July 2008


Yes, I am about to head off for the infamous K-B Family Reunion (if your family reunion was 200-300 people, your’s would be infamous too…trust me).  This year we convene in Seaside, Oregon; and if any of you happen to be in the area, and happen to see someone who looks strikingly like my avatar (or at least, so I’ve been told), feel free to wave/point/stare/run away.

I will be spending all day on Friday attacking the area golf course with gusto and a certain reckless abandon that will terrify anyone else within 300 yards, give or take the effects of wind variance.  That’s 300 yards in a 360 degree circle people…be afraid.

I will also be taking my beloved Canon EOS 10D with me, so expect lots of ridiculously silly photos of people (who may or may not be related to me) to appear in the days to come.

As I depart for a weekend of silliness, pot-luck food, beloved family-members, long conversations, a hilarious talent show, and AT LEAST one round of the hokey-pokey…let me leave you all with this link:

Garfield Minus Garfield

I’m pretty sure the July 29th entry sums up my entire blogging existence.

[EDIT: But, the June 04 entry is my absolute favorite; It’s so “me” it’s scary.]

Advertisements

May Twenty-Fourth, 2006.  The phone rang just before six o’clock in the morning.  I am NOT an early riser, and six a.m. is just to damn early to be conscious.  I can hear my Aunt Marge on the line, but I’m not exactly sure if I’m awake or just having a really weird dream.

“Nicky, I wanted to ask you if you’d do something to represent your mom’s side of the family at Grandma’s funeral.  The oldest child of each of her children have all agreed except you.”

“Um, of course.  What do you want me to do?”

“Just talk about your memories of Grandma.  We wanted each side of her family to get a chance to speak.  Jace and Lisa agreed to do it last night.”

“Yeah, I’d be glad to.”

“Good.  Try to keep it light hearted.  Funny memories, things like that.  We’ll already be crying so much, it would be better if we had happy things to think about.”

…and with that, I was signed up to give a light-comedy reading at a funeral for my beloved Gramma in front of hundreds of people.  Had I been awake, I might have thought harder about it.  But then again, I probably wouldn’t have.  I DID have to ask my wife several hours later if I had really agreed to that or if I’d just dreamed up the whole thing.

For the next three days I procrastinated mightily.  I knew I had to come up with something, I just couldn’t make myself take pen to paper.  I had a terrible time gathering my thoughts into anything resembling coherent sentences.

Marge asked me to try and be funny, but the only specifically funny story I could think of was “cop vs. white-haired grandma in tennis shoes” and I figured that one was going to be told about a dozen times before I got up to speak so I decided I’d skip it all together.

Oddly, no one actually TOLD that story at the funeral (perhaps because it involved repeated violations of the law???) so I shall relate it here just for posterity.

My Gramma’s maiden name was “Ledford” which is surprisingly close to “Lead Foot” which would have been an even more accurate description of her driving style.  Deep into her eighties my Gramma would still bomb down Nile Ave. in East Wenatchee at about three miles-per-hour less then what would be defined as “utterly insane” by rational people.

As you would suspect, police officers look dimly at one car high-speed car chases being re-enacted down a relatively busy four-lane avenue, and so she found herself explaining “the rush” to more than a few of East Wenatchee’s finest.

My Gramma was the quintessential Gramma.  She had beautiful pure white hair and an incredible peaches and cream complexion.  She looked like she’d just sprung fully formed from a Norman Rockwell painting.  No one could be cross with her for even half a second, you just wanted to hug her and forget everything bad that had ever happened in the world.

And bless her heart, she knew it.

As soon as a police officer would come to the window, she’s roll it down, look as though she was near tears and ask “officer, you wouldn’t give a ticket to a little old white-haired Grandma in tennis shoes, would you?”

To which, they would always crumble like abashed six-year-olds and assure her that they would only give her a warning. It was her own special superpower.  We seriously considered getting her a tee-shirt with the superman logo replacing the S with a G.

Which isn’t what makes this story funny.  What makes this story funny is when a police officer stopped her, walked up to the window and heard her typical plea for mercy…and then replied “Lady, I didn’t last time, or the time before; and I’m not gonna this time either, but  you have GOT TO SLOW IT DOWN!”

That’s right, my Gramma occasionally used her superpowers for evil (well, as evil as the most pure-hearted woman ever put on this earth could be). Lawbreaker…

I realize this might sound like an urban legend, so let me assure you that I was IN THE CAR when he said it.

Twice.

SAME cop.

No lie.

Since I figured that story was going to be beat to death before I could tell it, I decided to give up on being funny and just talk about the things that define how I remember my Wenatchee Gramma; and about the lessons I learned in her home.

What follows is that remembrance, and to be honest, it was probably the first thing I was ever “proud” of writing.  Not because it is “good” writing, but because people told me that it was exactly the way they remembered her too.

As far back as I can remember, she was always the “destination” Gramma; “Road-Trip” Gramma; “Event” Gramma. And while a trip to Wenatchee was something that Alex and I looked forward to for weeks, the journey itself…

When you’re eight years old, the drive from Boise to Wenatchee is just slightly longer than the 40 years that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, and almost as scenic.

A journey so entertaining that somewhere around Pendleton we were reduced to mindlessly drooling zombies, uttering monosyllabic grunts and fighting bitterly for control over the four inches of seat that were supposed to separate us.

Eventually, after a length of time so vast and sweeping that historians fail to comprehend it all, we would fall asleep in the gathering dusk and only wake from time to time as the car would come to some stop or another as highways were changed, exits were made, and stop signs were obeyed.

Then finally, magically, from the front seat would come my mother’s voice saying the most wonderful phase I have ever known: “wake up, we’re almost to Grandma’s House.”

We’d sit up, peer out the window, and strain to see her house materialize from the darkness. The porch light would be on, and the living room window would have a faint glow coming from a lamp.  Without fail, whenever we’d enter the house, Gramma would be waiting up for us.  Sitting in a chair reading; waiting to invite us in and welcome us home.

There was one other thing that Gramma always had without fail; She had this great old-fashioned glass cake cover, and inside it there was ALWAYS a supply of her homemade cookies.

12:30am? No problem. “Here, have a cookie, now off to bed.”

The first Christmas that really stands out in my mind was saved by one of her cookies. Jamie and I had wandered into Gramma’s room and discovered her high bed and feather pillows. What would any self-respecting five and six year old do when they discover feather pillows and a high bed? They have the world’s greatest bed-jumping pillow fight.

Oddly enough, the size difference between a five-year-old and a six-year-old was enough that I’m pretty sure Jamie outweighed me by a solid five pounds; apparently ALL muscle. Either that, or being the youngest of five gave her a set of pillow-fight self-defense skills that I had yet to master…or sufficiently respect.

When a five-year-old who isn’t particularly big for his age jumps up and his six-year-old cousin swings a king-sized feather pillow at him with all the force she can muster, what you have are all the elements of physics that allow baseball players to hit grand slams; only in miniature…and all working against me.

Gramma always had something else in her home besides cookies; she had antiques.  Very old, very ornate (and probably very valuable) antiques.  Everywhere.

I learned this by flying – nay, hurtling – through the air at a very old, very big, and very fragile vase in the corner of her room.

I remember the flying. I remember the look on Jamie’s face as I rocketed away from her, and I remember the pieces of the vase under my hands and beneath my bottom as people came running from all across the house at the sound of porcelain shattering.

Now, in discussing this event with Jamie, I’m reminded of one little fact that I’d forgotten at the time…she may have rocketed me across the room…but I knocked her feet out from under her and she knocked out her two front teeth when she landed.

So now you have the total scene:  Feathers everywhere, blood all over, two screaming children and a shattered antique vase.  It was like we’d snuck into Gramma’s room and killed a goose with a vase and Jamie’s face.  It was NOT a pretty sight.  And since I wasn’t bleeding, it was pretty obvious who’s fault it was…

I also remember being able to parse the general gist of the phrase “stop wailing RIGHT NOW and go downstairs, or I will end your life and make another BECAUSE I CAN!!!” from the look of shaking rage that my mother directed at me.

(Years later my Mother assured me that the “or” I was picking up was probably superfluous and could have been excluded from that sentence entirely.)

I went down to the kitchen and awaited my Mother and my impending demise.  Many long hours (well, probably less than one) later someone finally came to put me out of my misery.  But it wasn’t my mom, instead Gramma came in and went to the counter. She lifted up the cake cover and got me out a cookie. She gave it to me and said “Oh don’t worry about the vase Nicky, it’s not like it was new.”

For years I believed the only reason Santa brought presents for me that year was because my Gramma had a direct line to the Naughty/Nice list elves.

Several years went by, and many more trips, until I got a chance to do something that a lot of her Grandkids got to do, I spent two summers with her and Grandpa learning some valuable lessons and doing a lot of growing up.

I learned that the chickens might not be up at 4:00am but the Cherry Pickers are.

I learned that working your fingers to the bone is a real and serious possibility so bring medical tape.

I learned that you should NEVER eat an entire bucket of cherries on your first day in the orchard.  IF you do eat an entire bucket of cherries on your first day in the orchard, DON’T go to your cousin’s new home that evening. Stay home and suffer alone with no witnesses.  The alternative is just horrifying. For everyone.

I learned that nothing and I mean NOTHING beats a home-cooked meal at lunch.

But beyond anything else, what I had to learn was that we choose to be the people that we ultimately become; AND that we have to choose to be the kind of person that we would want to be around.

You can ask Pete and Jace, working on self-improvement did NOT come naturally to me at fourteen. Nor did being a person I would want to be around just spring fourth from my brain. I had a lot of lessons to learn and a lot of growing up to do.

In three months that year I grew several inches, dropped two registers to my voice, and had a long conversation with my Gramma over her kitchen table as the sun was setting over the canyon wall.

We talked about what it was like to grow up “po’ in a place so po’ that they couldn’t afford to pronounce their R’s.” What it was like to teach in a place so poor that they burned the schoolbooks in the winter for heat.  What it was like to grow up an orphan, alone among a family that she’d never truly be part of.  And what leads a young woman to get on a train and leave her life behind because she hoped…hoped for better…chose to find better.

One conversation.  One evening.  One moment to choose.

We are who we choose to be.  We become what we work for.

When the sun had finally set, and the glow was dimming in the sky framed by the window, she got up and went to her cake cover and got each of us a cookie. As she gave it to me she said, “no matter how dark it gets, or how rough the road is, it’s always important to remind yourself how sweet life is.  I always keep that lesson near me.”

And THAT was my Wenatchee Gramma as I will always remember her.  And I will always keep her lesson with me.

A Blush

I have promised myself that this week I will post more than I did last week.  Which shouldn’t be hard, as I didn’t post at all last week, and this will be post number two in as many days this week…so “yay for me!”

First off, to all my new readers from [name obscured non-denominational Christian Church in the mid-west], let me say “welcome.”

Pastor Joe sent me a very nice email explaining how he used “One Bite From the Apple” as the basis for his sermon last week; and I must say I’m both touched and honored.  Pastor Joe also explained his decision NOT to include the url to the source in the Bulletin because, and I quote, “several of my older members would be uncomfortable with the frank, but accurate, words of wisdom you share in your “Confessions of a Normal Guy” essay; and I didn’t want to direct them there from the pulpit.”

That’s right…I’m “not elderly church lady safe” or just NECLS…which I pronounce like measles but with an “N” instead of an “M.”  Now I can introduce myself by saying “Hi, I’m Neasles!”  That’s just AWESOME!

This seems amusing now, but I have to say that the vision of the little old ladies on the front row of my hometown church logging on to the Internet (with the help of their accommodating grandkids) and reading some of my sexuality related thoughts left me a little pink in the cheeks…

Then I realized they’d all lived through the seventies, and if CBS Television Programming has taught me anything this season, it’s that if my parent’s generation couldn’t “drag America down the path of Sodom and Gomorra”…then no one ever will.  Obviously, nothing I can say is gonna top that kind of life experience; AND, maybe some of those accommodating grandkids might accidentally learn a thing or two.


A Crush

Alright, so my next little item of business is more about “full disclosure” than any specific need to say the things I’m about to say openly and at large.  I’m going to reference something this person has written, and it would be disingenuous for me not to be completely open about where my point of perspective is coming from.

I’ve been reading Lara of “Life, the Ongoing Education” for something like a little over a year now.  I’ve read with interest and concern as she described her life’s ups and downs, shared her deepest thoughts and her most difficult fears, and I was captivated by the honesty in her writing…and the beauty in her personality.

It would be very fair to say I have harbored a “secret crush” for her for a while now.  It’s the kind of crush that lies somewhere between my admiration of Keira Knightly’s beauty and my love for Regina Spektor’s lyrical intelligence.  Lara’s a woman with both remarkable external beauty and an incredible internal voice.

This is NOT to say that my crush for Lara really compares to my newfound “blog love”…one is a one-sided admiration and one is a mutual relationship with someone who simply fills my very soul with happiness…but my crush for Lara does effect how I react to her writing and her photographs.  It affects how I think of her family, and the people that are important in her life.


A Sympathetic Rush

So with all of that said, I’m going to do something now that I NEVER EVER do: I’m going to link to someone else’s writing and then toss in my own unsolicited two cents afterwards.

First, please read “The Coming Out Post” and enjoy what I consider to be some of the most beautiful words and photos about love ever published on the blog-o-sphere.

Back?  Good.

So, why is that post so important to me?  Because I have a seven-year-old daughter, and it goes right to the heart of what I want for her…a better world than the one I grew up in.

Four years ago, my family held our bi-annual reunion in central Oregon.  Nothing particularly exciting happened that year with the minor exception of my cousin bringing her partner to the gathering.  Not because her partner was a woman, but mostly because no one had ever really had any inkling that she was anything but a confirmed heterosexual.  Sort of a case where it wasn’t the big bomb that got dropped making any impact, but the little secondary explosions surprising everyone.

I will never forget the completely blasé reaction from my late-sixties, life-long conservative Christian aunt, “Well who cares if they’re gay?  They sure look happy, and they smile a lot.  Good for them.”

The most news-worthy aspect of the whole thing seemed to be how un-news-worthy it was.  The two of them spent the entire long weekend looking like at any moment they expected one of the older members of the family to turn around and condemn the to hell for their immoral, hedonistic heresy.

They were constantly waiting to be judged, even in a place and among people who had NO intention of judging them.  That was the moment I realized that sexuality discrimination would be my generation’s equivalent to the long battle over racial discrimination that my parents lived through.

Racial discrimination wasn’t something I REALLY understood until I was old enough to comprehend mainstream media.  In my family circle, race and background had absolutely zero bearing on anything.  My mom’s family was Norwegian, so they were fish-belly white and couldn’t get a tan if they wanted…just a darker and more distinct case of skin mottling as they freckled.  My dad’s family was of old American English and French descent…with some Italian and other miscellaneous European heritages tossed in from here and there (and they can tan like nobodies business after 2.3 minutes thinking about sunshine in the dead of winter).

I had an uncle who was full blooded Greek with poor English and GREAT cooking; and I have an aunt (who is closer to a second mother than anyone else in my life) who is full blooded Portuguese, olive-skinned and radiantly beautiful.

We saw these people every day, different skin tones, different accents, one big family.  No one ever explained that we didn’t care about race…we just didn’t care about race.  It didn’t make the radar.  It wasn’t something we discussed, because we didn’t have any reason to discuss it.

When I was nine-years-old I learned that my family wasn’t always like that.  In my parents wedding album is a photograph of a friend of theirs who sang at their wedding.  He was a tall, attractive man with brilliant green eyes and ebony black skin.  And in the margins of the photo were the faces of people who CLEARLY didn’t approve.  I asked my mom why people didn’t like his song, and she broke down crying.

That moment, her explanation, the reality of skin and race and prejudice…it’s crystal clear in my mind, decades later.  She told me about Martin Luther King Jr. and about “I Have A Dream” and about nine kids in Little Rock, Arkansas who just wanted to go to school.  She explained growing up in the fifties and sixties, and what it was like to watch the world change.  And she told me how important it was to her that her children had a chance to grow up in a world without racism.

Now, as an adult, as someone who recognizes the realities of race and color and discrimination in my world (whether I want those realities to exist or not), I find people expressing racism to be jarring.  It’s something I just don’t imagine existing in my daughter’s world.  I would HATE for her to believe that the amount of melanin in a person’s skin dictates ANYTHING about them.

And I’m FAR from alone in that.  I’d guess 90% of the people of child baring age in this country want their children to grow up in a nation where race and history are celebrated for their cultural value, but where race and history have NO bearing on opportunity or place in society.

When my daughter was a baby, one of my in-laws was discussing her future life, and the woes of being a father to a beautiful girl…namely, that I needed a gun.  Maybe several.  If not to use, then at least for intimidation.  I laughed, and then, inexplicably, this person asked “What would you do if she came home with a BLACK boy as a boyfriend?”  The horror in her voice and the expression on her face actually knocked the wind out of me.

To be honest, I couldn’t come up with a clear answer.  I was so OFFENDED that they would even insinuate that it would matter to me…that I would care…I couldn’t find words to respond with.

Let me make this clear, on the record, and out in front of the whole world:  If you want to date my daughter the only requirements I have are that you a) treat her with respect and b) know how to keep your pants up.

I swear to God on High, if you come to my home, dating my daughter, with your pants hanging around your mid-thigh and your boxers hanging out, I WILL pull your pants up for you.  Forcefully.  You will NOT enjoy it.

Black, red, yellow or as white as I am…I don’t care.

And here’s the real kicker, if I don’t care what genetics has given you in the way of skin color, why oh WHY would I care what genetics has given you in the way of sexual equipment?

If you love my daughter, treat her well, make her happy and fill her life…then I don’t care what color, race or gender you happen to be.  And I’m horrified that anyone else would be.

I will admit, that ten years ago, I didn’t see the world in the same light.  I still felt that somehow “God” had decided what was “good” and what was “bad” for people to do.  That a rulebook from one time and one place was somehow universally applicable today.  I blame it on the Adventist upbringing.

I remember listening as someone explained how gay-marriage would be the undoing of traditional society and not really letting it penetrate my mind.  I was happily married, decidedly heterosexual and the thought of two guys kissing kinda made my tummy flop (in a bad way) so hey…if they want to “ban homo’s getting hitched” then why did I care?

Now’s the part of the story where you expect me to have some kind of epiphany after meeting a nice gay couple…and you’d be wrong.  I had my epiphany slowly after close friends were afraid to come out of the closet, or were utterly shunned if they did. After watching people rejoice in Massachusetts and San Francisco and Portland when marriage certificates were no longer locked away from consenting adults who loved each other.

And I had an epiphany when John Stewart pointed out that in America in 2004, the thought of two guy’s kissing was still a more powerful negative motivator then Abu Ghraib or an American run concentration camp on the tip of Cuba or extraordinary rendition beyond the reach of the powers of justice and liberty and a fair and reasonable court.

Really?  Two guys kissing?  WHY DO WE CARE???

And so, we come to today.  In the last three years I’ve been to two gay weddings.  One for a couple of guys I worked with and never knew either one was gay, and one for a nice couple of ladies that just want to raise their kids, live quietly and be happy.

Why shouldn’t these people have the right to stand up before friends and family, declare their love and receive the same obligations and benefits from a legal union that they’s receive if they’d have fallen in love with people with slightly different chromosomes?  Is gender really that much different from race?  Is one kind of bigotry really “better” than another?

I say no.  I want my daughter to grow up in a world where love isn’t about race or gender; it’s about connection, and commitment and finding something in the world that makes life better when everything else seeks to make it worse.

Sexuality Discrimination isn’t just wrong, it’s disappointing.  A constitutional ban on gay marriage isn’t just wrong-headed, it’s damaging to the future.  Our children and our children’s children won’t understand the arguments we’re making today.  They simply won’t comprehend a world where people refused to tolerate one another based on genetics or ideology or really old books.

So in that spirit, in that sense that the world needs to get better and love more, accept more and celebrate more…I present a photo used utterly without with graciously given permission (but still copyright Lara David of Life, The Ongoing Education):

TrueLove

I submit to you that it is not “two girls kissing,” but, in fact, it is much more than that.  It is two human beings kissing.  It is two human beings in love.

Regardless of race, class, creed or gender…this is what I hope for my daughter, simply to find love.

Congratulations to Seeser and Stoops.  Love is so very hard to find in this world, we should all celebrate more when two people find it.

Ok, so I’m gonna link something that apparently the ENTIRE rest of the universe has already seen, but I just discovered it recently.  Now, I laughed hard when this started, but it wasn’t until Donny Osmond showed up at the EXACT same time I was trying to grab a sip of my Dr. Pepper that it became dangerous.

[EDIT The link seems to be broken, so you can follow to Youtube Here]

 
So at first I had this moment where I kinda panicked…am I this bad?  Do people see me on the street and think to themselves “Oh My GAWD, is he ever a NERD!!!”

Thankfully, I’m pretty sure my secret is semi-safe.  I don’t think I could get more than three or four digits into pi, and the last of my “action figures” are boxed up and awaiting their moment of ebay glory.

BUT, I’m still a lover of Graphic Novels, Webcomics, Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies (and books, and TV shows, and…) and I’m a recovering Video Game addict.  A SEVERE video game addict.

There was a time when I owned ALL of the current-gen game consoles, two different portable game systems and spent about 40 hours a week playing Everquest.  Admittedly, that was several years ago, but I’m smart enough to know that there’s a slippery slope for me when it comes to computer aided escapism.  I was sucked into WoW for a while about a year ago, and thankfully I’ve kicked that habit too.

Sure, I have a PSP and a DS, but I don’t put in the ridiculous hours on handhelds like I did on my NeoPocket Color and my Wonderswan.  Did I mention I own every title ever released for the NeoPocket?  Even the really bad ones?  No?  Yeah, then forget I mentioned that.

Anyway, so I was coasting along in my Video Game Ignoring Fog ™ and I somehow managed to miss the first few iterations of the second coming of entertainment. Seriously people, there should be a public service announcement about “Guitar Hero” and “Rockband” broadcast on every channel in the free world.

I spent four hours last night attempting to perfect “Black Magic Woman” by Santana and “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam.  If I spent half the time I’ve spent on Guitar Hero in the last week on ACTUALLY LEARNING TO PLAY A REAL GUITAR I’d be awesome by now.

All I can say is that if they made a version of Rockband that was ALL Sting and The Police songs…I’d never leave the house.  So here’s to hoping they don’t…

[EDIT: Several people were curious why I would be so depressed this weekend, so I will direct you back to the final paragraphs of “He Knows the Hour and the Day” where I discuss my daughter moving away with her mother.  On Friday evening, I dropped my daughter off, gave her a hug and a kiss, and then cried with the kind of grief I can’t put into words once I was out of sight. The following morning, before the sun came up, my daughter flew out of my day-to-day life for the foreseeable future.]

Twice in the last seventy-two hours I’ve started writing up a new post, only to eventually discard and DELETE them because they were so friggin’ depressing that unleashing them on the internet-at-large would very likely cause a depression singularity, collapsing all happiness in the universe in on itself, thus creating an actual swirling black-hole-OF-SUCK right here in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

As I don’t want to be remembered as the man who stole the smiles from all the children in the world and made all the chocolate taste like charcoal…I’ll do my best to keep this a bit less doom-and-gloomy.

It’s funny, when I know something really suck-worthy is coming up, I never actually plan for the time period when things are actually sucking.  Somehow I think I expected to just get up on Saturday morning, throw open the curtains, smile at my neighbors, realize that I was naked, and spend the morning laughing about the whole thing with the nice policemen that showed up to explain “decency laws” in the Municipality of Keizer…

I did NOT wake up on Saturday with a smile.  In fact, I gave serious thought to just not waking up on Saturday at all.  Fuck Saturday.  Hell, fuck any day that ends in “y” or is recognized as a state or national holiday (because I don’t want to give Thanksgiving or Christmas a free ride here).  Father Time can go shove sharp objects in his favorite orifice and call it macaroni for all I care.

I know depression.  I can smell it on my skin and in my clothes.  I can taste it in my mouth.  I can hear it’s trademark absence of sound everywhere and nowhere.  I know this dragon.  I know him well.

At first I was almost incapable of acknowledging him.  I almost just turned my back and went back to sleep.  “Let him have me” I said, “I. DO. NOT. CARE.”

“Really?” he asked.  “Not even a little?”

“NO” I replied, squeezing my eyes shut.

“That’s too bad.  You’ve always been too tough to really devour easily and you’re a bit too bitter for my tastes anyway…but a job’s a job and a meal’s a meal I suppose.” And with that the gloomy thing wrapped it’s cold coils around my throat.

I didn’t really fight it.  I just slowly, gaspingly, stumblingly lurched from menial task to menial task as the weekend wore on.  Slowly suffocating under the thing’s horrible weight.

Until today.  Today, I went to work.  And at lunch time, I decided to get lunch.  This is noteworthy because I NEVER get lunch.  Unless there’s a team activity or a customer engagement, I never eat lunch.

I drove down to Bridgeport Village, which is a sort of open air shopping center where people with six-figure salaries (and more often the spouses of people with six-figure salaries) go shopping for the books, baobabs, over-priced designer label clothes, even MORE overpriced one-of-a-kind designs, tech toys (an Oregon Scientific AND an Apple store, natch…), and everything else that the upper-upper-middle and lower-upper classes waste spend bestow their ridiculous amounts of discretionary income on.

As I qualify for the Bridgeport Village’s target audience, I guess it’s just natural that I gravitate to a place where the open air piazza and the surrounding architecture look like the Disney interpretation of an Italian village populated entirely by people who drive Range Rovers, Hummers, Mercedes Benz’s, Porsches, and more pristine late-model Harley Davidson Fatboys than you can possibly believe.

Hollywood would never include a place like this in a movie about semi-rich people.  They’d assume everyone would think it was just too fucking pretentious to exist.

I love it. I don’t know why, but I love it.

It has shops I just can’t find anywhere else within driving distance.  For example, there’s a paper store that carries the largest selection of fountain pens ON EARTH.  Ok, probably not ON EARTH…but for at least 300 miles in any direction from here.  AND THEY LET YOU TRY THEM OUT!!!!!

COME ON PEOPLE!  You know you want to use a $400 fountain pen on $12 a sheet paper with ink that’s sold BY THE GRAM.  OMG…squeeeeee…ahem…anyway…

So, I start my adventure with a trip to Zao Noodles, the best noodle bar in Oregon.  Period. And I ordered my favorite, Phad Thai with Shrimp and Deep Fried Tofu.

While my order was being prepared I wandered over to Borders and found two things that simply HAD to be purchased.  First was “The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie and second was “The Court of the Air” by Stephen Hunt.

People, if you title a book “The Enchantress of Florence” I’m gonna buy it.  If it’s by Salman Rushdie and it won the Booker Prize, I’m gonna pay full price in hardback.

If you write a book in the style of Dickens but use steampunk and gloom-fantasy tropes…I’m gonna buy that too.  If it’s from TOR and I know who the editor was, I’ll pay full price in hardback for that too.

Eight minutes (six of them in line) and fifty bucks later…I’m now really excited to read something.  Excited is good.

After fetching my lunch, I decide to grab something to wash it down with and some dessert at Tutto Bene.  They had my Orgina beverage and “Chocolate Birthday Cake” flavored gelato.  OMFG.  Chocolate.  Cake.  Gelato….Oh HELL yeah.

So now, I’m sitting at my desk, stuffed full of Phad Thai, consuming frothy ice cream flavored like cake batter with the smallest spoon EVER and reading the first few pages of the first good book Salman Rushdie ever wrote (oops…did I say that out loud???).

“Turn the page,” the dragon says to me, “I want to know what she says next!”

“Fine, but I need you to lighten your grip a little, you’re making it hard to swallow.”

“Deal.” he says as he readjusts on my shoulders. “You were always too bitter to taste any good anyway.  So, does that really taste like Birthday Cake?”

As a little aside, to those of you who sent emails over the weekend out of concern that I jumped off a bridge or just needed a shoulder…your emails were sometimes the difference between my giving a shit and my just not giving a shit anymore.  Ever.

You will never know how much that meant to me.  I love you guys.

Starting a blog isn’t supposed to leave you feeling MORE stressed then you felt before you started it…but such is not the case for me recently.  I currently have five posts in my Live Writer queue (all of them about 80% done) and the mental outlines for at least two more rattling around in my head.

The problem for me right now is two-fold.  First, it’s been a busy time at work.  Simply stated, earning a paycheck > writing for free.  Yet, I still feel like I’m falling more and more behind on the things in life that I LIKE to do, and just keeping up with the things that I NEED to do.

And second, Sarah and her mom fly away in just four more days.  About ninety-four hours from the moment I write this actually.  It’s the kind of dreaded moment that just seems to drag down my very existence.  It makes my blood run thicker and my mind dull out whenever I think about it.

So I have some Wii games to play, some pictures to draw, some stories to write down and some favorite foods to cook…all with a little girl who means the world to me.  Everything else is kinda secondary for the time being.

As a teaser, I’ll leave you with the titles of the posts to come in the near future:

  • “A Blush, a Crush, and a Sympathetic Rush”
  • “How Sweet Life Is”
  • “My Last 50 Dates”
  • “The Lesser Angles of my Nature”
  • “Always Late to the Party”

I hope to at least finish the first one, as it’s semi time-sensitive and I’d like it to see the light of day.

I’m also putting together a few posts on the process I go through when I write fiction “for money” and highlight what an anal-retentive self-editor I really am.  I’ll probably use something I was thinking about “workshoping” this year.

I would love to go to Clarion West or Viable Paradise someday, but the money or the time never seem to present themselves when needed.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, “more will come, please bear with me.”