It’s Ethan HAWKE, Not Ethan “Who?”

Earlier this week I was telling Deb at work that I’d read in a Vanity Fair article that Bruce Springsteen did not hire a ghostwriter to help pen his new autobiography; instead, every word is his own. I told her that I really respected celebrities who did this. Like Ethan Hawke, who actually wrote and published a couple of novels. I have no idea if they’re any good, but kudos to him for writing ’em.

“Ethan who?” she asked.

No. No, no, no, no, no!!

How can a person have no idea who Ethan Hawke is?! I wondered incredulously.

“How can you have no idea who Ethan Hawke is?!” I asked incredulously.

And then I remembered that Deb is a Millennial. Still, I pressed on, naming a few of the actor’s better-known films. “Reality Bites? Before Sunrise? Boyhood?”

She continued staring at me blankly. And then Kathleen, another coworker, happened by.

“Kathleen, you’re not going to believe this!” I said, unable to contain my shock and bewilderment. “Deb doesn’t know who Ethan Hawke is!”

“Ethan who?” Kathleen asked.

%$@#&. SMH. FML. And any other appropriate acronym I’ve left out.

I should have known better. Kathleen’s a Millennial, too.

What kind of world do we live in where people do not know who Ethan Hawke is?

[Please don’t respond with “a world where you’re old enough to be their dad” like my smart-aleck friend Monica did].

Dear Millennials: this is Ethan Hawke.
Dear Millennials: this is Ethan Hawke.

So the next day I brought in a DVD copy of “Reality Bites” and handed it to Deb. When she asked what it’s about I was tempted to reply, “It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes,” to paraphrase Troy Dyer (a/k/a Ethan Hawke), but of course she wouldn’t have gotten the reference so I told her instead to read the back of the DVD case.

I’m curious whether she’ll like it or not. I mean, “Reality Bites” is the quintessential Generation X movie. But it came out in 1994, so there’s a possibility she won’t get it. It’s all about disenfranchised youth and misplaced idealism and the grunge scene and AIDS. Hardly topical stuff these days. There was no Internet back then, and no emojis. Ben Stiller did have a car phone, but it was attached to a cord and the size of a small brick. Maybe the film doesn’t stand the test of time.

All I know is, it’s damn good, and was super influential in my life when I was 23. After all, it taught me the meaning of irony after Alanis Morissete failed. Convinced me to change my answering machine message to, “You’ve reached the winter of our discontent.” Showed me that Evian is “naive” spelled backwards. And even made Peter Frampton seem cool. That’s no small feat there.

If nothing else, Deb will at least know who Ethan Hawke is.

Oh, by the way: the reason I was discussing Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography? I am going to be receiving an autographed copy on October 4th. Handed to me by the author himself. The one. The only. The Boss. Dream come true? You bet your ass.

But that’s a story for another day.

Call Me Lazarus

My ongoing battle with telemarketers continues.

I don’t know why they love to bother me so much. It’s as though I won some sort of lottery where the grand prize is daily harassment instead of a few million dollars. I have tried every trick in the book to shake them, but nothing has ever worked. A few months ago I even died, but I must have risen, Lazarus-like, because after a one-week reprieve they were hounding me as if resurrection were a perfectly normal and acceptable thing, no more unusual than ants invading a picnic or politicians bending the truth or [insert cliche of choice], trying to sell me Viagra.

That’s another thing. It’s always Viagra or Cialis they are pushing. Maybe Levitra on occasion. Talk about rising again! I’m trying not to take this personally, but it would be nice if just once they offered me pills that weren’t blue, you know what I mean? Maybe a medication designed to decrease my studliness or something. My ego can only take so much bruising.

Earlier this week, after yet another phone call in which I toyed with them a while before growing bored and hanging up, my coworker suggested the next time they call, I tell them I have a terminal illness. “Maybe that will be enough to convince them to stop bothering you,” she said. I had my doubts. After all, if dying didn’t do the trick, would dying in the near future work? Still, it was worth a shot.

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I didn’t have long to wait. I never do, unfortunately. The next morning, there they were, calling me like clockwork. This is how the conversation went.

Them: Are you currently taking any medications, sir?
Me: Yes. About 57 pills a day.
Them: That’s a lot of pills. Can we interest you in some Viagra or Cialis?
Me: I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. I’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. My doctor has given me three months to live.
Them: No problem.

This pissed me off. What nerve, right?! I was legitimately angry over this guy’s blase attitude about my impending death and got so caught up in my own sob story, I forgot that my illness was fake and I wasn’t actually dying. This caused me to go off on him a bit.

Me: “No problem“?! Maybe not for you, but you’re not the one dying. I am! It’s a big problem for me!
Them: I understand, sir. When would be a good time be to call you back?
Me: I don’t think you understand at all. Given that I will be dead and buried in less than ninety days, I’m thinking a good time to call back would be NEVER. Unless, of course, you can sell me a pill that will cure death!

I seriously cannot believe this guy was trying to sell boner pills to a person staring down his own mortality. I mean, I essentially told him I’m going to be dead before Christmas, and he’s still hawking those little blue pills. I dunno. Maybe he thinks I want to go out with a bang?

At least my coworkers found the whole scene entertaining. Nothing like a little bit of levity to break up the monotony of the day, I s’pose.


Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. It was pretty much just an ordinary day for us – work, grocery shopping, etc. It’s tough to celebrate when it lands in the middle of the week like that, though we did go out to dinner here. Great meal, by the way.

We actually celebrated last weekend with a three-night getaway to the Oregon coast. Ended up renting a house in Yachats, an area we had never been to before, and had a wonderful time. This home was situated on a bluff with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean and downtown Yachats (pronounced Ya-hots) and was gorgeous – hardwood floors, fully appointed kitchen with modern appliances, gas fireplace, clawfoot tub, slate shower, large deck. The works. All for only $125 a night, which isn’t much more than you’d spend on a motel room. We spent one day exploring the area and hiking, and another day relaxing and reading. Turned out to be the perfect little retreat. We definitely plan to go back. Feel free to check out my pics on Instagram if you are interested (adios.ghost).

Until next time…

Wait. I’ll be dead soon. I keep forgetting!

Huckleberry Haul

Recently, Tara and I were in an upscale grocery store in NE Portland. She’d grabbed several pricey bars of dark chocolate and, suddenly worried that she might be spending too much money, turned to me and said, “Do you think it’s ridiculous to spend $16 on chocolate?”

Glancing at the expensive tins of Jacobsen sea salt I was carting around, I replied, “I’m probably the wrong person to ask, given that I’m buying $13 worth of salt.”

“Touche,” she said, and a woman in the same aisle couldn’t help but laugh at us.

It’s okay. I laughed at us, too.

Yes, we really did spend almost $30 on chocolate and salt. We’re a living, breathing “Portlandia” sketch sometimes.


Now that it’s September, I want it to be fall right now. ‘Cause I’m an impatient bastard. [Seriously: Tara had to talk me out of dragging the harvest bin out of storage and setting out pumpkins this weekend. “Let’s give it a couple more weeks,” she suggested. I decided to humor her this time.] Fortunately, though the calendar says autumn is still a few weeks away officially, the weather is cooperating. Our hot weather has given way to cloudy, cool, and damp.

I love it.

Yesterday, we decided to make our annual pilgrimage* to the Indian Heaven Wilderness to pick huckleberries. *Though I call it an “annual pilgrimage,” it’s actually been a few years since we’ve done it. But by golly, it’s going to be annual from now on, for realz.

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We got to Thomas Lake shortly after 11, and there was a definite chill in the air. It was only 49(ish) degrees, which felt great considering we’d baked in 100-degree temps a mere nine days earlier. I hadn’t checked in advance to confirm that the huckleberries had ripened, but experience has taught me you can pretty much count on them showing up come September, and sure enough, they were everywhere. In fact, it seems to be a banner year for these tiny, succulent fruit, which resemble small blueberries but taste even better. They were growing prolifically all along the trail, and quite a few other people were out there picking them with us. Everybody was commenting on how plentiful they were this year, and how big they were too. I have to agree. Maybe it was due to our more “typical” summer weather this year – except for the last few weeks of August, it wasn’t too hot most of the summer, and the nights cooled off nicely. Who knows? I’m no botanist. The point is, they were everywhere, and we filled two bags full.

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Huckleberries are unique. They only grow at a certain elevation (roughly 4,000 – 5,000′) and can’t be farm-cultivated or machine-harvested, which is why they are impossible to find in the grocery store. If you want huckleberries, you have to make a trek to the mountains and pick ’em by hand yourself. They are so worth the effort, though.

We also hiked 4.75 miles, enjoying the perfect weather. At one point we stopped for a lunch break in a lush meadow just a stone’s throw from a pristine subalpine lake, and the sun was playing peek-a-boo with fluffy white cumulus clouds that resembled cotton candy, and the whole thing was just perfect: the company, the scenery, the imminent change in seasons. And I thought to myself, Self, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s great to have that self-awareness while you’re in the moment, rather than looking back years later and thinking how wonderful such-and-such a time was, and regretting the fact that you didn’t enjoy it more.

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After our huckleberry haul, we stopped in Stevenson (our future home) for dinner and drinks at our go-to spot, Big River Grill. Came home, made a big bowl of popcorn, and watched a really uplifting movie about a woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and watches her life slip out of her grasp as little by little, everybody she knows and loves becomes a stranger to her. Fun!

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday, especially one that kicks off a three-day weekend.

This week, we are heading to the Oregon coast for a few days to celebrate our third wedding anniversary (and five years since we became a couple) so our already-short week will be even shorter.

Happy Labor Day!

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Cooking as Poetry

Cooking is like a poem.

There’s a certain rhythm and grace to the prep work. Chopping, slicing, and dicing; the alternating short and long cuts a sort of iambic pentameter in the kitchen. Baking is precision and rhyme, but all else – that which does not demand perfection – is loose, free-form.

These ideas came to me Sunday evening as I prepared dinner. We’d invited my parents over for honey-glazed salmon with a browned butter and lime sauce, a recipe I first discovered last year and one that has converted a couple of salmon-averse individuals (including my own wife, no less) into fans, at least of this one dish. To wit: it’s really good.

I found myself lost in thought during the preparation, enjoying the sense of purpose these repetitive tasks brought me. There is an undeniable pride and joy that accompanies the act of creating a dish from scratch,  an age-old satisfaction in providing sustenance. Feeding others harkens back to a tribe mentality old as the dawn of man.

Damn. How much wine did I drink, anyway?!

But seriously. I’ve always loved cooking, which explains why I was anything but the typical bachelor following my divorce. Microwave burritos and take-out pizza were never my thing; even during those kid-free weeks when it was just me (and later, just me and the cat), I found myself slaving away in the kitchen, regardless of how tired I was or how busy my work day had been. Taking the easy route wasn’t ever an option for me, at least not one that I ever seriously considered. I never really thought about the reasons why I chose to create complex meals for myself every night; only in retrospect did this seem like an awful lot of unnecessary work for a party of one when a PB&J sandwich or a bowl of Top Ramen would have sufficed. But yesterday, I realized for the first time what cooking really meant to me.

Focus.

Determination.

A sense of purpose.

Above all else, a blank canvas waiting to be filled.

All of which pretty much sum up everything lacking in my life at the time.

Oh, and for the record? The salmon last night was excellent. And that sums up my life these days.

Watchin’ the Sun Bake

Today turned into a fun day.

There’s a guy at work named Zach who is very much a hippie at heart. Even more so than me. He’s the dude who goes to Burning Man every year, spends his lunch hour in the park strumming a guitar, and walks around the office barefoot. Anyway, he decided on a whim to throw a “Jimmy Buffett Margarita Tailgate” this afternoon. I assumed he was kidding, until I saw him filling an inflatable kiddie pool with water and hauling in an ice chest filled with bottles of tequila, margarita mix, limes, and beer. He opened the sliding garage door on the side of the office, queued up some Jimmy Buffett, Beach Boys, and Ventures tunes, and the party got started.

When in Rome, right? So I mixed myself a couple of tequila sodas (adamantly low-carb ‘til the very end, folks) and kicked it with my coworkers.

I love this group. Truly.

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It was hot AF (that’s how the kids spell it out, right?), 100-degrees plus, but somehow it just didn’t matter. The party broke up after an hour, but proved to be the perfect midday break. I’m such a lightweight nowadays I felt sort-of buzzed the rest of the afternoo. I always joke that I do my best work half-inebriated, but really, I do. I knocked out work orders all afternoon. Who knew tequila could be such a boon to productivity? They should pay me to drink at work more often!

Because of the heat, I’ve been getting up super early this week and walking. It might sound like torture to willingly extract yourself from bed at 4:35 in the morning, but I’m telling you, it’s totally worth it. Now that the sun doesn’t rise until after 6 it’s still dark, and the weather is very pleasant. It was 67 this morning, with a cool, gentle breeze – I skipped the hoodie and was perfectly comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. The just-past-full moon was hanging low on the horizon as I walked through the park, and adding to the ambience was an owl, hooting plaintively in the trees. [It’s funny I ascribe the hooting as being plaintive. For all I know the owl was overjoyed. Or hungry. Or horny. {shrugs} It just sounded mournful in the predawn stillness.] I’ll be nodding off by 10 PM, but I didn’t die walking in the midday heat, so that’s a win.

We were going to check out the Skamania County Fair tonight, but screw that. Instead we decided to hole up in our air-conditioned apartment with records and drinks and chicken nachos.

Tomorrow evening we have a concert at the Oregon Zoo. Tara’s mom bought us tickets to see Lord Huron and Trampled By Turtles for her birthday. We are not at all thrilled about the heat, but what can we do about it? Not a damn thing. I’m just glad it’s a weekend concert and we can sleep in the next day. The weather is supposed to cool off on Sunday, and then it’ll be decent until about Thursday, when it’s back in the 90s.

Thursday night, we are seeing Journey in concert.

Oy, vey.

The Forest is My Happy Place

This past weekend, Tara and I went hiking.

Which seems to be a recurring theme in my life these days. I have gone hiking every weekend for the past month. Maybe in a past life I was Paul Bunyan, but in this one I have traded in my axe for hiking poles. I don’t want to chop down trees; I just want to enjoy them.

I do wish I owned a blue ox, though. How cool would that be?!

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I owe my love of nature to my folks, I suppose. For as long as I can remember, we have always gone hiking. Growing up in Hawaii we’d trek through lush bamboo forests, retrieving passionfruit that had fallen from trees that my mom would subsequently turn into these amazing cookies. In Ohio, we bought a pop-up camper and explored some of the farthest corners of the Buckeye State. In South Dakota, the Black Hills were our playground. Hiking has long been an important part of my life.

When I married my ex, hiking took a backseat to other pursuits. Raising kids is hard work, and saps your energy. The last thing in the world you feel like doing is tackling five or six miles through rugged backcountry when you’ve just stepped on a Lego and gotten a whopping three hours of sleep.

After our divorce, I spent a couple of years trying to navigate the dating world (oh-so-fun!) (no, really!) and my newfound freedom before I remembered hiking. One morning in 2009 I woke up and suddenly recalled that getting outside and enjoying nature was something I used to do quite frequently. So I gave it a whirl again. And quickly became hooked.

One of the things I love most about Tara is her own love of getting outside and exploring. During my first trip to Ely, before we were even an official couple, we drove out to Great Basin State Park and ended up doing an alpine hike at Mount Wheeler. Elevation: 10,000′. That was brutal, and just about killed me. Then again, I was a good 60+ lbs. heavier and used to sea level. I’m surprised I didn’t keel over from a heart attack.

We’ve hiked together many times since, and now that I’m fit, it’s only gotten easier. I bet I could conquer Mount Wheeler without even breaking a sweat today. Elevation gain and altitude don’t even faze me. It’s tough to pick a favorite hike – we’ve done a lot of good ones over the years. The hike across the pumice plain to a hidden waterfall in the crater of Mount St. Helens was memorable. As was the Iron Goat Trail and haunted railroad in Steven’s Pass, the Naches Peak Loop at Mount Rainier, and the huckleberry fields in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. If there are trees, I’m in my element. The forest is my happy place.

Here are some pics of recent hikes. Enjoy!

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Bad News: I Lost the Election

I am sad to report that my last-minute campaign during Washington’s primary last week was unsuccessful. I lost my bid to become the Evergreen State’s newest Commissioner of Public Lands.

What’s that? You had no idea I was running for public office? Neither did I, right up until the day of the election. My coworker, Kimberly, was filling out her ballot and asked if she could add my name as a write-in candidate.

“For which position?” I asked.

“How about Commissioner of Public Lands?” she replied.

“Go for it,” I said, figuring my love of nature and the outdoors made me at least as qualified as the other candidates.

So she did. And just like that, a budding political career was launched. 13872835_10209964422416101_8881128645386021814_n

I’ll admit, “running for public office” wasn’t something I’d planned on doing when I awoke on Tuesday morning, but by the end of the day I was all in, especially after Googling “Commissioner of Public Lands” to find out just what the heck I’d be responsible for doing and saw the six-figure salary that accompanies the job. That afternoon I hit the campaign trail – which means I made a circuit of the office – asking my coworkers if I could count on their support. None of them even knew I was running.

“Are you kidding? This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” I replied. “Well, at least since 9 AM.”

“What’s your position on the issues?” one of them asked.

“I am ‘pro’ the good things and ‘anti’ the bad,” I said.

Whew! I really dodged a bullet with my quick thinking there. Gotta keep my constituents happy, you know?

“Yep. You’re a politician, all right,” came the cynical reply.

Politics does run in my family, as a matter of fact. My grandfather’s-sister’s-husband (got that?) was mayor of Ewing Township, New Jersey, back in the 60s. He’s even got a memorial park named after him. It’s practically my birthright, see?

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As the returns trickled in, it quickly became evident I would not be packing for Olympia. The race is going to come down to Steven McLaughlin and Hilary Franz instead. I blame it on my lack of campaign buttons.

I am nothing if not gracious in losing, and plan on officially endorsing Hilary, of course. I’ll schedule a news conference soon. At least I can honestly say my name was on the Washington state ballot this year, and I received vote.

Not votes, mind you. But you know what? I got one more than anybody else in the office did!

And come 2020, I plan to throw my hat in the ring a lot sooner.

After that, the sky’s the limit. I bet my lava lamp collection would look great in the Oval Office…

Ohanapecosh, By Gosh!

I have, in the past, lamented over the fact that technology is taking over the world. I’ve mentioned how I wish we could go back in time to those carefree days where a “smartphone” was considered one that had buttons to push rather than a rotary dial, and a “web domain” was simply the home of a spider.

I take that all back now. Technology is good.

Tara decided last week she’d like to go camping for her birthday. Great idea! I love camping, too! You know who else loves camping? Every single freakin’ person who lives in the Pacific Northwest. At least in months ending with “e”, “y”, and “t”. It’s impossible to get a last-minute reservation this time of year, at least over the weekend. You can reserve a spot six months in advance, and I have a sneaking suspicion most of the really good camping spots are taken five months and 30 days early. So, no camping, right?

Not so fast. Turns out some campgrounds set aside a limited number of campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. One of those, Ohanapecosh (fun to say!!) Campground, was located smack dab in the middle of Mount Rainier National Park. A little research showed that 40 of their 188 spots were non-reservable. Perfect!, I thought, and devised a plan to make my wife’s birthday wish come true. I would take Friday off, leave the apartment super early, make the 2.5-hour trek north, and grab a spot for the weekend. Tara, who had an optometrist’s appointment at 2 PM, would leave afterwards and meet me there.

This was an excellent idea. In theory. But so were asbestos and sub-prime mortgages. I failed to take into account just how many people would show up early trying to find spots of their own, so when I arrived at Ohanapecosh (so fun – try it!!) shortly after 10 AM, I was shocked and dismayed to see the following sign.

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My first, optimistic naive thought was, they must be referring to the reserved sites, which have been full for the past five months and 30 days! But as I entered the campground and circled through the G and H loops, where the first-come, first-served sites are located, I found every last one taken.

Before I’d left, Tara had asked what our backup plan was. “We have no backup plan!” I told her, before adding optimistically naively, “And we won’t need one!”

I drove through a second time, but came up empty again. Just like that, it appeared our fun weekend getaway was getting away. And I realized the folly of my ways. Summer weekend, gorgeous weather…in retrospect, the possibility of finding a camping spot last-minute seemed like a fool’s quest. Still, I was so determined to make it happen, I tried to will a spot into existence.

Amazingly, this worked.

Unwilling to concede defeat just yet, I parked my car at the visitor’s center, grabbed a folding camp chair from the trunk, and set out on foot, hoping that a walk through the campground would somehow yield better results. When I reached the 38th out of 40 possible spots, I found an empty site. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, convinced I was hallucinating or the whole thing was a mirage, but there it was: a deserted campsite, free* for the taking.

*Actually $20 a night, if we’re being technical.

I set up the chair to stake claim to the spot (per campground instructions) then practically ran back to the visitor’s center to pay for two nights and clip my receipt into place, breathing a huge sigh of relief and thanking my lucky stars. I can only assume that the people who’d had H5 had just left, because the site was not available the first couple of times I drove past.

Once the campsite was reserved, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. It was 11:00 and Tara wouldn’t arrive until after 5:00, so I headed up to the Sunrise Visitor’s Center and hiked the Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail, a 3.4-mile roundtrip jaunt that crosses a ridge line to an abandoned fire lookout tower with stunning views of Mt. Rainier. The sky was brilliantly blue and cloudless and the snowcapped volcano, one of the tallest peaks in the U.S., stunning. The only drawback was the crowds (not really a surprise, given how full the campground was).

Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail.
Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail.
Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier

After my hike, I drove back to the campground, arriving around 3:30. Aside from the camp chair, the only other thing I had was a paperback novel, so I settled in and started reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement while the tall fir trees danced and swayed in the breeze. It was damn near perfect for a little while…but then my fellow campers began trickling in and starting fires, and the smell of cooking food reminded me how hungry I was. By 5:00 I could no longer concentrate on my book, and anxiously started looking for Tara’s truck.

This is where the lack of technology bedeviled me. There is no cell service in that part of the park, and I had not been in touch with Tara since walking out the front door at 7 AM. She didn’t even know for sure whether I’d been able to find a spot, but we’d agreed in advance that I would drive into Packwood and call her if that happened. I started wondering what would happen if she’d been delayed or never showed up for some reason, which led to a feeling of downright helplessness. I have never missed cell phone service so badly. I’d expected her around 5:30, and when she hadn’t arrived yet by 6:30, I really started to worry. Fortunately, she showed up a little before 7:00, right before full-blown panic could set in.

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Once she got there we set up camp and got down to the important business at hand: booze. OK, that and enjoying the weekend, which turned out to be wonderful. We hiked, we cooked good food, we enjoyed amazing scenery, and we relaxed.

Ohanapecosh Campground.
Ohanapecosh Campground.
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Silver Falls
The wildflowers at Mount Rainier were on point!
The wildflowers at Mount Rainier were on point!
Mountains. Trees.
Mountains. Trees.

Oh, and we didn’t get eaten by a bear, which was another plus.

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So in the end, Tara’s birthday weekend was a success. We are already planning a return trip to Ohanapecosh (it never gets old!!) next summer.

But you can bet your ass we’ll have reservations next time. Five months and 30 days in advance.

I’m Dying to Be Left Alone. Literally.

I may have finally learned how to beat telemarketers at their own game. Just tell ’em you’re dead.

One day last week, I got a call from a Nigerian prince telling me I’d just won the lottery, and would I like to buy some Viagra with my earnings while switching cell phone carriers? Or something along those lines. We never got very deep into the conversation, because when he asked for Mark, I got all serious and said, “I’m sorry. He passed away recently.” The caller on the other end of the line mumbled his condolences and could not get off the phone quickly enough. It’s been a week since I faked my own death, and they have not called back since.

Hmm. Could death be the secret to a stress-free life? I’ve tried every trick in the book to get telemarketers to leave me alone. None of them has worked, with the exception of my untimely demise. Turns out that dying was the best thing to ever happen to me!rip

Now I’m trying to come up with other ways to take advantage of this apparently foolproof excuse. Forgot to pay the electric bill? Sorry, utility company. I died. Missed that dinner with my annoying friend who won’t stop going on about her poodle? Didn’t mean to stand you up. I was dead. Didn’t show up to work on Monday? Sorry, boss. R.I.P. Me.

Turns out you have far fewer commitments when you’re dead. I should have kicked the bucket years ago!


Speaking of work, my team had a very interesting IM conversation today.

Kimberly was talking about how excited she was over the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. I don’t know much about WW other than the fact that she flies an invisible airplane. This became the source of an afternoon-long debate, mostly between me and Deb.

“How does she know where the throttle is?” I wondered. “Or the brake? How can she tell how much gas she has left? Or her altitude? I don’t think an invisible plane is very safe.”

Deb said, “Now, does she become invisible when she is in the plane? Or do you see her just popping around in the sky?”

I replied that WW isn’t invisible, but the plane – and, oddly enough, everything else inside it – is. Which, once you start to think about it, is mind-blowing.

Image courtesy of notey.com.
Image courtesy of notey.com.

“Won’t people be able to kill her easily?” Deb asked.

“Well, the bullets would bounce off the exterior of the plane, invisible or not,” I explained. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

From there, the conversation devolved further.

D: So the invisible plane is also bullet proof?
M: One bullet won’t take down a plane. It’ll just develop a hole…which you will never see. So if a bullet pierces the fuselage and gas starts leaking out…DO YOU SEE THE GAS?? No, right? Because it’s not like you see it when the plane is fully loaded.
D: What about window washing fluid? And brake fluid? And oil?
M: What if there is an in-flight beverage service???
D: Do you need a special license to pilot an invisible plane?
M: An invisible license!
K: [trying to steer the conversation elsewhere] You guys need some cats right now. [Links to hilarious cat slideshow. This one, actually.]
M: What if Wonder Woman brought a cat aboard her invisible plane? Would the cat be invisible?
D: I DON’T KNOW. This is really messing with me right now. What’s real. What’s not.
M: This is a blog post. Thank you for the inspiration, Kimberly!

Believe it or not, it was actually a very productive afternoon. Productive in that, we learned all kinds of interesting facts about Wonder Woman’s invisible airplane. Did you know that it’s actually an allegory? Per Wikipedia,

The invisible plane represented the “invisible” feminine compliance that allowed women of the Depression Era to enter and survive in the hostile male dominated work place with less resistance from that hostility. To demonstrate this, it was allegorized that the Invisible Plane would be undetected while moving quietly at super sonic speeds so that it would not be shot down by the guns of Man’s World. The idea was avoidance of conflict rather than meeting hostility head on.

All along, I thought it was just an invisible plane.

I certainly never imagined some deeper hidden metaphor action was happening behind the scenes. But I have an even bigger question: Wonder Woman flies, right?

…so why does she need an invisible plane…?

Oh, Sheila

I was out walking on my lunch hour yesterday, phone in hand, which I was checking periodically. There is nothing unusual about this; I often look at my phone while walking, either to track my workout progress on MyFitnessPal or queue up my camera for potential photo opportunities. There were lots of people out and about, and many seemed to be smirking at me as I passed.

“Petruska,” I chided myself, “You are being paranoid.”

But the weird looks continued. And then it dawned on me why: they obviously thought I was swept up in the latest mega-craze, trying to catch Pokémon on my phone. I mean, that’s how it is these days. I can’t even go for a walk around the block without running into roaming packs of teenagers glued to their phones in pursuit of these virtual reality creatures.

Once I realized this, I got immediately defensive. I started overcompensating by laughing out loud and making random comments directed at my phone. Ha-ha, I chuckled. “Oh, Sheila!” The weird part is, I do not know anybody named Sheila (unless you count Prince’s former protege from the late 80s, Sheila E. And I can’t say I know her per se, but I have heard “The Glamorous Life” on the radio approximately three million times. That must count for something.) “Oh, Sheila” was simply the first thing that came to mind. Guess I had that old Ready for the World song lodged in my brain.

It didn’t help anyway. Now, instead of a guy chasing after Pokémon, I was a guy laughing to himself and talking out loud. I shoved my phone in my pocket and clammed up for the rest of my walk, but by that point the damage was done, the ridicule self-inflicted.

Gotta catch 'em all!
Gotta catch ’em all!

As far as crazes go, this Pokémon one came out of left field. About a week ago Audrey asked if I’d heard about it.

“Pokémon?” I asked in disbelief. “Wasn’t that popular about 15 years ago?”

It was, because Rusty used to collect and trade the cards. Seems quaint now in this mobile age. I think he had a Nintendo 64 game, too. I simply did not believe my daughter when she said that Pokémon was popular again. Now that I can’t walk around the block without running into packs of teenagers glued to their phones talking about Pikachu, I have to concede that she was right, after all.

I never would have imagined this happening.

And, okay. Confession time. I wasn’t just looking at MyFitnessPal. I was also – ahem – playing around with Snapchat.

Never would have imagined that happening, either.

But I work with a bunch of Millennials. Deb, in particular, was touting the virtues of Snapchat to me and Kimberly (who is a fellow Gen X-er). She convinced us to download the app and see if we liked it. In typical fashion I resisted for weeks.

And then got hooked.

badgalrihanna.w190.h190.2xWell, kinda. But not really. I think Snapchat is a fun diversion, but impossible to take seriously. The impermanence of it bothers me. I have a hard time getting over the fact that everything you send (or post) disappears in 24 hours. I know you have the option to download Snaps to your gallery now, but that’s an extra step and really, what’s the point? So I’ve been playing around with it, usually via videos and goofy-as-hell daily stories that chronicle my day, but I feel the novelty is already wearing off. Maybe that’s because few people my age use it? Other than my SIL Esther, who has fully embraced it. Tara joined too, but she’s even less enthused than I am. It’s tough to justify creating Snaps when you have at best two or three people viewing them before they self-destruct forever. I suppose if I had more friends using it things would be different, but we old folks just aren’t that into it.

Instagram is more my speed – I’m on there every day. (adios.ghost, if you’re so inclined to stalk me look me up). I don’t even post that much to Facebook anymore. It just seems to have lost its appeal over the past year. I like to follow my friends there, and enjoy looking back at my memories, but actual updates are rare. I can’t even really pinpoint why…I guess maybe it’s just mostly run its course for me? I seem to be experiencing a lot of “what’s the point?” feelings lately. I like the simplicity of Instagram. I’m a visual guy. I dig pretty pictures.

Especially ones that don’t disappear in 24 hours.