Thursday, January 29, 2009

When A Sheep strays from the Herd

I'm not usually an advocate of skipping classes, but when Jess told me that Lindsay Mac was finally coming back to Portland--and then seconds later broke the bad news that it was happening on a Wed night, at the same time as my marketing class--I only hesitated for about 0.2 nanoseconds.  Luckily it's early in the term, and my professor has this extremely helpful habit of posting her lecture notes.

It was kind of a weird show, happening during happy hour, before the regular open mic.  But a little Lindsay is so much better than no Lindsay at all.  I made a little card using a project from my photoshop class last term, and had it sent over to Copy Pilot to be printed. When I rushed into pick it up, I found one of my old Finkos coworkers with my print in hand.  My card was spur of the moment and of course I couldn't help making a few requests.  I rode my Cross Check faster than I have in a long time over to 9th and Alberta.  I needn't have worried.  When I walked in, the music side was still closed for sound check and the bar was practically empty.

Two women I suspected to be a couple had walked in just before me.  I heard them get kicked out of the entertainment side of the bar so I stopped to dig out my card before going in.  The guy doing sound check was just inside, but he didn't immediately notice me so I peeked around the corner to see Lindsay sitting at the bar working on the set list.  I went over to greet her and she totally remembered me. Sort of.  "Hey! It's Jess, right?"

Believe it or not, that made me happier than if she'd remembered my name.  It's a common problem that when Jess is out and about without me, a lot of people don't always recognize her until she identifies herself as 'Kronda's girlfriend.'  So I was thrilled to have things reversed (so to speak) for once and couldn't wait to text Jess about it. 

Lindsay invited me to claim seats so I took a table close to the stage.  While I was deciding, Mona, the percussionist for the band, started pressuring her to finish up the set list.  Perfect. "Um, read my card, it might help," I said.  She picked up and scanned the list. After that retreated to bar to scrounge for food.

I had felt, more than heard the couple who preceded me, have an unpleasant interaction with the bar tender, so I wasn't at all surprised when she turned out to be the rudest person ever.  It wasn't just the condescending way she said, "bowl size" while rollling her eyes when I asked about the soup sizes, or the snotty tone she used when she informed me that, "you have to buy a drink if you want the happy hour price,"  Everything about her just shouted, I hate you and I have so many other things I could be doing right now. It was all I could not to ask if she gets any tips.  She certainly didn't get one from me.

After I ordered, I went and made friends with the couple, who turned out to be Sally and Melinda.  We started a little support group for victims of rude servers and made small talk while we waited.

In due time, Jess arrived with Lisa and Sally, who was very concerned about getting good seats, noticed they were letting folks in on the other side.  So much for Rude Woman's assurances that she would announce when the doors opened.  Sally and I scooted over to the line.  I got in first, and saved a couple of extra seats for them.

T also showed up just then, so our gang was complete.  Jess and LIsa both suffered through ordering food and then had to interact with her again to tell her we were switching sides.  Thankfully that was the last unpleasantness of the evening.  I saw Lindsay standing near the door and took Jess over to say hi.  We officially met the band, Mona and Jason (also co-producer on Lindsay's latest CD), both doing double duty or more in the instruments department.  Mona was, how shall I put it--really smokin' hot.  She plays Cajón drum (otherwise known as a box), which just enhanced the effect.  It was probably good that we were Lisa's ride, so we could make sure she got home to Spike OK.  For that matter, it was probably good I had skipped class so I could make sure Jess got home to me OK...

Mona was fascinated by the fact that Portland holds some kind of record for number of strip clubs per capita, which was a running joke throughout the show.  Afterwards I told her that coincidentally, we had just opened a strip club in our living room, but sadly, could not get her to come home with us.

Since time was tight, they played one long set and many songs from my request list made it in.  Our seats were perfect and even the inevitable tall guy in front of us had immediately assured me that he would shift however he needed so that we could see.  The sound was amazing and hearing Lindsay with a full (non-cello) band was extraordinary.  The house (which was packed within minutes of opening) was completely mesmerized.  Lindsay was charming, funny, and told just the right amount of stories while torturing tuning her cello in ways that were never meant to happen.  About halfway through the show, she proclaimed that she feels like she belongs in Portland.  I don't think our attempts to convince her to move here are having much effect (she's from Boston), but hopefully she'll visit often.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I'm faithful to my girlfriend and happily so, but when it comes to everything else, all bets are off.  We were talking shopping in my marketing class last week and the teacher asked if I have a favorite bike shop.  I said I had about ten.  Yeah, when it comes to buying things, I'm kind of a ho.  I admit it.

Which might explain why I have an ever growing team of body workers for every occasion.  I've got acupuncturists, chiropractors, and the list of LMT's in my virtual rolodex reads like--well the little black book of someone really slutty.  But each person has their own distinct style--it's like listening to great music that's all in the same genre, but the artists are distinct. My friend Colleen, whom I've known since grade school (grade school!) recently got her massage license. So when she encouraged me to sample the goods, how could I say no?

This morning I left early enough so I wouldn't have to rush and rode out to her office in St Johns.  The building had an industrial feel that was immediately forgotten as I walked into her office.  The low light, soft music, warm temperature and decorative fabrics hanging on the walls put me into a state of calm I hadn't felt in weeks. Yeah, this was a good idea.

We discussed my current issues and she asked me to stand against the wall while she looked at my posture.  Her head tilted left and then right--and then she said something about my illium being out of wack.  I had no idea what she was talking about, but the tone was familiar.  It's the tone Carrie gets before she sticks acupuncture needles in my back--the one that says, 'man, we got a lot of work to do, better get started...'

I opted for a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage so we could work on my problem areas, but I could also 'bliss out' as Colleen likes to say.  So in the first half of the hour, I learned about points of origin, as she dug in to certain areas and held them until the muscles grudgingly released a bit.  I also got a firm lecture to communicate if the pressure got too intense.  Colleen is not of the 'no pain no gain' school of thinking, for which I was grateful.  She asked about my stretching habits (non-existent since I quit yoga) and my water intake (sporadic).  I felt like I'd come to class without doing my homework and resolved to do better.

After she smoothed my thighs into something more like muscles and less like tanned leather, she switched to Swedish style.  Mere relaxation turned to bliss and I sunk lower into the heated table.  I did *not* drool into the face cradle--but it was a near thing.

When all was said and done, I felt amazing--and stupid for once again letting so much time go by without a good massage.  It feels like an indulgent treat, but really it's more like a physical/mental necessary reset. I need to find a way to integrate it more regularly into my life.

If you're feeling stressed out and need a little relief, I highly recommend dropping her a line: colleen [at] ruhanibodyworks [dot] com or contact me for her number.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Would Spenser Do?

I'd had a good first day of school.  It was close to 9pm and I was on my way home, riding the Big Dummy, my favorite bike.  The night felt warm at fifty degrees, especially considering the recent snowpacalypse, as everyone referred to the impressive snow storm that shut down the city over the holidays.  For once it wasn't raining, and the wind was even calm.

I hadn't been thrilled about having to take night classes this term, but as I glided through the still air with hardly any cars in sight, I decided there might be a few perks to traveling home in the quieter hours.

I swept around a 270 degree loop that took me under the bridge I'd just crossed and headed north up Interstate.  As I came into the industrial section, the peace of my ride was shattered as a nondescript dark sedan passed me and the driver yelled "HEY!" loudly through the open passenger window.

Several things happened at once: My brain shot a massive jolt of adrenaline through my entire body at roughly the speed of light.  Even as I marveled at my body's survival instincts, my brain decided that neither fight nor flight was necessary, as the car kept on driving by. My bike wobbled briefly as I startled, but I recovered my line pretty quickly and stared in bewilderment.  I knew what had happened, I just will never understand it.  Some yahoo, definitely male, probably young, had decided it would be fun to play scare the biker. 

All this went through my mind in the space of two pedal strokes and then I got really pissed.  I hate stupid people and stupid mean people are the worst. Another two pedal stokes and the Universe decided to smile on me. The light turned red at Tillamook St, just 50 ft ahead.

I didn't hurry.  I wanted to enjoy this.  As I coasted to a stop, I reached down to the spot where my water bottle would have been.  My disc brakes let out a customary squeak as I pulled up to the light and rested my left foot on the curb.  The noise caused the driver to turn and look out of his still-open passenger window, so he got a good look as I reached down and lifted the 357 Magnum revolver out of the holster strapped to my down tube and pointed it carefully at his head.

"What is your problem?" I asked.  My voice was light, conversational, but the look I gave him was probably very similar to the one my mom had when she pulled a knife on her ex boyfriend when I was nine.  The gun was heavy, so I shifted my body sideways on the bike to face him more squarely and put my left hand up to steady it.  I watched with satisfaction as his mischievous grin turned to an 'O' of surprise and whatever smart-ass remark he was about to utter died on his lips.

"Are you a dog?" I continued, keeping my voice light.  I've been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer lately, do you watch that show?  Lot of good dogs will get territorial in cars, did you know that?  Perfectly calm till someone gets close to the window and then they just start barking their fool heads off.  It can scare the heck out of somebody, especially if they didn't know the dog was in there."

He didn't say anything in response.  There was just enough light from the MAX station lamps for me to see his knuckles whitening as they gripped the steering wheel.

The light turned green and I flicked my eyes down long enough to see his leg twitch.

"I wouldn't move if I were you." I said.  His leg steadied on the brake.  The street was deserted, no cars coming in either direction.

I resumed my train of thought.  "I was thinking about it as I pulled up to the corner and the only way I could make sense of what you did back there is if you were a dog.  Except now I pull up and you look pretty human to me.  So now I'm thinking maybe you just think it's funny to scare bikers who are just minding their own business trying to get home after a long day of class."

"If you were a dog, Cesar--that's the Dog Whisperer--would probably say you just need a good pack leader with some calm, assertive energy.  That's what he does, he just uses his pack leader mojo and in a few minutes those dogs settle right down.  It's the darndest thing to watch.  I never get tired of it."

But you're not a dog.  You're obviously a dick who's mother never taught him the golden rule. What if I'd run off the road and hurt myself just now from being startled?  Ah, but I guess you're not really the type to think of others are you?  Well, here's something for you to think about and it involves you, so it should be easy for you. Ready?"

He was still as death and didn't say anything.

"I'm going to go home and post a description of your car and license plate on every bike forum I can find.  And if I ever see any complaints about you--or someone with a car the same color as yours--I'm going to hunt you down and shoot you in the belly with this gun so you die slowly.  Nod if you understand."

He nodded and a little spit slid down the left corner of his still-open mouth.

"Excellent!" I said. "Wow, that didn't take long at all.  I think I beat Cesar's record.  Maybe I should have my own show, what do you think?"

He blinked.

"Why don't you move along now and drive slowly and courteously to your destination."

It took a moment, but he slowly turned his head forward while still glancing nervously in my direction.  He pressed gently on the gas pedal and moved forward through the light, which had cycled through to red and then green again while we chatted.

I watched him till he was past the next light and headed up the hill.  I put the gun back in the holder and snapped it shut, then rubbed my right shoulder with my left hand for a moment.  Man, that gun was heavy.  But it came in handy on occasion.

I grabbed my water bottle off my seat tube and took a long swig before I started pedaling again. I took my time going up the hill and relished the peace of a quiet night ride home after a good first day of school.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Baby Steps

Dear blog,

It's been 33 days since my last post.  I though once school was done, I'd come back to you and we'd you know, catch up and reminisce about the good times. (Whoa I spelled reminisce on the first try!).

But somehow things just keep coming up.  First I just wanted to sleep for three days (didn't happen). Then there was a big storm and there seemed to always be something to do. Feed someone's cat, shove a pill, shovel some snow, try out the new studded bike tires in the snow, break out the cross country skis, stay up all night changing towels to control water leakage in the house--you know how it is.

Finally we had a couple of days to just relax but I just wasn't motivated to write.  There was season three Dexter to finish, Netflix movies to watch, lemon cakes to make and eat, and my 'holiday letter' DVD which is still in progress. I'm having a great time going through all the footage from the past year.  We had a pretty fun year, broken bones not withstanding.  That stupid snowboarding trip continues to haunt us--if there's one thing I could take back about 2008, it would definitely be that.  Oh the hindsight!  I wonder how the year would have been different, had I just bought an extra pair of wrist guards.  But I promised myself I wasn't going to dwell on that anymore.

But rest assured blog, that I think of you often, and even though I say this every year, I really think this is the year that I'll relate to you more consistently.  It's all about learning to sum things up, but not so quickly that I just end up tweeting about everything.  It's a delicate balance, but I'm taking the first step.

Speaking of brevity, I'm going to end there for now.  Next time, we'll look back on my first term of school, and report on the first few days of the new year.  The weekend is pretty packed with socializing though, so don't expect me back hear before Monday.

See you soon, blog.