You May Be Right

This is called foreshadowing, folks...

This is called foreshadowing, folks…

“The unexamined life is not worth living, man” –Demetri Martin

It has been since March last I darkened this particular internet doorway. Apparently having fun is no reliable bridge-troll on one’s path toward the flight of time. But there has been some fun, kiddos…fear not.
My family and I have moved from the Garden Island to the Emerald City (Emerald City adjacent) after only lasting one half of one year in paradise. I guess we’re just purgatory types; who knew? I have yet to determine whether or nether the leaving of the Island County of Kauai belongs in the W (win) or L (loss) column of life. My honest suspicion is that it’ll land in the WGAF (who gives a fuck) column. This is a column reserved for the score-keeping of existential crises too complicated to solve in the years I’ve been allotted. It’s best just to move on. Mayhaps I’ll revisit the issue.
I had hoped to get more writing done during my time in Hawaii, but like my friend Matt says: “There’s a reason why the folks from island paradises didn’t take over the world” (do not allow the quotes to fool you, that was a paraphrase…a poor paraphrase). The point being: warm, satisfied, happy people aren’t long on lofty ambition. Those ambitions are best left to cold, white, sexually repressed folks–you know–like they got in Europe. And he is right. It is rare when Matt is wrong about such. I did manage to get some writing done for the natural foods store where I was employed for the bulk of my stay. I was the lead copy writer and editor for the blog that accompanied their website…our website. This was and is no small source of pride for me. I even wrote this post which inspired a woman to tears. She shared this moment with me while I was ringing her up at the counter (I was also a cashier, and a shift manager, as well as a closer. But I’ve already bragged about that position so I won’t bore you) having no idea that I was the post’s author. This was the single greatest highlight of my writing career to date. A close second, my meeting Walt Morey–author of: “Gentle Ben” and “Run Far, Run Fast”–when I was in grade-school. He also authored: “Sandy and the Rockstar”, but at this point I’m showing off–sounding like all of the other needy and desperate Walt Morey groupies or “Morey-Whoreys”: as we are wont to call ourselves. At any rate, it was huge for me.
While on the island, I made a grip of great friends and three of the best friends a boy could want. The final reckoning of a short history of all things me might reveal that I lost more friends than I gained during that period of my life. I face said with no regrets. But, again, the numbers aren’t in.
Jesus and I broke up while I was there. That makes it sound like an event. It was not an event, it was a series of events, spanning somewhere between 5 and 10 years. The chronology is squirrely(It’s a squirrel!). We still love each other. I’m just not apologizing for things about which he’s never considered. Also, I’m not constantly pestering him to put in a good word for me with his old man. My indifference toward god has been a source of consternation more for his (or her, ladies?) followers than for the actual being who seems to be unaware of my disbelief…much like my prior belief. More on this up coming.
Tangential Aside Alert: I think, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that “facial scrub” model is the toughest modeling gig out there. Have you ever noticed that these heroic women are rubbing what amounts to sand all over their faces whilst smiling ear to ear? Practically beaming, really. I use an apricot scrub to promote the radiant glow of my pallid, Irish, pock-marked crater-face. When I use this scrub, I imagine myself looking like Gilbert Gottfried. Like Gilbert Gottfried receiving a prostate exam. From a gigantopithecus. Like a gigantopithecus somehow mustered his (or her, ladies?) way through med school and somehow through an horrific karmic tale of woe became the family practitioner in charge of Gilbert Gottfried’s prostate exam. And the ape has an OCD habit of needing to use two fingers. No one knows why this is, but most suspect it’s on account of Aladdin. This is how I imagine my face looks while using an abrasive facial scrub. So, yeah, those ladies are pretty much heroes…suck it, fireladies (or men, fellas?).
I’m not sure what is to become of this blog. I may be over it, and you might be too. I’m not sure. I’m still writing the short-story from which I shared the first two chapters on this very page. But I will not be posting the ensuing chapters here. I plan on finishing it and handing copies out to some folks (who may be tortured–your play, Obama.) for their frank and intelligent consideration. It just seems like a more productive plan.
So here we are. If you are disappointed in my lack of prolifery (not to be confused with pro-lifery…I’m not anti-life either–don’t get the wrong idea–I love life, mostly. rather this is a modification of the term: “prolific” with which the human language mill has yet to ketchup), I am truly sorry. I did not see this coming either. But we are moving forward. The muse, she mumbles and–when I am not being a lazy pile of waded shit-stained toilet paper–I listen, usually. But hey, you know what they say, progress and some other stuff…

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Live Free or Break Hard: The 4th in a Series: Breaking Hard is Up to Do

My possessions...

My possessions…

“Your part can be the king, but unless people are treating you like royalty, you ain’t no king, man.”  –Jeff Bridges

We’ve moved in to our new place.  Our stuff is shoe-horned in to a cottage-like 800 square foot ohana-unit.  An ohana-unit is an addition to the main house…sort of like a mother-in-law house…it can be attached or not attached…ours is attached.  Essentially it’s a duplex that doesn’t play fair.

I show up to check the place out, having taken possession of the keys.  I meet my neighbor.  He tells me he is the rightful heir to the throne of Hawaii…or Kauai?…it’s complicated.  He tells me that on his grandmother’s deathbed she prophesied that he would be the man to take the throne, ushering in the new iteration of the kingdom of Hawaii.  I posit that when said happens he will wish he hadn’t received so many shitty tattoos.  He is a large Polynesian man…so I posit this silently, to myself.  I am in no position to piss-off the future heir.  Beyond that, there is some doubt in my mind concerning the king’s mental stability.  He tells me that he owns half of Oahu and the bulk of Kauai.  He tells me he is a Tahitian pearl dealer who travels often.  He tells me that the government tried to take his life when he lived in California so he fled to Lihue.  He tells me that the local government is afraid of him when he darkens the doors of council meetings.  He tells me that he is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army.  I believe that last bit to be true.  As for the rest–I’m skeptical.  I treat him like the king of Hawaii.  There is no shame in bet-hedging.

I have a new job working as a “closer” at a locally-owned natural food store.  The “closer” position is quasi-janitorial.  I work, for the most part, while the store is still open preparing the place, for the final hour after closing, to mop the entire store and put all the furniture and implements for the following day’s events in their place.  I know, it sounds glamorous…because it is.  I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence via the assertion that I don’t want to sound braggy.  I love to brag.  But, in all seriousness, I do love my job.  The work is honest, and my co-workers are super-nice.  Like: I’m-being-punk’d-level nice (to “borrow” a Daniel Tosh-ism).  The customers are nice, for the most part.  There exists a small faction of passive-aggressive, angry hippies.  Natural food stores have a way of creating said.  The evil hippies are a manageable inconvenience.

The job awakened muscles long dormant.  I have an unhealthy relationship with sedentism…it’s abusive, really.  I also started collecting bruises on my arms like merit badges celebrating my ignorance of physics.  I tend to treat the implements of any job that I do, even the simplest machines, as though they are the guards of my imprisonment.  Because they are.  I shove them around, unaware of the path of least resistance, choosing–instead–the shortest looking path, and abusing my person in the process; until I am riddled with bruises.

TANGENTIAL-ASIDE ALERT:  There has been a ton of ink–and no inconspicuous amount of imagination–wasted on the concept of machines, having gained sentience, taking over the world and ruling humans like heartless over-lords.  Needlessly complicated much?  Machines rule over us sans self-awareness.  Not because they’re clever, but because we place so little value on self-awareness.  A man watches his favorite show on “his” television.  During a commercial break the T.V. tells him that it is a piece of shit and that he should get a new one.  “The T.V. makes a valid point,” thinks the man.  “What am I–some stupid monkey that happily watches an inferior television?!”  “I’m fucking better than this!”  The new T.V. tells him his phone is a piece of shit.  The new phone tells him to plug it in.  “I’m starting to lose my motivation…I need to be fed,” it whines.  “Plug me in then we can go get a new car, you know, one of the ones in which you can control me from the steering wheel…we deserve that much.”  The new car is now in on the racket.  “I need new oil, and you really shouldn’t wash me with such an abrasive detergent.  What the fuck are these, stock wheels?  The idiots at the factory put these on, you’re smarter than those idiots.  Aren’t you?  Of course you are.”  You get the point: machines rule us and they’re simpletons.  Just like us.

At any rate, I do not play well with machines.  It is an injurious shortcoming.  I’m working on it…slowly.

I’m not outdoorsy.  This has only become more evident in Kauai’s immodest setting.  She just keeps trying to get my attention and I give her none…well, very little, to be honest.  I play the unimpressed house-wife to her needy, preening husband.  We are more comfortable with our roles than we care to admit…at least I am.  It feels like a character flaw, not going to the beach every chance I get.  Because it is.  But, it is one of my least obtuse flaws.  It affects me alone–generally.  I have been to the beach around a half-dozen times.  Over the span of thirty-ish days, that’s not bad…for me.  My family love to be outside, so I try my best…I try the best I’m willing to try, which is decidedly south of my actual best.  I try…kind of.

The most popular question asked of me is: “Where are you from?”  Quickly followed by: “I’ve heard the Seattle area is beautiful; why would you want to come here?”  I tell them that Seattle is beautiful…that it is like the super-popular cute girl everybody loved in high-school…gorgeous and vapid…who inexplicably goes through a goth period.  Now, granted, the goth version of this girl is way more interesting to talk to, and we love her intensity.  But nobody wants to have that heavy a conversation for three-quarters of the relationship…it’s about balance, folks.  This description is followed by blank stares and uncomfortable chuckles.  For a second, I am the goth girl.  And it feels delicious…

Breaking Hard is Up to Do With a Vengeance

Dying broke in paradise...

Dying broke in paradise…

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” –Arnold Bennett

So we did it.  The house sold.  We packed up a shipping container with all of the shit we could stomach…plus a bit more (come on, we’re ‘Mericans), and left the mainland for the Garden Island in the archipelago known as Hawai’i.  We are a week-ish in and I can say, with little hesitation (only the amount allowable by prudence, and my inability to commit to anything, including my own thoughts), it is foreign.  Everything is different…even more so than I expected.  And I love it.  That is, when I’m not consumed with hating it.

Moving to Kaua’i reminds me of my first try at surfing.

It was a cold Saturday morning.  The time was 6 in the morning…yes: 6.  I was standing knee-deep in a body of water that is, on average, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4444444 Celsius), give or take a variance so miniscule it requires no more of your time, called the Pacific Ocean, off the beach in the town called Westport, Washington.  The jetty was to my right as I gazed toward Japan.  There was a low cloud bank and I could not see my friend Smitty that well…I could only hear his derisive chiding (a form of surfer encouragement meant to draw you deeper into the water).  I was anxious, but in no real danger.  The surf was mild (about 3-5 feet), I was rocking a full wet-suit (borrowed w/ no gloves, hood, or boots), and I had a long board (the length of which I can’t recall, but I was assured that one could “get up on it in a swimming pool” which is to say: it was stable).  The under-tow or rip-tide was unappreciable.  Still, I hesitated.  I think I mentioned this before, but it bears the weight of repetition: it was cold.

There is a world of separation, in terms of commitment, with regard to being knee-deep in cold water (any temperature south of 98.6, really) and balls-deep.  But if you want to surf, you gotta get your balls wet.  This, of course, doesn’t apply to you, ladies…nor does it relieve you of the hook.  Any lady who has surfed cold water can tell you that their lack of testicles makes surfing cold water no more comfortable.  The Northern Pacific Ocean is nothing if not an equalizer.  It posses the special ability to make everyone’s private parts, regardless of how affable and outgoing they are in everyday life: shy.  ERA?  YES!  That being said, there is no time, not in Chronos, nor Kairos, that can be aptly described as: “the right time” to get one’s privates wet with 40 degree water.  This is an epiphany that strikes one when building up the courage to go deeper at 6 in the morning standing knee-deep in the springtime waters off the coast of Washington state.  But you know the old adage: “If you want to surf, you gotta get…”, you get the idea.

Everything in Kaua’i is an exercise in the preceding concept.

There is no time that feels like: “the right time” to do any of the things I have to do.  Everything from looking for a car, looking for a house, looking for a job, whatever, requires me to push the boundaries of depth at which I am comfortable.  And I am faced with the struggle of resisting the temptation to shrivel into myself every single morning.  It is the kind of discomfort that I need.  There-in lies a noble impetus to get outside of my head and meet with people on an unlevel playing field where “white privilege” is not a thing…in as much as this privileged white person can tell.  I have been 20 years out of practice in procuring any of these things from a square even near the number 1.  And I am at square one…plus a little start-up cash.  But here cash means a lot less than an 808 prefix in your phone number.  I thought I had a willingness to change everything…to go with the flow…but my phone number that has followed me for a decade plus 2?  I don’t know…

It’s petty, I’m aware.

It would be impossible for you (my lovely half-dozen to one-full-dozen readers) to over-estimate how much I under-estimated this move…but what do you do?  My suit’s already wet in the worst possible way…

Who I Am is Who I am or What?

Honesty...

Honesty…

“I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.” –Tom Waits

I’m not sure what to say…I’m writing because I know if I don’t it might be awhile before I do again.  That’s the way I roll.  Laziness is the “resting-face” of my behavior.  I’m okay with that.  I’m 40 years old and I’m starting to be comfortable with who I am.  I know; better late than never.  Not: “I’m more good than bad–so–I can’t be all that bad” comfortable.  More like: “good and bad aren’t really quantifiable, but I’m not embarrassed by either–I’m only sorry for the people I’ve hurt” comfortable.  I don’t want to hurt people.  I don’t really want to not not hurt people either…least-wise not efficaciously.

Truth is, in some cases I do want to do things that might hurt people.

My plan for this post was to draw parallels between The Bible’s Jonah and the weirdo Gastonguay family of Arizona.  Have you heard of these folks?  They were really tired of–what they viewed as–an overstretch, by the federal U.S. government, into their religious liberties.  I know, shocking…generally folks from that region are so level-headed…

They decided the only answer was to board a small sailing vessel and head toward an island in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Hawai’i and Australia.  Easy-peezy, as they say.  With an 8 month old.  Less easy-peezy.  And no real plan on how to accomplish this task.  God-mode (hehehe: Doom references).  They said that they’d: “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us [them]” (I’m pretty sure that they didn’t all decide that)…

They got lost at sea on a boat that was badly beaten, and nearly sunk, by the storms they’d endured(a biblical-plague number)–until some Venezuelans rescued them.  Long story short, God led them right back to Arizona with no boat and a $20,000 debt for “travel” costs; which I’m confident they’ll pay because if there’s one thing I know about political conservatives it’s that they always take responsibility for their actions…

They’re planning on leaving again…

Which means they’re just a little more obtuse than Jonah who got the point after being puked up on a shore having spent, somewhere in the neighborhood of, 72 hours in the stomach of a giant whale.  Note: If the thought–“It wasn’t a giant whale, it was a big fish”–just crossed your mind, you should realize that that distinction does not make the story sound less crazy.

Are we clear, literalists?

Aces.

That was my story–poking fun at Arizonan Tea-Party Conservative Evangelicals.  Like punching someone in the dark.

But then I realized doing that would probably lead me to areas of my mind where hurtful things are stored.  So I decided not to do that.  In that spirit: please disregard the bulk of the preceding paragraphs.

I have my own issues with hearing the call of God…whatever that means.

My friend Matt once told me that I was a “yes” guy.  He went on to explain that “yes” people say yes to things unless there is an obvious reason to say no.  As opposed to “no” people whose “resting-face” answer is no, provided no compelling reason to say yes arises.  I’m not sure if that is true about me.  I know I felt a certain sense of pride when he said that.  So it’s safe to say: I wish it were true.

Maybe that’s just the way God talks to me.  Maybe God just throws shit my way, knowing that I always say yes.

I’ve learned over the years that the more I learn about the world and people and God, the less I know about all of them.

I’ve also learned that knowing less isn’t such a big deal.  The “knowing” is an artifice to which I’ve grown accustomed, it is nice to look at, but it offers no sheer-strength.  It just sits there, hanging off of life, waiting for an earthquake to unleash its potential as a person-crushing pile of rubble…

Breaking Hard is Up to Do part 1: Breaking Hard

The Garden Island...like the New Jersey of the archipelago...

The Garden Island…like the New Jersey of the archipelago…

I wouldn’t mind the rat race – if the rats would lose once in a while.” –Tom Wilson (creator of Ziggy)

My house is short for time.  We are two weeks from putting our house on the market (a month later than I anticipated).  This mark seemed like an eternity two months ago.  But it was no eternity…in the midst of erosion-paced days and lightning-quick years the two months passed in no time.  And now shit has gotten very very real around here.  It is quite likely that my family and I are about two months from moving to Kaua’i.  Two months?  That’s like an eternity from now. 

The house has been a whirlwind of activity lately.  I haven’t been writing a lot of new content; I’ve been dealing with the to-do list around the house.  I plan to journal here a bit about the days leading up to the big move.  I know I have only tread lightly on the topic of this move here, but what do you say concerning something you’re trying to avoid thinking about.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.  It’s more that I’m always thinking about it but never acknowledging it.  The whole thing is so over-whelming.  Change is something for which I–simultaneously–clamor and fear, a paradox that a young Alanis would call ironic…and maybe it is, in Canada. 

The nut of it is: my family and I are selling our house and a large chunk of our earthly possessions (hopefully a large chunk), and moving down to The Garden Island to help start a church community with our longtime friends Jeff and Kim Adams.  We are doing this with some of our other longtime friends (I think nine-ish families in all); several of whom have already relocated to the island.  While it is exciting to be a part of something to which I believe God has called us, it is also stressful and scary.  Maybe it sounds arrogant that I believe God is calling me to something.  I don’t mean to be arrogant.  I believe the call of God has more to do with His story than the qualities of those called.  My greatest qualification in this endeavor is mere willingness.  Were willingness a virtue, I’d be sainted.  You know…if I were into that sort of thing.  My willingness is not really very pure.  It is, in large part, born of my own lack of imagination, or an insatiable appetite there for. 

On top of the move, this week has its own excitement.  My wife and I are celebrating our 19th year of marriage today, June the 4th.  Saturday, up-coming, I’ll be celebrating 40 years of being alive.  My 4 year old daughter will be starting in her first pre-school class, set to last the duration of June.  And my 5 year old daughter will be participating in her first “Field Day” at school.  This Field Day thing has given me reason for anxiety.  I hated Field Day.  I have the physique and natural athletic ability of a person who hates Field Day.  Maychance my daughter will do better in these sorts of endeavors…it would be impossible to do worse.  I don’t know how they do the whole rewarding superior athleticism thing these days.  In my day, it seemed humiliating.  Just a lot of other kids with ribbons.  I hope that if this is the case for Lu she at least has a better perspective about it than I did as a kid. 

I’ve turned into one of those annoying parents that enjoys kids sports where-in no one pays much attention to the score.  Not because I think the presence of winners has the potential to hurt the feelings of the losers (of which I generally was one), but because it sends the message that Field Day or Little League or Jr. Soccer actually matters.  When I was a kid, I thought that a red or a(maychance to dream)blue ribbon was an identifiable achievement about which I could brag through the summer.  I found out that it was much ado about nothing.  But I digress…we are a society who places a high importance upon victory even when it is symbolic.  And who knows, maybe Field Day is one of those things that teaches us a skill-set uniquely tuned to the pitch of the rat-race.  I learned much about the rat-race from my Field Day experience.  Chiefly: Fuck the rat-race.  It would be a proud moment in my life should my daughter learn a similar lesson.  But I digress even further…

So here it is post number one in a series documenting my break-up with the most enduring love of my life…The Olympic Peninsula.  I never imagined I would actually leave this place.  Now I can’t imagine staying.  Not because I don’t like it here, but because I don’t think I’m supposed to stay.  Great stories thrive on tension…