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.

Way Back East

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Two things happened last week. I lost my cell phone and got very, very sick. The two are unrelated, but they remain connected in my mind because for both reasons, I didn’t really see or talk to anyone for a few days. I was too weak to walk the dog. I bruised a rib from coughing. I procured a new cell phone but didn’t have any phone numbers until I could restore the thing on my work computer. It was a strange, solitary time during which I felt oddly free. I recommend it.

ANYWAY, a bottle of antibiotics and a flask of codeine cough syrup later, I found myself in Boston, MASS, trying hard to understand the dialect of the chowdahead whilst toddling down cobblestones streets staring up at the ancient gothic spires. New England is a revelation to us westerners. It’s so … OLD. I hung my head out the car window reading aloud the incomprehensible dates off all the historical plaques hanging on everybody’s houses. 1753! 1801! Those lovely little abodes had stood there through birth and death, multiple wars, all the presidents, maybe even a fire or two? I guess part of me feels like I belong in a tidy 300-year-old home—off in the woods somewhere, chopping wood and tending my parsnip crop.

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We were back east for a wedding. A baller Cape Cod wedding complete with towering tubs of fresh oysters and a sun-swept backdrop of Atlantic white caps. We all got dressed up, drank shandies, and channeled the Kennedys. Everyone—from the babies to the grandmas—cried at the ceremony and danced at the reception. In my opinion, whether you’re up there exchanging rings or just sitting in the crowd, it’s good and healthy and important to celebrate love—as often as humanly possible.

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THE Plymouth Rock, where 400 years ago some of your ancestors (not mine, I’m a more recent immigrant) stepped off the Mayflower and colonized the shit out of this country.

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This here lonely little field in Concord, Mass is where the Revolutionary War started. Old stuff is cool. Revolution is cool.

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The new Boston skatepark, right next to where they filmed that one Ben Affleck movie.

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Oh hey, Mt. Saint Helens, I sure did miss you.

To Dad

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Peter Sherowski—that’s my dad—turns 72 today.

The thing to know about dads is that they’re just humans. They helped give us life, sure. But they’re just guys. Of course, when you’re little, they’re larger than life—mythical. You’re afraid and in awe of them. Then you grow up a little and blame them for stuff—as if they, a single man, were responsible for everything wrong in your life. And sometimes they are. But it feels good to get past that, to get on in years yourself and pull back for the high-level view—some perspective, way out here in a place beyond emotional baggage.

That’s when you can relax and shoot the shit with them, find out about their lives, what they were into before they were into you. Be FRIENDS—yes, friends with yer old dad! Of course, they’ll prob drive you straight back up the wall tomorrow. Is there anything richer and more fraught than family relationships?

Side note: I think the dads of my generation made it really hard to date the men of my generation. They were too bad ass. My dad can skin a deer and build a house. He can crawl under the hood of your car and fix it. He’s a man’s man and he hustles and in comparison, some of the guys I’ve known and loved are, well, just boys. Poor them. : )

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Favorites 3.21.16

South Paw: I don’t like Jake Gyllenhaal. (As an actor—I don’t know him personally.) And yet. And YET! I liked him in this.

Going to the dump: Have you been to the dump lately?! You drive into the entrance with your load of, say, scrap wood, they ask you what you have, and then they direct you to an aircraft-sized hangar—of which there are many, each with a giant pile in the middle. Piles of TVs. Piles of mattresses. Piles of plastic. Piles of building materials. Piles everywhere! Creatures picking through all of them looking for even the tiniest morsel of value. It’s fascinating. We should all know what happens to our trash after we toss it out to the curb.

Arugula: In love as in food, the bitter things make everything else sweeter. Aaaanyway, I’m super down for this bitter green right now, especially a pile of it raw and chopped up on a bowl of spaghetti or plate of cheese pizza. If you haven’t tried it, do.

Coyote Wall in the spring: On Saturday, also known as the sunny weekend day, we drove way out into the Columbia River Gorge and hiked a big ole loop up through rolling green hills sprinkled with yellow and purple blooms, through piles of dark craggy rocks and your odd haunted glade, out onto a wild, sweeping cliff line to get battered in the wind. Mt. Hood loomed the entire time. It was crazy pretty.

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Way Down Low

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Winter’s rolling out like the tide. But that’s when it happens! When you least expect it. Yep, I succumbed to seasonal depression this weekend. Seriously. I sank so deep and lowdown, sitting there on the couch I must report that I cried—only a little, really maybe only one tear. And it only lasted a little while, but it came on out of the blue—like being struck by the opposite of lightening, something so dull, you almost implode. The world, my day, all of it suddenly a senseless pile of mush. Despair was near. And there was no accounting for it! My life is grand. Such a home. Such pals. Such unadulterated love. Such natural beauty all around me, at all times.

Aaaanyway, I’m just being honest. People don’t like to talk about this stuff. About feeling feelings and such. But yeah, dark moods are real—a chemical reaction in your brain. As I get on in years, I deal with them almost never, and I’m way better at it. Still, you have to be vigilant. You have to take care when the wave comes in.

Me? I laced up my runners. I walked through the night, fast enough to get out of breath. Then: a cup of green tea, because caffeine lifts yer mood. And lift, it did. An hour later at Mark’s house, there was life-affirming homemade pizza, very passable wine, and watching Vinyl. Things were, as they say, cool.

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Schnitz’ed

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Last night, I went to watch Jose Gonzales play at the Schnitz, AKA the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I’m not a rabid fan—I don’t know much about him. Still, I was charmed by the show. That guitar of his wafted up through the hall like a summer breeze. Plus, what is it about the Swedes? Love the way they talk English—they make it sound better than we do. Yes, love their sweet lilting accent and their friendly, funny little unassuming ways.

This happened to be my first time to the Schnitz. It’s a Portland landmark, a regal type of place built in 1928 where symphonies and philharmonics and such play. I felt really good sitting up there in the nosebleeds, cozy and comfortable et cetera, bathed in the soft warm light and surrounded by all the filigree and other shapes created for no other reason than to be beautiful.

Did y’all know, by the way, that the place first opened as a vaudeville movie house? Not very bourgeois, huh? I support watching smut in a theater of this caliber.

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Gets You High

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Busy as heck around here. Lots of work. For money. Typing words to tell stories that help people sell things. It’s what I do when I’m not doing all the other things that don’t make anybody any money, least of all me.

Aaaanyway, about last Thursday: the sun came out and it was sincerely warm, summerish even. The fine weather was palpable everywhere in the building—people were floating around flushed, the victims of spring fever. Work became impossible. We sat on the building stoop in shafts of sunlight listening to the sitar players riffing in the park. Life was grand.

It’s funny. You can do a lot of things to try to control your mood. Exercise. Nutrition. Diet and discipline. Drugs, alcohol, or lack thereof. But none of that stuff really gets me high quite like the first serious blue day after months of bonafide darkness.

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4 Things

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Retirement ramp: What happened was, I’d been missing my old mini ramp a little bit. I didn’t tell anyone, though. Within a week, the universe, along with Colin, Johnny, Niki and Deva, had delivered a lovely used ramp to my residence. Life is, was, and will continue to be a mystery!

Purple cauliflower: New from the farm stand, an immense head of cauliflower in a dignified Easter purple. Blah-white doesn’t do this vegetable justice—white things are usually bland, devoid of awesomeness. The new hue (they had orange ones, too! but purple = more fun) made my meal of roast butternut and steamed, deepest-green spinach look not unlike a Matisse painting.

Me And Earl And The Dying GirlI’m gonna argue here that this movie is a lot more oddball funny (and much less dramatic) than the trailer makes it look. Still, it does make you feel. If you like laughing and also don’t mind feeling feelings, watch this movie. Sidetone: I enjoyed all the warm faded greens going on in this film. Nice to look at and such.

Spring, springing: Just the tiniest little bit. We’ll take it, though.

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Food, A Love Affair

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Of course, there have been years when I’ve devised an escapist’s strategy to the Feb. 14 holiday, but as a rule, I’m not, like, afraid of Valentine’s Day. There’s always shit to love! And after this weekend, a weekend fraught with rain and traffic, the thing I really remember loving most was the food. Sustenance, both mental and physical. Warmth in the cold. Etc.

For instance, I ate a life-changing jalapeño corn muffin on a dark afternoon. Later, in the middle of a deluge, I ate pan-fried potstickers that, when poked with a chop stick, billowed volcanic clouds of steam.

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At a festive gathering, I ate 2 too many chocolate peanut-butter balls and drank several stiff, rose-colored drinks—they had the unlikely monicker of “dirty Shirley Temple” and came from the unlikely source of my favorite straight-edge girl.

Under the watchful nose of Lefty, I baked highly edible dog treats from scratch with nothing more than oats, flour and some peanut butter. And after walking the circumference of Mt. Tabor with my two favorite men, I fell aseep watching Ice Age 2 and then ate a giant steak made not of something once regal and furry but, instead, of cauliflower. Don’t laugh! It was rich with miso paste and slathered with a leek compote. Red hot with sriracha. Seared and then roasted. Yep, both whisking and zesting were involved in this meal. I’ve long maintained that if a man is willing to whisk AND zest for you, ah well then that is love …

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