Thursday, July 24, 2014


Last night, Garrick and I went to a concert.

If you haven't heard of Jay Brannan, you should give him a listen.

He's a melancholy sort of guy. His stage presence is calm, with a certain jitteryness that is so damn endearing. I appreciate his lukewarm demeanor: there's a gentleness to him, tinted with small tinctures of sadness, that give his aura a much more approachable feel.

Compared to his tour-mate, Bitch (seriously that's her stage name), and her partner, DJ Alligator, Jay is far more relatable. With a name like that, though, you can't expect to feel too enamored. Still, Bitch possesses a humanness all her own. She's fun, for one, and more than willing to connect with her audiences. I think the latter is pretty important, especially in an intimate venue like Triple Rock.

My favorite thing about Jay, not counting his soothing voice, comfortable attire, and heart-breaking songs: his barbie toe. Oh, you're not familiar with the concept?

Allow me.

Barbie toe is a term that was first introduced to me via America's Next Top Model. It's a phrase that describes the pointing of one's foot to appear as though it might fit into a Barbie's stiletto shoes. It's an easy trick to elongate your legs and maintain a more poised, high fashion elegance.

And Jay is excellent at it.

Rarely ever did I spot a slip in the barbie toe. Especially in the right foot. It was always posed, heel-up-toes-down, a steep and beautiful angle between his ankle and world.

And, damn, doesn't it make you want to buy those shoes?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day CLVIII: Sickening

Too many days, we fall down and lose the inspiration to stand back up.

It's nice to have the reminder that it's okay to make mistakes, as long as you remember that standing back up is most of the battle.

(If you don't know who Latrice Royale is, I suggest you go here and EDUCATE yourself.) 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day CLVII: Told

It's like walking through the heat all day with no water

Lately, I've had a great deal of success with my book choices. Nearly everything I've stumbled upon, paged through, or picked up has been remarkable.

Still, we have our favorites. And even in the midst of stellar selections, there are titles that are more poignant than others.

For me, Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You is that book. Ng's story chronicles a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio. Immediately--page one--the reader is told that Lydia, the oldest daughter of the Lee family, is dead. The following pages disclose a grieving family, long-kept secrets, and a stunning-sometimes-agonizing portrait of one family's struggle to move on. Filled with distressing family dynamics and several helpings of tragic, compellingly readable relationships, Everything I Never Told You is a thoughtful look at how we break and how we mend.

To me, the heart of Ng's work is the pain of the secret. 

The secret that binds us, that exclude us, that haunts us, that breaks us, that defines us.

Renowned physician Paul Tournier wrote, "Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets."

And I think he had a point.

Or losing in an argument, can't get your thoughts in order

Vulnerability is a word I throw around a lot on this space. And I don't think it's too far removed from "secret." In a sad sort of way, they're opposites. When you're a practicing, vulnerable person, you cannot subscribe to secrets, at least not very often. When you do, there is this immense and painful guilt, a tumor festering inside your stomach, aching to be cut out.

Someone hand me the scalpel.

Oh, the truth spills out

And perhaps I live alone on this planet of secretlessness. 

But I doubt it.

And while there are times I feel that sickening pit swell within me and choose to go on living with its constant, pecking reminder, I'd rather not.

Sometimes, it's hard to open up your mouth and let those around you share in that misery.





Oh, I, I've told you now

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day CLVI: Scout

I was working at Subway when my dad picked Scout up ten years ago.
He was picking me up after a rather long shift, and I nearly sat on top of her as I climbed in to the front seat. I remember how calm and friendly she was sitting there, just a little bundle of love and puppy breath, all nose and ears.

"Is she ours?!"

Of course she was. It was a dumb question and my dad made me feel silly for even asking. It's not like you just take a dog that damn precious on a trial. No, Scout was no trial dog, she was already a member of the family.

The older lab we had at the time, Katie, was my dog. Initially, we picked her up because Erick was dead-set on having a puppy. But as Katie aged and attached herself to the members of our family, it was pretty clear that she belonged to me. So when we introduced Scout to the family, I didn't think we would be particularly close. Katie already had that spot in my heart (and on my bed). 

When Katie passed, less than a year after picking up Scout, I was already exceptionally close to the tiny ball of energy. Like Katie, Scout always had her nose to the ground and a tennis ball in her mouth. If she wasn't in the water fetching sticks, she was tossing her toys around for her own enjoyment, throwing and receiving all on her own. She had energy and spunk, and was exceptionally loyal and obedient. 

Basically, she was ideal. The perfect dog. The kind of animal and friend that you spend a lifetime searching for and happen upon in only the most beautiful twists of fate.

Cynthia Rylant's book Dog Heaven is the sort of text you never want to read, but sometimes need. 

And this Sunday is one of those days.

When I think of Scout, my mind goes right to our very first Thanksgiving with her in the family. 

Black Friday, actually. My family decided to go shopping or were running errands or out on a drive. I can't seem to remember the precise reason I was the only one in the house. Regardless, I walked up the stairs from my room in search of some leftovers. When I reached the landing, however, and glanced over at the kitchen island, I noticed the foil and plate containing the stuffing and turkey was all askew. And there, just feet away, tail-wagging back and forth, paws splayed behind her like a frog, was Scout. 

The only difference? Where her smiling face usually beamed was, instead, a turkey carcass, stuck on top of her head. The poor thing had gotten the turkey stuck on her head. It was straight out of A Christmas Story

I think she was plumper in those two days following than she was at any other point in her life. She basically ate herself to near-death.

Over the fourth, I was lucky enough to see Scout in Walker. I can't help but think her efforts to hold on were for me. And for that, I will always be grateful.

For my baby Scout, my little perfect lab. 

You were and will forever be the best.

And you will be missed beyond words.

Day CLIV: Island

On the second day of our north shore adventure, we were lazy.

No, really, we were. We watched Anchorman and took a nap after lunch. That's how lazy.

But, we were also adventurous. And rather than tell you about how nice it was to be completely relaxed, doing nothing so well, I think it's more fun to talk about a journey Mike and I took to an island.

Standing at the marina in East Beaver Bay, at the very end of the cul-de-sac, you are graced with the above view. An expansive stretch of Lake Superior, cut into by a jumble of massive boulders and rusty, moss-covered rocks. And at the very far end of this path-that's-not-really-a-path: Pellet Island.
The only way to access the island is via these rocks. Getting near the island with a boat proves exceedingly dangerous, and to do so would almost certainly mean the destruction of your ship. So you walk. You hike. You clamber as best you can across the rocks to an island far, far in the distance.

It's too bad it's so ugly out there, right?
When you reach the base of the island, you hop from the rocks and onto a small landing of green and stone. Awaiting you, in a tiny corner of the island, a bundle of downed-trees and rope. Using these, you climb. You hoist yourself up and over the edge of the plunging cliff and on to the top of the island. From there, a path forks and winds across the walkable areas on top of the stony mass. Grasses tower over you, trees ache in the wind, and gulls screech and from mere feet above your head. If you take the left path, you find a small, downtrodden lighthouse.

Decorated in graffiti, the lighthouse is operated by a solar panel that feeds life to the small, minty light atop the crumbling structure. Just beyond the square base, the island stops. And all that exists is the potential to fall to your freezing, rocky death.

Let's pretend you went straight and slightly to the right instead. No lighthouse to be seen from this path. Rather, you're greeted by the most spectacular of views: a comprehensive glance of the Beaver Bay shoreline. And if you could see the resort just beyond the bend in the lake, you'd see the entirety of the town.

At the very tip of the island, the southernmost section, a small mass of rock and seagull poop separates itself from Pellet Island. A quick swim away from the main mass, if Lake Superior were not so damn cold, it would have made for an excellent mini-adventure. Regrettably, after stripping down and bracing myself for the water, I came to my senses--with a little help from Mike--and decided my health was more important. 

It would have made for a great shot though.

Scaling back down the island, with the trees and the rope, was more difficult than the climb up. Just trickier and scarier, I suppose. The sun was a little lower, the water a little calmer. But every little bit was just as remarkable. On the north side of the craggy, man-made path to the island, the water was beautifully still. You could see for yards and yards into the depths just off the edge of the rocks.

We wandered back, quickly and with less time for photographs. The sun set and chilly air coaxing us along at a slightly urgent pace. Writing this, I realize that small sense of urgency was perhaps the only time I felt the sensation of a rush during the entirety of the trip.

And while climbing this little-seen island made us feel like royalty, I have the feeling that on Pellet Island, relaxation is king.

Day CLIV: Billy

It was my mom's birthday on Friday.

And what better way to celebrate with a visit than with a visit from her son?

A road trip was precisely what this weekend needed; the north shore is a pretty phenomenal place to clear your mind and relax. Sometimes, a clear head and a healthy does of doing nothing is all you need for your two day vacation. 
So, following a half day at the office, a few lunch threats from Kyle, and a half-hearted attempt at packing, Mike and I headed up to the North Shore where my mom works as the F&B Manager of Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, MN.

After a very quick three hours, we arrived at the lodge, checked in to our room--a delightful corner unit with a fireplace and a deck--and, because Beth Wilson is who she is, we began drinking.

A few miles out of Beaver Bay, in a little town called Silver Bay, we visited the local favorite bar. It was basically a cleaner version of any VFW or American Legion, and it was cleverly attached to a liquor store. Great idea, right?

Anyway, after meeting a few of my mom's employees, the lovely Liz and Kathy, we decided to start the night off with shots of Patron.

Hey, your mom only turns 46 once, right?

Soon enough, we all had cocktails and were playing our favorite songs through the jukebox in the corner. It was only the natural order of things, then, that we started to play pool. Three or so games passed between Stewart, Mike, Mom, and myself before Mike and I were approached by a local.

His name, we learned, was Billy.

We learned he was a transplant from Seattle, from Sante Fe, from Reno. A vagabond of sorts, he was something of a local legend. The kind of friendly that's harmless, but increasingly unnerving. Every Budweiser he knocked back seemed to generate a new tale: his time in the Airforce, his lesbian sister, his commerce tycoon wife, his dog named Jabez.

And it was never once with context, these spun, inebriated stories. So, it only seems fair to share a few quotes from him throughout the night, presented without context...because, again, there was none.
"This dog knows how to fit between boobs since he was six weeks old." 
"I'm not fool. I don't believe in religion. I believe in god." 
"It could be raining pussy out there and I'd still get hit in the head with a dick."
At the end of the night, as we were leaving, and after he handed over his phone number in case we wanted to take a ride on his bikes the following day, he turned to the local ladies at the bar. They were giving him a hard time that his friends were leaving.

Without missing a beat, Billy retorted: "Pretty good trade off; those guys were way better looking than you."

And what kind of birthday would be complete without a shot of Billy and the birthday girl?

Happy Birthday, Mom. Hope you had a blast.

Looks like ya did!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day CLIII: Game

My little brother, Erick, had a white Xbox 360 that he never let me play. Funny, right, that power dynamic? Not often does the younger brother keep fun and games and exciting possessions from the older sibling. Still, that seemed to be the case between Erick and I. His room was always full of thrilling, interesting goods. And mine? Books, a few stray photos, and a box of speech medals. Nothing nearly as exciting as a stereo, cigarettes, and a snowboard.

But when I purchased a game for the system--Namco's Eternal Sonata--I was granted permission to play the game as long as Erick was not in need of his space or didn't want to play games of his own. They were rare moments, but they existed. And, eventually, I made it through the game, some 40 odd hours later.

And though I'm not sure how it happened, I believe that's when I fell in love with the Xbox 360. Which, I suppose, is to be expected. That's how love works, after all: creeps up on you like a thief, steals bits and pieces of your valuable heart, and, suddenly, you realize you've been losing yourself all along.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day CLII: Firethorne

I stumbled across the Firethorne Twitter account today during some research at work.

For you non-GACers, Firethorne is the literary publication put out by Gustavus Adolphus College. It features art, poetry, essays, and fiction from the students on campus. I thought today, on this gray, cold, windy sort of day, I'd share a piece I wrote for Firethorne my senior year of college. 

I don't care to share my writing--which I know sounds ridiculous because I blog every day but believe me when I say this is writing of a different sort. But this is already out there. So why should I not take a moment to re-read, reflect upon, and share it with the rest of the world?  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day CLI: 151

I was 18 the first time I had Bacardi 151. The night turned into a hoarder's nest of mistakes and "I'm Sorry's," but I don't find that entirely surprising. A girl I knew ate plants from the hotel railings. A boy slipped on a wet pool area floor, and his head cracked and bled everywhere by the hot tub and all we did was laugh. And when he joined us in the pool, freshly rinsed from the pool-side shower, his wound began to spill once more, coloring the bubbles like rust.

In the year 151 AD, an earthquake destroyed two entire terrestrial sections of Asia. Meanwhile, in China, the Han Dynasty was experiencing--as history would label it--its very first era.

There were 151 Pokemon in the original versions of the game. And while you could only access 150 of them in the games, Mew was available if you felt like cheating or taking a game-glitching trip to Cinnabar Island. To this day, my favorite of all 649 current pokemon, Starmie, is available from the very first round of games. Red and Blue were great to us all, weren't they?

Psalm 151 is contentious in that it may never have existed in Hebrew. Still the church recognizes it as canonical.

When I sampled 151, drinking it in gulps from a plain, white coffee mug, I made out with a girl--perhaps several--and watched a 19 year-old blonde give a hand job to her friend's brother. One guy spat his chew in a Mountain Dew bottle. Another drank sixteen beers and then ran a lap around the Best Western. A senior girl, and board member of the sorority we were celebrating, stripped for fun and laughed as she rode the glass elevator up and down and up and down.

151 is a palindrome. A prime number, too.

Day CL: Missed

I've decided there are too many opportunities in the world to ever feel like you've missed out on something.

And even if that's untrue, or unhealthy, perhaps thinking it will keep it apparent, keep it salient, keep it alive.

There was this moment at work today, lost in mounds of emails, wondering when 4:30 would rear her beautiful (if not  regrettably absent) head when I realized that I've spent too much time fixated on things that are outside of my control.

It's sort of my schtick, though, to isolate, to fixate, to hover above a moment in time, like snow caught on a mid-air wind. Is it that all I am is a flurry, a bustling little cloud of thoughts and questions, roiling above the ground, unsure of where to land, and wholly indifferent?

And when I land, will I feel appreciated, and will it matter? Will I be missed? Will I be anticipated?

Who will I disappoint, who will I please, who will care?

Questions like little fogs of gnats: bustle in and and out and over and under and pull me close only to drive me away with their incessant buzzing, their prickling hum of "and then what?"

Breathing comes too unnaturally in the face of so many little unseen questions marks.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day CXLVIX: (No Name Yet)

The sun was exceptionally hot and exceedingly bright the day I brought Apollo home.

So naming him wasn't much of a task. I knew I wanted something powerful, something representational, something impressive. I wanted my vehicle to seem as strong and alluring as possible. That's how I felt about Apollo. 

Why shouldn't everyone else?

I am learning that I got lucky with the first car. It was an easy, very fitting name that came to me right away. 

For this one, I think I need some help.

Everyone, meet (no name yet)!

A spiritual predecessor to Apollo--2013 Black Rav4--(no name yet) is in need of a few more drives before his name can be determined. Until then, here are the best options I've come up with.

-Simon: A classy, nerdy name with an edge.


-Neptune: God of the Sea, and it was a rainy morning the first time I took (no name yet) out for a drive.

Have some suggestions?

I'd certainly love to hear them. 

And until I have a name for him, anyone up for a car ride?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day CXLVIII: Apollo

In addition to being the god of the sun, Apollo is the name of my Rav4.

Back in 2001, across the pond in a large factory in Japan, my little baby was forged in a hot bed of flames, machinery, and able-bodied hands. From there, he was transported to Nevada (the poor guy) and lived with a man named Greg for six years. After a stint in the sand and sun, he was sold to a small dealership in Brainerd, Minnesota.

And that's where this story begins.

It was beautiful August day, a few short weeks before the inevitable return to Gustavus would send me spiraling back into the academic madness of the school year. I would be living in a house--the same house I'd spend the next three years of my life. And though it was not technically off-campus, it was a part of the city of St. Peter, street parking and everything. So, I suppose it made sense to have a vehicle. I didn't have a car my freshman year, so journeying home to see the family was a trip reserved for holidays and special occasions. By bringing a vehicle to school, I would have more opportunity to travel back home, and plenty of reason to explore the area surrounding my school.

So we stopped at Denny Hecker Toyota in Brainerd to take a look at potential vehicles.

You know when you meet someone and you have that sensation of upwelling joy and agonizing desire? That sort of love-at-first-sight thing?

I had that feeling...with a car.

Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect price. I knew from the very first time our salesperson brought us to the front door that this was going to be my car.

My parents insisted that we take a look at some other options. So we did. We looked at a Honda, some Camry across the street, and a little bigger SUV down the road. And while I must admit the browsing of the other vehicles was less than half-hearted: sometimes you just have to trust the 19 year-old to know what's best.

And I wasn't wrong. Apollo was everything I was looking for in a car, and I treated him well. Trips to Grandma's in New England, midnight romps around the lakes of Minnesota, a five AM trip for tires on Black Friday: we've been through quite a bit. 

I remember feeling miserable when our family sold the Chrysler Van--the one we drove to Alaska. It was like someone took a member of the family out of my arms and sold them down the river. It was crushing. You have all these incredible emotions tied to one piece of machinery, which sounds so silly(!), and you can't help but feel like some little part of you has been taken away forever.

So, yesterday, when my sweet angel found a new home with Carlson Toyota, I totally cried like a baby.

Like a mushy-faced, over-emotional toddler. An ugly cry, if you will.

But I suppose that's how I know he mattered. That I had a pretty incredible ride with my first car.

And while I am excited for a new vehicle, there's something sentimental and wonderful to appreciate about your first.

You'll have to wait until tomorrow to meet his successor, but I think he or she (unnamed!) is a worthy replacement.

For now, a note.

You will be achingly missed. Thank you for getting me to point B in so many ways. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day CXLVII: Lavender

I grew up hating the scent of lavender. 

Mother told me that it was good for headaches, and she frequently suffered from what the doctors called migraines: painful, nearly devastating bouts of light and sound sensitivity with just a hint nausea and discomfort. She would apply little drops of it behind her ears and on her temples and then leave the bottle open so that the aroma could waft through the room. I used to think that the aroma therapy notion was nothing but a hoax. Something about a smell being able to heal: it’s odd and doesn’t feel like it’s all that researchable. Certainly, it’s testable, but it feels more like pseudoscience than true therapy.  

I guess you could say I’m skeptical?

There was a woman in my hometown that wrote this book called Natural Beauty that explored the properties of natural ingredients and their healing powers for the human body. Even now, I can see the green and purple cover, and the very alluring photo of the author—beautiful, by the way. But when I think about the information inside the well presented cover, behind the smiling blonde, I immediately start to think about lavender. The soft, floral scent; the gentle, cooling oil; the subtle, delicate color: hardly anything wrong with it on paper. Still: I could not bear to be around the flower. Not one bit. I would sit in the bathroom and hide the scented candles in drawers and put chapstick on my nostrils to filter away the minty, natural nastiness that comes with the territory.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day CXLVI: Aaron

Today was the very last day of one of my very favorite coworkers, Aaron DeYoe. Don't worry, he hasn't passed, he's just moving on to bigger and better things. And while it's tragic to see him go, I'm thrilled for his new opportunities.

I guess when you're a member of #TeamTalent, you have no choice but to get yourself to the next level.

Aaron is one of those quirky characters that holds raw denim meet-ups and has soft spots for 30 Rock and Star Trek. The kind of person you'd read about in and want to drop kick; but, in person, he's great.

But he's also not one to shy away from a series of ugly photos.

So that's what we do. We send exceptionally flattering photos to one another throughout the work day.


So here's to Aaron and all his future successes.

You're the worst person I know, and I really really hope nothing goes your way.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day CXLV: Puzzle

Trying something new today. Sibley timed me for fifteen minutes of uninterrupted writing, from thought to page. This was the result.

= = =

Or how water doesn't always taste like water.

Or how fire can be cold to the touch.

Or how ice burns.

Or how hearts fail, or smiles lie, or losers win.

Every day is a puzzle full of pieces, and always missing so many.

Sometimes I wonder if death is just the last corner piece everyone thought was missing but was just under the box the entire time.

= = =

I am six. I am in bed and listening to the furious clipping of cardboard puzzle pieces. They snap together in a hurried rhythm, as fast as my mother can put them together in their neat little lines. My room is lofted above the rest, the quietest room of the house, about seven or so miles out of town. On my bed is draped a pair of jeans, caked in mud, dried and flaking, baking on top of a dirty towel and dusting my room in tiny little accidents.

I'd fallen in the yard next door. I kept sliding in the mud and rain down the hill  for yards. Rocks and twigs and bugs built homes in my knees, made camp in my shins, forged families in the soles of my feet. That's how filthy I was was. Covered. Completely covered in one giant accident.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day CXLIV: Humidity

I can't decide if the wind or the humidity is worse.

In general, I mean. Not necessarily in the moment.

There are weather conditions that are nearly impossible to tolerate, because they're never enjoyable to be out in or experiencing the day.

And wind and humidity are two of them.

Unfortunately, today has been both. Stepping outside is like walking through cake, through a sticky, damp fog of batter. It clings to your skin, get's tangled in your hair. Sits underneath your hat, seeps into your brain.

So here's to staying indoors. 

And watching so much America's Next Top Model.

And playing so much Shovel Knight.

And napping three times.

Sunday: you've never been lazier.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Day CXLIII: Pride

I've never been to Twin Cities Pride.

Do you even understand how much that hurts?

Stone Arch Bridge (thanks, Ashley!)

The last few years, I've been out of the area for work.

No parade down Hennepin. No queens in feathers. No dykes on bikes. No dogs in rainbow glasses. No same-sex couples displaying their love and affection for the world to see in a place that is both tolerant and welcoming.

And, for whatever reason, it really bothered me this year. It sucked to be so far away from something that I feel so fortunate to be a part of.

Day CXLII: Favorites

Do you think it's possible to avoid playing favorites?

It's something I've been wrestling with lately.

Too often I find myself in situations that require decisions to be made based on my feelings toward two (or more) separate entities. And when those things are too entirely similar, too equally rewarding-and-wonderful-and-lovely, it becomes almost impossible not to select between the two based solely on which is your personal favorite.

Today, at ALA, I fell victim to this all familiar situation.

Day CXLI: Saturday-L-A

The title is supposed to be a play on "ALA," the conference I've been attending this weekend, but, I dunno, dear reader, I am pretty tired and that just might be an awful, awful attempt at a clever phrase.

Do you get it at least? Satur-DAY-L-A? Like Saturd-ALA?

No, you're right. It's terrible.

Day CXL: Flashback (II)

Remember when I said Flashback Friday was going to be a thing and then I did it that one time and never again? Well, friends, bite your mother-effing tongues because Flashback Friday is BACK!

For today.

And, god, it's Monday. This is so late.

You'll have to forgive me: did you know Las Vegas doesn't grant internet access in their hotel rooms? What gives, Vegas?


Day CXXXIX: Suffer (I)

"We follow this figure into contradiction, into a confession that wounds are desired and despised; that they grant power and come at a price; that suffering yields virtue and selfishness; that victimhood is a mix of situation and agency; that pain is the object of representation and also its product; that culture transcribes genuine suffering while naturalizing its symptoms." -Leslie Jamieson

Briefly, I've mentioned Leslie Jamieson's The Empathy Exams in past posts. Perhaps the most unyielding book, let alone nonfiction collection I've ever read, Jamieson's work has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late.

And I'd like to tell you why.

In the above passage, there's this notion suggested that being a wounded spirit, hurt, or otherwise upset, is a desirable state, a fleeting and recurring phantom that we both seek to destroy and embrace. Initially, this is a hard concept to attach to. I don't think anyone wants to immediately acknowledge that suffering is something they look for. Rather, we want the world to be void of it, completely harmonious. Suffering? Why would we seek out pain?

What is suggested by this? That we wish to see hurt in the world? Do we believe that others deserve pain? Is it an attachment to justice? A twisted notion that suffering exists because it is necessary to punish? Is that even a twisted notion?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


There are some gross things in the world, you guys. 

Poverty. War. Famine. 

Just to name a few. 

But there are a few nasty things that are gross on a very superficial level.

You know, like a dislodged pube in a public bathroom.

I had to do a double take, standing above, because I was pretty sure what I was seeing was a curly fry.


Just the longest, most terrifying hair I've ever seen from a nether region.

And why blog about it, right? That's pretty gross.
But, honestly, I leave for ALA in 24 hours and I am mentally wiped. This icky moment seemed like just the right thing to share.

So, enjoy, and watch your step.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day CXXXVI: Snow (Sorta)

For such a remarkably warm June, this morning's snow came as quite a shock!

But, seriously, what the eff is this stuff and why is it so bountiful! It's everywhere on Colfax Avenue South!

We were walking to Bogart's this morning, because doughnuts, and everything was covered in this polleny, fluffy, downy not-quite-feathery madness!

I suppose I was happy to find out it wasn't snow after all.

My initial reaction was somewhere between fear and surprise; I might go so far as to call it a mild, suppressed PTSD-like shriek. And then common sense kicked in: it's hard for snow to build up on the ground in 80 degree heat.

Which got me thinking: how lucky are we with this weather? I know, I know. It's a bit humid. A little sticky. Perhaps the air is a tad too thick. But isn't it so much easier to smile when the sun is showering us in warmth, rather than a bright escape from thirty-below?

We'll see how I am feeling in an hourish. My roommates and I are throwing a cleaning party for our less-than sparkling home. And in a home without AC...well, it might be a sweaty situation. Check back tomorrow to see just how damp we're talking.

My guess? We're all going turn into sad examples of Alex Mac. (hat not included)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day CXXXV: Homeward

There are fewer joys than the sensation of returning home.

After a month, an extended stay, a long weekend, or even a stressful day at work, there is no better feeling than finding your way back to your own space, your own room, your own bed.

But, if you're lucky, the journey home can be as gratifying as the feeling of finding your way back. Such one return trip took place this weekend.

Before we got out of Fergus Falls, we needed gas. So, because Fergy Ferg just happens to be in the 218, we made a pit stop at Casey's, everyone's favorite general store and gas station. Inside, donuts were freshly baked (pulled from a box in the back with thawing instructions), quality meat was available for purchase (Slim Jims were on sale if you bought four or more and, let's be honest, who is ever buying less than six?), and slow cooked, artfully prepared hot food had just been gingerly pulled from the oven (a slice or two of breakfast pizza had just popped out of the microwave and found it's way to a rotating heat rack).

Ah yes, everything was right in the world.

Inside, we bought snacks. Gardettos and a water for Kyle; string cheese, water, and a pack of pistachios for Sib; and string cheese, peanut butter and crackers, and water for me. Sibley also purchased a glass bottle of Coke, which I happily opened using a cement fence and my bare hands because I AM THE FUCKING MAN.

We spent the first while in silence, listening to music, commenting here and there about our night (during which we recounted the intensity of how I share a sleeping space. Spoiler alert: there's very aggressive spooning. See picture.), and closing our eyes behind our shades.

After a period of slight boredom, I suggested we play a game. So Sibley told us about "I Going on a Camping Trip" which, basically, is a car game that requires a knowledge of the alphabet and a good working memory for ridiculousity. It starts like this: "I'm going on a camping trip and I'm bringing (word that starts with A)." The next person repeats the phrase, the item with the letter A, and then adds something with the letter B. And so on. Twenty six rounds later, you repeat each of the camping provisions together.

Here was the start to our second shot at the game.

Eventually, we decided that Sibley reading to us from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire would be more enjoyable than music and, goodness, were we correct.

As it turns out, Sibley's interpretations of JK's famous characters were more or less spot on. She did, however, take some liberties with the storyline.

I think they call it creative license? 

After a grueling crawl home, we arrived in the City of Lakes. 

This weekend served as a much needed reminder that life outside of Minneapolis can be just as rewarding as time spent in the city. Perhaps 48 hours away from downtown drivers, uptown hipsters, an unhealthy addiction to Bull Run Coffee was precisely what the doctor ordered.

But, damn, did it feel nice to be home.

Day CXXXIV: Snapchat VII

Can someone let me know when they're cooler than Lindsay Lelivelt? I get the feeling that I'll be waiting a long time. Dat hat! Dat necklace! Dat glitter! Dat smirk! Is there anything this gem cannot pull off? If you're not the only one missing music festivals, this photo is here especially for you.

Karen Stenoien--I spelled that correctly on the first try, by the way--snapped me this lovely photo of one of the critters she shares her home with. Wouldn't it be so nice to just be a mantid? Hang out all day on you're beautifully elegant, long appendages, have some food splayed out for you, eat your mate. Sounds like a rough time.

Let's take a second to analyze this somewhat terrifying letter Sibley received this week. In an envelope, sealed with wax: a paperclip. No indication who it's from, no explanation, no additional contents. A single, frightening, twisted piece of metal and what has to be the grossest seal job I've ever seen.

Sometimes, you go to Wal-Mart against your better judgment because you need to snag some grub for your upcoming murder mystery party. So why not take a Wal-Mart snap to commemorate the experience? I guess I somehow missed the peace sign memo. My bad, ladies.

I think the phrasing could have been much, much better than this...

But, seriously, don't you wonder how that night turned out for these four? I am picturing a disheveled campsite, pillowcase-less pillows, a litter of empty PBR cans, and the signature scent of confusion, regret, shame, and sexual climax.


Dem eyes doe.

But, really, would anyone be opposed to Steve taking over the mayorship of any city?

Finally, how nice of Anna Johnson to send over this snap of her classroom's first harvest! Precious! They're probably not to thrilled, these small children, that they're about to chomp down a bunch of radishes, but, hey, what doesn't kill 'em makes 'em stronger.

Day CXXXIII: Murder

There's been a murder...

And, tragically, it was my own.

I guess, if you're so inclined, you could say it was Morgan Hayes, in the Billiard Room, with her bare hands.

I'll back up.

This last weekend, there was a conspicuous lack of blog posts that I am sure you noticed. I'm not even sure how you made it through the last three days without them! Fear not, I am back, and alive, but barely.

I spent the weekend in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, participating in a Murder Mystery Party that I co-wrote with the all-too-lovely Anastasia Scott. Over the last few months, we've been concepting, writing, and developing a story for 10-13 people for people to play out through improv and carefully crafted clue-giving. We cast ten or so of our friends to "play" different roles throughout the evening. They ranged from Paloma Mallen Yeats, the pot-stirring gossip monger and devious best friend, to Charles Edward, the aged and charming butler of the estate. You see, the estate owner, Stafford Von Gantner had recently--and suspiciously!--passed, leaving millions behind to be divvied up amongst his survivors. And while surely no one would have offed such a charming, generous, loving old man...someone did.

So we spent the night playing out the scenario of an old man's funeral. Over the course of three hours, new details were revealed through a series of clues that slowly divulged the plot of the story. As more and more was revealed, the guests were asked to strike up specific conversations, ask pointed questions, and reveal hidden detail to their fellow party-goers. Eventually, the killer of Stafford Von Gantner was revealed, the murderer confessed, and there was much celebration.

It was sort of a blast.

It could have been executed better--and we learned a few lessons here and there--but it was good time that everyone seemed to enjoy. Even cooler: we have the opportunity to run it again this fall for a charity event! Nifty, eh?

So if you know anyone who's looking for a murder mystery party to be put on for them...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day CXXXII: Knock

To whom it may concern,

You probably don't remember me. It's been moments since we interacted. And the way my face was twisted when we met...who knows if you would have the foggiest idea where you'd seen me.
But I remember where I've seen you. It was in the bathroom. Not more than five minutes ago, actually. I was standing above the toilet, penis out and peeing, when you opened the door and nearly collided with my backside before realizing that, well, oh, the restroom was occupied. 
You must have missed the massive sign outside the door. One second, I'll recite it for you. It reads, in massive type, "LOCK IS BROKEN. PLEASE KNOCK!" and it's followed by a drawing of a flower and a lovely little smiley face. I get it, though. Reading is tough! It's one of those things that not everyone is blessed to be capable of. Literacy is a massive issue in this country; I am fully aware of that.
But that copy of Michael Crighton's Jurrasic Park is pretty indicative of you being able to read. And my guess would be much larger words than "broken" or as phonetically misleading as "knock."
I think the worst part of this whole interaction--other than your lack of apology for interrupting my sacred moment of peace and pee--was your inexplicable need to put your hand on my shoulder as you were leaving. What the eff was that about?! I'm taking a piss in a public restroom, you just barged in here, nearly toppling me in the process, and then as a half-hearted gesture between bros, you pat my shoulder?
I loathed every single moment of this interaction. I just need you to know that. You seem like a nice human, but what kind of person doesn't knock on a bathroom door, LET ALONE A BATHROOM DOOR THAT IS LABELED: KNOCK?!"
Please, please, please never subject another human to the unbearable moment we just shared.
 Your friend in urination,


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day CXXXI: Mail

I consider myself an intelligent individual. I did well in school, perform above average on standardized testing, can hold my own in conversation with most people and about many things. I am curious and genuine; I am a great listener and offer rather helpful advice. And when you're fully aware of these aspects of your self, of your particular strengths and accomplishments, they can be slightly detrimental to your self-esteem when they're not realized in completely similar situations. 

For example: I've been finding work exceptionally stressful over the past few weeks. Gearing up for ALA in Las Vegas and balancing the extra work from being down a staff member has taken its toll on my capacity to care about what I am doing. 

And I hate that! It's frustrating. 

Striking that impossible balance between personal fulfillment and enriching work is even more difficult than they make it in the movies. And for anyone who's watched Meg Ryan give in to Tom Hanks and Fox Books in You've Got Mail, you know how damn hard it is to stay happily afloat in this world!

For as unsettled as you can be throughout any given day, there is a panacea for that turmoil. And it's sort of unexpected.


Good mail.

Mail that makes you smile and say: oh, someone was thinking about me!

Everyone loves getting mail that isn't a bill or spam; that has to be a universally acknowledged joy, right?

I knew I was receiving this package--a book from my mumsy--but the minute I turned the corner and saw the USPS tape sticking up and out of our mailbox, every ounce of gloom evaporated from my system. 

And that's a piece of mail! That's all it was! Something so simple, so common, but, damn, it certainly did the trick.

So I've resolved the following: if you'd like to receive a piece of mail--it's probably going to be a letter because I'm not a shipping warehouse, y'all--just leave your address as a comment on the blog or as a Facebook comment/message. Hell, you could even Tweet it to me! I want to do more things that actively make me feel more personally fulfilled, and I think this would be a pretty rewarding way to do so.

So, tonight, a toast: to mail!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day CXXX: Ransacked!

On our way to coffee this morning, Mike and I were chatting about break-ins.

We were heading out the door and he happened to start toward the front of the house, but I stopped him and said we should leave through the back. He joked that he was just locking the door, not leaving. This prompted a quick recount of unnecessary it was to lock the door, given how easy a house is to break into during the summer. You throw up a screen, and you're inside. It's not that tough.

A little more difficult: breaking into a car, specifically when it's parked and locked. Regrettably, in the year and a half or so that I've been in the city, Apollo--my treasured Rav4--has been attacked three times. Only once was there damage dealt to my car. It was also the only time anything was taken.

And that's almost equally unnerving. Someone put forth the effort to break into your property, shake it up, and then leave it alone. That's strange, right? If you're going to go through the effort to damage or invade a vehicle, you might as well make the most of it and take something for crying out loud. To messy it up, to manufacture some small disquiet: it seems somehow worse when no further destruction is done.

So we talked about Apollo's bout of bad luck since moving to the twin cities, about the misfortunes of thievery, its pointlessness. We walked to the corner and parted, Mike to a conference call and back home for me, back to the car, and off to work.


I guess that's four times.

Arriving home, I discovered my back passenger side door unlocked and muck dusting the back seat. Someone was searching for something!  

You'll notice that the glove box was looted, as was the center console. The pockets of the back seats were also emptied; an almanac, some deodorant, a deck of cards, a CD, and three Pilot G-2 pens littering the floor behind my seat. 

It's unnerving that nothing was taken, but I am almost a little offended! My sunglasses are cool, those checks aren't going to bounce, my headphones maintain great sound, and that Playstation 2 memory card is completely empty! You could store, like, 32 MB of Kingdom Hearts data on that shit! There's a five-dollar scratch off right under that lotion, three dollars (CASH!) in the console, and a copy of bell hooks's All About Love in the passenger door! Where's your taste, anonymous thief?!

Which leads me to believe, given the absurdity of their looting skills, that someone's trying to play a game. That some schmuck is messing with my head. And, of course, because I am a lunatic, I'm a little flattered! 

Making light of a grave situation tends to be my coping strategy. And I am okay with that.

But, seriously, mysterious threat, if you're reading this: 

I'm the wrong one.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day CXXIX: Hot Rain

Innately, Mondays are the hardest part of the week.

There's nothing kind about them. The weekend is ushered away, quietly, as if behind a curtain, and the week, with its worries and speculation, is suddenly front and center, spotlit, pronounced. Even on a day like this--terminally gray, drizzly, tires spitting back on to the streets in globs of recycled rain water--there is such unfortunate urgency in the footsteps of others, in the impatient tap tap tap of the line outside the coffee shop. That pressure to keep up, to engage in the same swiftly moving stream of the day, it's tricky on a Monday. 

It's like standing in hot rain.

I was eight years old the first time I went to Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia. The springs are actually tucked away, deep within a dense and boggy forest, about a mile away from the more populated campsites. A boardwalk simmers just above the water and moss and skittering bugs. Full of holes, eaten by nature and heavy foot traffic, it's not an impressive path. It's dangerous looking, even; perhaps it is frightening too. Of course, there are so many scary things to an eight-year-old. Everything about the single-digit years carries just a little fear along its backside, a tiny ridge of malevolence. A rickety path happens to look the part rather well.

The planks through the woods lead to a collection of pools, each steaming and sulfurous, smelling more and more like rotting eggs the closer you get to isolated spring in the back. The first spring you can step into is actually connected to several others. To the left, you wade into cooler territory. Cooler being relevant, of course. Ninety seven degrees is hardly "cool." To the right, necrotic coughs escape the water, just a foot or so from the grass that meets the edge of the hottest spring. No one stands more than fifteen feet away from the steps that dip into the center pool, perhaps out of fear.

I think my mother told Erick and I: standing in that spring would be like boiling alive.

A week or so before our first time in the springs, a bear caused problems at most reclusive spring, necessitating the closing of the walkway until the situation had subsided. A sign slung low, bright yellow and wrapped in heavy chains: "Closed - Bear."

To an eight year-old, "bear" was hardly much of a reason to diminish my experience in Muncho Lake. I wanted to enjoy every part of the springs, and seeing the last pool was very much a piece of that puzzle.

We reached the sign with just enough time for the rain to begin. Reading "bear" over and over and over, sure that we had all missed something, that it just wasn't time to open the furthest reach of the path, I planted myself in the grooves of the worn walkway. 

It began to pour. Loud, angry, drops pelting the trees, peppering the springs. And the rain was hot, hotter than the day, and heavy, heavier than the aches of an eight year-old's heart wishing for two more minutes of distance, for a bear to just go on and get out already.

There's this moment, defeated and stepping into the springs, that stands still in my mind.

Rain punctuates every step away from the stairs, my feet searching for slightly cooler temperature, my nose for a little distance from the smell. There is strange space ahead of me, hollowing out a small section of the earth at the very back of the connected pools. A bird spins in the rain, it's little twig feet dipping into the water. 

Shake, shake, shake. 
Flurries of water roll off her feathers and into the world. 

I think of how hot the rain feels. 

I think of how slow this moment moves. How slow it is.

I think of how sluggish this moment will always be. How sluggish it's always been. 

I think of how watching that bird toss the warm water away from its tiny body, seeing every feather ruffle, carelessly, recklessly, frenetically part and expel the hot rain, will always feel so sedated.

It's that hot rain. 

It's that odd standstill between moving and memory.

Today, the rain creates these charming little rings in the puddles on the streets. Little ripples stretch and diffuse, replaced in an instant, a lovely little chain of pitters and patters and plinks.

And the warmth of the rain, pouring heavily from the sky, embodies this Monday so well.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day CXXVIII: I'll Be Right There

I've read a lot of really astounding literature lately.

If Goodreads is any indication, it might be the best run of material I've ever read. I have given 5/5 star ratings to six of the last ten books I've finished, and three of those were the most recent novels.

Tonight, I finished I'll Be Right There which has already been featured on this space, in a previous post. But, my god, I don't know what it is about East-Asian literature. We just click. There is not ever much in the way of plot--at least in some of my favorites--but the way that feelings are explored and critiqued and's divine.

Sarah, of Bull Run fame, put it so well when we were discussing the book she saw in my hands: "It's very affirming to discover that great writers can just put into words everything you feel but have no medium for."

And, she's completely right. 

In an episode of the new season of Orange is the New Black, the prisoners take turns speaking directly into the camera about what "love" means. Tonight, I may have found a new definition.

With a little help from Kyung-Sook Shin, the author of this most beautiful book, I think that love might just mean never having to "hesitate to say, I'll be right there."

We're halfway through June. 

For this week, and for always, cling to the present, embrace what is now, and accept the littlest moments as the biggest lessons.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day CXXVII: Snapchat VI

Pay attention. This is some sage advice from Bethany. If you're going to put the word capiscum on the back cover of a book, maybe think about the way you're formatting the lines. A gardening text that includes the phrase "cum addict?" Not going to look great on shelves.

It's already difficult to dislike ice cream. The second you put a cute little face and bow-tie on it? Impossible. Fortunately--or is it?--Sibley knows exactly how to make a frozen treat oh-so-appealing.

Ashley Bost sent a delightful series of snaps of Jenna Lehr. And even though there were so many gems, I felt like this one really captured the essence of the collection. Is she drying a Barbie's hair on the toilet? And her toes are so pointed! Add that to Ashley's caption: picture perfect.

You guys remember Old Man Meth, right? Well Kyle managed to get a picture of him OUTSIDE HIS HOME. He's terrifying. Like straight out of a novel on the back porch with a shotgun terrifying.

Ah, Kirsten. The problems of a frizzy-haired, humidity-laden ginger. We lament along with you.

Great lessons all around on today's Snapchat Saturday. Laura is in no mood to mess around, so she's happy to remind everyone: safety first!

Steve had a terrible view while waiting for a train. We all feel really bad for him. It looks miserable. And he has to be in Chicago, too? Poor thing.

Can you say metasnap?! I received this lovely image of myself drinking a, *ahem*, Straw-beer-ita, which is a Bud Light combined with a strawberry margarita. Yes, it happened. Yes, I am ashamed. Yes, it was delicious.