8.05.2018

TRIGGERS (AN AFTERNOON DRIVE THROUGH DRY COUNTRY IN TWO STATES).

My friend Glenn,
Grew up in Post Falls Idaho, population thirty thousand.
Heart attack, 60s.
Can’t drive through without thinking of him.

My friend Ben,
Passing through Ritzville Washington, population sixteen hundred.
Car crash, 30s.
Can’t drive through without thinking of him.

My friend Rachel,
Endless rolling Washington wheat fields; popuIation unknown, I got James cranked.
Moved away, 40s.
Can’t drive through and listen without thinking of her.

Dry wheat fields,
they’re itching my eyes.
They’re all gone.

7.31.2018

A DAY, A TUESDAY.

01
The cafeteria. A terrifying environment for many of us with vivid memories of high school. Also, a terrifying place for people who pay attention to cross-contamination issues. Also, a terrifying place for people with food sensitivities, allergies, or specific dietary needs.

Now picture an eight-year old boy, dutifully, every meal, trudging to the back to check in with kitchen staff and find out what vegan option is available.

Also knowing that at least half the time, even if they’re nice which they sometimes aren’t, that they will likely make some reference to him being a girl, due to his long blond hair. He will apparently not notice ninety-nine percent of the time.

Pancakes. Pancakes and oatmeal and some toppings. No peanut butter, because it’s a peanut-free camp this summer.

I had oatmeal with seventeen raisins, a small spoonful of brown sugar, and a bunch of toasted walnuts. There were no wieners.

02
I would like a boat. Also, I would like somebody to take care of my boat, because everyone I know who has a boat says they soak up a lot of money and time taking care of, and I don’t feel like doing that.

I might like some kayaks and a canoe. Maybe we’ll go that route.

But it is important to make and maintain friendships with people who have boats. Because they’re good friends.

03
Magdelana waterskiied this morning.

It looks so simple. “Keep your tips up. Just let the boat pull you up. That’s it.”

It reminds me of the advice I got for trying to land a backflip snowboarding. “Just hit it hard, and kinda lean back and tuck, and then land it.”

Instructions are so easy to give when something comes naturally to you. That’s why I think the best teachers are the ones who struggled. Because they give better instructions and don’t have the mindset that it just comes easy. They had to fight their way to an understanding of a particular subject or skill.

And a good waterski instructor understands how terrifying the experience of strapping sticks to your legs and being told to hang onto a rope attached to a very fast boat might possibly be a scary thing for the ninety-five percent of people who don’t grow up  going out on a ski boat every weekend during the summer.

“You can do it, Mags!”
I yelled at her.
“Just keep your tips up and let the boat pull you up!”

04
When I was a kid, I painted a ceramic lion at camp. Yellow. Still have it. It’s not very good, but I loved doing it. There’s an instructor there now, name is Trish. She has transformed the ceramics area into something quite remarkable. Taken it from being a dumpy little hobbyist’s corner into being a charming, fully functional little teaching studio for all ages to learn ceramics.

The power of one driven person with a will, a vision, and a bankroll.

05
I love it when you discover you have an incredible aptitude for something you’d never known about before. Like unicycling. I was walking down the road and saw these kids unicycling. A unicycle is like half a bicycle, and only has about approximately one wheel. Anyway, these kids are hugging this fence, straddling these one-wheel cycles and trying to figure em out, and there’s a spare so I pop on a helmet and give it a go, and turns, out, whoa! I’m pretty good.

By ‘pretty good,’ I can go 20 or 30 feet before gracefully crashing, and I have not emasculated myself, in the most literal sense.

It is fun, very fun, and dangerous, which is how I go about life, carefully.

06
I don’t know what we had for lunch because I didn’t take any pictures. And that gets to a fundamental reason I document much of what I do: the fragility of memory.

I don’t need to remember everything. I don’t need to know exactly what we ate for lunch. I’m okay with it. I wish I had taken a picture, because I did for every other meal (I think). But, like a big puzzle with one piece missing...you gotta learn to be okay missing the things you miss and not wishing otherwise.

So I don’t know, I might have eaten a pastrami sandwich,  I don’t remember. I don’t think I did, because I’m vegetarian and I haven’t usually forgotten that before.


07
I guess one of the five valuable things I learned from my parents about being a parent is the value of of playing. Lifelong playing. Playing as metaphor, but also literally playing. Getting down on hands and knees and physically playing with kids. Wrestling, running, sitting, crawling, sculpting dirt, swimming, throwing mud.

I watched my little brother Jonny (ignore the below reference to a different completely non-related Jonny) swim with his nephews and nieces and spit water on them and throw them seven feet high and terrorize them in the lake and I thought,

“That is the is beautiful spirit of our dad being carried on. Wouldn’t he be proud if he were here right now?”

Then a few minutes later, I realized our dad actually was there, and was busy reading a David Baldacci novel and ignoring his grandchildren playing in the lake.*




*this part is not true, but in befitting the truth-adjusting times we live in, I felt this fact fitted the story I wanted to tell better, so I adjusted it to fit.


08
When I was a little kid, we didn’t wear helmets when we rode bikes, snow skiied, or inner tubed behind boats.

Now, I wouldn’t think of biking or snowboarding without a helmet.

Should I be wearing one innertubing? Yeah.

Especially when you’re five feet in the air, hanging on for dear life at 20 miles per hour and the tube perpendicular to the water and your daughter’s butt is about to crash down on your head because you didn’t allocate your weight properly on an 85-degree nanosecond turn by a crazy guy named Steve Hopmann. Also known as Friend With Boat (FWB).

Johannes asked him if his original name was Steve or Stefan. Apparently it’s Steven. Sometimes he drove with no hands.

We wore no helmets, and I was grateful to be alive in the end. Steve laughed.

09
They assign groups at the beginning of the week, ostensibly to simplify and streamline certain processes, but really it allows the camp authorities to more readily identify problematic figures. So we are the Pink Group. I’m happy to be pink. There’s people here who don’t know me very well and thus are not familiar with many of my common sense philosophies that have led me to become a feminist. So it’s interesting being engaged in certain conversations with those people who assume they’re speaking to a friendly audience (i.e. choir) about certain topics. Because we’re in Idaho, and there’s a bunch of white people, and a lot of them are dentists, doctors, or in this case, a physical therapist.

In this case. This one guy. Nice guy from Canada. On the sandbar, something like this. I’ll start partway through. Greek storytellers would call it in media res. Starting the story in the middle. So we’re talking. I’ll call him Jonny, because he has the same name as one of my brothers, but it’s not Jonny.

We could definitely learn a few things from Canada about hospitality,
I said.

Yeah...I don’t know.
Jonny said.
There’s a lot of Canadians pretty upset at the U.S. about the tariffs Trump set last month.

I don’t blame them.
I said.
If I was Canadian, I’d be mad too.

Well there’s a lot we don’t know,
He said.
Of course all the news is liberal and they never say anything about the good things Trump has done.

Uhh,
I said.
There’s a lot of respectable people of integrity in journalism, and if Trump ever does do something good, I am certain they will report on it.

Well they don’t like him,
Jonny said.
I mean, the economy and jobs, they’re doing the best they’ve been since the recession, so I guess he’s doing something right.

Yeah...
I said.
Trump is very good at taking credit for anything that goes well, such as those things. Regardless of what nonpartisan economists have to say about how those trends work and the factors that affect jobs, inflation, and the economy that were set in motion long before his presidency.

Well,
He said.
The media is so liberal it’s hard to know exactly what the truth is I guess. I’m not really into politics anyway.

We stood there for a few more minutes. Then I ran into the water to attack defenseless little children. He stood on the shore, deeply pondering and reflecting on the wisdom I had shared with him moments before.

I am certain that’s what he was doing.

___

I walked through the sand in my wet swimsuit late in the afternoon and thought of what I would be doing the following Tuesday: trying to catch up on being away from work for a week. There is cell service, but very poor cell service. There is internet, but very poor internet. I almost wonder if it would be better to have neither at all versus a poor version of each. I don’t know. There are a handful of times throughout the week that I truly actually need both for financial and work reasons. I don’t know.

Potatoes, meatballs, bad kale, corn on the cob, apple crisp for supper. The food has been decent. The kitchen service...not so much.

We had KP duty, which means sweeping the entire caf and cleaning tables. I am quite skilled at sweeping.

10
Every evening, there is an activity known as “The Big Event.” Some are enjoyable. Others, such as the Mega Marathon, less so.

Tonight was the Mega Marathon. It is an event which I do not anticipate with excitement, primarily because there are two types of philosophies for its competitors:

1. those who are playing to win
2. those who are playing to get children involved, bond with them over some shared friendly and supportive competition, and help them learn some core life lessons about teamwork and good sportsmanship.

I am a bit aggressive about making certain that every child who wants to be a part of it has the opportunity to do so, and have willingly sacrificed both my spot as well as other adults spots in order to make sure that they are able to be on the team. This has not endeared me at times to some adults who have more of a Type 1 mentality (see above).

Also, there was an infamous incident last year in which me and two unnamed teammates capsized a canoe during one leg; an action that left us roaring with laughter, and other teammates not so pleased, as it dropped us from second-to-last place to last place by a wide margin.

So the Mega Marathon. There is running, cycling, stair running, chair obstacle crawling, swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding, and so forth. Magdelana ran a leg of the stairs and Johannes ran anchor on the four-person sprint relay. I ran with him. Just because. We waited in a hornet-infested conclave outside the camp parking lot, and after an initial handoff that resulted in my eight-year old teammate starting off in the wrong direction, we Jesse Owens-ed ourselves pull mell to the next phase : the canoes.

I was not asked to be a part of the canoeing this year.

We finished in last by a wide margin, and our team had the biggest smiles and the grandest high-fives afterwards. For another year, I was grateful we did it. I still dread the next time.

11
Some things I love to do at night, like skinny dipping and watching movies and drinking Italian sodas, not always simultaneously, but sometimes. Tonight I got to do one of those. Hint: it has to do with the country shaped like a boot and it’s a drink.

As an adult, technically, I often forget what it’s like to experience events through the lens of Childhood and how seemingly trivial events can be huge and exciting during that part of life.

Like walking around a lake late at night drinking an Italian soda with friends. Why should that not be exciting now? What’s stopping us?

It is helpful, in that scenario, to have both a lake and friends.

Elevating the trivial to the level of spectacle. That is one of my foundational mantras. Yes, I did coin that.

So that was a day.

7.30.2018

A DAY, A MONDAY.

01
To wake up in the morning with shirt pulled up, bellybutton hanging out, hair matted from sleep sweat, roll up to face the day with a big toot and bigger grin...that is the life. That is Ejvindr’s life. How do you hang onto that forever? Or get back to it?

#babysteps

02
There are few better smells in the morning than that of bacon. But then I think of those baby pigs, and their precious blue eyes, and snifflesnuffling sounds and...no.

Wait, am I thinking of bacon, or meatless sausage patties?

Also, there is nothing like having a breakfast that is interrupted not only by one of your offspring stage whispering their need “...to go number two,” but also actually getting pooped on by another child, and having a 16-ounce bowl of wet oatmeal deposited all over you by the nephew sitting in your lap.

03
Regarding the appropriate use of restraining devices in religious analogies:

There was a worship skit that involved Jesus attaching himself to a person with handcuffs.

Not the direction I usually take with my New Testament story interpretations.

04
Do I need coffee? I don’t know. Do we need love? Do we need each other? Do we need to find that convergence of skill set, innate ability, opportunity, and interest? Do we need hope or faith or premium gasoline?

I don’t know.

Drank a cup of coffee outside, and it probably wasn’t that good, but it was good. The key is, it was outside.

05
When hot, there’s two ways to get cool.

A) air conditioning
B) water

One of these is better than the other. And it involves getting wet. Also, sometimes it involves jumping off a big platform onto a giant inflated bag that has a person sitting on it, and launching that person into the air. It is scary if you are the person waiting to get launched, which is why I made our daughter do it while I leaped and launched her 42 feet into the air. We got cool, we cool.

06
There are people whose bucket list includes things like skinny dipping in the Bering Strait, and taking a bath in a giant claw foot bathtub filled with spaghetti, and I acknowledge that my name is on both those lists.

Also, we had noodles for lunch. And a salad bar that included kidney beans.

07
I dream of mandated afternoon naps.

Daydream of them. Becca told me to lie down for 15, post-lunch, on a soft mattress with a white blanket over that did not include sheets professionally Swiss-style folded by Rachel Nutter, yet was an inviting place to get comatose for a few. I did so, to the sounds of toddlers and young children playing and arguing. More the latter.

I woke up 22 minutes later, after hitting snooze a couple times, and was so refreshed that I had to make myself a cup of iced coffee.

08
We walked to the waterfront, because we didn’t run. The sun made the air hot, and everything. Super hot. I drank iced coffee that no longer had ice, and was more diluted water mixed with some coffee grounds and almond creamer, and I still took some satisfaction in drinking under the heat. There were toys, a lot of toys, water toys, because we came to play in the water, and there was water. So we played in the water. Because it was hot. And there were toys for people who got bored with the water.

09
We shot arrows into a target; a sport known as archery. A sport that became famous to me because of fellows named William Tell and Robin Hood, and famous to new generations because of Hunger Games.

I hit a bunch of bulls eyes, is how I remember. Johannes almost took an arrow to the crotch from an anonymous seven-year old who declined to observe the most important rule, which was: don’t shoot people in the crotch with an arrow.

10
Supper. An Asian kind of theme going that included broccoli, rice, and spring rolls. I had none of the latter. Why?

I don’t know. Because I’m still trying to lose five more pounds to help my body feel better, and these particular deep fat fried spring rolls - couldn’t they be shallow fat fried? - didn’t seem ones that would encourage me in that direction. I don’t know. I should have eaten them.

After supper, we took a dusty bus up a dusty road to a grass field, where people gathered to play Medic.

Medic is a game like dodgeball, except there’s a designated Desmond Doss figure on each team to unfreeze people when they’re hit with a ball. When a team’s medic is hit, the game’s over. It is a very fun game. There are many young children who play hard because it is extremely fun. There are many adult males who play hard because they are competitive and want to win and need some sort of conquering victory to fill a hole in their lives. Those are the people that I like to take out, with every ounce of my residual youthful strength, and nail in the crotch with a nice hefty playground ball.

#satisfaction

Also, it is very, very fun to see the kids playing so hard. With no apparent sense of strategy, and in some cases, understanding of even what game it is they’re playing. It is glorious mayhem to behold and be a part of.

11
I ate trail mix, because I couldn’t say no. I love trail mix. I have a little stash hidden away. They have melted and hardened and melted and hardened and gotten soft and hardened over and over, sort of like a male mammal in heat. I do not eat male mammals, but I do eat trail mix that has gone through those cycles, and I do engage in the same activities male mammals in heat do when they’re lucky. I am lucky, sometimes frequently, though less so on family vacations where many of us sleep communally outside.

Later, there was campfire, there was singing and silly skits, there was a prayer which I didn’t really pay attention to, but I did ponder this question: is it not a thing anymore that guys take their hats off during prayer?

I don’t know. I still take mine off.

My mom, spirited adventurer that she is, signed us up for nighttime zip lining. This is very difficult to explain. The long version is that it’s where you go zip lining at night. In this case, my mom was an adventure-starter, which means she enabled other people to go, but did not go herself. My wife, spirited adventurer that she is, insisted that we go, despite my reluctance and aching body.

So we went, the five of us, and Ejvindr, wimp that he is, did not zip line. Also, they do not allow 19-month old toddlers to go. So he slept instead. Despite my initial fury at Becca for making us go, it turned out to be memorable and fun-ish, and most of the cables and harnesses held.

We got home at 2am, or 11pm, or somewhere in there, and I desperately wanted to watch some television, or read a book, or write or drink coffee or something, but my stupid 41-year old eyes were too tired so I unfortunately fell asleep.

That was a day.

7.29.2018

A DAY, A SUNDAY.

01
We slept in a rest stop.
The stars were like little fish. I thought of Courtney Love and Ejvindr and I walked at 1am looking at semi trucks. His toots the last 24 hours are the worst I have ever experienced from a toddler.

02
We ate at Elmer’s. Becca ordered us something, because she is good at ordering things, and I WhatsApped with Lanessa, still in Scotland, and we spoke of her influence on my use of the word ‘amazing’ and how it has affected my approach to conversational linguistics.

03
What Becca ordered was good, I think, but I don’t remember much of it because five bites in, I took Ej out to change a diaper that cracked his top ten all-time worst. He read an Eric Carle book while I held his ankles in the air with one hand and used nine wipes on his putrid behind with the other.

04
It was an egg thing. With English muffin or something. It probably was good. I had two and half cups of coffee that I didn’t especially enjoy either. My palate was a bit corroded after the diaper change.

05
The sun made this part of earth hot. We drove to Coeur D’Alene lake, whereupon we paid two dollars for parking and walked through a nice downtown park. I sliced apples and grumpy children ate hummus. Yes, grumpy children on vacation. How could it be? Yet it was. Possibly affected by two factors (see below).

06
A visit to Target that did not yield exactly what their hearts desired,

and

The quantity and quality of sleep experienced the previous precious night. See: rest stop.

07
There was Dutch Bros iced coffee in there at one point, thanks to my father, although by the time he delivered it to us, there was no longer any ice. #idiot

If the third from the Third Triumvirate had been present - Rachel - we would have skolled, despite the icelessness.

Becca and I failed to do so, provably because of the general feeling of malaise brought on by the relentless onslaught of #grumpychildren.

08
I thought about my general feelings on desolation and the geographic factors affecting loneliness as we drove through the sweltering Utah - Idaho? - forested hills. I expressed some of these thoughts to Becca, who listened politely until accidentally falling asleep.

09
Songs of note today:
Red Trails / Fever Ray
Rocket / Albert Hammond, Jr.
Ice Cream Van / Glasvegas
Home / Xavier Rudd
I Stand Corrected / Vampire Weekend

10
We saw people. There’s a lake. We ate food.

11
People sleep. Which is why I now am able to write this outside on a deck underneath hot fishie stars and listen to people snore and...smell the worst odor ever. Yes, it is our son, and he smells like an upside down port-a-pottie. Sweet dreams.




.

7.22.2018

POEM : DATE NIGHT.

The morning is new
Smell of fresh brewing brew
Possibilities endless
And the negative doubts friendless.

Hey! I say to her,
I totally had this thought occur:
We’re married quite a few years?
We should celebrate by switching a few gears.

And by gears, how about a date night, I suggest
For a night or two, or six months might be worth it to invest.
I’ve got some ideas supreme, and you know my ideas are worth hearing,
As our middle age we’re going to start nearing.

What you have in mind, Dear?
She says, your ideas I wanna hear.
You thinking an island, lake, south Zimbabwe?
Or a different special place every other day?

I like your thought, I said,
A place with a nice comfortable bed
Then we could backpack along a warm ocean
And close out the day with applying each other with lotion.

For the sunburns? she asked with a smile
Uhh, yes? I said with a smile of guile.
And we could eat exotic vegan foods
Served by super hot shirtless happy dudes!

I’m in, she said, totally sold.
What’s the next step, steal cash or gold?
How we gonna do this thing you mention?
I said trust me, I got this, with all conviction.

I got it all worked out and okay,
Except for the financial bit, that’s for tomorrow or another day,
And the kids, I have an idea, I said.
If we left them here, they might be fine and maybe not dead,

There’s a good chance they’d survive six months on their own
Unless they got sick or broke a big important bone.
But we’ll leave phone numbers somewhere they’ll find
Just in case they get into a superbad bind.

I wonder, she looked at me sadly,
If we oughta downshift this idea, just in case it were to go badly.
Well, I said, they’re your kids as well
You might be right, we want them to grow up alive and swell.

So here’s what we do, I said emphatic
We go out for a week that leaves us ecstatic.
I’ll find a jet to fly us to New York City
Maybe Moby could meet us and sing us an electro ditty!

Excited, she jumped into the idea:
a stopover at Chicago pizzeria, then Miami tortilla,
a new Boston IKEA.
The possibilities are grand!
Ticket prices fo charter planes we scanned and planned,

Man, those things ain’t cheap, surprising!
Private jets run big bucks, my income need upsizing!
Do we really need all those stops? She suggested.
No Dear, I said, but you’re worth everything I’ve invested.

Still, she said, the children’s college funds drained
Could leave their futures a little tiny strained.
Dear, I stated with adoration and love.
To our children, you are an angel hovering above.

So we did some more date night fantasy downsizing
Just a little, we’d lose not much, just maybe one percent of the romanticizing.
New York City gets boring after a while,
And Paris, I’ve heard, isn’t that fun or worthwhile.

Let’s hop a bus to a state close by, I suggested!
Think of all the travel time saved, we’d be super well rested!
You’re a genius, she kissed me hard.
You’re more than okay, you big tub of pig lard.

The children giggled as they observed with interest piqued.
When do we leave? they shrieked-squeaked, curiosity tweaked.
You’re not going. I said with final authority.
You’ll stay here, that’s it, one against four but I’m still the majority!

She looked with pity at their tear stained faces dirty and pathetic.
I knew what was coming, my face turned apoplectic.
They’re not coming with us, Dear, our vacation week is us adults only!
She turned, her warm heart annoyingly so; Dear, she murmured, they’d get a little lonely!

So, I said, now, we’re staying in-state, and let me guess, less than a week?
Oh my love, she said, a week minus six days is the minorest tweak!
I ran the math on this statement and it seemed more our speed,
Especially when I took a speed-read of our bank statement deed.

Okay, I agreed, we’ll do a night to remember!
Better than the best Jolly St. Nick 24th of December!
We’ll eat like a dozen tortillas each at a medium-price restaurant,
Or better, at that cheap one over on southeast Belmont.

Let’s do it, she said, I’m so on board.
You’ve done so much, she continued, you leave me totally floored.
Let me make the arrangements, hubby dearest,
When it comes to making reservations, sometimes my head’s the clearest.

Okay, I said grumpily, thinking of Riviera beaches,
And wishing a child or two would get eaten by leeches.
But oh well, I thought, it’ll be a memory to make,
Just me and my wife on a romance date we’ll take.

We’ll hold hands and skip through some puddles
We’ll dance in the rain and warm up with cuddles.
Just the two of us, we’ll eat three trays of appetizers
And get back late, if we gave the children enough tranquilizers...

...tranquilizers? She said, are you insane, honey bunny dearest?!
Your ideas aren’t always the brightest or clearest.
We can’t give them tranquilizers to help them sleep long!
That would be so completely and totally wrong!

Tranquilizers cost so much money, honey!
If we’re ever gonna get to Europe, we can’t be funny with our money, ya ninnynunny!
There’s only solution, she shrugged, to our date night situation:
That’s to take a look at the numbers, a people re-evaluation.

Am I hearing you right? I inquired.
You’re saying the children’s presence is going to be required?
That’s what I’m saying, my Love of This Life,
She said, This Life, I’m yours, next life maybe someone else’s beautiful wife.

I chased her down and tackled her to the couchy.
The children ganged up and jumped us both, making me grouchy.
They shrieked and squealed and piled into the car
For date night; away we drove, not very far.

A family, we sat together, loud and noisy, in the intimate cafe,
Me and my wife, separated by children in disarray;
I leaned around, stretched my arm out and squeezed her thigh surreptitious.
I like you, I said, and she smiled and moved my hand higher, sneaky ambitious.

Date night,
It could end up alright.
Thank goodness it’s only one night.
Anything more would be too much of a fight.

Bedtime now, I’m sleepy Dear, turn off the light?