. . . and that was saturday


Interesting late October we're having in Seattle this year: record-breaking temperatures and near-record dryness for the last week of the month. In the meantime, we've been having seasonally foggy mornings -- which provides an eerie atmosphere that I rather enjoy.

It was in that kind of weather that I rode my bike up to Claudia and Dylan's place north of the U District, where I had never visited before, yesterday morning. I wore gloves and my light jacket, but it was not super cold -- crisp, I would say; arguably perfect for a morning bike ride, actually.

Claudia and I had been talking for some time about having me over to their place sometime, for dinner or for brunch. We kept talking about it but never making any actual plans. But when a podcast I was listening to several days ago discussed how hard it is for people out of school and well into adulthood to make and keep new friends, because regular living makes people too busy to make lasting connections with anyone you aren't spending a lot of time around by default (like, say, at work), it made me think about how Claudia and I were basically falling into that same trap -- and we actually work together! So, I told her we needed to make an actual plan.

I asked if she wanted just me to come over before Shobhit is back from India, or if we should wait for all of us together afterward, or both, and she said both. That was when we made a plan to have brunch at their place on Sunday morning. But then I had to ask her to switch to Saturday morning because Danielle needed to reschedule the movie she and I were going to see Saturday morning, to Sunday. It all worked out in the end, and I biked up to Claudia and Dylan's yesterday morning.

I considered driving, since I currently have easy access to Shobhit's car, but that struck me as a waste of gas, and I like to avoid driving whenever I can anyway. And when I discovered biking would take all of ten minutes longer than if I took the two buses I'd need to ride in that direction, with the perfectly suitable weather it seemed the most obvious option. Especially since Claudia and Dylan are the biggest bike enthusiasts I know. They go on a lot of the .85 bike rides that apparently happen every Thursday, and they actually met on one of those rides.

Anyway! Their home was lovely. It had lots of house plants, and many charming knick knacks an decorations that kind of made you feel like you were at somebody's grandma's house. I mean this as a compliment.

Claudia made "dutch babies" -- a baked, puffy pancake -- with blueberry sauce, and fried potatoes with sliced Field Roast sausage. It was a wonderul and tasty and filling brunch.

We had a lot to talk about, much of it work-related -- a few people were let go from the Marketing Department (which Claudia works in), because the "Digital" sub-department was dissolved. Apparently at least two people let go didn't even know it was coming until that day, which is a seriously shitty thing to do -- and, as Claudia rightfully pointed out, completely antithetical to PCC values. I keep wondering now if this will come up at the next Town Hall meeting, if the point of that is to be transparent. I honestly hope it does, because I kind of think we all deserve an explanation.

All of us in Merchandising were even asked into a brief meeting about this on Friday. Darrell, the director of the department, had a printed out email to which he referred, clearly having been sent to everyone in management positions. And not even Darrell knew everything that was going on. He had to get back to me to confirm that Ricardo is once again the person to be forwarding me social media questions to answer. When they hired Sam, the 25-year-old "Social Media Specialist," the task went to him. He wasn't quite as good as Ricardo at it, but he was fine. He was one of the ones let go -- at least from the department.

I actually don't know if he and Matt, the Digital Director, were technically laid off. Darrell himself never used that word himself in that kind of strange meeting; he actually just said they are "no longer in that department." So it's entirely possible that PCC is still offering them employment if they would like it, likely at one of the stores. Either way, it was still shitty to spring that on them the very day it occurred.

That was far from the only thing we talked about, though. It was a very lively and engaging discussion, and I even talked to Dylan much more than we usually manage between just the two of us. I had a couple of checks to deposit into Shobhit's bank account, but I hung out at Claudia an Dylan's so long -- maybe three hours -- that I barely missed making it to the closest US Bank before it closed for Saturday at 1 p.m.

Dylan took my bike into their basement for me, and when I was leaving, he said he noticed the front tire had much less air in it than the rear, and offered to pump it for me. While he was doing that, Claudia tried to put on the "Spaceballs" helmet he had made for his own Halloween costume. Her hair is too big, though, and she accidentally cracked it, to the point that he's going to have to make a new one.

I only mention this because Dylan is always so chill, and this was the first time I ever saw him visibly annoyed. It was still pretty subtle, all things considered (I do wonder if he'd have been more overt about it if they had not had company over), but it was still unmistakable. Claudia clearly felt really bad. In a weird way, though, it's kind of comforting to see tense moments among other couples who tend to seem harmonious all the time otherwise, even if they are relatively fleeting.

I then rode my bike home, and Ivan and I had barely enough time to watch the first two episodes of Stranger Things season 2, which spent a lot of time kind of spinning its wheels, I thought. When the second episode ended, I said, "It's kind of tedious so far," and Ivan replied, "Yeah, I wasn't that impressed." This after he'd messaged me the day before that he wanted to watch it because he thought the first season was the second-best season of any show he ever saw, behind the third season of American Horror Story (that was their season about witches, so it's unsurprising he loved it so much). We both still want to keep watching, though; it's been said it gets more exciting in the second half of the season.

The rest of the evening, I spent on my own. This was the night I went to Dan Savage's "HUMP!" amateur porn festival, for the first time. It was at On the Boards theatre, which I think it's at every year, on Roy Street on Lower Queen Anne.

How it started was the most entertaining part of it. Dan Savage himself was there to introduce the show, and go over ground rules, which included no alcoholic beverages allowed in the seating area, because a weird Washington State law prohibits serving alcohol in sex-related venues (like, you can't drink at strip clubs). It's totally dumb, but they got around it by offering $5 Jack Daniels shots behind yellow "hazard" tape down on the floor/stage area. The crowd was invited to come down and buy a shot, drink from one of the little plastic cups on the table as they walked past, toss the cup into the garbage, and go back to their seats. I might have bought one if I'd had the cash, but I did not.

They also had an understandably strict rule prohibiting any use of cell phones during the program, with staff standing watch both from the sides and from three people planted in the midst of the crowd. People who submitted videos and were selected do not necessarily have porn they share elsewhere, and the organizers do everything within their power to make sure these pieces are shown only at this festival and do not get out.

There were 22 short videos, which collectively lasted maybe an hour and 45 minutes. I don't think any of them lasted any longer than 5 minutes. The very first one was very humorous and did not feature any actual sex, but all the rest of them did, I think. The thing that struck me the most about the content -- and I would call this program more than anything a celebration of sexuality in all its many forms -- was how many trans men were featured. I think there were trans men in at least three of the videos, including one in which a strap-on was used to fuck a cisgendered guy. Another video featured a straight couple, and they fucked each other with . . . and eggplant. Literally.

Dan was very serious about his assertion that there be no catcalling or snide comments about any of the people or the shapes of bodies onscreen, or anything like that. He called it probably the most important rule, and I'd agree with that.

Only one of the videos featured any trans women. And only one video featured lesbians, which kind of surprised me. The makeup of the audience was surprisingly equally representative of genders, though.

There were four categories to vote for: "Best in Show"; "Kink"; "Sex" and "Humor." I voted for that very first one for "humor," as it was very funny. Some might be surprised that the one I voted for "Best In Show" was actually about a straight couple -- I thought it had the best production values, and its use of sex was actually very tasteful. It had a well-conceived narrative arc. The "Kink" one I voted for was the aformentioned one between the transman and gay man; the "sex" one I voted for, unsurprisingly, was one of the three or four that featured gay cis men.

In any case, the whole experience was . . . illuminating. I mean, I now know what "queefing" actually looks and sounds like, and I'd have never learned that otherwise. Not that it's a particularly valueable thing for me to learn. That video was funny, though: it was called Is Queef an Instrument?, and used looped queefs to make a little tune. Some of these videos were quite pointedly (or delightfully?) bizarre.

I'm glad I went, and that I can now say I've been to it. I'm not sure I'll ever go out of my way to attend again, though. I've had the experience and that one time may be all I needed.

I did go to Steamworks afterwards, though. I figured if there were ever an appropriate time to go, this would be it. Except that I had to pay the peak pricing of $19 to get in, and it was largely a bust. I did find a guy to play with and it was relatively satisfying, but honestly not worth that entry fee. And I was not the only person finding the scene there rather dull -- maybe it was just too early, even for a Saturday which is usually their busiest night -- as one guy actually came up to me at one point and just said, "Do you know where I can get some blow?"

What? That was certainly the first time anyone ever assumed I might know where they can get cocaine. I was just like, "No. I don't know anything about that." Because I don't.

I got home around 11:00 maybe, or perhaps just a little after. I would have seen if Ivan wanted to have a drink with me, but he was out. I decided I'd just go to bed -- and whereever Ivan was, he got home before I even fell asleep. But, oh well. I was in bed by that point.

[posted 8:16 pm]