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.

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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