No More Rain

August 1, 2019 at 10:15 am (In Memoriam, Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

I’ve been putting this off for too long. My Brother in law says I need closure. The other day I was reading about procrastination, and it gave me the kick in the ass I need to to get this done.

I have always fancied myself a writer, but about the only things not self-published were my parents’ and older brother’s obituaries. I followed form, and submitted them to the newspaper, and they printed them word for word. I was sad but proud; I got published! It cost me a family member, but I could read myself in real print.

So I was kicking around the idea of an In Memoriam section, which would be a spot where my clouded memories could rest, and maybe inspire memories in others. I’m still going to do that, but I have something serious to do first.

I have to say goodbye to my dear sweet Rain…

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All The News That’s Fit To Print

July 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm (Cussed Dumbers, In Memoriam, Sweet sticky things, Waxing Nostalgic)

I joke with baristas all the time, “I wish I had an app that would give me back all the minutes that I spend waiting in line at Starbucks to hand someone exact change.”

For twenty years, Sister delivered the Oregonian, and I was the beneficiary of her complimentary daily copy. She’d read it, I’d take it to work and read it, then pass it along to someone else. Often, it would be a customer looking for the day’s copy that we’d sold out. Three reads per newspaper seems as conscientious as any other form of recycling.

Daily went to four-a-week delivery. Then it got so far between customers that she could no longer do her route on foot, so she retired from newspaper delivery and began working at a hotel. Every day there would be newspapers, and she would bring me the daily, as well as the New York Times and other random hometown papers left behind. Again, I would take them to work, then share. Usually with folks wouldn’t read, and certainly wouldn’t pay for information.

When her gig at the hotel ended, I was on my own. Home delivery might have been an option, but that’s only four days a week. I like DAILY news. I like having something light to read at work when it gets quiet for a minute. But it can’t be too heavy; I can read the same paragraph three or four times while being interrupted for lottery redemption, free books of matches and so on. Books only work on major holiday nights. I read a whole book on Xmas day when I work.

Master P’s was a newsstand when I started. Magazines as far as the eye could see. A porno section with something for almost everyone. (No incest or animals. Straight from the office.) Little by little it all went away. First the car mags, then the Smithsonians, tabloids, horoscope books. Newspapers went away about three years ago, as did the porn pit. I now have a stock line:

“We used to be a newsstand, but the internet won. Now we just sell you stuff to keep you awake while you play with your phone.”

And I still have to scavenge for a goddamn newspaper.

Starbucks was my unlikely ally. If I got there early enough in the day, I could have the previous day’s copies of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or the Oregonian if I’d missed a day. I knew the baristas by name, and if I showed up close to closing? “Go ahead and take them, ain’t nobody looking for that at night.”

I know, I can find everything on my phone. I KNOW. I have embraced smartphone culture, somewhat, but I like holding books and newspapers, in my hands. I don’t want to have to open Photoshop to do my Fambly Circus fun.

So, little by little everything I know is dying. In three months newspapers will be such an annoyance to find that I will give up and let them die. (I will never stop reading, but if you want my eyes looking at your ads? I have to be able to find them first.) I had been thinking of doing a lighthearted series of things in and around my life that I used to love, find important, or otherwise interesting. To record the memories before they fade away forever. I had some pretty good ideas.

Then some real death came along and fucked up my whole year.

My longtime love interest, roommate and occasional bestest friend, passed away a few months ago. I’ve been meaning to write her the granddaddy of all love letters, but it’s coming slow. I know what I want to say, but I know it’s gonna tear me up, and I don’t want to have to be in public after. But, as Bro-in-Law said, “You need closure.” He’s right. I miss her every day, even though we’d been apart for a couple years. We still talked on the phone a lot, and when she found out I hadn’t been with anyone since she left? “Ya wanna come over?”

“:)-”

Now that’s love.

Her death took me by surprise, and yet it didn’t. It has caused me to embrace every day, and to appreciate more those I appreciate already. Babe, your love letter is coming, straight from my heart.

But first I have to limp on down to the Starbucks and see if any Sunday papers are left…

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A Big Stink

June 8, 2019 at 12:10 pm (Cussed Dumbers, On the road again...)

It’s Friday night, and I have an hour for lunch.

It’s the night before the Rose Parade, and I’m surprised no one is tenting up in front of the store. Usually there’s a line of tents along both sides of the Avenue, but construction on one side of the street has made our sidewalk a “pedestrian use area.” (Duh.) That means you can’t block the sidewalk. I walk past the outdoor tables in front of the bar, saying hi to half the occupants. The doorman, Gary, looks like Mr Natural on steroids and has the demeanor of a prison guard until you get to know him. “Ready for the shitshow?” I ask.

“Oh yeah.” I looked at his hands, and saw the special ceramic-enhanced finger gloves. One-punchers. Yep, he’s ready.

I hopped the MAX to 10th Avenue, and transferred to the streetcar, my destination the Psycho Safeway on Jefferson. As I boarded, I noticed a scent building. Someone on the previous MAX had smelled like a catbox, but this was different, worse. A woman in her sixties, wearing pajamas, was holding a strap on the streetcar, wrinkling her nose. Oh no, the poor dear has had an accident. But at least she had a diaper on.

Or not.

Someone told the streetcar driver, who turned off the vehicle, locked its doors, and walked through, looking over, under and at everything and everyone. I stood up, at once proving it wasn’t me and checking that I hadn’t sat in something that made it me.

As I sat back down, wishing we could just go instead of sitting there marinating in the scent, a man walked to the back of the streetcar, muttering, “It’s me. Sorry. It’s me.” He was one of the folks transferring from MAX, and apparently the MAX’s catbox odor source.

“Well, don’t come near me with your stinky shit!” the older woman told him in no uncertain terms. She was probably also reassured that she wasn’t the source of the stink she was making such a big stink about. She deboarded, unable to take any more.

So did Mister Itsme. They were exchanging insults and apologies accordingly.

He was a middle-aged white guy, short hair that looked fashionably spiked until I realized it was from the grease in his hair. He smelled like a full diaper of catshit that had gotten wet. He was off, and we were rolling, but GOD DAMN.

I could still smell it after leaving Psycho Safeway, and it was a full fifteen minutes before cat piss wasn’t the only thing I smelled. I chose to walk back to work. I might be a few minutes late, but it’d get the smell out.

As I rounded the last corner, heading past the residential hotel, I saw one of the tenants expel a large puff of smoke or vapor. Impressive! He’s a loudmouth who looks like Jon Lovitz and whines about Master P’s high prices, to the point of being kicked out of the store for his incessant bitching. As I got closer, the other tenants were pointing at him. The smoke was still coming. Another smoker, this one holding a cigarette, walked over to Mister Lovitz and grabbed his sweatshirt by the back and pulled it over his head, leaving him bald-headed and belly-flapping on the sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon. Someone was stomping on his shirt, and everyone was laughing. I heard Lovitz say, “I was wondering what happened to that cigarette?”

At least three people were singing ‘Burning Down The House’. That made the whole walk and lunch excursion worth it. My laugh faded as I came around the final bend and there it was: The endlessly lined Avenue, covered with tents like social genital warts.

Welcome to Downtown.

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Meals on Wheels

May 8, 2019 at 10:14 am (Sweet sticky things)

I’ve been away a while, mentally. A lot of heavy stuff has gone down, and I had some thinking to do. (Still do.) I’ve been in a blue space, and needed some help shaking it off.

Dizzy texted me, she was going out of town and would I peek in on Naomi, the true queen of the house. Naomi is sixteen years old. I don’t even want to think how old that is in human years. (80. I had to look. That ain’t so bad.) She reminds me of a feline Granny Clampett, her meows a scratchy roar. “MROW!”

Dizzy left explicit instructions, detailed in a flowery note covered in doodles inspired by the sativa I’d traded her for a nug of her couch-weed. Everything laid out with surgical precision. I think I can manage.

My first visit was met with no little bit of indignance. Naomi looked outside the door, cussed me out a little, then gave me the cat-scan. I was cool. Permission to enter.

I was asked to look for signs of kitty distress; puke-bombs, poop in improper places, etc. I’d kitty-sat before, and she’d left me some presents. This time we were cool.

Sugarmama had given me a McDonaldburger, so Naomi and I had lunch. She ate a sizable portion of the food, gave my head a rub with hers, and disappeared to the loft. I took a couple puffs and went back to the store to flirt with Sugarmama.

I was more practiced entering the second visit. I had the door open and was half inside when Naomi came flying down the stairs, “Mrow mrow mrow.” She waltzed up to me, checked out the scene, and waited patiently to be fed. After a hearty snack, she went back to her nap spot in the loft.

I would sit on the stairs next to the window overlooking northwest downtown, she would crawl up on my shoulder like a parrot. Lots of mind-melds, as I like to call them. Her cranial pressure emphasizes the love, and I soak it up. I can use all the love I can get right now.

I make sure to pet Django every chance I get. He’s a macho-cat, so I’d better not pet him when the neighbors can see. And Luna, my big goofy dog. I have taught her to give hugs, and she’s taught me to high-five.

Family has meant a lot to me lately. I fret for my sister, my bro-in-law, their kids. No reason, other that when you love something so much you can’t stand to think of being without them. I get that more than ever right now, and know it’s the same with Dizzy and Naomi.

I was early returning Dizzy’s keys, so I popped in on Naomi one more time. She was almost lackadaisical at my entrance. “Hmm, I wonder if he’s Dexterized the Motherhuman? Oh well, as long as I keep getting Meals on Wheels…”

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A Nice Howaya Punch

February 11, 2019 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

“Aaaand stay out…”

Over the years I’ve worked at Master P’s, I’ve bragged that I’ve been punched/punched-at by no less than four different people, and have yet to swing back. I am proud of my restraint. (Also, I know enough about fighting that a misplaced move can leave you open to even more damage, so I am strategic about my attacks.) I’ve experienced minimal damage, come off like a cool cucumber, and still walk the night with minimal fear. It’s my world.

I am now the longest-tenured cashier, and behind only Grinder and the bookkeeper in longest-employed. Expected to lead the new hires by example, I have been given fewer trainees to baptize. However, some of the managers may need a Zen Refresher Course. Lately, shit and fan have been colliding, and managers are involved. Time to show them how to navigate these choppy emotional waters…

People complain about downtown, but in my humble opinion it’s WAY more livable that it used to be. Sure, there are panhandlers everywhere. Meth-heads wandering the night, crazy-eyed and stinky, raving at anything that flickers past their field of vision. They yell and scream at the demons in their head, snapping back to the moment when a voice breaks their psychotic reverie. Most return to the moment with minimal agitation.

Some need a bit more patience.

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Fast Food Workers…

December 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

“Oh shit, here we go again.”

Beer Runs

I was ringing up an old working-dude his daily reward, three tall cans of ice tea. (Alcohol content 7%.) A young man in a winter coat with the hood pulled up eased past us, headed for the beer cooler, grabbing two large packages, a 12-pack of Pabst Smear and an 18-pack of Henry Weinhards. As he headed back toward us, I told the old working-dude, “He’s gonna run with those.”

Customers react differently; some step in and clobber the guy for me, others just kick back and watch. (Which is about all I’m authorized to do.) As the young man approached the counter, I said, “I don’t suppose you’d mind setting those down until they are paid for?”

He grinned. “Of course! I’m sorry you even have to worry about such a thing. I was just wondering which was cheaper?”

I recognized him. He was one of the line cooks at Killer Burger, and he’d had a couple. He was happy and feeling his oats.

“Nice. Thank you,” I said. “The Henry’s is a better deal. Two bucks cheaper and six more cans.”

“Since this one is the better deal, I’m going to set it right here.” He put the 18-pack on the counter. “And I’m gonna take the expensive one AND RUN WITH IT!”

He took the 12-pack of Pabst and took off running. Yelling “I’m doing a beer run!” all the way back to the cooler, where he opened it and put the Pabst away. He stopped, scratched his head. “I think I did that wrong.”

His smirk gave it away, and I couldn’t stop laughing. “Dude, your technique needs work.”

He came back to the counter, paid his $13.79, and after giving me a two-minute tutorial on how to cook the perfect burger (“Next time, seasoning!”) took off running out the door, “I’m doing a beer run!”

I hope he didn’t get tackled by Clean & Safe. He’d be the one they’d catch.

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Another Poor Boy Christmas

December 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things)

Hat Tip to Hannibal

Christmas has come and gone, and not a moment too soon. The jingling of bells is jangling my nerves.

Oh, it wasn’t all bad. I found some good roadkill, saw old friends.

And then there was the Christmas Party.

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Tour of Doody

December 8, 2018 at 11:49 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

It Happens

Have you ever been downtown enjoying the Xmas tree, wandering with the Ale-festers at Pioneer Square, when nature calls?

I tell people I got my job just so I have somewhere to go to the bathroom.

Anyone spending time downtown knows a clean, comfortable, accessible bathroom is a treasure to be safeguarded with near-death-penalty consequences for anyone who causes a toilet to go away. If you go in to shoot up, don’t take a nap afterward. That’s what the park is for. Free up le jon, asshole!

Same thing with mess-makers. You’ve been locked in there for an hour, and then you emerge and hurry out of the business, casting a sidelong glance that emits guilt and shame. (Among other things.) When we go investigate why, we see that you put ten paper towels on the seat to protect your precious ass, then can’t get the whole stinky mess to flush so you leave a few friends floating at the pool. Oh well, someone gets paid to clean it up…

This is why we hate you.

But.

We don’t hate you nearly as much as those who just ‘let ‘er go’ wherever they are. Foul most foul! This is how we met the Dook of Earl.

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Goodbye to U…S Bank

December 5, 2018 at 11:55 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

It is a day for funerals, (RIP #41, GHWB) so I will continue my series of eulogies. Things dying off that are damned inconvenient.

Today’s victim is the US Bank branch, downtown on SW 6th and Taylor Street. It has been there since 1948, and I have been banking there since 1979. I loved its central location and regal presence.

The ATMs, both inside and out, saw lots of action. The inside-one issued $5 dollar bills, handy for those on a budget. I would use the handicap entrance, saying hello to the nice guard who looks like Jeff Sessions without the perverted smirk, avoiding the panhandlers that would linger outside the main entrance. It was two blocks from my bus stop, perfect for my errand-running ways.

I asked why they were closing the branch, already knowing. “There’s a new owner, and they want to rent the space for ten times the amount.”

It’s the downtown way.

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Goodbye To You

December 4, 2018 at 11:55 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

Hi there! Long time no see!

Yeah, it’s been a while. I haven’t given up on my beloved blog/sorta-diary, but I have been staying away. I needed to percolate for a while, to let some dust settle, see how things played out. Not every thought needs to be recorded, not every feeling shared with the internet.

I still write in my head, every day. I miss the morning routine, where I had a day’s activities sorted and punned up, ready to be shared. I need to get back to that.

So who am I saying goodbye to? Everyone, eventually, but for now I’m going to eulogize things that have gone away from my life, and now I miss them.

I will begin with the Fred Meyer store on SE Foster and 82nd…

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