Category Archives: Odd Thoughts

New Job, New Life

I got a new job. I get to work with my heroes. I get to drop f bombs in the office space and listen to banjo music or speed metal as my mood dictates. I get to bring my puppy to work. I get to make cool stuff and learn to be smart and follow my coworkers’ footsteps into the magical place where good ideas come from.

This week, I started full time as senior copywriter at Nemo Design. I’ve worked from Nemo for like 12 years. Trevor and Jeff were nice to me. Like a little lost orphan, I put my desk in a corner here and fed off their fun and creativity to do my own work for other companies in other places. Now I’m here, and I’m working here. It’s exciting.

I remember reading a passage in Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids—it was about how at some point in her life, she just gave up the idea of working for someone else and entered the artist’s life, where she’d always make her own way and be her own boss. As a perma-freelancer, I related. I thought that would be me, a lone-wolf mercenary riding a MacBook Pro off into the sunset. That was me—but now it isn’t. I’m on a team, and it feels totally right.

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It’s been 40 years since I was born—a little blonde pine cone plopping to earth in Denver, Colorado. Let the record show. It’s been 40 years of fighting and working and feeling.

People have been saying to me kindly, you don’t look 40! Thank you? But, like: What’s wrong with looking 40? I don’t buy into the culture of youth worship. I was an idiot when I was 25. And generally speaking, I do believe people become better with age. In my pursuit of being the realest, most emphatic form of me, I can only feel, look and act exactly my age. I’m me! I go to work. I go to the skatepark. I clean my own house and pay my own mortgage. I run the stairs at Mt. Tabor. I text my mom almost everyday. I drink beer and eat pizza whenever possible. And no matter what’s happened, at a certain hour every night—I migrate toward the couch and watch TV. I used to be energetic and single and very eager to see rock shows. Now I have a house with a mini ramp in the garage and a hubs-to-be. There’s what and who have happened to me in the past life. And there’s me now. Get this—they’re the same thing. Somewhere inside, I’m still 10 freaking years old crouching behind the chokecherry bush about to shoot out the greenhouse window with a bb gun. Accidentally.

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Anyway, Saturday—my birthday—was a big day. A cinnamon roll for breakfast. A driveby on a friend’s yardsale. A hike through the spooky Northwest fog. A dog with a squirrel addiction. A few beers with a few friends and a metric ton of laughs. We’re alive, guys! What a thing.

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Happy Anniversary

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Happy anniversary Lefty—it’s been one year since you died. It’s been a year since we buried you under the new maple tree, and then the winter came and buried you again in all that snow. Dang, though, how the flowers bloomed there in the spring. This summer was hot—you would’ve hated it. I would’ve had to finally get you that haircut everyone was always asking about. I never did touch your hair, though. It was too perfect the way it was. Au naturale was how you rolled.

Your brother Duke moved in 4 blocks away. You could’ve partied together daily! But your buddy Riley, he died in the spring. Both of you gone too soon.

I miss going skating with you. I miss using you as a footrest. I miss catching all the love beams you were always sending my way—always watching me, constantly keeping your eye on things, forever making sure I was safe and more importantly that I wasn’t gonna leave you behind. I’m not going anywhere, boy, I’m right here.

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Lefty at the river. 

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Lefty at the fire lookout. 

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Lefty at the skatepark. 

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Lefty at the desert lake.

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 Lefty and me forever. 

99.2% Eclipse Of The Heart

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The eclipse. THE ECLIPSE! Did you see it? How could you not. I did’t transport myself to the line of totality, although many friends did. The world, for now, is divided between dids and didn’ts. I don’t have totality FOMO, though, because I’m one of those people who takes crazy pleasure in the simple and everyday. The velvet down of our pup’s big ol’ bug-catcher ears. Sandwiches on sourdough. Golden hour in the backlit woods.

All the good things, all the time.

Anyway, Monday morning was just your average 99.2% eclipse of the sun, viewed from the park by our house, with friends, with neighbors, with coffee. A community gathering, of sorts, to worship the cosmos. In another lifetime, we woulda been Druids ’neath the Henge.

My favorite part, besides the deepest, softest quiet that descended on the city, was the ice-cold breeze that kicked up when the eclipse peaked. In the movies, a wind like this would portend strange doings afoot—a wicked change of fate, otherworldly powers. In real life, it was just a brief blackout of life-giving Ultraviolet rays. Simple science. Unless … ?

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Best Day Ever

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I believe in everyday fun, but hard work and purpose are at the heart of who I am. So when I tried to think about which, of all the great days from this summer, was the very greatest, one day kept coming back to me.

Three Rivers, Oregon. I woke up in the woods in a ’56 canned ham trailer. The dog was wedged in between our sleeping bags and the sunlight was everywhere. We ate thick bread with tomatoes, avocado and olive spread and drank our coffee black from the percolator, as we do. A dog walk to the Deschutes River revealed ghostly flyfisherman standing in quiet pools. The smell was dry dirt and pine sap. It was a very summer-in-the-mountains smell that I know from my wildchildhood in the Colorado high country.

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After the walk, we went to work on the property digging fence posts until the early afternoon. This involved the hauling of lumber, the gathering of water, the measuring, the digging of holes and the mixing of Quikcrete. One by one, we set the posts, and as the fence got longer, the pile of lumber got shorter. It was such a satisfying task out there in the hard, dry heat and made me feel so positively tired and good, the way sitting at my desk type type typing never does—although I love that too in a different way.

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After working, we went back to the river and swam for hours. The cold water and warm sun felt so great, even now I can feel that exhilaration of opposites. The local country folk floated by on large constellations of innertubes and cheers-ed their beers at us. It was the very definition of a summer day, and I’m gonna stick it in my cap of fine pure moments from summer and beyond. It’ll be there whenever I need it, forever, I reckon.

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On another note, because—hey, this world is crazy (and how lucky am I to have had even one lovely summer day?)—I thought it was worth saying explicitly, like, out loud:

I do stand for love. I do stand against hate. I do stand against anyone who espouses supremacy over another human being. My grandparents fought the Nazis. My great grands emigrated from Poland to get away from the Nazis. In my work, in my family, and in my life, I’m intolerant of intolerance, and moving away from fear and paranoia is my default state. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being a member of the human race!

Go Skate Season

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Summer resolution: prioritize skateboarding. The less I do it, the less I feel like doing it. This is true of anything you love that takes effort but ultimately gives you a higher purpose. When I think about life, and especially life in the summertime, some of my best memories are of skating, sweating it out in the heat with my buds. Of course, these memories are all wrapped up in everything that makes skateboarding great. Hanging with friends and laughing. Being outside under the big, bright sky—sun showering down, a glimpse of cottonwood fluff on the breeze. Doing something active and fun, something that’s hard and you have to practice at, something that makes you fall down and get back up again in a way that lets you realize your own freedom and power.

Anyway, I leave you with some pics from the past week. Golden hour at the mini ramp. Burgers and buds at Canby. Go Skate Day hill bombs through the moments of daylight. This is the stuff that makes summer (and life) great.

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Puppy 2.0

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By now you probably figure me insane. All I ever talk about is dogs and backyard mini ramps. And forest-bathing. (Ah, but aren’t those the good things in life?)

I thought I’d tell you the story of Piney. If you’re one of my people, then you already know Piney is my pup—Puppy 2.0, we call him. We adopted him from the Humane Society out in Hermiston. Roving farmland. Watermelon country. What happened was, I had a right-hand man named Lefty, and he died. I took some time, and then I got another puppy and called him Durango. He was a magical beast—part St. Bernard, part panda bear. I loved him impossibly much. And he died.

This is old news. The heartbreak that was Winter 2016.

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What you may not know is that, no joke, ten days after Durango died, we went and adopted Piney. In the hush that falls between Christmas and New Years, we kicked solitarily around the house, did chores, put dog toys away in closets. But try as I might, I could not forget what needs forgetting. And so in between snowstorms, I made Mark drive me out to Eastern Oregon to pick up another puppy.

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To his credit, Mark said he thought it was too early. I joke with him now—”At least I beg you for puppies, instead of begging you to have babies like a normal girlfriend!”

I believe there’s no such thing as “too early” when it comes to providing shelter and love for a critter in need. I also believe I could’ve waited a little longer. With that said, every creature, humans and dogs included, is so damn different. No matter how long you wait, you will not get your old pal back. So F it. Bring on the puppies—and all the joy that comes with them.

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Three months later, we’re just getting to know Piney still. He has a fierce streak about his food bowl. He pees with joy when he sees someone he truly loves. He sun bathes. He howls. He dawdles over dandelions. These are all revelations—Lefty did none of these things. What will Puppy 2.0 turn into?! Will he fetch? Will he swim? I can’t wait to see. Here’s to new friends (and never forgetting the old ones). Here to new adventures (and all those old, happy memories).

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Homesteading, Part 1

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I purchased a little land in Central Oregon, just a twirl down the road from the Deschutes River. As mentioned elsewhere, my plan was to build a cabin of dreams there. No undertaking works the way you think it ought to, though. It happens that the groundwater in this area is too close to the surface to build a regular old septic system—no, to install a tank for my cabin, I’d need to drop many Gs on a fancy sand filtration system.

The short of it: I’m priced out of building anything for now.

Who cares? Less work for me! I’ll be happy with a tidy fence and a modest camper trailer. We could put solar panels on the trailer. We could set up a wood burning stove. We could build a shed for a couple bikes. We could, we could, we could …

I spent this weekend backfilling the septic test pits. In other words, shoveling dirt into big holes. When was the last time you shoveled for a couple hours straight? Crikey! It nearly killed me. In life, I feel strong. But in shoveling, it’s clear that I’m a pathetic weakling. I’ve got the arms of a typist, a tinkerer, a delicate herb gardener.

No matter, though, because I also happen to love hard work. Mark and I shoveled and shoveled, while the sun warmed the earth and the Ponderosas kicked out that sweet perfume of the Northwest. We heard the rhythms of the neighborhood, we saw where the shadows fall. What can I say? We bonded with the place.

South Century Drive, we’ll be seeing you!

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Spring Precipice

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Guys, I’m always and forever in search of experiences with fun and meaning. Lately, they’ve been hard to find, though.

Where is all that joy we used to know?

For me, it both is and isn’t the weather. It’s the weather and the other stuff, like death, and like almost dying, and like being stuck in town—both literally (with snow and mudslides closing the passes) and figuratively (with a new puppy we must care-take instead of hopping a plane to Hawaii)—that have made this winter a winter to hibernate.

However, in a rare act of magnanimity this weekend, the sky got sunny over Beaverton skatepark on a Saturday who’s forecast had preambled rain showers, allowing me to do what I like, which is skateboarding, outside, in the sun, with friends. No small miracle.

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Then, on Sunday, we got up early and drove into the Gorge to skate more and climb a mountain, where we walked through glowy green fields, sun dappled, flower dappled, with silver river waters off in the distance.

It wasn’t the nicest weekend, as weekends go. But it was nicer than any in recent memory, juicing with enough of that second-tier happiness I needed to pull me back from the precipice—out there where I was teetering, close to becoming so grumpy, I’d be forever lost to the lands of Curmudgeon.

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Social Butterflies

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Borrowed the above pic from my pal Kristine.

It’s from Derek’s birthday party last Friday night. Twas proper 40th birthday party—everyone came out. Whiskey spilled. Dinosaur Jr played. Cake did what cake does, it got ferociously eaten!

To be around so many buds, from so many different times and places in my life, it was awesome, but overwhelming. I wanted to leave, I cannot tell a lie … But only for a minute! That feeling passed over me, just like a wave.

This winter has made me very reclusive. Everyone, I think?

To go from months of the quietest evenings ever spent cowering from the cold—or, alternately, mellow gatherings of 4-7 people—straight into a wild rager like this one was a wee difficult for my delicate social constitution. Nevertheless! I persevered, and talked to Molly about her Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and hugged Kelly and heard all about her terrible brush with death, and chatted with Jamie about his epic trip to Columbia, and so on …

All said and done, it was better-than-great to see everyone. Friendships are way more than the sum of their parts. And while we can all keep in touch passively (i.e. digitally), being in the same room with your friends doing that face-to-face QT is the best and only way to tap into the real, good stuff, the sustenance, the love. Friends! Where would any of us be without them?