Lake Life

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Just looking at these pictures makes me feel good. They’re from my trip to Lake Powell in Southern Utah last week. It was a red-dust playground of motorboats cutting the glassy water. We drove through 3 states to get there—way out to the very middle of the desert, but the long hours on the straight, hot roads were worth it. As said elsewhere, I love the southwest. The desert is elegant, beautiful and harsh. It was a magical trip.

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1. 3 a.m. scenic pee. My child-sized bladder did me good service by waking me every night at the calmest, darkest hour, when the Milky Way burned bright overhead and the lake was so black, so still that it looked like just another star-spangled sky.

2. Lunch beer. As a bonafide lightweight, I don’t normally do lunch beers, but on vacation, on the boat, in the heat, on the lake, a very cold beer is the only thing you can possibly drink with your sandwich.

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3. Houseboats. RVs on the water! What a concept. They seem kinda tricky to maneuver though, so don’t ask me to drive yours.

4. Kids in the water. A couple of 12 year olds, my nephew and his friend, spent every second in the lake. Splashing, swimming, sliding, dunking, diving, flipping, flopping, etc, etc. It made me very happy.

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5. A dusk swim. Every night I slipped in the water right at purple dusk in order to wash off the day’s sweat and sand so as not have to sleep in my own filth. During this hushed time, I could float on my back in the silver water and stare up at the clouds turned pink in the fading light.

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Paint It Black

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I’m about to leave on a quintessential summer vacation, but first, here’s a small post about a big game. Paintball. Have you ever? It’s very and truly scary. You sweat and your mask fogs up. All you can hear is your own breath coming in short frantic bursts. Right away or after awhile, it makes no difference—you always get hit. It always hurts. As the game wears on, your greedy hoarding of bullets gives way to reckless shooting everywhere, anywhere. And that, my friends, is paintball.

It was my first time playing, and I went ahead and wore a high-vis purple sweatshirt. Hindsight being 20-20, I could’ve worn black, but it honestly never occurred to me. I learned many lessons that night—the virtues of camo was just one.

I’m a poor shot. I’m a pacifist. For so many reasons, I’m not cut out for this type of thing. Still, though, it was fun, exhilarating you could even say. A physically demanding activity that leaves you covered in sweat, gooey paint, and bulls-eye purple bruises.

Thanks to Trevor G. for the all the action pics. War journalism is a noble calling after all—he’s truly one brave man.

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A Summer Slice

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Last week was a very good week.

The temperature was summerish, in the high 80s, and the vibrations were good, from an astrological standpoint. No cosmic storms or real ones.

On an unassuming Wednesday evening, our pal Patrick arrived from New York, causing us to convene at the Bracewell mini ramp to celebrate such things as skateboarding and old friends. It was lovely. It was hot. Everyone sweated through their tee shirts. Then we all went to the Alleyway for food and cold drinks. To have a day so full of friends and fun so early in the week? One can only hope for this kind of thing.

On Friday afternoon, after everyone had gotten up early and worked hard, a river trip came together with very little effort at all. The water was tropical green and that just-right temperature—cool but not cold. You could swim for real, not just dive in and shiver calamitously back out. And did you know that we saw a bald eagle while we were there? A hush fell on the beach as it soared over the sun bathers—a benediction on the water and on summer and, I guess, on us.

Anyway, I am no reckless optimist, but good portent was everywhere last week. To be friends, to be together, to be happy … what a neat thing.

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Weekend By The Numbers

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I worked hard all week and then the weekend came. It was wonderfully cool on Saturday morning. I woke up early to eat toast and cream cheese while drinking sweet black coffee. I used to have it with milk, no sugar, but everything changes—even something like how you drink your coffee.

95 is the number of minutes I skated Mini West Linn with Toby and Derek and George and Steve and Brandon, there in the shade of the tall, leafy trees. Lefty chased me barking, then got tired and laid down in the middle of everything, blocking such obstacles as the rail and the ledge (he’s not called “the cutest kook” for nothing).

2 is the number of points I miraculously scored at the late-afternoon kickball game in Irving Park, running from base to base as fast as I could, which is admittedly not very fast. As said elsewhere, ball sports aren’t really in my repertoire, but if I HAVE to play, then kickball, with its big ol’ bouncy ball rolling slowly toward you when you’re up to kick, well it’s more my speed. A ball sport for the uncoordinated, if you will.

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1 is the number of cans of Rainier I drank at the swimming hole, and then felt lightheaded, sunburnt despite having smeared on SPF 1,000 sunscreen. Later, we all dove in and swam through the rippling current to the rocks on the other side, where Toby climbed around and Ryan and Mark and Katie and I crouched in the cold water and let it rush on past.

3 is the number of pictures I borrowed from friends for this post. Tricia took the post-kickball picture of us at the park—exhausted, sweaty, happy, having recreated heavily. Danielle captured us at the swimming hole, with its jewel-toned water. On our hike back from swimming, Toby took the shot of the quiet forest awash in evening light. Thanks, guys!

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3 Things

Stranger Things: A new throwback sci-fi for all you E.T. & X Files fans out there. It gets me scared, but it also makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside just like all really great 80s movies do to all humans who grew up wearing velour sweatpants and drinking Tang in the 80s.

Yerba mate: A mild cocaine of sorts for work-day doldrums. I can get lit on a mug of this, plug in Explosions In The Sky, and crush 3 hours of product copy. Magically, I will still be able to sleep later. It’s cool.

New roommate: After what amounts to years of living alone, the struggle to not become curmudgeonly was real. But turns out, having someone at the house when you get home is quite lovely, because then that someone is around to open stuck jars of jam, and there’s someone to drink wine with as the light falls, and there’s someone for Lefty to run and find in hopes of protection from being given a bath—which he won’t get because, little does Lefty know, that someone is a double agent who works for me. Hah!

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Pictures Of You

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I haven’t read that one best-selling book about decluttering your life, but I don’t think I have to. The urge to cleanse comes on like a fever now and then. For me, life feels lighter when you open a drawer and dump its entire contents in the trash. Byeeeee.

But what about photos. Do they count as clutter? I’m gonna argue somewhat controversially that yes, yes they do—and I just dumped a whole bunch.

I don’t like going back to things. Moments. Haircuts. Old apartments. Forward is my natural motion. And from this 30-something vantage, I do quite honestly believe I’m living the best moment that has ever happened RIGHT FREAKING NOW. Self-helpy, I know. Ugh. But seriously, the more I get to thinking about it, the more the fact that I even have a now seems so fortunate, so impossibly lucky, well it may as well be gold dipped.

So I threw away so many old photos.

It felt glorious! All the trips to Europe with all the old buildings. If I want to see the Eiffel Tower, I’ll just look it up. Yes, and all the party pictures. I lived ’em—but I don’t need to hang on to ’em. Oh, and hey, all the times I fell in love and then so completely out. Later. Ciao. Au revoir.

I did save a few select pics, though—most of them heartbreakingly cute pictures of old friends and pets. There is a method to my madness.

Tough Stuff

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I wanted to give you a post about a serene trek along a lush river to a fairytale campsite, but that would’ve been for the hike we thought we were going on. Instead, we unexpectedly summited a freaking mountain.

You see, a plan was hatched for the holiday weekend, supplies were quickly purchased, and bags were haphazardly packed. It was, as they say, “no big deal.” Except it was. We hadn’t read the trail description carefully. We didn’t know what we were getting into. This trail, it went uphill, steeply, relentlessly. We had too many pounds on our backs, but not enough water. I gave most of mine to the dog, as he shouldn’t suffer for my own dumbness. Although the path was busily sun dappled and views of the volcanoes emerged from the forest, we were all in pain. One hour turned into five, and up we still went …

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Spoiler alert! The story ends with us making it to the fairytale mountain lake. We did not die. We did not give up.

Instead of a glorification of escaping to nature, then, this post is a glorification of doing tough stuff. Like, it’s okay when things are hard. It’s okay to dig deep. We walked up the side of a mountain, but we felt like we conquered the world. Had we known how bad it’d hurt, would we have undertaken this mission? Maybe not. But maybe, as modern humans, we are too free to choose.

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Favorites 6.29.16

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Leek scapes: Not landscapes, as my computer keeps correcting me to—leek scapes. They’re the stems and flowers of the leek plant. You can roast them in oil until the stalks snap like asparagus and the blooms are crispy like something deep fried and delicious. What then? You pick them up with your hands and eat them.

East Glisan Pizza Lounge: I live in a strange, vacuous neighborhood of nothing but grocery stores, so I hold any half-way decent restaurant near my house in high regard. This new pizza spot on Glisan holds up, though. It’s a humble place full of beautiful pizza. They’re friendly there, an important box to check in my book. And, oh, hey, they hand-make their vegan fennel sausage (!!!).

Moby Grape, “I Am Not Willing”: I don’t know anything about this band. Do you? What happened was, this song came on Jesse’s stereo last Tuesday while a few of us skated the mini ramp. Time slowed down. Everyone relaxed. Nostalgia blew in on the breeze. It was like we were in a scene from a movie, the really good scene—the one where the music kicks in and you know that everything’s gonna be alright.

Holiday Observances

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Like ghosts—there to be observed or ignored—several important holidays passed through our world in the last few days.

The first was the summer solstice, which marks the longest day of the year and the warm season emerging. A lovely passage. On this day there was, cosmically, a ripe full moon, just as ripe as the many ears of corn that showed up to my house on summer-solstice eve, brought for the grill by all my friends—along with other good fare like bean salad and French onion dip—to celebrate the day and the season.

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The second was Go Skateboarding Day. I’m not exactly sure what the origin of this holiday is—maybe just a marketing ploy cooked up by some companies? Still, the intention is nice, and meaning is all I try take away from any holiday, anyway. Last year, Go Skate Day was action packed, but this year, what I did was work all day and then skate one of my favorite ramps in the late sunshine. A few buds. Some beers. It was, as they say, mellow.

Of course, we don’t need holidays to eat, drink and do special stuff—life is reason enough. But then again, there’s something to be said for ritual and how it grounds you and keeps you present. That’s just my opinion, mind you.

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*This was not a make, but life ain’t all makes, now is it?

Fearless Nothing

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Here I sit, on the verge of a couple months’ good, hard work. I’ll be busy! Busy is good. Harness all that kinetic energy … But. Right now, while things are normal, I like right now, too.

Basically, I’m trying to get profoundly good at resting, so that when the whirlwind hits, I can be profoundly good at that, too. Make sense? I don’t know. It’s harder than it should be to find the balance between the doing and the not doing. This weekend I dialed it in, though.

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There was skateboarding, there was wandering in the woods, there was hang time in the hammock, there was the stacking of many rocks and the creation of a giant inferno, there was camp wine and camp coffee, there was, in fact, tent camping.

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Rest-wise, though, I’m most proud of Sunday afternoon, during which we came home and did nothing. We napped! Also, we basked like cats on the sunny deck, staring up into the void of blue—which, after a few minutes, revealed itself not to be a void at all, but instead a lively expanse of bugs and cottonwood fluff and one lost lone balloon flashing the sunlight back down at us from impossibly high.

I can’t get the hang of meditating, but this felt a whole lot like that. I hope to stick this moment in my cap of fine, pure moments and maybe pull it out next month when I’m stressed and really freaking need it.

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