Joby Juice and Grape Vodka


-- चार हजार एक सौ चौंतीस --

I've got a lot to tell you about today! First: the .83 (pronounced "point eighty-three)" Jello Slip-n-Slide Bike Ride. I went on this ride with Claudia and Dylan last year, and although I considered going on some of this group's other monthly rides sometime, I never did. I joined them last year quite randomly, deciding to go when Claudia mentioned it on the day itself. This year, I made the decision almost as randomly; she told me about it on Wednesday that it was happening yesterday, and I was pretty sure I would go, but did not decide for sure until yesterday morning.

When it happened last year, I joined Claudia and Dylan for dinner at food trucks a block away from work, after work, before going directly over to Westlake Park with them afterward. That's where the ride launches from. That was before I had to stop my special arrangement of work hours where I worked an extra hour of work every day so I would not have to use vacation time for trips to Los Angeles, though, and I was still working until 5:00 then. I've been leaving work at 4:30 every day now since last fall. So yesterday, I rode home first, where Shobhit had an Asian noodle dish made for dinner.

I was home for about an hour, which was enough time to finish the episode of The Golden Girls we had stopped in order to watch Game of Thrones with Ivan the night before, and then another episode as well. Shobhit insisted I put on sunscreen, which I was planning on doing anyway. That sunscreen is annoying, though -- somewhat unsurprising since it was the cheapest one on the shelf. But the spf level is fine (30, I think) so we'll be using that until the two bottles we got the last time we used a Chinook Book coupon at Bartell Drugs are gone. They keep your skin ghost white for about ten or fifteen minutes, though. And my arms continued to have slight white flakiness on them for several hours. And even now my skin feels sort of strange -- oddly damp for a while, kind of dry now.

So I then rode my bike back downtown again, stopping first at the Meridian Theatre to get movie tickets to An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which Shobhit and I will be seeing there after work today. When I got to Westlake Park, to my surprise, Claudia was already there; very few others were. She said it was because she had to work a little late and didn't have time to go home first. Dylan was on his way.

Let's digress briefly to discuss distances. My bike ride from home to work in the morning was 2.5 miles. My route back home after work (taking different streets for nearly half of it because it's on a route with better bike lanes and less traffic at rush hour) is 2.6 miles. The route back takes nearly 10 minutes longer because that direction is probably 80% uphill. Anyway, the ride back down to Westlake Park from home was 1.2 miles. And from there, the route to Seward Park was 7.4 miles. Once it got dark the bike ride home was still another 45 minutes according to my Google Maps app, so I opted instead to ride to the Columbia City Light Rail Station, which was 2.4 miles. Getting home from Capitol Hill Station, then, was another .7 miles. So all the riding I did for the Slip-n-Slide Ride alone totaled 11.7 miles. Had I ridden all the way home from Seward Park, that total would have been 15.7 miles. But when you add in my commute to and from work earlier in the day, my total bike riding yesterday still amounted to 16.8 miles. So there! I still win!

I might have skipped the ride had my back been worse -- it has remained sore to varying degrees all week. I did not do pushups or planks yesterday, though, and I actually skipped any planks on Wednesday night that involved my right arm. These two things clearly helped, but I was still stretching my arm and back last night, which made Shobhit say yet again that maybe I shouldn't do the ride. He wasn't naggy about it, though, and I didn't want to miss this ride. I just hoped it wouldn't make my back worse. And, miracle of miracles, it didn't -- even after doing all my pushups and planks this morning, although I do have very slight stiffness still, it actually feels better today than it has all week. Maybe the ride last night actually helped it somehow? Who knows!

Back to the event itself. This is apparently something that involves a lot more at the Seward Park destination than just the ride itself, and maybe one day I'll actually take the day off and stay later to experience some of it. (Hmm, maybe I should mark my calendar for next year?) I do it just for the ride, which I love -- being in a crowd of cyclists so huge that traffic has no choice but to wait, regardless of traffic lights, is awesome. Both times I have gone, though, I've left to go home well before the part that the event is actually named after: they set up a huge slip-n-slide for (largely drunk) people to slide down, in one of the open grassy areas. There's a lot of drinking, and a fair amount of weed smoking, and I guess last year Claudia even saw a couple fucking in the woods. (Note: Seward Park is covered in old-growth forest, 120 acres of it, the largest area of old-growth trees in Seattle.) I hear they have people hanging out as long as until 5 in the morning. There's no way in hell I would ever stay that long.

There's also something they call "Joby Juice" -- I guess Joby is the guy who is kind of the de facto leader of these events, and he brings a bunch of this drink to be passed around, which is fruit punch and Everclear. A young lady just walked up to me with a plastic red cup full of it, three pieces of pineapple floating in it, and Claudia immediately said, "Pour half of that out." Instantly I remembered her saying exactly that to me last year. So, I poured half of it out. One of the pineapple pieces fell into the grass. I wanted the pineapple! I just picked it up and ate it, which made Claudia crack up.

She may have been kind of right, though. As high a tolerance as I have for alcohol, 1) I very rarely drink Everclear; and 2) just half that cup left me with the slightest, near-perfect buzz, and doubling that might have been slightly too much. Probably still not enough to get me smashed, but whatever. I was working today and did not need to get drunk. Maybe I will next year! I chatted with another young woman for a while whose name I can't remember (I do remember she told us she's 35, and that she sees two therapists, and when I asked why two, she said, "I have a lot of anxiety"), mostly about movies -- she even asked me for the name of my website, and this was the first time I experienced how much more practical, and easy to remember, it is to just say "" rather than saying it's on LiveJournal -- and she had both a cup of Joby Juice and a beer in her hands. She was visibly tipsy before too long.

A lot of people came in, or changed into, swimming suits. At least three guys rode down in nothing but shoes and shorts, two of them in very tight briefs -- I got a photo of one of them. The first one of them I noticed was when we were still waiting to leave from Westlake Park, a slightly chubby Asian guy who I'm pretty sure is the one Claudia told me is named Wang. I wanted to comment on how apropos that was, given how truly revealing the front of his briefs were, but decided against it. Someone tell me how racist it was to think that, on a scale of 1 to 10.

I wasn't in swim trunks, but I was in shorts that could have worked fine. If I were drunk enough, I might have actually done the slip-n-slide. Okay, probably not. It would have been unlikely even in a blackout, I'm guessing, but you never know! I did talk to a lot more people this year than I did last year. Claudia even commented on that and said she was proud of me. At one point, this middle-aged guy with gray hair walked up to me and introduced himself. Then he said, "You have piercing blue eyes." I can't remember what I said exactly but it was something along the lines of, "Yep." Claudia walked up to us and told him she works with me. And the guy turned to her and said, "Doesn't he have blue eyes?" Yes. Yes, we are both aware of this. I didn't actually say that. The guy really was nice enough.

I commented with someone else about how hard it is for me to remember names. Ironically, I'm pretty sure I said that to a blonde woman named Kate. The one guy whose name I'll never forget is the guy who told Kate his name was Sean, "with a dollar sign." I said, "You're like Ke$ha!" To make the description of his name explicit, he said, "Dollar-sign; 'on.'" I guess his name is $on, then. In print, that makes no sense. It just looks like what he literally said: "dollar-sign on." I suppose it could have been Shawn, technically. I'm sticking with Sean. In any case, his description made it impossible not to forget his name.

It seems I stayed a little bit further into the festivities this year than I did last year, because I saw more of it -- or the very beginning of it -- just as it was getting dark. Claudia and I walked over to take a peek at the area where they were setting up the slip-n-slide. At this point it was just people moving around what looked like paint buckets in the grass. Claudia cautioned not to get too close or they would enlist our help. It was while we were walking back that I learned Claudia serves on the Seattle Bike Advisory Board, which I think is awesome. Apparently she's the only mom (with an under-age child) on the board, which gives her a unique perspective on the board -- she's the only one who offers up scenarios like riding with your kids to the rest of the board, who, it kind of sounds like, make general assumptions that the only people using bike lanes in the city are high-skill cyclists riding around in Spandex.

I haven't worn Spandex since 1989, and back then it was because it was literally in fashion. I never wore them to ride bikes. I did love the fabric though. Regardless, wearing Spandex as a fashion statement is idiotic. Ah, the eighties . . .

It was right when Claudia and I reached the crowd again where most people were hanging out among the trees, and getting back to where Dylan was, that the now-dark area was suddenly lit up with flying glow sticks. People were just throwing them into the air and they were landing on the ground along the path and around people's feet. It was a pretty cool sight, actually. But, it was time for me to go. I Claudia gave me a hug, and so did Dylan: "Can I give you one of these?" he said, adorably. I have historically had a hard time coming up with things to talk about when he and I are left alone together but I did better than ever before this time, particularly when we were still at Westlake Park and Claudia had gone off to say hi to some people.

I had locked my bike to their two bikes, and now, moving boxes of crushed beer cans aside, I unlocked it and took my bike out to ride to the Columbia City Light Rail Station. This was my first time testing the new headlight on my helmet -- I learned long ago not to keep one on my bike; it just gets stolen -- and it made much more of a difference than I even thought it would. I felt way more comfortable riding at night with it. The only reason I didn't ride all the way home was that it was too far and would take too long and I was by then pretty tired of riding. Getting up the hills to the Light Rail station was challenging enough.

I chugged a good bit of water when I got home, and although I didn't take any Aleve, the water alone -- which I did not bring on the ride, contrary to Shobhit's recommendation -- seemed to make a genuine difference. I woke up feeling fine today, not in the least bit hung over. I can't speak for Claudia or Dylan; I'll have to ask her. When I get a chance I'll see if she can't tell me how the rest of the night went.

I did get a lot more pictures this year: 21, versus merely 7 I took last year. Now they get their own dedicated photo sets, and their own photo collection. Clicking either of the top or middle photos in this entry will take you to this year's full photo set. The bottom one, by contrast, will take you to all of my photos tagged with "pcc."

-- चार हजार एक सौ चौंतीस --


-- चार हजार एक सौ चौंतीस --

As you may have noticed if you saw what I posted this morning, today I celebrate 15 years at PCC. Technically the anniversary is tomorrow -- I never forget August 5, because it's also my dad's birthday -- but tomorrow is a Saturday. I should get my 15-year pin soon, and gifts (including the water bottle with a new design), soon. I don't know when, though. Kibby got hers just last week, and her anniversary was technically at the end of April. Also they surprised her, and it would be a lot harder to surprise me, as I am always hyper-aware of these milestones. So, I could be presented with this stuff this afternoon, or next week, or sometime in the near-ish future. I have no idea.

But these things have already happened:

Scott semi-regularly brings me a sweet-filled croissant from Le Panier at Pike Place Market, as a gesture of gratitude. He mentioned it yesterday, but said he wasn't sure how it would work getting me one today since he'd be driving in instead of busing; in the latter case he walks through the Market on his way to work from the downtown bus stop. I guess he parked somewhere to get it, though, and when I got to my desk this morning, there wasn't just one croissant. There was a box of a dozen raspberry croissants! I saw that and immediately exclaimed, "Jesus!" Scott was on the phone but when he hung up he suggested I could share them. Uh, you think?

When Darrell came in, Scott said I had a "points opportunity" to offer him one. Darrell was happy to take one. Noah didn't take one until I moved the box over to the Merchandising table in the pantry area, just to get them away from me after I ate two of them.

Scott also emailed all the POS and Grocery Coordinators at the stores to ask them to send me well-wishes for my 15th anniversary. Most of them did not include his original email so at first I was like, "How did you know??" But when Kibby sent me her email, it included Scott's in the thread so I could see what he sent:

Hey All;

If you could all remember to send Matthew a BIG “thank you” tomorrow, I would appreciate it.

Matthew will be celebrating his 15th anniversary with PCC….. Yahoo!

If you could add a picture of your favorite cat that would be super cool! Matthew loves his cats haha

Matthews’s main job is to keep me out of trouble :) After that, even if you don’t realize it, he keeps a lot of plates spinning in the air that otherwise would crash and make all our days pretty miserable.

Thanks for saying “Thanks”

I have long felt appreciated by countless people at work, but few express it more openly or frequently than Scott -- historically, I'd say the only person to rival him in this department was Jennifer, before she retired a couple of years ago. I mean, consider this: my work load yesterday got so low I literally had to ask him if he needed help with anything. "Are you bored?" he said. I can't remember exactly how he phrased it but when he said something about how I got to have so little to do I said, "Over time? Automation." He said, "Are you going to be replaced by a robot?" He then mentioned maybe Kevin had some new items to send me. I emailed Kevin, and within minutes Kevin came to my desk and said the exact same thing: "Are you bored?" Kevin did have a few new items for me to enter so that took up a little time. Otherwise I got to doing something that actually doesn't need to get done for another three weeks. And I did some clean-up in an area of the item maintenance program I work in that's really needed doing for some time. I guess after a while you have to start getting a little inventive. Anyway, I was getting to a point here, what was it? Oh: that even when I told Scott directly that I had very little to do, he didn't seem to give a shit, like at all. When I was working on Kevin's new items, Scott came by and jokingly said, "Type. Real. Slow."

So I've gotten several lovely emails, a lot of them with pretty great cat pictures or cat memes -- which I used to send in my regular POS "batch emails" that a few years ago were no longer necessary, again, because of IT automating the process.

Kibby's was arguably the best. I was so touched by what she said I literally got a little misty-eyed. She wrote, in part:

Thanks for all you do here at PCC – your spreadsheet wizardry, mad organizational skills and attention to detail, brilliance at multitasking, depth of knowledge, wicked sense of humor and well, the list could go on and on and on… PCC would not be the same without you Matthew.

It truly has been a pleasure working with you. You are an amazing individual!!!

Cheers to many more years!!!

I got a little misty-eyed again re-reading that just now.

Kibby and I have had our ups and downs over the years, to say the least -- more than anyone else I've worked with, with the possible exception of Stephanie, given that she once nearly fired me. I'm really happy Kibby and I are in a good and healthy place now -- which I honestly think is largely due to my conscious choice to be less of a dipshit than I have been in the past. It really proves that it rarely matters what has gone down with friends, you can come back from it.

-- चार हजार एक सौ चौंतीस --

Scott just took Noah and me out to lunch, for my 15th anniversary celebration. We went to Little Thai, the Thai place we used to go to fairly frequently in the U District when we worked at the old office, just for old time's sake. This was Scott's idea, after initially saying I could choose where we had lunch. But I loved this idea, even though traffic was kind of a shit show both ways. The new office location is wonderful while you're here, but especially in a car, coming and going to and from it can be a little bit of a challenge.

As it happened, this was where I got my anniversary gifts. Scott had a paper sack he was carrying with him, and I figured it was for me. Noah almost pointedly got in the back seat of Scott's car, putting me in the front, but it meant he was in the back with the bag. Because it was a PCC paper grocery bag, he asked Scott if he was delivering something to one of the stores. Scott was just like, "Nope."

But he gave me the bag once we were seated in the restaurant. It had the requisite gifts: the PCC Staff 15 Years Pin; the new water bottle; the gift card. That gave me three different options, all worth $300: a PCC gift card; a Visa gift card; a contribution to the charity of my choice. Sheeeit, fuck charity! Okay, not really -- but I already contribute monthly payments of $20 each to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood (in Mike Pence's name, in the latter case). I'm going for the Visa gift card. Shobhit will want me just to put it in savings, but this is a gift intended to get myself something special. I intend to do that, in one way or another. Even Scott said that's what I should do. I have no idea what, though. I'll have to do some brainstorming.

I had the pad thai with tofu. It probably had fish sauce in it. I didn't ask. Don't tell anyone! No one has better pad thai then they do. I love their pad thai. And here I avoid marshmallows and jellybeans because they has gelatin in them. I can be inconsistent sometimes, I'm only human! Leave me alone! I mean, maybe it didn't have fish sauce in it. You don't know!

Literally while I was writing the above two paragraphs, Jeff, the Beer and Wine Merchandiser, brought me his own gift: a 750 ml bottle of Glass Vodka, distilled from grapes. Nice! I had told him months ago I'd love to have the sample bottle of vodka -- of some other brand, I forget which -- I saw on the Merchandising table, and he even promised I could have it eventually, but was very cagey about when. I never did get it. But I have this one now! I wonder if vodka distilled from grapes tastes different? I intend to find out sooner than later. I guess I'll wait until after work at least.

For now I suppose I should find some actual work to do. I have more to get done today than I did yesterday.

-- चार हजार एक सौ चौंतीस --