Pushing Thirty

and shedding pretentions

Bears are Nuts!

I was in a convo last week with a good friend. Somehow we got on to bears. That topic usually turns into a lively talk because bears are notoriously crazy, and everybody has a better and better crazy bear story.

I was the first to reference Grizzly Man, the documentary about that guy that roamed the Alaskan wilderness with grizzly bears. He spent 15 summers with the bears before one ate him. I guess that means that bear attacks can be driven down to a pretty low percentage if you know what you’re doing. But here’s the salient point: it only takes one to make you wish you’d pursued computer engineering in college. Continue reading


December 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snow Night

Everybody thinks their world is flat until it snows. Take, for instance, my Kansas City milieu. I’d hardly noticed for months that my universe in a 5 mile driving radius floats upon a green sea of gently rolling hills. Driving, in my perception, was an exclusively lateral affair. But yesterday it snowed.

Driving in the snow is no big deal, at least not when it only snows an inch or two. The ice is the real danger. At seven this evening, the roads glazed over something fierce, and every pitch was harrowing.

Like the one that spun me around at 8 o’clock. Continue reading

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Selling Out

I just reread the story of Rehoboam, David’s foolish grandson.  I’ve read it lots of times, but last night i felt it. In the pit of my stomach, a gut-tumbling sensation took over, that sickening combination of it’s-too-bad-to-look and I’ve-been-there-myself. Continue reading

October 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skulls: A Cultural Acquiesce

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but skulls are in. If you want to be cool, get a shirt with a skull. Or a belt. Or draw some skulls on your canvas shoes. Probably a skull on a sundress would be cool, too: it’s way ironic.

So, what’s the deal with skulls on everything? They’re everywhere.

Like, a few weeks ago at an apparel store Bran pointed out a t-shirt I might like. It was a floral print. Hawaiian orchids. I rock Hawaiian Orchid floral prints. But I said, Honey, the bunch of flowers are in the shape of a skull. And, sure enough, she could see it after I said it.

And then, another time this summer, I saw a cute 3 year old girl with adorable blonde curls running around some suitcases at the airport. When her mother called her and she turned, I saw that the words Rock Star were written on her t-shirt. And below them was a grinning skull. It suddenly wasn’t so cute. Kind of grim, actually.

I’ve only got one guess as to why this is taking off. After the Black Plague killed half of Europe, there was a noticeable spike in skeleton art. A global plague has quite an effect on people’s world views, sort of like Lehman Brothers and Merill Lynch just suddenly going under. The rules had changed. Life was no longer as stable as everyone thought. It was like death took a big black marker and underlined “inevitable” five or six times in everyone’s script. For awhile people were just scared, but then they did what people do and got on with their lives, and incorporated tragedy into pop culture. So just after the Black Plague you see a lot of skull-art.

And maybe that’s what’s going on today, in post terrorism-attack America. Not that we’re out of the woods, but its been years since 9/11, and maybe that’s enough time to take the edge off the fear. And global tragedy like genocide in Africa is no longer shocking because the sustained drone of news reports has deafened us like factory machinery. And as a nation we just survived another round of hurricanes that made the levies swell and sent tropical storms to places as un-tropcial as Kansas. So maybe all of America, like pummeled insurgents slowly standing amidst the rubble with our hands in the air, are surrendering to reality.

We get it: we’re going to die.

Now would someone just buy me a graphic tee for Christmas, one with a skull in the middle of a coat of arms and something written in latin so I can die cool? And if that doesn’t quite do it, get me an iTunes gift card because there are some indie rock bands that would go great with my life-soundtrack: this year it’s melancholy and sombre and reflective , a pop-dirge, because its not hip these days to act like you’re going to live forever. You’ve got to get it through your thick skull that you could die tomorrow and today is all you got. So we surrender, but like movie stars in a Cold Play dawn.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | elegy, limitations, Religion, writing | 2 Comments

In Memoir-iam

Where you were, and what you did, because you can’t forget what day it is.

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Like White on Rice

Through an interesting (and unsolicited) blog linking system that WordPress generates, I made my way to a very funny blog called “Stuff White People Like.” My two favorite entries (after perusing more than I’d care to divulge) are on Grammar and Kitchen Gadgets.

The funniest part was that while reading “Grammar” I actually noticed that the author used a comma splice to introduce, as an afterthought, the comma splice as a rival white-peev to using the wrong kind of “there/their/they’re” in a sentence. (And yes, I do have a developed opinion on the Oxford comma).

And, after laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe at “Kitchen Gadgets,” and just as I was grasping the couch arm in an ecstasy of hilarity at the very last line that references William Sonoma, I actually thought, “well, they do have nice stuff.”

Yeah. I’m pretty white.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | journal, limitations, writing | 3 Comments

Six word Memoir?

It’s a new fad.  It’s a new book, even.  Can you sum up your life in just six words?  Here’s mine:

“Interstates bruised my youth and pride.”

Tell me yours.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Strong Silent Type

All I can say is that, as a writer, and as an introvert, I desperately wish that I had written this piece.  Enjoy.

Caring for your Introvert
by Jonathan Rauch

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him properly. Continue reading

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A Scarry Neighborhood

I like to read travel essays. So much so that a certain yearly anthology of great travel essays finds its way into my Christmas stocking each year as a perennially delightful gift (thanks mom, dad, sybs, and wifey-poo). My absolute favorite essay to date– having perused three or four anthologies, and a few subscriptions to “those kinds” of magazines– is an essay by Dave Eggers called Hitchhiking Through Cuba. The climax of the essay comes when he gives a provincial character (a dental assistant, if memory serves) a ride because she had lent out her bicycle. Not long after, he sees her again, now waving and riding her recovered bicycle. Eggers comments on this portrait of affable happenstance: Cuba has become a giant Richard Scarry Neighborhood. Continue reading

August 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Time Ever

I just had a peculiar “first time ever” today.  I went to brush my teeth  this morning and, because of a particularly greasy breakfast, was brushing more vigorously than usual.  At one point mid-scour, the bristles of my toothbrush flicked off my molars with such gusto that they released a fine, minty-fresh Mist into the atmosphere around my head.

And then, yes, I got toothpaste in my eye.  First time ever.

It burns a little less than shampoo and a little more than shave gel.  (Don’t ask about the shave gel; no, my beard does not go as high as my bottom eye lid.)

August 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment