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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Favorites 5.17.16

The Witch: This movie’s been on my mind. What was it even really about? When I think on the pilgrims—the way they were living alone out there in the savage wilderness of a savage land with nothing to warm them but a healthy fear of hellfire—well that’s enough to be a real-life horror story right there. Anyway, hats off to the spookiest soundtrack ever, in my opinion.

Skylights in your bedroom: While in Tofino, I stayed in a cabin with two big skylights over the bed. During the day, ’twas the coziest sunny roost for reading and naps. And at night? The room became the dominion of starlight.

A possible love interest for Brienne Of Tarth in Game Of Thrones: Long have I loved Brienne—her bad-ass manner, and the way she’s always regally professing her loyalty-unto-death to people. It’s a good personality trait, no? But in the latest episode, did you catch that spark between her and the wildling chief? Girl deserves to get some action.

Beat pesto: Red wine vinegar and beats roasted into oblivion. Almonds and olive oil. Plenty of garlic. Through a process of alchemy, this stuff becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. Sweet, tangy and über rich. A song in your mouth—and shit, I’m not even a lover of beats. Happily, the job of making it paints your hands the brightest pink.

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B.C. Or Bust

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It’s May and the sun is out. More than out—we’ve got big-boy summer here. Because adventure was calling, I drove (WAY, WAY) up north last weekend to Tofino, B.C.—a small, super laid-back surf town on the fingertip of a peninsula pointing nonchalantly out into the Pacific off Vancouver Island.

It’s hard to articulate how beautiful this place is. I mean I live in a scenic river town in the shadow of a volcano—I’m no stranger to sweeping vistas. But Vancouver Island is something else. Like, from a fairy tale. Snow-tipped fjords diving into arctic waters. Mirror-smooth lakes awash in profound silence. Sunsets to the West. Foggy harbors to the East. Skateparks. Surf breaks. Sea planes buzzing in and out. I couldn’t believe any of it.

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But. But! Tofino is very hard to get to. While not that far as the crow flies, the journey involves boat rides and crazy roads. Hours stack onto hours as you drive 25 miles an hour around hairpin turns. And the ferries are impossibly scheduled, either leaving at the crack of dawn or timed to deposit you inconveniently straight into big-city traffic.

Ah, but that’s okay. All is as it should be. You don’t take the easy way to a place like this. Fairytale lands, well, they have to be earned—everyone knows this.

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We were hours from Tofino still, but the sun was shining and there was a lake to our left. Pretty okay first swim of the season.

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Mark surfed the cruisey longboard waves. Me? I just polar-beared it and dove straight in. Lefty tried to “save” me but only managed to half drown in the crashing whitewater.

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Golden hour with an empty skatepark and islands shrouded in mist.

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We saw a tree that was a sapling during Marco Polo’s day. The Pacific Rim rainforest has stories to tell.

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On a boat! Looking back at the Olympics and Port Angeles. Not ugly.

Work-Life Balance

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Check it out. Mostly what I write about on here is life. I mean it’s life, man! Work takes up half of life, tho—maybe even more on some weeks. So without any more ado, here are a few fun things I’ve been typing up lately.

The cool thing is, at least one of these projects came out of meeting rad strangers at the skatepark (this has happened to me more than once! which is why all my skate expenses are a legit write-offs ;).

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My buds at Teva have me writing their Insta posts. I’m paid in dollar bills not double taps tho.

 

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I love food. I love writing. By the transitive properties, I love writing about food. Been doing the summer Portland Mercury ads for Pine State Biscuits. Yay for biscuits!

 

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I grew up a hopeless nerd, and ball sports bewilder me. Despite my obvious failings in this matter, my pal Scott let me help him and CDS with this bad-ass brand book for the Texas Tech University athletic department. It was hard and fun ultimately one of the coolest projects I’ve worked on in a while. Maybe there’s a lesson here? I guess probably.

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This Time Last Year

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This April isn’t last April. It’s different in ways and better in ways. Last year, I was relentlessly listening to Houndstooth and befriending scruffy strangers. There was lots of sitting on porch stoops, and the nights often ran late. Life, if that’s what you call all the moments between waking and sleeping, was tenuous—a little manic, even. There was a fever on the wind, and rain with the sun out. I mean that’s just spring in Portland.

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I bought a new, old car. I did not “bargain hard.” I’m civilized—I just paid what they asked. It’s possible that I got hosed. The plan was to have it always and forever, drive it into eternity—but now, I hear Volkswagen’s gonna buy it back from me. The future is unwritten, see?

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I played on an intramural softball team with a bunch of skateboarders. We lost our first game 28 to 2. In the outfield, Daniel kept complaining that he had to pee. Covering second base, Johnny was outrun by a lady in yoga pants. Up to bat, Kristina swung at fucking everything (and missed fucking everything!). I was unable to catch a single ball, even the pop fly that the gods sent straight to me like a beam of light. Hilarious, all of it!

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I let some dudes I’d never met from New Jersey stay in my basement. As a rule, I love East Coasters. Salt of the earth, funny, hard boiled. I also love the rite of the traveler—how you can meet new people and feel like you already know them, bond over a couple days or a car ride, be instantly old friends. If you’ve never left your town or your life, if you’ve never stayed on someone’s couch or let them stay on yours, well then that’s one of the best things you’re missing.

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3 Things

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Saturday Skate Day: In summer, Saturdays are set aside for skateboarding all the day. Due to this Saturday being glorious, we revived the tradition. Errands were set aside. Tacos were made a priority. Life is just better when the sun is out.

The Shawshank RedemptionDid y’all know this is streaming on Netflix right now? A classic, written, oddly enough, by Steven King. Hope versus despair. Good versus evil. Plus, Tim Robbins and a young Morgan Freeman. Def worth a second, or third, or fourth watch.

A Spring Vacation: Sure, I just got back from New England, but to be clear, I don’t consider that a “spring vacation.” It was like flying back in time two months, weather-wise, back into tear-wrenching 30-degree wind and other East-Coast-in-April mysteries. But next year! I do plan to escape somewhere sun drenched and warm—hot even. Maybe catch a swim and a sun burn? I imagine it to be good for the health of my body, brain and soul.