight at the Stupid Americans who were too distracted to see his emergency flashers and proactively – not to mention safely – merge into the other lane.

He was worried about someone rear ending him. Looking at Angela’s dark brake lights and dead emergency lights, I couldn’t blame him. I was grateful to him for being there to save a near-certain collision.

There was a car backing down the overpass in front of Angela. He stopped and popped his rear hatch.

“Why don’t you go meet him?”

I acquiesced, and the man met me by my car with three flares. Another Good Samaritan.

For such a crappy night, the universe was putting a lot of amazing people in my path.

By the time the tow truck was a half hour late, the flares had burned through. Diezel was strobing approaching cars again. We could not believe how people fucked up such a simple thing as not hitting a stalled vehicle.

I couldn’t decide if it was distracted driving, stereotypically too polite Portland-slash-Portlandia-type drivers, or a combination of the two. Cars in our lane would slow to zipper in behind the car with the right of way, and that car would in turn yield its right of way by slowing to let it in front of them.

Both lanes of traffic came to a stop or near-stop several times. I retreated to the cab of Diesel‘s truck for an update on the tow truck.

Fifteen minutes.

Ten minutes later, the driver called. He was ten minutes out. He told me the tow would be just under $200. I asked if he could invoice me because I didn’t have it immediately – see also: why I was out driving on a Tuesday.

No.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

I’d payed two year’s worth of County back taxes and my January bills in the last ten days. Followed by also taking several days off to process my 4-star rating.

The savings I can usually access within 48 hours was nearly tapped. I was anticipating needing to tap into my other savings for the repair – that savings has a five day turnaround, so no driving for the better part of a week on top of opening the drain on my savings again. Not to mention any significant penalties for early withdrawal – or its modern day equivalent.

I was feeling hosed.

I looked a little more longingly at that guardrail. Sensing my distress, Diezel handed me his credit card and told me gently not to worry, pay him back whenever, but get the repair taken care of first.

I offered to at least get him a beer, but he demurred. It was after 9:30, after all…this one hour wait had turned into two and a half hours, not to mention the 30 minute transit and depositing Angela at the garage. He usually turns in closer to 8. Proposing a counteroffer of a hug, since we hadn’t seen each other in real life for over a year, he took off for home.

Realizing Myrtle’s dinner was over four hours late – a millennia in cat-time – I rushed upstairs to feed the mistress.

Then I prescribed myself a therapeutic Emotional Support Pizza that I keep in the freezer in case of emergency.

Don’t judge my Hawaiian pizza tastes!

You cannot understand the number of weekend nights I’ve come in from driving to bare cupboards. This was one of several I picked up after deciding I simply couldn’t face another 3 AM pizza from 7-Eleven. Plus, you can dress up a frozen pizza with red pepper flakes and – especially – an herb mix from Penzey’s Spices.

You’d eat this. <chef’s kiss> Admit it.

Plus, I broke open a bottle of the Columbia Gorge’s finest – from Marchese Cellars – to polish up the therapy session.

It’s a $30 bottle of amazing red. Not a bad companion to a $7 pizza…so if those herbs and red pepper flakes don’t make that pizza palatable…this will! Then this happened

Come the fuck on!

Undeterred, I got that cork out on the second try. Hopefully, that’s a harbinger of the ease of repair for Angela.

Now, I think I have some In Case Of Emergency Ben & Jerry’s around here somewhere…

John Lennon Was Right

Brinner? Dinfest?

What are you doing at 6 am?

I’m eating this:

Yeah, it’s a burrito bowl.

At breakfast time.

Look, I’ve driven like a madman the last two nights – getting in at 4 or another after both nights.

I had a lazy week, ok?

Last night, I had a pizza from the freezer. And a bottle of wine, natch.

Tonight, I wanted to eat something a little better – even though I did have more pizzas in the old icebox. So I tried this burrito bowl recipe I found while scrolling through Google a few weeks ago.

Plus, I was seriously behind on my commitment to use last year’s Xmas gift – an InstaPot I’d been wanting for over a year – once a month.

Apparently, this weekend was a catch up on a couple of different fronts.

I was (as usual) skeptical about any recipe that starts with a goddamn life story of the recipe and how it saved the lives of the author and their family. Just give me the recipe already, I’m not marrying into the family.

Following the recipe – aside from guessing the amount of rice needed since the author was too busy telling me about how much she loved avocados to remember to put the rice dosage in the recipe. I mean seriously…get you and your love-o-cado a room and write a complete recipe!

This is how all that looked when the lid went on.

After 12 minutes of cooking in the InstaPot, this is what I got.

Not the most promising result. But after pulling the meat out – shut up, Diezel! – and giving it a stir, I was presented with something a little more appealing.

Dinfest is served!

With two leftover meals, to boot!

And, yeah…I’m pairing it with a nice Portuguese red that I got at Grocery Outlet during the last 10 minutes of their 20% off wine sale. Well, there might have been more than one bottle.

Bon Appetit!

Brinner? Dinfest?

So Hungry!

I don’t know what it is, metabolism or simply a mental fixation, but when I eat before bed I usually wake up famished!

For instance…right now!

I’ve been up since 630, too. Sidebar: That’s another fun little game my body enjoys. “Oh, you’re going to bed at 230? Let’s just set that internal alarm for about four hours, then…”

Anyway, I started out thinking I’d just read a bit and then get up to workout. One of those things happened before I ran up against a time wall – I have the building’s annual fire system testing beginning at 930 that I needed to be ready for. I’m waiting for that right now. It starts in ten minutes, so I’m sure they’ll be here right around my 1100 phone interview.

Meanwhile, I’ll just quietly starve to death.

I could message my HOA Board President and tell him I’m leaving my unit unlocked to “run an errand”. That would be fine with him. But I’m still a little traumatized by the $30 sandwich I had for lunch yesterday.

No, it wasn’t a food delivery surcharge surprise. It was just me being so classically…me.

And it all started so innocently. I’d been chuckling during my last visit about my neighborhood sandwich shop’s tendency to run out of bread, resulting in them posting a “Sold Out” sign while also remaining open. Turns out the reason for that is online orders. The associate making my sammie recommended I try it. She told me that that was why they stayed open, people picking up orders they scheduled for later pick up times.

So I tried it.

I walked in at 115 and there it was, sitting there ready to jump in my belly. Of course, since this is me, I had special instructions for my picky ass eater self…

I find “special instructions” to be a great place to showcase my sense of humor. Also, I’m a native Portlander, meaning that I hate to be a bother…so making it funny makes it seem less like I’m ordering these folks around with my demands.

Other faves for my mustard tastes include “Make it like a you’re Jackson Pollack” and “Give me Rorschach level mustard, please”. It’s a far better abuse of the open fields in their ordering platform than my other thus-far-resisted temptation: the name field. Even though I’ve resisted the impulse, I still have the thought every time I use the in-store ordering kiosk, “What name shall I have them call out when my sando is ready?” Mostly I consider “Baby” or “Daddy”, but this is generally only when the cute guy is working the counter. No doubt my life would be much enhanced by the presence of an attractive man saying, “Baby, your sandwich is ready”. Alas.

The sandwich turned out pretty well. The crusty bread was a little soggier than usual, suggesting it had sat a little while. The risks one runs when demanding copious condiment application.

Don’t you worry…that mustard found its way onto my bread.

But how does using the shop’s online ordering system and picking my $12 order up equate to a $30 sandwich?

Hyperbole, obviously.

You see, I usually pick up a drink while I’m there and then eat at the picnic tables located on the next block of park. It started out as a kombucha, but evolved to a maté from the same company that is rather tasty. It’s also usually accompanied by a warning about the intensity of the drink from the staff. I guess it packs the same wallop as about three to four cups of coffee.

I highly recommend it…assuming you can find it outside of Oregon.

Anyway, they were sold out of it yesterday when I ordered. Thanks to a past unpleasant experience at the Brodega across the side street from me – I’d walked in to get a bubble water after an earlier venture and the cashier tried to charge me for the maté since they sell it, thank gawd I had my receipt! – I knew that they carried it. In an unusual twist, the Brodega sells it for the same price. Usually, their prices are far more dear.

So, yeah…I pop in on the way to the sando shop for my $3.50 maté. Then I remember they sell these chips that I’ve absolutely loved since I had a functioning metabolism was in my early 20s. They are actually quite hard to find, so I treat myself every now and again.

So tasty. And this lil Brodega is smart! They put the queue for the registers in the aisle that has chips and chocolate in it. Knowing that, I’d accepted my fate and embraced that $2.50 temptation.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the little end cap of local cookies I stood next to as I waited for the next open register.

It wasn’t until I was on my way home – this much food for lunch mandates shame eating at home versus enjoying a temperate afternoon in the park – that I wondered why my grocery store total had been $16. I’ve bought the chips and drink often enough to know that they came to about $6 together. That means that my bag of five cookies was $10!

Fhat the wuck?!?

I’m sure you’ve corrected my use of the word Brodega for the corner grocery to the correct bodega, but I prefer my portmanteau of “Bro” and “bodega” to reflect the overpriced nature of this little neighborhood market. Still, though…$10 for five cookies?!? C’mon.

That’s what I get for being weak, I guess.

Yet here I sit, absolutely famished – and now with bonus klaxons blaring – because after my big lunch, I had a late night snack of cheese & crackers – and wine, natch – and finished off my cookies at the same time. I went to bed full, woke up absolutely starving.

Now that the alarm test has finished on my floor, I can decide if I want to go get something for breakfast before my interview or wait until after. Seems like risking low blood sugar and a hangry old Xtopher might not be the optimal way to show up to an interview, so I’ll likely eat. But I’m still wearing shorts to it!

So Hungry!

Today’s Menu

Server at Breakfast: What’ll ya have?

Me: I’ll have an order of “Doing Something I Really Don’t Want To Do” with a side of “Too Little, Way Too Late”, please.

Black Sheep Bro: And I’ll have an order of the “Crow”, which I’m just going to push around my plate to make it look like I’ve eaten some of it.

Family is tough sometimes. Just like any relationship.

I understand – in a strictly theoretical manner – that BSB’s decision to come back to the family is something my parents are pretty much powerless against. I often say that parenting is a job you never take a day off from, and my parents certainly do not. I also imagine for the past nearly twenty years, that job has been pretty much shitty pain for them where my estranged brother is concerned.

On the flip side, my other sibs and I are afforded the luxury of viewing this like any other toxic relationshit er, relationship. With all the protection afforded by a hearty Prove It shield.

I’m the guinea pig amongst the sibs. Which is unfortunate, since I’m probably the most prone to a default forgiveness setting and possess a rarely-pays-off sense of optimism.

Remember, I like to gamble.

If you want to get a taste of the past damage BSB has brought to my family, there’s a hashtag around here somewhere.

The menu for the rest of the day is much less choretastic.

At 10 I’ll be hitting the road to visit Little Buddy in the Columbia River Gorge. If you think that’s code for “Wine Tasting”, you’re wrong. It’s not code at all…it’s simply synonymous.

Friend time, wine tasting and eating my weight in charcuterie and 3 foot breadsticks?

Yes, please!

So basically, my day’s post-breakfast menu is all dessert!

Today’s Menu

Groceries With Galby

Some have infamously noted that I possess the palate of a seven year old.

I might say I’m simply a victim of my own lack of planning, spontaneity and the resulting impatience that the hunger those qualities engender.

Let’s ease you into this…

Gross Out:

Because I don’t know when I shop on Tuesday what I’m going to want on Friday, I’ve learned to just shop more frequently. Odds are, if it sounds good Tuesday, I’ll probably still have a taste for it Wednesday. No guarantees beyond that.

Therefore, I’ll shop Grocery Outlet for staples like wine shelf stable pantry items. That way, they are there when I have a hangry moment and don’t have time to spare to run to Freddy’s, Safeway or the lil Brodega across the street.

Nonetheless, since being urged to eat more veggies and fiber, I’ve been making an effort to have a salad several times a week. Gross Out has the same salad kits as the big chains, usually for a buck less (we’re talking $3 versus $4 at the chains), so I’ll pick up three or four when I pop in for wine other supplies.

The other day, though, I went specifically to grab a couple bottles of wine Caesar salad kits to go with my pizza leftovers from Wednesday night. I’d gotten a Caesar with the pizza, but ate it all, worried that the concoction wouldn’t age well once the dressing was on…and I’m a weird one with leftovers, so just accept that was my logic and be happy I’m eating salad.

I pop back to produce, breaking the Gross Out rule of hitting every aisle so you don’t miss a deal, avoiding the wine department temptation and intent on my mission.

Plus, it was past Myrtle’s dinner time.

When I hit the produce corner, I see that I’ve also hit the jackpot. There are several “Reduced For Quick Sale” options. But, hey…I made a point of stopping here to save a literal buck, so I decided I could do a chop salad instead on a Caesar and save another literal buck.

Right?

Save $2 on two salads: good

Save $4 on two salads: great!

I’m beating feet back up front and my inner seven year old palate demon steers me down the pasta aisle.

Maybe there’s Mac & Cheeeeese!

Ugh.

Fine.

Luckily, the Velveeta Deluxe that was 2/$1 were long gone, which made me sad but happy. A good deal is a good deal, but I’m not paying for my eventual coronary by saving $4.49 on a box of food I shouldn’t be eating anyway…Plus, I still had a dollar’s worth at home. Plus-plus a box of some strange broccoli added version that I’d picked up last time…

Proud of my situationally forced ability to resist temptation, I remained on mission. Until

Look, I’m just a man with a child’s tastes, ok? I haven’t had Velveeta in probably 20 years. And it’s not like I’m going to eat this like a college kid would – by peeling it like a banana and going to town.

I’m getting some damn crackers and a good bottle of wine. Because adults compensate.

Speaking of college kids…

GoPuff:

These bastards.

They are my new Stoner Cafe.

And they most certainly have my number are out to get me.

Usually I can ignore their marketing emails. Generally, they are either of the “redeem points and save” variety or the “Ben & Jerry’s BOGO” variety.

Admittedly, that last type is harder to ignore.

But then I saw one that was too intriguing to resist.

Something like, “Try Something New For A Nickel”. Let’s be honest, I think we can all agree that my seven year old palate is not adventurous. But for a nickel, I could explore.

Especially when the “something new” ends up being spiked seltzers! I’m not sure how they got this promotion past the iron fisted OLCC, but I jumped on $.20 worth of a new seltzer called Basic. The flavors sounded…safe fine.

Not wanting to look like a cheapskate, I figured I should order something else. Since it was right there in my “Buy It Again”, I added a 12-pack of White Claw.

New problem: now I just look like a booze hound.

So I added in some energy drinks. Since they didn’t have my go-to brand/flavors in stock, I – wait for it – tried a new drink called G.O.A.T.

I could live with the delivery person assuming I was on a liquid diet.

Now, a Pro-Tip: when putting away your “groceries” do not put energy drinks between alcoholic beverages.

That was a close fucking call this morning.

So, despite the opening assertion, I’d dare say that I’ve somehow refined this seven year old palate that I seemingly possess.

Crackers and wine with my cheap cheese?

Boutique spiked seltzers and energy drinks?

I should have a Pinterest page for my culinary embarrassments…

Groceries With Galby

Monstrous Mash

You ever have a moment where you feel like you should say something, but you just don’t feel like you have anything to say?

No?

Just moi?

Blogger problems, I guess.

Anyway, with nothing really to say in particular, I am undaunted. I also have this ginormous glass of wine to keep me company

So…yeah.

And other than a productive weekend for mine truly, I wasn’t celebrating anything. I just like to distress my doctor whenever he asks how my diet it.

I’ll be adding cheesecake to the lineup before this bottle goes into the recycler.

Wondering why I underlined that passage about celebrating? Because I wasn’t until I opened up my WordPress app to tap out this…whatever it becomes. I had a push notification, so I clicky-clicked it to see what was up

…which is really just code for WordPress telling me my annual domain hosting fees are due again.

Mmm. That’s tasty wine.

A blog buddy of mine – who I’d love to link to, but she has two blogs (one public and the other anonymous) and I don’t want to fuck that up for her – does this weekly recap she calls a Chex Mix post, I generally find that slice of life writing fun to read and hers are quick snd easy reads.

So, given my nothing-to-talk-about-ness I thought I’d try something in that style. Of course, I’m a tad verbose, so what she typically accomplishes in a few hundred words will probably run upwards of 2k knowing me.

Buckle up.

Seriously, you’ve been warned.

Writing

A while back I lamented that my writing mojo had mogone and I hadn’t done any work on my work-in-progress novels since last April when I completed a first draft of what I hoped to be the third installment of my No One Of Consequence series. After that admission, I tried to jump start my writerly vibe with daily entries for a week.

The end result seemed to be that I was at least back on the blogging bandwagon. That’s not nothing.

But it don’t pay the bills.

Not that the $20 or so that I rake in from book royalties each month puts much of a dent in my bills. But it usually covers my Natural Gas bill.

By the way, when I say “rake”, I meant one I found in my junk drawer from a desk top Zen Garden I don’t have any more…

I floated the notion back then that I didn’t have a writing spot at home, and that’s why it was hard to get motivated to write at home. Usually, I decamped to the corner cafe for a couple hours several mornings a week to get my productivity juices flowing.

Anyway…after a particularly profitable evening of “socially distanced” drinking a couple weeks back – read that as: I sat at a video lottery machine by myself and swilled beer – I was feeling a little flush and decided to shop around for a desk.

Notice at the top where you can barely make out that it says “redeemable at lottery offices”…yeah, bars typically only cash out winning tickets up to around a grand. So the next day, I drove down to Salem to pick up my winnings.

But due to the pandemic, the offices are closed snd I just had to drop my ticket snd claim form into a drop box. I’m still waiting for that lil check to arrive.

Feeling…unfulfilled after that experience, I decided to treat myself to a few beers. And since no one likes me we’re still socially distanced drinking, I went to another of my regular dive haunts.

Lighting doesn’t strike twice, so I figured I would give Kelly’s a break from my shenaniganery and hit Yur’s.

Too busy.

I decided on Marathon Taverna, which is on Burnside and 18th, so pretty much the farthest edge of my “a good stumble” roaming habitat.

Plus, neither Yur’s nor Marathon have Pallet Jack, so being further away that Kelly’s really works against them. The fine video lottery machines at Marathon seemed interested in making amends, though.

Like, really interested in making amends…

And I kept on winning. I felt bad after about my third trip to the bar to cash out, so I actually switched machines…my lightning strike logic and all.

By the time I left – three beers in – I figured I’d easily pulled $2500 out of the bar. At one point, the waitress told me she’d called the owner to come replenish her kitty.

Don’t get my wrong, I was tipping her well, at one point I left a $150 winning ticket as a tip for my beer instead of my pandemic normal $5 per beer tip.

I guess karma was pleased with my attitude of gratitude.

On my was home, I stumbled up a couple blocks and made three $500 deposits at my bank’s ATM. I woke up the next morning with $350 still on me, which felt nice. I was also strangely proud that that meant I’d payed over $500 back into the machines, too, according to my mental math.

Until last week…when I found $1000 I wasn’t expecting in a coat pocket. I’m not 100% sure that was a leftover from this particular night, but I can’t really think of where else it could possibly have come from.

Loathe as I am to admit my math skills may not be up to snuff after three beers, that is.

Maybe it was dad.

He can be sneaky. My family is quasi-obsessed with making sure we have “walking around” money. And the last few times he’s asked, I’ve proudly assured him my boat was afloat. A pleasant departure from earlier inquiries during my unintentional semi-retirement where the confidence of my responses was more like, “Sure. I’m ok…”

Still, I could see him getting the money in my pocket without my knowing, but not him getting the zipper up.

Blackout Mysteries.

Short story, long? Here’s the desk I ordered

Nice and simple, should be here by Wednesday.

I don’t know why I just said that. Now there’s a potential accountability expectation from you all.

<grimace emoji>

Homework

I have a small…apartment. When I moved back down to Portland from Seattle in 2015, I kept my condo up there and AirBNBed it for about 18 months. Meaning…that once I finally sold that place, I had two homes worth of furniture to fit into one 700 square foot unit.

First World problems.

I divested myself of several odd accessory furnishings at the time, but have since just dealt with the excess.

One big difference between my homes in the two cities is that my Seattle bedroom was huge.

Like, really big.

It was like a suite. I had a king sized bed (now gone), an eight drawer dresser, matching nightstand, a bench (also gone now) and a corner chair that used to belong to my grandmother.

To highlight the Portland home’s less-than-palatial bedroom, I know sleep in a queen sized bed, which is fine. But there’s not enough room in my bedroom for my dresser! I use it as a TV console in the living room…not that the clothes in most of the drawers fit me anymore.

Where is that cheesecake?!?

My unused mountain bike sits up against my kitchen bar because my utility room is too cramped to hold it and still be usually as a laundry room.

I mention this because creating a writing area by adding a desk was basically Furniture Thunderdome.

Something had to go.

Given that I eat in front of the TV, my pub table was the likeliest candidate. Plus, it was also the most reasonable position for a writing space.

I’d gotten this in about 2007 in Seattle after moving into my permanent Seattle residence. I wasn’t entirely sure that a 14 year old pub table would sell, but gave it the really old college try.

Girding my grumpy old man loins, I waded into the pool of CraigsList fuckery. Y’know, where you list something for sale and get responses like, “Can you hold that until I get out of prison?” or “Would you be willing to accept 20% of your listed price?”

That type of crap.

After a few hours and not even a pain in the ass response, I debated lowering my price from $75 to $50. Then I got a response. He wanted to look at it this morning and didn’t see why he wouldn’t take it home with him today.

No muss, no fuss.

Of course, Portland had my back to ensure shit got weird.

When I went down to get him, I opened the door…no one was waiting. I look around the column, homeless man standing there in what would be tighty whities on someone 50 lbs heavier than him.

And he was yelling at his shirt. To his credit, though, he seemed to only be changing clothes versus wandering around in a fat man’s underwear.

That was when I noticed a guy squatting down on the other side of the column, smoking crack. As glad as I was that my buyer wasn’t just showing up in underwear for this transaction, I hoped there was a third guy somewhere nearby.

My phone buzzed. It was the guy, boldly hiding out in his – wait for it – Subaru on the corner. I scared the guys down the block and my Subaru driving Vantucky neighbor came in.

And bought the damn thing, just like he said he would. No dickering, no hemming or hawing…he even had exact change.

You’re not from around here, are you?

Remember what I said about lighting not striking twice in the same spot?

Yeah, me, too.

Still, I was also still remembering living with too much or out of scale furniture for the last six years, well, four – I should my condo in 2017. That’s when shit got crowded.

That memory is far more ingrained than a gambling (for entertainment purposes only!) winning streak a couple weeks back.

Since I had some space, I figured I would do a little front room gerrymandering to see how to fit my writing desk into the equation. I moved my couch off the wall opposite the TV and positioned it facing the balcony. That meant the chair needed to go into the corner by the balcony doors…which I liked overall.

It even left a nice wide walkway between the living room and kitchen bar. I’d ordered a wall bracket for my bike, so it can stand against the wall on its rear tire, which I’d hoped my allow me to put my console table or desk behind the couch. The problem was, though, that my coffee table and side table were…redundant in my small living room.

So, I put ’em on CraigsList and two hours later was loading them into a Prius. Now, I could push my couch in almost a foot without my space feeling crowded.

Plus, I got to go buy a new coffee table – which I kind of love.

The hairpin legs make the space feel so much more open than my old side by side bases for the glass top coffee table I divested myself of a few hours earlier. My only regret, though, was not finding a matching coffee and sofa table. I’d wanted to use the sofa table as a TV stand and move my dresser back to the “blue wall” where my console table is presently.

Sadly, just like my console table, the matched sets I found while shopping today were about a foot too small for my TV. Well, there was one…but it was $700 for just the sofa table.

No, thank you. This fool wants to hold onto some of his lottery winnings. Or at least have some left over as seed money for my next socially distanced drinking outing.

The Green Loop

I know…you’re all dying to know how the three-quarter Wrong of Way intersection was resolved. Well, maybe just the Silver Fox.

Well, the other day, I saw a city worker carrying a stop sign on Flanders, heading toward the intersection in question on 9th! Mentally declaring victory, I went inside and, I dunno…opened a bottle of wine?

Seems like a safe bet.

The next day, I saw this as I was coming down 9th, preparing to turn onto Flanders for my preferred parking space.

Say what, now?

Cross Traffic Does Not Stop

Surrealiously.

After all that – at least three different days of dickering with signs, they’d finally put in the missing stop sign at the four-way intersection…and then removed the original two signs from when it was a two-way stop.

I can’t believe that I can’t get a job and whoever is running this shit show is getting paid with my tax dollars.

This should have taken a couple of “road closed” signs and an afternoon to move the existing signs 90 degrees. But, no…this is Portland, we had to make it weird.

Well, whoever had that bright idea needs to know that “weird” and “dysfunctional” are not synonyms.

They also, as of today, have yet to sandblast the white stop lines off of the new through traffic lanes, too.

Adding insult to civil injury, they removed the stop sign I used to park behind and moved it 90 degrees so that Flanders has right of way all the way down my immediate three block stretch of road. Not that big a deal, really, since the idiots going down my street usually yielded their right of way at Flanders by stopping on Park to let people who were required to stop for cross traffic…cross traffic.

Ugh.

Is that enough of a download to constitute a mash?

Nailed it…that’s 2300-plus words. But in a breath of fresh airness, only a minority of them were typed in a rant tone of voice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a refill and some cheesecake!

Monstrous Mash

Snoop-date

Ok, I’m far more a Martha Stewart than a Snoop Dog. Still, I figured an update on my subbing in a Weed Cocktail in lieu of beer or wine was needed.

In case you missed it – or can’t/won’t click the embedded link – at the end of August, I ventured into my neighborhood weed shop. It was on the advice of a passenger, who I had picked up at work and taken to her home.

Her work?

Budtender.

I’d been complaining about how weed was taboo when I was in school and that had caused it to never really become a part of my work detox routine.

The syzzurp was her recommendation. The bottle I bought has 25 doses, but I’m only taking a half dose in my weedtini so I’m only just now getting to the bottom of my first $55 bottle.

September wasn’t the model Dry Month, but it was definitely arid.

Going into September, I could recall one lockdown night that didn’t involve a drink or more. In September, my daily drinking went to a mere six occurrences. That doesn’t mean I was sucking down a syzzurp nightcap before bed those other nights, either.

That was a great realization. I wasn’t trading one habit for another, I was changing my ritual.

But on those nights I did partake of my new relaxation inclination?

Ten hours of sleep.

It’s leveling out closer to 8 hours, about as many weeks into this experiment. I’ll take that result.

Interestingly enough, regardless of how many hours of sleep I get off my W&T (weed & tonic), I’m amused to discover that I usually awake in the same position I went to sleep in.

It’s a phenomenon called Coffin Sleep, which is dark, but apt. I didn’t initially realize this was happening. But as my better sleep led to waking up later and that led to going to bed later…it became obvious that it was happening.

Mistress Myrtle gets the credit.

She would still retire at a respectable hour.

Me? I may drive until midnight or even 1 AM, because those rides just keep coming in. That’s so strange to experience, but another story.

I come home, maybe have a snack and a bubble water while watching an episode of whatever binge I’m currently passing time with. In September, that was still X-Files – there were 11 seasons and two movies, after all.

This month, I’m working my way through Ally McBeal. So I’ll have my snack and watch an episode. Make my Snoop-hattan and sip it during the second and then either turn in or watch a third episode while the syzzurp kicks in.

At worst, I’m a little head high when I head to bed. Usually, I’m just very heavy lidded.

The reason Myrt gets credit for me realizing I’d been sleeping coffin sleep deep is that when she went to bed ahead of me, she picked her spot on the bed for the night. When I wanted to get in, I had to fold in around her, which led to some strange bent spoon type sleeping positions. When I would wake up in a pike position or looking like the letter K in sign language, I figured it out.

Damn alpha cat.

Even though the positioning might be awkward, it never takes longer than 5 minutes to fall asleep. And that’s a great 5 minutes, too.

It’s like my body just lets go. It’s the most relaxed I feel all day. My body just coalesces into itself. I know where my arms and legs are located, but where they touch each other, I don’t know where each ends or begins.

It’s amazing.

On nights where I don’t coffin sleep, I might still wake up to pee a few hours after bed. Those bouts were fewer and farther in between than the prior six months of it being a nightly occurrence.

But those were the nights I learned about the body high that came with this product!

I think I should get a Nest security system just to watch the video of my nocturnal not so jaunty jaunts to the loo after a few hours of weed napping the night away. I imagine I’m about as graceful as Frankenstein out on a somnambulistic stroll.

When I get to the can, I’ve got to hold on to the wall as I squat so I don’t fall over or miss. I know that standing is a non-option for these episodes.

And then, <poof> right back to sleep.

The only real downside I have experienced – and it may not even be related – are my dreams.

Specifically, the snake dreams.

Snakes are not something I find not terrifying. Having them in my dreams was a very infrequent occurrence, pre-weedtini. I’m encountering them in my unconscious at least once a week now, so that’s quite an uptick.

The truly strange thing is that they are just there. Not doing anything scary, just being all snake-y. They might just be chilling somewhere on the sidelines of the dream. Occasionally, they have been cruising around the room I’m in in the dream. Once they were slithering up my body while I dreamed that I was sleeping in my bed.

Then there was the dream where I woke up in my dream to find my left leg inside a snake’s mouth and the snake just kinda looking at me with an expression that was somewhere between “What?” and “Hey Buddy, a little help here?”

Generally, I still prefer my dreams to lack a specific slither. But I’m not inclined to sub alcohol back into my relaxation routine as long as this is an option!

Snoop-date

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

Forget Winter

reality is coming.

I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

  • I should get up and pee
  • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
  • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
  • Is that cigarette smoke?
  • Maybe I should fast today
  • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
  • Where’s Myrtle?

I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

All clear.

As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

I failed.

I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

Nope.

As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

Or these little gems:

There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

Another that stuck with me was:

You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

Obviously.

And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

…but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

Someone shit on the floor.

at the same time.

Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

*to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

Forget Winter