The year is turning toward darkness—here sits Halloween already. It’s the portent of a season when holidays barrel haphazardly at you. I’m cool with Halloween, though, cuz it’s a holiday of a different sort (I.E. it isn’t for family, it’s for me and for you).
Costume-wise, I tend to do the bare minimum to not be deemed a hack or unfun. I also generally attend a party where I lean against a wall admiring all the magnificent costumes people arrive wearing. Edgar Allen Poe and his spectral mistress, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, the bunny from Donnie Darko, Bob Ross, et cetera, et cetera. At a certain point, I always seem to discover myself tipsy, this coinciding with a realization that I’ve lost all my friends. Suddenly all the masks are jeering at me, all the face paint nightmarish. At this point, I leave—without telling anyone good bye, just quietly wandering home to sleep the sleep of the dead and not wake up again until November.
Anyway, I’ve never stayed home and handed out candy to the little people roving from door to door with pumpkin-shaped buckets held before them. Is this any fun?
Bob Ross in all his glory, some pioneers heading westward ho, and NWfrickinA.
See? I don’t try very hard.
Sometimes all you need is a couple rolls of duct tape to dress up. But then what happens when you have to pee? I don’t remember how Billy solved this dilemma.
Normally I do spectacular things on Saturday nights.
But this Saturday night I spent on the top of a ladder in the darkness and storm wrestling with pieces of corrugated roof that were torn away by the raging wind. I employed a power drill in the spectral light of a flashlight with dying batteries. I sliced my finger pulling wet screws out of my back pocket. I teetered dangerously atop the tippy-top rung (“this is not a step”) and legit almost fell three and a half times.
All the while the gusting air perpetuated savagery in the huge evergreen above my head, adding to the sense of urgency—the immediate need to fix the patio roof, I.E. prevent the downpour from pooling right there at my backdoor and (as anyone would) inviting itself inside.
Anyway, a huge storm came through this weekend, like a vanguard of winter, and as I met its wrath on a Saturday night while most people I knew had run off eating and drinking and such, I suddenly knew that, for real, I am grown up—like a grown up grown up.
But the next day I slept in, ate peanut butter from a jar, and skated all afternoon in the newborn sun. Okay?
I don’t really buy nice things for myself because I’m hustling to pay for my mortgage and my lifestyle, but now that I think about it—my lifestyle is a nice thing that I buy for myself. I’m lucky. Life is good. Etc. Etc.
However, I did just acquire this new table/bench set, custom built for my tiny kitchen nook by a talented pal named Brock. Do you know him? A wizard of woodworking; a master of maths, saws, and impact drivers.
So, this table, it’s more than nice—it’s magnificent. Made from Douglas Fir, or doug fir to the layman. So warm in color, you think it might be warm to touch. I plan to keep it forever and have it always piled high with stuff—like open dog-eared magazines near cream-filled morning coffees, like glasses of wine, like games of dice, like notepads filled with lists, like cutting boards of bread and cheese, like pumpkins being carved with a cookie sheet to save the seeds.
On Saturday night, I rode my bike all over town, but mainly to a foot stompin’ show near Belmont Street—a benefit for My Voice Music put on by The Lonesome Billies, my fave Portland old-country band.
Last year, I attended the same event, with the same people, on the same bike. This is a big deal, because it’s late October—and normally you can’t ride your bike drunkly around town in late October on account of the damn, damn rain. However, both this year and last, soaring down dark, empty streets with leaves flying away in our wake happened, so perhaps it’s all predestined.
Along this ride, we breaked for a stiff drink on Burnside Street, forged a crowd waiting to get into a “Burning Man after party,” and were nearly scooted off the road by a left-turning semi truck. It was all good—all part of the journey.
Upon our arrival, pro-skater Leo Romero’s band Travesura played—who I’ve been following since I stumbled upon their show last winter—and much dancing immediately ensued. The place was filled with pals. Strings of white lights winked overhead. Arms hung over the necks of neighbors, and everyone sung along. It was a pure good time (for a good cause) that should def not be missed by the likes of you next year, okay?
October street gang.
Planning a faraway trip: Yes, yes, live in the now … but what about the excitement/discovery of planning—planning a wild foreign adventure, to be specific? (Pic by Bernhard Lang).
Toasted pumpkin-seed oil: I’m pretty meh on pumpkins (most Thanksgiving food, really). But toasted pumpkin seed oil! Nutty, pungent—it’s a cappella of flavor. Pour this forest-green elixir on fresh bread and sprinkle some salt. Please. Thanks.
Beginner violin practice in the house across the alley: When you have your window open for maybe the last time of the year, and instead of sirens or birdsong, what you hear on the thin fall air is a 4th grader stumbling through violin scales—this is profoundly comforting.
Friday Night Lights: Not about football. (A little about football). About the human condition. About brotherhood. About adolescent upheaval. About dignity. Also, the filming’s gritty, and the music’s great. (Disclaimer: I’m talking the TV show—not the movie—which I haven’t seen but DEF will so don’t spoil).
Look, it’s October, and you and I both have gutters to clean and those juice-bursting, perfumey Asian pears to eat.
However, last week my refrigerator broke and I was forced to put everything in a cooler to wait five days for a repairman, and the cooler being small, I had to throw away a crap ton of food like the Heinz relish that’s been chilling since 2008 at least.
Also? Instagram’s (only) cool because it makes you think creatively (maybe), but I realized recently that I’m too lazy to take out my phone and snap pics of cool shit anymore—instead, having fallen into this slovenly habit of just screen-grabbing other people’s shots who were in attendance to repost in an “I was there” sort of way. Pathetic, huh? Or maybe … maybe I’m just living my life?
This time last year, it was a lot stormier. Remember?
There were torrential downpourings that caused almost-floods in my basement (thanks for helping me bail water, Nick!)—leaves and tree limbs littered the streets.
The days were cooler. There was already an acceptance of fall, an acceptance that longer, darker nights are restorative—that “rest” is allowable, that sitting on the couch under a blanket under a cat is a more-than-fine way to pass an evening, that all the “going” and “doing” you did this summer is somehow JUST NOW catching up with you and maybe that’s why you are suddenly so FUCKING EXHAUSTED every night at 6 o’clock …
My birthday weekend passed in a blur of cake and candles—candles on the cake, and candles for the darkness of a 9-hour power outage in SE Portland on the very eve of my birthday fete at Commonwealth. Remember? We all sat there in the dark, talked, drank wine.
In the early days of October, I cooked a big soup out of tomatoes and potatoes and sage. I dipped toasty bread in. I thought about all the life things that needed doing before 2014 would come barreling through.
And one day, I climbed up Dog Mountain with Tricia and Lisa amidst spooky billows of fog. As we neared the top, the clouds split open and we found ourselves staring straight into the vacuum of space—dark purple faraway mountains cut by silver river waters, the promise of a golden sunset off to the west … Remember?
I do … but only cuz I wrote it down.
Stayed up late on Friday night on account of our pal George Cutright had a photo show. A lovely occasion! It was a warm night, and everyone rode bikes. There was much wine and beer drunk, and thus plenty of drunk talk. Also? A basketball kept bouncing perilously inside through the open roll-up door, finding unsuspecting heads to hit and beer cups to tip over.
Now, George’s show: a collection of half-frame pictures of “people and the skateboards they belong too.” What he did was he took out his camera (read: not phone) and pressed down on the shutter button once while pointing at a person, and then again while pointing at their skateboard. He then went into the dark room (remember those?!) and created each print using an ages-old method called film developing.
Skateboarding might not be what regular 30 (and 40!!) somethings choose to do on a daily basis. But here in our circle, it is. It’s how we maintain fun in our lives and give meaning to our days. It’s how we keep the angst at bay. It’s how we find our place and our people. It’s how we keep our bodies healthy and remember that sometimes, strangely, falling down feels good.
Getting hurt can suck it of course.
Pic by Brooke Geery.
Oh hi! I turned another year old again. It happened this week on a quiet Tuesday of no particular import. There was rain upon waking and afternoon sun, followed by pizza in the evening.
Also? There was a party on Sunday eve. All of my friends (well, most—I think I forgot to text some of you? Gah, I’m sorry) came over and sat in the golden light that was beaming my backyard. It was exceptionally fun and made me feel all happy and sad at once (emotional, I think it’s called) because, I dunno, friends really are why life is good.
For instance: All of them showed up carrying bottles of wine or good beer tied to chocolate bars with pretty colored string, or they came carrying champagne, or they came carrying bouquets of gerber daisies or hydrangeas, or they came carrying handmade houseware crafted from an old skate deck, or they came carrying a bunch of balloons they stole from a child’s birthday party.
Obviously, these are good people we’re talking about here. Love you guys!
The coolest coasters for keeping Pinot stains off the coffee table—handmade my Marsha and Jasper.
Lefty ate a cupcake wrapper and got a modest proposal. He partied, in other words.
Driving on the beach: It always feels like you’re getting away with something. Freedom! I mean, you could drive straight into the freaking waves if you wanted! But you don’t. But still.
Goat milk: Goat milk? Goat’s milk? Milk of the goats? Whatever you call it, it’s good. Use it in place of regs milk in your oatmeal and be rewarded with a deep creaminess and that lovely, goaty tang on the tail end.
Pine nuts: My very, very favorite of all the nuts. Or is it a seed? And why don’t they make some sort of pine-nut butter for toasts and rice cakes? This is something my breakfast most desperately needs.
Beginners: Rewatched this Mike Mills movie the other night and remembered how it’s great. About, among other things, the silk thread that ties our parents’ fraught relationship to our own adventures in fraught-ness. Also, cancer, rollerskating, and a wicked cute terrier.