Summer Evenings

30 05 2012

This post was supposed to be an uploaded video I took when I went for a walk around my neighborhood the other night. As you can see, the video did not upload correctly (at all). I’ve noticed that WordPress hasn’t been accepting direct video uploads from my new phone. I’m not sure what the point of having the WordPress app is if it won’t let you do one-touch things like that, but no matter. I’ll just keep going as if I don’t care. Which I do. But, dissimulation, activate:

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Warm summer evenings are a double-edged sword. I’m most familiar with them from my junior and senior college years, when I lived off campus in houses that never used air conditioning because they were inhabited by intelligent college students who knew the one rule about using air conditioners: You never, EVER use the air conditioner because it costs a billion dollars.

Well, at least I’m fairly sure that’s a rule. I know that you can’t really standardize that sort of thing, but we certainly all seemed to be in agreement about the fact that we could never, EVER use the air conditioner because we were very cost-conscious. Keep in mind that these were the same college guys who would buy fast food five times a week.

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I love walking around a nice neighborhood on a warm summer evening. You can feel the gentle rush of air across your body as your pace quickens, but it never penetrates to actually chill you at all. It’s as if you’re continually being sprayed by a water bottle and a fan, only they’re invisible, and you don’t get wet.

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One thing I’ve inherited from my youth is a desire to save money in all sorts of situations. For instance, I won’t buy my favorite cereal unless it’s on sale. It can be on sale for just twenty cents less than it normally costs, and I generally decide that this “qualifies” as saving money. You know what I realized? I make money! I can buy my favorite cereal and spend that extra dollar fifty every two weeks because I’m saving money on a grander scale (which I am) and not being extravagant on a smaller scale (no fast food more than once a week). But I still won’t run the air conditioner.

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In the video that didn’t upload, I was walking in the general direction of my alma mater — the surrounding neighborhood is really nice — and I was whistling the theme song to “The Great Escape” with Steven McQueen. I remember watching the movie with my dad and being very disappointed when Steven’s character was apprehended amid barbed wire towards the end of the movie.

Back then, I didn’t really get what was being conveyed with his throwing the baseball in solitary confinement at the end of the film. I only knew that I wanted him to escape, and he did not. I wonder if I was better able to enjoy movies before I learned the nuances of film. The Sound of Music still moves me primarily because of the memories it stirs of watching the two VHS tapes we’d get from the library because the movie was so long that it had to be on two tapes.

I later found out that my Dad doesn’t care for that movie (or was it my aunt? I think they’ve changed their opinion back and forth over the years, but I know it resonates with them in a very different way than with me.)

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In the middle of hot, uncomfortable nights when even a sheet seems too suffocating, I am still grateful for warm summer evenings.





Disneyland Unfettered

18 12 2009

Randall and Cory and I and company show Disneyland what’s what:





The Nexus of Texas (and Lexus)

26 09 2009

The freeway system in Texas is horrible.  Actually, that’s not true.  There’s clearly no system in place at all, and there are often highways adjoining highways that lead to the same place and have the same names.  Would you like to take 360?  Sure!  Just take it, or the frontage road next to it (no, not the road named Frontage Road, which is a completely real name of a real road in Texas) and you will wind up at your destination, which happens to be an address ON THE FREEWAY.  I mean, I don’t know too many people who live at 1319 I-5, Los Angeles, CA, but apparently this is a normal thing in Texas because they have roads called freeways/highways (the distinction really means nothing down there, for all intents and purposes) that actually look exactly like the roads on those navigation system commercials that show people driving their convertibles high above the clogged freeway.  Except these roads are about 30 feet from the unclogged freeway, and are often impossible to get off of.  But you can always find a Whataburger.  Apparently they have good tacos, or so the locals told me.  Just what I was wondering.

Critters.  They have grasshoppers as big as your fist.  They have other things that I don’t know what they are except for all I know is they are huge and kind of cool until you see a parking lot littered with their crushed bodies, covered by a mist of the live ones hovering, ready to disembowel their brother and sister locusts.  Of course, this is the least of your problems when you have coyotes wandering around a mile from your hotel on the side of the highway.  (Granted, I’ve seen coyotes in Los Osos too, but you just don’t expect it in a “big city” area like Dallas.  Or Irving, technically.)  Also it was “bring your dog to the ballpark” day at Arlington, but we (thanks to Amy) got seats that weren’t quite as “interesting” as I’m sure the upper deck area was.  It was nice and warm that day too, which must have augmented the aura quite beautifully.  Incidentally, anyone who owned a Lexus got free valet parking at the Ballpark.  Of course, is it really free when you have to stand in line for thirty minutes to tip the valet who has to pick your car out among the horde of other silver Lexuses (Lexi?).

Demeanor.  I’ve taken four trips to Texas in the past ten years, and I’ve always been warmed by the affable and kindly manner in which I am approached.  Everyone from the cook at the barbecue buffet who told me to get a clean plate to the salty gentleman walking up to the stadium with us was as polite and easygoing as you could imagine.  It’s simply a given over there that you are neighbors with those around you.  Although I encountered some exceptions (we call them “jerks” here) at times, it was a pretty hard and fast rule that you will be treated with both familiarity and respect in most any situation.  Culturally, it’s one of the more attractive things about the area.

Weather.  While it was actually ok for most of our stay, (“ok” being high 80s, no rain, decent humidity) the potential for ice storms and triple digits at any given time is a little bit of a discouragement for those looking to emigrate.  Certainly, the lightning storms are cool to watch, but not when you’re wondering if you might have been just an inch too tall to be alive in ten minutes.  And the humidity, really.  I mean, John and I jogged our way to Cowboys Stadium just in time to see kickoff, but our clothes were absolutely soaked before we even sat down.  We’re talking actual liquid dripping noticeably from our shorts as we’re standing up during the national anthem.  I think sweat would work better as a coolant if it didn’t constantly remind you of just how hot you were in the first place.

Food.  I’m surprised people can actually buy life insurance in this state, since Taco Bell is probably the healthiest thing there.  Meat is a given at every part of every meal, and often the only part.  (Fogo de Chao being an obvious instance of the latter)  Their food comes swimming in barbecue sauce, fried, battered, buttered, glazed, and ready to be refilled as soon as your plate looks half-empty.  In case it isn’t obvious, this is a huge point in Texas’s favor.  I mean, shouldn’t all food be more like the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger?  Lots of potato salad, coleslaw, and Dr Pepper.  Dr Pepper.  Amy embarrassed us at one place by actually asking them if they served Dr Pepper there.  I assume she was also planning on asking if they served oxygen, but the subsequent wail of despair from the kitchen drowned it out.

Those are just some “high-lights” of the trip, but actually experiences will be put to paper (e.g. not paper) in the future.  I could see myself living there, though.  If not for Los Osos, that is.





Delayed Response

22 09 2009

I’d like to sort of apologize to the anonymous glob of “readers” out there whom I’ve kept waiting while I’ve been in Texas these past few days.

I’d like to, but I don’t really think I’m going to.  That’s the thing about velleity, you see.

How about a PICTURE INSTEAD?

DSCN3969





Alliwan

24 08 2009

The soothing bars of electric guitars

Shred my solemnity

While rhythmic drops of coffee pots

Subdue my animosity

Almond shards pervade my pages;

Adams would not be pleased

So hard to slake the

* * * *

And that is where WordPress refreshed, and lost the next 12 lines.  I can’t remember them perfectly, so forget it.

Stupid technology.





Patrick Kane Beats Up Taxi Drivers for $0.20

16 08 2009

Really, he does.

I’m on the cusp of big changes.  I’ll have to start writing a lot in the next month, but if things pan out (Lord willing) I could be entering a stage of great responsibility and great experience.

I would love to be in charge of something this big; it appears I will have that chance by September 11th.  I’ve waited, patiently and not, for over a year.  I’ve groaned, cried, complained and despaired over anything like this ever coming to fruition.

And while it hasn’t yet happened, and much could still change, I pray that I will be up to the task that now sits before me.

Pardon the pretentious dust, but I’m excited.  I even chose to drink an Americano this afternoon despite the rather unpleasantly evocative nature of the prospect; it was as bitter as I was (expecting it) to be.  But, like I could probably stand to do more often, I used my “treat receipt” (name courtesy of the cute/overly helpful barista) to engorge myself with a Frappuccino.  White mocha with caramel (the first and only way I have drunk something as repulsively delicious as a Starbucks Frappuccino) is now coursing through my veins, and I can’t imagine a better way to prepare myself for Sunday afternoon hockey.  Bring it on, boys.





Missiles

24 02 2009

Randall and I went to Downtown Disney the other night and enjoyed everything from the artificial smell of caramel popcorn to the tall tales of Jimmy.  I’ve been to Disneyland quite a few times, but there’s just something nice about having no intention to spend money and still having a really nice time.  I caught up on some of my reading in the Grand Californian while the piano man serenaded the visitors with ditties of synchopated Disney tunes and Elton John.  Actually, it was strange.  Good, but strange.  There’s something about the hotel’s spacious confines that really evoke my childhood.  I’m not sure why, but it was fairly nostalgic.  I plan on returning soon.

Lent is a strange time for me.  While some of my friends have talked about “giving something up” for the season, I always have this weird desire to keep my own intentions as muted as possible.  (Which of course means writing them here.  No danger of anyone noticing this.)  Many of my friends have a hesitant fascination with the idea of fasting, but their (and my) protestant background usually gives them pause before they go through with any actual fast.  I’ve yet to really “discover” the magical lenten spirit, as it were, but it is the only time of year when I honestly look forward to forsaking some of my greater pleasures.  The discipline is certainly no end in itself, but the strange, secular imitations of Lenten fasting often suggest otherwise.  Temperance is wise, but perhaps it is the thought of what such temperance implies that pushes away many of my friends from going through with it.

I’ve started dreaming (memorably) again lately, and it’s been a rare morning that hasn’t seen me waking up before my alarm with feelings of bemusement.  (That sentence just made me throw up, but I’m not changing it.)  I wonder if it’s just my inclination to melodramatics that has me thinking about my dreams so intensely;  I also wonder if it’s my guilty conscience begging for some supernatural reprieve.  On this of all Tuesdays, perhaps such reprieves are closer than I’m willing to admit.





The House of Broken Dreams

29 12 2008

During my first semester of my senior year, eight (later seven, thanks to DBA) of us lived in an ill-fated house in Fullerton that was later given its appropriate name by Micah: The House of Broken Dreams.  While the major catastrophic events have been well-chronicled, I still find myself wondering how we ever made it out of there…  Then I remember that we were kicked out by a landlord in danger of having her house repossessed, and I don’t wonder any more. We spent New Year’s Eve (and a day or two on both ends of that) staying up all night to clean and  pack and truck stuff over to the new place that remains fittingly unnamed to this day.

While there aren’t exactly a plethora of great memories to choose from when it comes to that place, I have easily chosen a favorite.  Perhaps it belies my consuming disdain for the proprietor of our house for those brief six months, but I have no choice but to share it:  It was, I believe, November.  On the morning of a sunny fall Monday, we heard a knock at the door.  As was our custom, a couple of us gathered around the door to greet what could only be a friend, surprising us with some unexpected gifts.  Instead, we were met by a squat, greasy man in a suit.  When greeted, he hurriedly began to enumerate the reasons that we needed to let him talk to the owner of the house.  We finally cut him off to say that we had been having trouble contacting her as well, but we could give her a message.  He then said that she had not been answering her phone, and that it was a very urgent matter about some dealings with the bank.  Responding to his stern warning with plaintive pleas of ignorance as to her whereabouts, Mr. Bank T. Squat was then ushered by our doorstep by the cacophonous cries of five college students who had just met a fellow victim of our mutual acquaintance’s incompetence.  Later on, it became clear to us that we had merely reaffirmed his concept of Imelda as a bumbling and foolish person; our plight meant less than nothing to this Fullterton financeer.  (alliteration virus quarantined)

Perhaps it’s not the most dramatic tale of woe to take hold upon your screen, but I do hope I have at least half-decently expressed my feelings of sardonic exuberance upon finding out that our deadbeat landlord was on the run from collection officers.  I mean, shoot man, we were half-sure that we were gonna wind up owning the place after that morning…

If we hadn’t met Brian (lawsuit indefinitely forestalled at this time) so soon afterwards, I surely would have hung Imelda’s sister’s business card (another great* story) at the head of the pantheon of heroic landlords by this time.  Instead, we were soon to encounter the inimitably maladroit stylings of Brian G., at your service.

Also, Boomers is like a rotting corpse containing rotting fruit fly corpses now.  Seriosuly, this place (which drove me to tears on a long-forgotten Saturday afternoon) now makes the Camelot off of the 57 look like the land o’ milk and honey.  Good thing I’ve served my 40 years.

*Definition pending





Cravings

25 11 2008

Micah won tickets and front-row passes/sentences to Scott Weiland in Hollywood tonight.

Really, it was everything I hoped it would be.  He even signed my cd after asking my name — and now I have a drunkenly-signed album cover from the lead singer of Velvet Revolver made out to either “Rod” or “Rog”.  Either way, I win.

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Why do people refuse to slake their desire for intimacy through means other than rash marriages?

*

The good that lies in front of me is currently superseding the pleasurable that lies behind me.  One can ask for little more than that.





Traversing and Conversing

2 09 2008

 

I finally did something over Labor Day weekend that enabled me to answer related inquires to a much more satisfactory degree. 

 

Specifically, I went on another backpacking trip and climbed another mountain. 

 

Photo taken from 11,000 feet.

Photo taken from 11,000 feet.

 

I’ll be honest: I didn’t exactly shine. At 13,891 feet, Mount Agassiz doesn’t exactly welcome you to its summit. The weekend also greeted us with winds that various travelers described in the 40-50 mph range. Combine that with the cold front and the elevation, and you have yourself a veritably miserable experience. My throat still faintly cringes when I breathe deeply, reminding the rest of my aching body how hard I pushed it over the weekend. As I was trailing everyone on the way down the mountain, my ragged breathing pained my pride as much as it did my heart. (my real heart, not my <B heart. Is that even an accepted emoticon?) I had done a bit of extra work to prepare myself for the weekend, but I realized even before I made it to the top just how inadequate my conditioning was for long hikes over 2.5 miles above the sea. 

I felt better after Daniel threw up, though. Even more so after Thatcher dry-heaved during the night. That was after I pleaded with him not to leave the tent in the middle of the night because I was convinced that an animal was waiting for him outside. The wind was bad.

Pictures are somewhere, sometime. Stories are many. For instance, we spent much of Saturday (after waking up at 3 a.m.) walking around Lone Pine while Thatcher’s oil pan got patched. Mount Tyndall (or Williamson or something else) really didn’t want us to come. So, we instead got to camp (free of charge) at a nice site near the trailhead to Bishop Pass while the nearby families welcomed us to their yearly gathering with loads of food and conversation before we settled in for the night. Until I got woken up by the aforementioned wind wrapping the side of the tent completely around my sleeping bag. 

I’ll give each traveler a sentence of praise, for posterity’s sake.

Kerry, who withstood the weekend with more fortitude and grace than perhaps any of us, drove the car home after Thatcher, Daniel and I all pled weakness and fatigue

Laura, who was on her third serious hike in as many weeks, happily cooked dinner for all of us Sunday night, as Daniel and Thatcher could do nothing but lie down while I stumbled around (literally) in a haze of dehydrated sickness.

Daniel’s encouragement and sympathy, despite our mutual incapacitation, helped me get down the mountain despite ailing lungs and weakening will, while his example inspired me to do likewise and get a huge ice cream cone on the way home. 

Thatcher led us all where we needed to go and kept a surprisingly cheerful temperament in spite of his sickness that inspired all of us to get a lot farther than we ever would have gotten ourselves.

Robert didn’t really sleep at all for three nights in a row, but successfully annoyed Daniel during the trip home by covertly swatting his head with the sun visor for over half an hour. 

Dulce Domum indeed.