Friday, November 25, 2011

beachy keen

"New day. New outrage."

~~Bil Boyd

waves on the beach.

they never stop. one pretty much like another. with the occasional tsunami to break up the monotony.

it could get damn tiresome, if people didn't love the beach so much.

you know what else people like?




thanks to our nonstop news cycle and general obsession with celebrity scandal football reality survival dance-offs, we're in a constant state of uproar over something or other. every day.

this is, in part, because the 1% who own our media find it profitable to continually stir us up. they broadcast something provocative and loud, we howl at the moon. or the television, as the case may be.

this is also, in part, because of our collective tendency to react to whatever perceived threat is most immediate. back in the day, it was the saber tooth tiger prowling outside the cave.

now it's a politician or some foreigners or a former assistant football coach. lather endlessly, rinse, repeat.

for those who do the stirring, there is no limit to the exhausting supply of outrages. not a day goes by that someone somewhere is doing something illegal, reprehensible or otherwise objectionable. should that day ever come, a suitable outrage will be manufactured.

if you, like me, are prone to regular fits of high dudgeon, the only way to reduce your dudgeon levels is to remove yourself from the line of fire. take the pot off the stove. unplug. decontaminate.

trouble is, doing so also takes you out of the game, civic responsibility-wise. if you don't know that your elected officials are rigging the game in favor of their wealthy benefactors, it never occurs to you to protest.

which, of course, sets in motion counterprotests and chain reactions and fresh outrages, during which most with short attention spans forget what was being protested in the first place. they just know that it all hasn't been wrapped up in time for the next very special episode of "dancing with NFL survivors," and there's no quick fix or happy ending, and they find it all very boring and annoying.

and so it goes.

it's a very successful formula. just like waves on the beach. one pretty much like another. on and on.

with this in mind, there is a hawaiian proverb that is strangely applicable across a multitude of life's little adventures: mai juli’oe I kokua o ke kai.

"never turn your back on the ocean."

Friday, November 04, 2011

there's a hole in the bucket...

turns out, i have a bucket list.

i wasn't even aware that i had one one until a couple days ago, when i realized i can't remember buying groceries in minnesota.

the missus and i lived there, north of st. paul, for about three years. and while i'm pretty sure we bought food on more than one occasion during that time, i can't remember it. i have no memory of grocery stores near our house, nor any grocery chains in the state.

this is weird. i mean, i have distinct memories about every place i've lived since i was about five years old. i remember the childhood homes, the dorm rooms, the apartments, the condos, and the houses my wife and i dumped loads of money into. i can clearly see many of the avenues we drove, the offices we complained about, the restaurants we loved.

i have vivid mental pictures of multiple grocery stores in every one of these places...except minnesota. maybe because the entire state is a vast frozen food aisle.

which brings me to my bucket list, such as it is: i want to revisit our old haunts north of st. paul and see if there are, in fact, grocery stores there. my theory is that there are.

moreover, i want to revisit the significant places i've lived from age five on. i want to see the houses, the neighborhoods, the mountains, the lakes and the bays. i want to eat at the restaurants and tip a glass to the people and the places gone by.

i want to refresh the memories, one last time, before they disappear from my brain altogether.

ideally, i'd do this in chronological order, starting with the little house on albion street, from which i walked to lewis ames elementary school. we moved from that house when i was eight, but i still remember the phone number: 771-2868. see, nothing wrong with my memory.

from there we'd head to apple valley, minnesota, where the snow drifts on the north side of the house were as tall as the garage. you could build some great snow caves in those drifts. also, i'd visit the baseball fields where our little league team won a championship. and woman lake, where we fished for walleyes and (unsuccessfully) hunted ducks.

next stop, colorado, and the house where my parents still live (hi, mom). this trip would include tours of isaac newton jr. high and the high school i haven't visited since graduation. i'd like to play golf at south suburban golf course (even though i haven't golfed in years), or better yet, just walk the stream that meanders through the course, looking for golf balls. we spent many hours doing that, back in the day, and every ball we found was a thrill. it never got old. i bet that'd still be true.

we'd have to spend a couple days in boulder, taking a quick look at the williams village dorms, wandering through campus. i'd really have no choice but to knock on the door of w-7 at the grandview apartments. it's safe to say there's nowhere on earth that i laughed more, or harder, than that apartment. good lord, we cracked each other up. apparently the older one gets, the fewer things one finds amusing. or maybe too much unfunny stuff begins weighing on the scale. either way...i miss laughing like that.

i lived in phoenix for three and a half years, in five different apartments. strangely, i don't feel the need to revisit any of them.

skipping around now.

san francisco. i visit the city once a year or so, and never have time to see anything but the inside of hotels and the moscone center. i would so like to see our apartment at chestnut and broderick. with beautiful tilework and lots of room, it was a lovely place...if you could get past the deafening tour buses and the earthquakes.

the condo we moved to after one such quake was nicer still, with stunning views across the bay to the city. truly idyllic..if you could get past the squabbling skunks in the crawl space and the midnight sprayings that rolled through the ventilation system.

raleigh, north carolina. our first house was on a golf course, where we'd take long evening walks with the big dogs after the golfers had gone home. the lot (and the one we bought behind us) was quiet and dense with trees...many of which landed on and around the house during hurricane fran.

our second raleigh house was on an acre lot heavily wooded with loblolly pines. it was less wooded after several ice storms snapped off the top-heavy pines 50 or 60 feet up the trunk. it made quite a ruckus in the middle of those winter nights: snap! {silence} crash! we would've fled to a hotel, except that it was the middle of the night and, you know, the roads were covered in ice.

come to think of it, the carolina house i'd really like to see again is one where we vacationed on the outer banks. preferably not during hurricane season. first stop, provisions at the weeping radish brewery, after which...well, it doesn't really matter.

now that the wheels are grinding, more places are flooding to mind. some i'd like to see again (like the splendid house near paia on maui, and an outrageous cayman island villa); some, not so much (sorry, laramie, wyoming).

i think if i started now, and if money were no object, and if the irony gods didn't go all medieval on me, i might be able to check most of these places off the list before i'm done.

but since i can't just pick up and start now, and since money is a factor, and since the irony gods are just so hilariously ironical...there's no telling how many of these little visits will be achievable.

in which case, i'm willing to stipulate the existence of grocery stores in minnesota, in exchange for tickets to any of the aforementioned beaches.

check, please.