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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3 Things: Heat-Wave & Family Themed

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100 Degrees: A wave of 100-degree weather came to visit at the same time as my family. Being an Oregonian, I do not possess air conditioning. Being a consummate Portland tour guide, my pride was deeply hurt that my guests were miserable due to the heat. We bickered, sweated, and generally annoyed each other into exhaustion. Many of the activities I’d planned were suddenly a no go. I was stressed. In my mind, things were headed to disastersville—but my big sister talked me down. The weather is the weather and there’s nothing to be done about it. Also? The Platonic ideal of a family visit does not need to be achieved. All we really need to do is go sit on a semi-decent beach somewhere—swimming as necessary. And that’s what we did.

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Berry picking: The heat eventually broke and it was beautifully cool. Thus, we went berry picking on Sauvie Island. What happened was, we wandered around a farm, up and down rows hanging heavy with fruit. Yellow raspberries. Cohos. Tulameens. Early blueberries. Etc. Only about 45% of the berries picked went into the box instead of our mouths. How is this a profit-making business?! We wondered allowed. A few hours later with sunburnt necks and tired feet, we realized—oh, we’re doing their work for them! I get it nowwwww.

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Pream Pizza: I wanted to bring my out-of-towners somewhere “Portland,” so we descended upon a baroque pizza place that started as a hip-hop pop up inside a fancy charcuterie joint. Are you following? This is Portland, guys. Aaaanyway, the menu was on the fancy tip, but pretenses aside, the cooks accommodated our crowd of vegans and picky tweens alike. Once all was said and done, we were full from eating lots of good food, and that’s a happy way to be.

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Memorial Day Camp Out

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What is it about camping? You come home feeling exhausted but refreshed, dirty but clean. Existentially clean, maybe? I dunno.

Anyway, I went camping and swimming in the wilds of Oregon this weekend. “Swimming” is a strong term. I dove into the glacial river water and then immediately scrambled back to shore. The sun was hot by day, and the fire was hot by night. There was zero cell service anywhere. Life, for a minute there, was pretty dialed in.

I believe in the alchemy of a campsite—the fire, with its pine-scented smoke; the tent, with its blustery-thin walls (which keep out the rain but not, thankfully, the sound of babbling brooks!); the dirt; the sunset; the sooty rocks you toast your bagels on; all the pure clean time spent under the great, wide sky. Put together, there’s a magic to this stuff that’s, well, the province of summer.

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The Clackamas River Valley is a site to behold.

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Here’s to chasing sticks around your own private swimming hole.

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Dudes bein’ dudes.

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As a kid, one of my favorite things about swimming was when I got out of the water all shivery, and then my mommy wrapped me in a big ol’ warm towel and dried me off.

In Real Life

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I encountered a friend out last night whom I rarely see/talk to. He asked me if I’d been skating lately or “just hiking.” It was an odd question. It left me wondering. Of course I’ve been skating! But then I realized that those moments on 4 wheels haven’t been making it onto Instagram. Who cares? Reality check: My Insta feed is the only way some people know me.

That’s fine—but it’s weird. Everyone uses Instagram (and all social medias) for different reasons. Me? I’m on there to see cool pictures and laugh. I don’t ever post selfies, can’t get behind them, will unfollow friends who post too many of ’em. I want to see your world, what you’re doing, what you think! I don’t follow certain friends that I adore in real life simply cuz they clog the feed with crap I’m not interested in. Likewise I follow total strangers who post dynamic pics that make me feel something. Long story short, Instagram isn’t real life.

Obvious: we’re crafting stories about our identities and lives with every picture we put up—and the ones we choose not to. Not so obvious: those stories probably aren’t very true. Sure, hopefully everyone’s living extraordinary lives full of natural beauty and wonder, full of humor, full of friends and happy things going down. Full of hiking! But you can sense just by looking that that’s not totally the case. We’re all just normal. Buncha normal people living normal lives!

And hey, normal is cool.

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