2017. I'm 33. Existence is still absurd, but I'm having a lot of fun.

---


In the early months of 2016, I buy a motorcycle -- A Kawasaki 250cc dirtbike from 1994. Using it for commuting and exploring the vast swaths of wilderness that surround my city, I clock nearly 5000 miles on the machine before winter sets in.

There's an exhilaration that comes from simply operating the machine. I've always loved raw acceleration, but after experiencing the torque produced from aa feather on a scale flick of a wrist, driving most cars is a simple, sluggish affair.

The risks of riding are real, but maybe just slightly overstated, or at least misunderstood. Certainly, the margins for error on a bike are much smaller than that of a car, and a single mistake can lead to certain death, but the margins aren't razor thin -- many of the dangers can be mitigated by the rider. I've always prided myself on my observational and situational skills while driving, but riding in a busy city setting has required me to seriously level up my ability. Being able to predict what other vehicles are going to do, before they do it, is the closest I've ever felt to having an actual superpowers.

Owning German cars for the last decade, I'm accustomed to paying a premium at the mechanic. However, I wasn't prepared for the exorbitant prices of motorcycle mechanics. A simple tune-up costs nearly half the price of the bike itself. Thusly, I've spent massive amounts of time learning how to service things myself. Thankfully, small engines from the 90s aren't terribly complicated. Still, being able to troubleshoot and confidently dig into a transmission or carburetor is supremely satisfying.

It's hard to put into words, but the most rewarding aspect of all are the special, Zen-like moments to be found while blasting down an overgrown, abandoned logging road in the middle of nowhere, nothing but the sound of a (well-maintained!) engine and my own breath filling my ears -- where all distractions dissolve, my inner dialogue muted, where I'm simply a brain reacting to stimuli. Alone in my head, moments of absolute, frosty focus.

---

A friend turned 30, hosted a house party, renting an inflatable bouncy house for back yard entertainment. From the deck, I watch someone puke mid-air, then, upon landing, slip in their own vomit.

---


After a 14 year absence, I obtain some gear and get back into skiing. Fully prepared to be humbled by the atrophy of my skills / muscles, it turns out it's just like riding a damn bike -- within 30 minutes, I was shredding like I'd never stopped. What a pleasant surprise.

---

The temperature supposed to hit 101 degrees, we all meet at Jenny's house at 10am, clad in shorts and tank tops and sun hats. Piling into cars, we zip out of town. By noon, fifteen of us stand on the banks of the Sandy River, blowing up our inner tubes, drinking beers and laughing. After casting off on what would be a four hour float downstream, we tie our floatation devices together, creating a single, monolithic flotilla.

After two hours in the water, we find shore on a small, rocky island in the middle of the river. Seizing the opportunity to stretch our legs, we drink more beer and plunder the cooler. Given the heat, the river was busy that day -- groups of people with similar ideas floated by, some waving, some not.

The entire stretch of river is slow and meandering, with the exception of one (very small) set of rapids right in front of our island. The rest of our group distracted by food, I wade in the water with two friends. Watching a group of four people float into the rapids, I see a man, near the rear, slip off his tube. His friends don't seem to notice he'd been submerged.

His tube keeps floating downstream and I'm waiting for his head to pop up for air. But he doesn't surface. I nudge my closest friend and point. After what seems like ages, I see his face barely clear the water. He shouts something short and unintelligible.

"Did he just yell 'help'?"

We start walking towards him. Slipping underwater momentarily, he surfaces again and briefly shouts something. Yep, he definitely yelled for help.

Two of us immediately run into the rapids and swim downstream. The water is surprisingly shallow, maybe four feet, max. Within moments, we have him by the arms, dragging him out of the water on his back. He's shaking, feet haphazardly kicking, repeating "I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to die"

"Dude, you're not going to fucking die" I say.

At this point, his friends finally notice his empty tube and have land towards the end of the rocky island, running towards us. Sitting on the sand for awhile, he tries standing up and stumbles. I try talking to him, but his speech is slurred and he seems pretty shaken. Not only is he freaked out, but he also appears to be shitty drunk. His friend informs me that the nearly drowned man can't swim.

Recounting the facts: man who can't swim gets super drunk and floats down river without life vest, nearly drowns in four feet of water.

If he had any wits about him, he could have literally just stood up and walked to shore. How silly.

---


After a long, glorious day on the mountain, we hit up a barbecue joint to place a to-go order for obscene amounts of food. Surprisingly, the entire restaurant seems to be staffed by young, attractive women. The lady who takes our order clearly flirts with both of us as we pay up.

Grabbing a root beer and a table, waiting for our order, I glance at the receipt. Two $0.00 line items grab my eye -- "The Cat's Pajamas" and "Ol' Fashioned".

Showing the receipt to my friend, 10 years my junior, he immediately speculates that the cashier has given us flirty nicknames. Presumably, I'm "Ol' Fashioned". I'm doubtful, suspecting that she's just doing her job and being pleasant, but I encourage him to flirt back, to see if she'll play along.

A few minutes pass, she smiles as she carries two heavy bags of meat to us. I see my friend winding up to talk, wry smile on his face.

"Hey, I just have to ask, what are these?" he asks, coyly pointing to "The Cat's Pajamas" and "Ol' Fashioned"

She giggles, looking at us both, saying, "Oh, those are just our signature sauces. Have a good night!," spinning on her heel to walk the other direction.

I can't stop laughing as his smile immediately fades.

---


I went to an indoor monster truck rally. It was the loudest thing I've ever experienced. The first 15 minutes were facemelting, but after they've jumped / crushed a few cars, it all gets pretty tedious pretty quickly.

---

For the third year in a row, I've made the summer pilgrimage to an indian reservation in Washington in which to procure fireworks. This time around, I know the right questions to ask, the right products to buy and how to properly wheel-and-deal. I end up filling my trunk to the brim. Spending a bit more money than I expected at one of the stands, the owner gives me his card and writes his cell phone # on the back, telling me that I can contact him at any point of the year, should I need to restock. Restated: I have a fireworks dealer.

---


My girlfriend had a conference to attend and her company was generous enough to give her a +1 plane ticket, so I visited Las Vegas for the first time. She spent her days at the conference, which left me little to do but explore. I didn't realize that all of the casinos on the strip are interconnected. You can walk for miles, from casino to casino, and never have to leave the comfort of air conditioning.

I lose $100 almost immediately -- $50 on blackjack, $50 on slots. A cute waitress comps me a few free Manhattans. I smoke a cigarette indoors, just for the novelty. I adeptly navigate large crowds, avoiding eye contact with the peddlers lining the sidewalks. I eat a Guy Fieri signature hamburger. I laugh at a wax caricature of Criss Angel and peer into the eyes of sculpted bronze in the shape of Siegfried, Roy and their tigers.

All in all, it's a hot, dirty, vile place. I gaze upon it all with a morbid fascination, but after spending three days enveloped by the strip, I feel woefully disconnected from humanity. It's almost as if people enjoy being blatantly manipulated. I don't get it. I can't wait to get home.

---

It's the end of the day and we're situated at the very tip top of the mountain. Lifts close in fifteen minutes, which isn't enough time to descend and catch another chair. The weather is shit, but in an attempt to maximize our time on the slopes, we formulate a plan.

We'll traverse to the east, hit the ski boundary, then cut back west, all the way across the mountain, which should put us right at the parking lot if we stay high enough.

Suffice it to say, we really fuck up. On our return, we don't even come close to hitting the parking lot. Instead, we hit the lower ski boundary, which required a 1.5 hour hike out on a Sno Cat trail. In the rain. In ski boots. Carrying our gear.

We made it to the car as darkness fell, soaked to the core. Bad move.

---


In the days leading up to Christmas of 2015, I check craigslist entries in the small towns I'd be passing by via I-5. I find a posting for a one of my dream instruments, a Rickenbacker 4003, which seems a bit too good to be true, given the price. After trading a few e-mails with the seller, we agree to meet at a McDonalds on my way back to Portland.

Turns out, the seller didn't really know what they had. It seems as if they had attributed the maladjusted truss rods and odd patina to intense abuse / neglect. After holding it in my hands for 30 seconds, I throw my cash at the seller, place the bass in my car and speed off.

---


A very trusted friend gave me a small quantity of a certain three-letter hallucinogen. Making a weekend of it, my girlfriend and I book a remote cabin in the middle of a field, near the base of Mt. Hood. For the first time since high school, we melt our fucking faces off.

Fall was starting take hold, the pastoral scene of our homestead awash in the most glorious colors I've ever seen. We stand at the edge of an aspen thicket, carefully observing the wind moving each leaf individually. We marvel at the mathematical perfection of fern leaves. We sit on a rock and stare at our hands for an entire lifetime. We lay on our backs and watch the clouds form, break apart and reform as they cascade across the jagged silhouette of the mountain.

Instead of seeing nature and contextualizing it with words and associations and experiences and memories, I feel as though can simply observe it, divorced from myself -- an overwhelming sense of wonder and amazement and joy from a wildflower, a blade of grass.

Standing on the tree line of our field, I am the universe observing itself; The profound nature of consciousness. Minutia of my existence melted away, all of mankind's constructs seem so small and unimportant. How absurd is a job, taxes, a mortgage in the face of the universe's raw, unrelenting glory?

While thankfully not a wholly transformative experience, I came away from it with renewed perspective. Much more illuminating than the dabbling I'd experienced in my youth. Try it.

---


Fight Club, the film, turned 15 last year. Since Mr. Palahniuk lives in town and had recently released Fight Club 2 (something I was unaware of [a graphic novel?!]), a special screening of the original film / Q+A session was held at the glorious Hollywood Theater. After seeing the film at 16, I was an instant, rabid fan of Chuck, but as I gracefully aged, I realized that his work didn't follow my lead, so I stopped paying attention. However, through my job, I was able to secure a few free tickets, so I decided to check out the sold-out event.

Upon arriving, we were each handed two deflated beach balls, a handful of glowsticks and a sharpie. We were instructed to blow the balls up, put the glowsticks inside and write our names on it. Why we were to do this, we are not told, but we oblige nonetheless.

While scrawling my name on the balls, I took a chance to size up the audience. No big surprises -- lots of loud, edgy men in their early to mid 30s. Pudgy guys that seemed like, in a fight, would talk shit and then promptly get knocked out.

The event starts, there's a short introduction and we're told how the balls worked -- one the count of three, they would hit the lights and everyone would throw their glowing balls into the center of the room. From this pile, he would select a ball. If it was your ball, you got to ask a question.

Seeing nearly 800 glowing balls get bashed around a giant theater was genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, from that moment on, it all went down hill. The MC did a poor job, the questions asked by the audience were silly and the answers even moreso. Someone asked if Chuck had ever been in a fight -- this person was booed off the stage, the only time I sincerely applauded. Most of it seemed like an ego stroke for Chuck.

After the Q+A session was done, they had a giant pile of Fight Club 2 to give away. One of my balls was selected, so I got a signed copy. I left about 15 minutes into the film.

Later that night, I started thumbing through Fight Club 2. An hour later, I'd finished it. I realize I'm not the target audience, but it's one of the most embarrassing published works that I've ever experienced. At one point, the author writes himself into the story as a plot device. It's all so bad that I question his motives -- is he so sick of his fans and the culture around Fight Club that he is attempting to destroy it from within? Maybe something is lost on me, but it sure feels like it.

---


My boss quit. Rather than hire someone new, the president of the company wants to promote me. I politely decline, citing the fact that my skillset and experience are all wrong for the job. He then throws bricks money at my face and now I'm running a multi-million dollar business as I see fit.

---


Around Thanksgiving, I buy another motorcycle, one to store in the barn at my parent's farm. Their land butts up against logging and BLM property, and while not strictly legal, there are hundreds upon hundreds of miles of old logging roads and prospector trails to explore. As a kid, I'd hike for hours to get to find this wilderness, but now, in just 10 minutes, I can get utterly lost. It sounds silly, but killing the engine and standing in the silence of an unlogged, unmaintained old-growth forest, no traces of humanity, really is a childhood dream come true.

Also, in just a few excursions, I've seen a wildcat of some variety (cougar?), a five-point buck and a sizable black bear.

---


This summer, for the first time in my life, I got a real tan.

---


I'm three hours from home, exploring a ratty forest trail in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles off the main road. It's a gorgeous summer day and I haven't seen any signs of life in over an hour. Enjoying the solitude, I notice an overgrown, dilapidated wooden bridge spanning a small creek. Killing the engine, I take off my helmet and go to get a closer look. The road leading to the bridge has been reclaimed by trees, the lumber aged, gray.

I'm inspecting the planks for signs of circular saws, trying to figure out how old the structure is, when I hear the sound of crunching gravel off in the distance. Patting my pocket to make sure my knife is still there, I quickly make my way back to my bike, in case I have to jet (or shank someone).

Kickstarting my bike, the gravel sound gets louder. Eventually, I spot the movement of a car around the bend. Not just any car: a red PT Cruiser. As it draws closer, I see two women in the front seats. I wave as they slowly approach my position. Rolling the windows down, the women look to be in their 50s. Both look a bit shaken.

After some discussion, they inform me they're looking for Lost Lake campground, but are ... lost. No cell phone coverage and they don't have a GPS. Their directions are scrawled on the back of an envelope. Thankfully, I have detailed maps of the area on my phone. After locating their campground, I realize just how badly they've fucked up -- they're nowhere near where they want to be, in fact, from where we are, there's just no way to reach their destination.

I instruct them that their best course of action is to backtrack and find their way to the main road, that they are way off course. As I do so, the sound of a revving dirtbike engine in the distance catches my ear. Within seconds, a large portly man, wearing all black, is tearing around the corner. He notices us, quickly skids to a stop and removes his helmet, his long, white hair and a bushy white beard unfurling in the breeze. Santa Claus in motocross gear.

I glance at the PT Cruiser occupants, expressions of confusion and alarm in their faces

"Are we having fun yet?" he shouts, which startles all of us. "Y'all look pretty lost," he adds, glancing at the road and then to their vehicle, then emits a deep belly laugh.

After explaining how all of our paths have crossed out in the middle of nowhere, Santa agrees that they need to get back to the main road, that this is no place for a PT. Thankfully, he's familiar with the area and is able to easily instruct them where to go. I wish the women good luck and put my helmet on as they turn their car around.

Glancing at Santa, he points at a rocky spur road. "Race ya to the top?" he says, kicking his bike to life. I agree. He counts down from three and we start off. Within seconds, this old man has left me in the dust. Absolutely smoked.

Eventually making it to the top of the hill, I find him, leaning against his parked bike, helmet off. Tapping his wrist, he shouts "About goddamned time!" Again, the laugh.

"You need to be goin' faster than that!"

---

Our third river float of the summer, and again, the river is packed with a varied assortment of humans from the surrounding areas. Truly, some world-class people-watching. About a quarter of the way through our journey, on a particularly slow bend of the river, someone in our flotilla carefully passes a joint around, which I partake in. Our group floats along a the side of the river, lined by rocky cliff, almost coming to a complete standstill.

Gently bobbing along, I'm in full relaxation mode, legs and head draped over the innertube, soaking up the sun. For a moment, I'm lost in my own thoughts. Soon, though, I'm snapped back to reality by an ever-increasing bassy thump coming from ... somewhere. The thumping gets louder. I look around at my crew, but no one else seems to take note.

Sitting up a bit more, I peer around, realizing that the slow-moving bend had become logjammed with groups on floats. Thumping gets even louder. Finally, I spot the source. Floating around the bend is a monolithic inflatable raft with upwards of 12 people on it. They have giant speakers strapped to the front and are *blasting* what I would categorize as deep Ibiza house, real obnoxious electro shit.

I'm trying to come to terms with just how fucking presumptuous it is to blast music in a calm river scenario like this when I see another gargantuan float that makes me momentarily question my sanity. It's a 12'x12' square, with inflatable seating around the edges. The size alone is shocking, but then I start inspecting the passengers. Manning this craft is an asian family. Like, three generations of an asian family -- there are toddlers, teenagers, adults and grandparents alike, all calmly perched around the edge of their craft, eating something.

Looking closer, I realize they're all wearing street clothes -- pants, sneakers, button-up shirts, etc. Not a single one of them looks like they intend to touch water. From the middle of their craft, I notice a bit of smoke rising up. I maneuver myself closer to peek at what may be causing it. In the middle of the craft, I notice a square of plywood with a small, portable charcoal grill. Looking closer, the grill is filled with ears of corn, which they calmly eat. I see a grandfather toss a gnawed up cob into the water.

I pause and take in just how ridiculous and dangerous this scene is. One stray coal from their corn cookout and that entire family is going in the drink. All of while the pulsing, overwhelming sounds of garbage techno fill me ears. Unreal.

---


New years day, I'm making the trek back from Trout Lake, Washington. For the second year in a row, 22 people have crammed into a 12 person cabin to celebrate. Fun but very close quarters.

Between Oregon and Washington is a toll bridge. I approach, rolling my window down to fork over the $1 toll. After paying, I attempt to roll my window up, only to be greeted by what sounds similar to gravel in gears. A 'clunk' is made and it's obvious that my window isn't moving.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big problem -- I'd take the door card off and rig the window up, but having to transport goods to the cabin, I'd removed my toolbox to make some space. To make matters worse, it's brutally cold (~20F) and actively snowing. Not having many other options, I zip up my jacket and make the miserable, miserable hour-long trip back to Portland.

There was a lesson to be learned, though: in my car (maybe others, my sample size is limited), the faster you drive, the less water makes it onto your face. The entire drive back was finding the sweet spot of speed versus visibility versus water verses danger.

---


As usual, I skipped work on my birthday. I took a long ride into the forest, then a long hike on an unmarked trail to find my favorite swimming hole. I floated on my back for some time, ate a sandwich and read a book in total solitude, riding back to the city as the sun set.

---


I roll out to Bend just in time for a 'severe weather warning' to be posted. The weekend was spent with a friend, skiing some of the finest, thigh-high powder I've ever experienced. At the bottom of every run, we can't stop gushing. Two grown men, absolutely giddy.

When it comes time to return to Portland, I expect a long, slick drive home, but I underestimate just how perilous it will be. Normally, the trip takes 3, 3.5 hours. This time, a solid 6. Massive, unrelenting snow the entire way. In fact, I don't see pavement until I was 30 miles from Portland.

About four hours into the trip, I'm at the end of a long train of cars, carefully plodding through the snow at a decent 40mph. Visibility is exceptionally low. Suddenly, a lifted 4Runner appears behind me, really riding my ass. Normally, I'd just ignore it, but in these shit conditions, dude is being a bit reckless. Plus, there's really nowhere I can go -- it's a single lane road.

After 20 minutes of this, I turn around in my seat and give him a little wave to back off through the rear window. Instead of obliging, he flashes his brights a few times and maintains his position. This aggravates me. Nowhere to safely pull over and let this asshole pass, I stay the course. Over the next 40 minutes, he never lets more than 2 car lengths of distance come between us.

As we pass by Mt. Hood, the road splits into two lanes. I stick with the pack in the slow lane. Watching in my rearview, I see the pickup aggressively switch lanes, as to pass. However, during this aggressive lane change, I see him fishtail a bit. It almost looks like he's going to pull out of it when the road bends a bit and he plows into the guardrail. He overcorrects out of it, which leads to more fishtailing and even more overcorrection. I've slowed down, so our cars are neck and neck. Watching him jerk the steering wheel from the side, he plows his front fender into a guardrail a good four or five times more before coming to a stop.

I should have stopped, but I didn't. I see his mangled front fender in my rear view as I disappear around the corner, reminded of something I once overheard my first boss out of college once say: "play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

---


On those long, straight stretches of highway, where there's nothing to do but pin the throttle and wait, I've reacquainted myself with a long-forgotten friend: boredom. Initially, it was uncomfortable, having my brain scream for stimulation, but soon, I find myself purposefully seeking those straight stretches. There's reflection to be found in boredom. An idle brain leaves room to parse an accrued backlog of thoughts, yielding a bit of clarity. Try it.

---


After parting ways with dirtbike Santa, I continue on my way, eventually finding my way to a remote stretch of pavement. Rolling onto a smooth surface after hours on gravel is a real joy. Climbing uphill, I take the curves slow, admiring the landscapes. After a 20 minutes of bobbing and weaving, I notice something in my rearview mirror. An orange dot moving quickly in the distance. Within seconds, it's on my ass. I recognize the angles of a Porsche. I wave, immediately drop a gear and pin the throttle, inspired by Santa's aforementioned advice.

A race I'd never win, I manage to put a little distance between myself and the Porsche for all of 3 seconds. Looking in my rear view, I see another flash of orange. Seconds later, I recognize the angles of a Lamborghini. Unreal.

They tail me for 5 miles or so. On a straight stretch, I pull off to the side, to let 'em pass me. Rather than speed off, they pull behind me and slow down. Coming to a stop, they do as well. Dismounting my bike, I wave. They get out of their cars.

"Nice car" I say to the Porsche. "Nice bike" he says back. I laugh.

Both Porsche and Lamborghini guys are "just looking for places to go fast." Both live in Hood River, look to be in their 50s and are incredibly friendly. Lamborghini lets me sit in his car. Porsche takes a picture of my bike.

We say our farewells and they both speed off, engines wailing a glorious sound. I continue my journey back to civilization.

---


---

My band imploded. The guitarist started dabbling with opiates, got fired from a string of jobs and eventually couldn't make rent payments for our practice space. I've tried to help him out, but he has a tendency to externalize his problems, placing the blame on his environment / the world rather than own up to his spotty decision making. I really hope it makes it out okay.

---


It's just so disappointing. I can't help but think that things could have (should have?) turned out differently. Even with my best intentions and effort, I couldn't keep it together. It was a long, drawn out affair, but eventually the spark that drew me to her was completely extinguished. Adoration faded, replaced with frustration, irritation and failure. Unlike other past relationships, where the cause of death is a messy, tangled knot, I can easily put my finger on the barb that unravels things.

Our second-to-last day in Iceland, wrapping up an absolutely awe-inspiring trip, we make a long drive to the capital city for one last night. During our drive, we casually plan our evening. We both agree that we'd enjoy one last bowl of humarsúpa, a delightful lobster soup, from a specific restaurant on the water that we visited before our journey around the island.

Eventually arriving in the city, we find our lodging and make the lengthy walk to the restaurant. Disappointingly, it's closed that night, so we regroup and find another (amazing) place to eat. As we eat, her attitude turns. No amount of joking or listening or consoling can change it. She's permitted a closed restaurant affect her deeply, seemingly resolved let it to ruin her night. Furthermore, she's being shitty with me, which shocks me, given our experiences over the last two and a half weeks. I take this personally, feeling she's spoiling what could have been a quaint, romantic close to our trip.

Laying next to her that night, I can't sleep. I try to parse things, to give her the benefit of the doubt, but as silly as it sounds, a small bowl of soup (or lack thereof) has exposed a growing rift between us, casting a light on feelings I'd didn't really want to expand upon. She may seem jubilant and energetic, that it's shallow, stilted. Beyond a veil of laughter, just below the surface, she's never truly happy. Never truly satisfied. Even when her life is filled with nothing but goodness, she can tease out something negative and wholly fixate on it. Even when we're at our best, I know she's remembering our worst.

Turning the mirror on myself, throughout our relationship, all I've ever tried to do is satiate her, make her happy, be a source of joy in her life. Her happiness a measure of my worth as a partner, her persistent dissatisfaction making me feel ineffective, bummed out. I feel my face flush as it comes into focus, the fact that I've poured so much of myself into this, that I could cast my entire being into this and she might still find something to nitpick. Feelings of weariness, fatigue and sadness course through me.

The next morning, it seems she's forgotten all about the humarsúpa, but somewhere deep in my chest, that familiar, terrifying numbness blossoms. My heart breaks and I never look at her the same way again.

a feather on a scale

eric

Friday 13 January 2017 at 01:12 am

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Its Looking Like I check in here once a year at this point. I probably should more. Then again, I'm pretty boring these days.

I am currently unemployed. I told the radio station to go kick rocks after pouring all of my sweat and tears into it for a year and a half. I had big plans for that place. I was building a whole multimedia division with no resources but my resourcefulness. However I learned what I think most adults learn when they work in an organization for long enough, and that is that few other adults care or respect the work you do for them. I think its safe to say, after finally waving the white flag and quitting that place, that I feel nothing but unsatisfied, heartbroken, and bitter about the whole experience and the last 18 months overall. Fucking sucks.

I have a girlfriend for the first time since I was with Rachael, 4 years ago. I really didnt want to get back into a relationship until I was on sturdy ground financially, but oh well. I didn't expect it to take me a half a decade to recover from the giant financial ruin that was my last relationship. It's good motivation for me to fight off the inevitable bout with depression that usually comes with my job searches. I must not have gotten enough of dealing with cultural adjustments in Australia, because her family is Vietnamese/Chinese. I mention this because, as is the stereotype, her parents have higher expectations for the type of dudes she dates, and, uh, you know, I'm me. So hopefully I can find a good job quickly and solve all of my problems at once. Or it will crash and burn for similar reasons as the last one and I will start wearing sweatpants all of the time and going to watch comic book movies by myself for the rest of my life. Thats what 32 year old dudes like me do when they give up on their dreams. Maybe baseball cards too.

I'm watching Freddie Got Fingered right now and I just noticed that his character is from Portland, OR in it. Rad.

When I hit the jackpot, I'm going to buy me an awesome car...

ian

Wednesday 09 December 2015 at 02:12 am

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I've been writing this forever. I've let it go too long. Life keeps piling up. Wrangling it all together proves difficult. Unruly size. Unwieldy dimensions.

-----


My 31st birthday fell on a weekday. Thusly, I took the day off work. I slept in. Bought a coffee. Packed a bag. Grabbed my boombox. Picked up a babe. Drove into the wilderness. Hiked a few miles. Swam in the river. Sunsoaked on the beach. Drank some whiskey from a flask. Listened to Michael Jackson. Kissed her. Drove back to the city. Rinsed the sand off. Shared a shower. Stayed naked. A few hours later, I'm eating a delicious hamburger, her treat.

-----

My 32nd birthday feel on a weekday. Thusly, I took the day off work. I slept in. Brewed some coffee. Packed a bag. Grabbed my boombox. Picked up my girlfriend. Drove to the coast. Hiked a few miles. Swam in the ocean. Sunsoaked on the beach. Drank some whiskey from a flask. Listened to Elton John. Kissed her. Drove back to the city. Rinsed off the sand. Shared a shower. Stayed naked. A few hours later, I'm eating a delicious homemade lasagna.

-----


She's spending the week housesitting for a friend, so she invites me over for dinner. It's an older house with a sizable back yard, which is good, since two giant huskies live here. We sit on their porch steps, drinking cider, watching the setting sun while the dogs run around. I play a guitar that only has three strings. We return to the house for a delicious meal (note: it was just okay). After I clean up these stranger's kitchen ("where does this go?"), we end up making out on their bed for awhile.

She takes a break to grab some water. Walking into the kitchen, she releases a horrifying scream. I'm at my feet in seconds. Entering the room, I see both huskies. Their white faces stained a deep red. Blood.

After a few minutes of panic, I discover a pile of shredded opossums on the back porch. A mother and her children. While we were asleep at the switch, the dogs were killing a sizable portion of an opossum family.

She's freaking out. Understandably so. It's a gruesome mess. I make a deal with her: she cleans the dogs, I'll clean up the gristle. She agrees. Snapping into action, I find a shoebox in the garage, some dishwashing gloves and proceed to scoop things up. I ceremoniously place the box in the trash can.

Fare the well, those opossums who hadn't a taste of life's finest fruits.

-----


I helped build an iOS app for a big museum in New York City. It's a big step for them, since they've been slow to adopt modern technology. They're making a big deal of it. To celebrate, they throw a gala. They invite my team and I to come party. I graciously accept.

We arrive a day before the event. After getting our lodging situated, I slip away from the group to meet up with one of my closest friends. She brings her (beautiful) friend with her. Bouncing around the (horribly humid) city, we take part in massive amounts sushi and sake and whiskey and laughter. Around 2am, I call it quits and hail a cab.

I reunite with the crew the next morning and head to the museum. I spend much of the day marveling at the exhibits. Even with a mild hangover: exceptional.


After a stop at the hotel for a wardrobe change, we return to the museum for the gala later that night. We're escorted to a giant room which contains a real-deal Egyptian temple, a horde of beautiful people and a giant stage. We drink wine while we watch a rock band that was really big in 2002.

Afterwards, we sneak up onto the roof and smoke a joint. Someone points out a building that was in Ghostbusters. The crowd goes wild.

-----


My friend turns 30 and rents an absurdly luxurious, mansion-sized cabin deep in the Oregon wilderness. A bit of research shows that the cabin was built in the 1970s by a hash trafficker, who eventually had his palace seized. We spend three days exploring the woods, sitting in the hot tub, sitting in the sauna, sitting in the sun and playing a real-deal 14 person game of hide-and-seek -- inside the house.

-----


My friend turns 28 and rents a whole section of a trailer park situated near a beach. It's a charming little campground that is furnished with old Airstream campers. We spend our days walking the beaches, we spend our nights tearing up a nearby dive bar. We befriend a few of the locals. They make us promise that we'll be back same time, next year to check in on them. We oblige.

EDIT: a year later, we did *not* go back and check in on them. I hope they're okay.

-----


I somehow ended up playing bass in a Misfits cover band, "Sweet Lovely Death." We were to play the company Halloween party. I was skeptical that it would actually happen, but it did, and it turned out pretty goddamned great.

We practiced a total of four times and managed to figure out a 15 song set. We got a stage and a decent PA donated for the event. We rented a fog machine and some purple lights. I edited together a bunch of old horror movie footage to be projected behind us.

The party itself turned out to be fierce. A big warehouse. 10 kegs of beer. A few crates of vodka. A few hundred people.

Around 11pm, we take the stage and rock it out -- the most fun than I've had in years. As a bonus, as a result of this scenario, I have a much greater appreciation / understanding of Mr. Danzig.

-----


I still play a lot of music by myself, but after having so much fun with that cover band, I realize I should be playing with people more often. In days following the show, I spend time on craigslist to familiarize myself with the community of 'musicians wanted.'

"Fuzz, Reverb & Weed" read the post. Opening it revealed a "list of bands we wish we were," which was mostly comprised of fuzzy bands from the mid to late 90s. The authors were two guys. They said they had a practice space lined up and were serious. I responded. We trade a few e-mails. They suggested we meet up.

Based on their musical tastes, I figured they'd probably be my age, maybe a little bit older. A bit shocking when they answered the door and are both 21 years old.

We've been playing for almost a year now. It's loud, noisy, gnarly stuff. I'm pleased with the music and with my bandmates, who I now consider to be friends. I've since invested in a very large, very powerful bass amp and some nice earplugs. There's something profound in being able to rattle an entire building with the pluck of a string.

-----


Levi got married this past summer. Most of the old Jumpfighter crew reunited in a rented beach house. We drank beers, built bonfires, smoked cigarettes, brandished knives, fired off bottle rockets and drank more beers.

It'd been years since we've all spent a serious chunk of time together. How quickly, despite the years and distance, we all manage to fall into the roles we held over 15 years ago, in one way or another, for better or worse. Odd.

-----


My friend wins a lavish, all-expenses paid trip to Belize and graciously offers to take me. Jumping at the opportunity, I hop on a plane to Chicago to meet up before jetting to Central America.

Arriving in the capital city mid-afternoon, the resort sends a van to retrieve us. Hopping in, we nearly traverse the entire country as we travel from the coast to the resort, a giant reserve located smack in the middle of a rainforest. A few eye-opening hours later, we're deep in the jungle, finding our bearings while drinking a cocktail made from local dragonfruit. This place has a certain level of luxury that makes me uncomfortable. Rich-old-white-person luxurious. Tired from traveling, we eat an amazing meal and retire to our cabin.

Waking in the morning, we sit on our porch, drink coffee and listen to the foreign sounds of the jungle. Eating another amazing meal, we head to the river that pours through the middle of the resort. We hop in a canoe and spend the next few hours paddling downstream, soaking in the scenery and the sun, getting a gnarly sunburn in the process.

Eventually, we arrive in the small town of San Ignacio. We tie up our canoe and explore on foot for a few hours. Perusing the shops and farmers market, we share a few beers on a plaza before catching a bus back towards the resort.

At this point, my friend starts feeling a bit under the weather. I'm convinced it's due to the prolonged exertion / exposure to the sun, but even after water and rest, she's not recouping. Come morning, she's still not feeling any better, but she's not going to let that stop her. Thusly, we embark on a long, hot, humid hike through the jungle. Upon returning, it's clear that the hike was a bad idea -- she's got a fever and zero energy. She retires to her bed.

Ultimately, she spends the rest of the trip in bed. Eventually, upon returning to the states, we'd find out that she had gnarly case of strep throat. Sidenote: Years ago, we travelled to SXSW together, where I caught strep throat and was confined to the hotel.


At the time, I have no idea how bad things are, so after ensuring that she's comfortable, I head to the pool to read some sci-fi. Lounging in the sun, the resort staff comes by to offer me some refreshments. I order a cocktail. Ten minutes later, a twenty-something server comes to drop it off. He makes a bit of small talk, commenting that he never sees younger people like myself at the resort. "This place is all old people and their kids," he says.

Making small talk about my sick friend, I see a little tattoo peeking out under his uniform sleeve. Asking about it, his eyes light up. He pulls up his sleeve to reveal a very poorly executed panther tattoo. He tells me that it was his first tattoo and that he's saving up money to get it touched up.

"I have this one, too..." he says as he pulls up the other sleeve, revealing a skull against the backdrop of a giant marijuana leaf. I tell him it's very cool. Leaning in, with a hushed voice, he asks if I ever get high. I say yes. He gets excited. He suggests that we should hang out some time. I agree.

Realizing that he should be getting back to work, he tells me "I'm done by 5. If you get bored, I like to fish by the dock after work. You should come by," before departing.

I spend the afternoon debating if I should go. After bringing some tea and toast to my friend, I decide that while it's kind of a sketchy, I don't really have anything else to do, so I start the trek down to the river.

Meeting my new friend on the dock, we hang out while he fishes for a bit, after which he suggests that we take a canoe upstream. I hop in and we both paddle for nearly an hour. After struggling with a more rapid section of the river, we come to a little lagoon connected to the side. Paddling in, we catch our breath. Wiping some sweat from his brow, he produces a bag of ratty-looking weed and a grape Swisher. The purple foil seems so out of place in this setting. In no time, he's rolled one of the most expert blunts that I've ever witnessed.


We end up getting high. Really high. We spend the next hour lazily drifting down the river we'd just paddled against. The sun is setting, casting a golden glow across the glass-smooth water. It's fucking magnificent. Birds start perching in the giant trees that line the river. He tells me their names. We talk about life, work, women, America and music. Despite our different lives, we find a shared love of Bone Thugs n Harmony, which we sing at the top of our lungs.

Arriving back at the dock, it's starting to get dark. I thank him, give him a hug and hike back to the cabin. Arriving as the stars start coming out, I lay in a hammock and drift off to the foreign sounds of the rainforest.

The next morning, my friend is still sick, so I fetch her some more tea and toast. Afterwards, I head off to breakfast. My new friend is working and before I can put in an order, he tells me that he's got me covered. A bit confused, I oblige. Eventually, he brings me a simple meal of eggs, beans, fresh tortillas and a freshly-made salsa.

"This is the meal that my grandmother would make for me when I was young. That's her special salsa." he says.

I devour the meal. It's delicious. I feel honored. As I get up to leave, he stops me. He tells me that he's off for the next few days, so I won't see him again before he returns. He hands me a folded up piece of paper. "It'll take most of the day, but you should do it." Again, a bit confused, I shake his hand and head back to the cabin. Peeking at the paper reveals some sort of hand-drawn map.


I decide to do it, telling my friend that I'm going for a sketchy day hike. Following the map, I find myself tracing fence lines, cutting across trails and following tree lines until I'm deep in the jungle. After a few hours of following a sparse trail, I eventually reach a large hill, as indicated on the map. Hiking towards the top, I'm sweaty and exhausted. As I approach the apex, I realize that the whole top of the hill has been removed -- it's unnaturally flat. Walking onto the overgrown plateau, I see three huge burial mounds arranged in a triangle. Climbing to the top of the largest one, I take a seat and catch my breath.


Eyes-closed, I hear a flutter of wings. Opening them, I see a glorious flock of toucans taking to the treetops that surround the mound, chirping and chatting all around me. Lying down, letting the breeze wash over me, I doze off to their conversation. Waking up some time later, I start the hike back, feeling refreshed and thankful to be alive in this moment.

-----


She's from Boston, but she's not going home for the holidays. Instead, her tradition is to spend two weeks driving and exploring the Southern Californian desert with her dog. I've known her for a few years through work and have a few undeniable romantic feelings bottled up, but at this point, she's just a friend, but I think she might be sweet on me.

We trade a few texts while I'm home, visiting my parents. Offhandedly, I make a joke about her needing a guide (me) on her desert spirit quest. She agrees and invites me, only half-jokingly. Not having anything better to do, I procure a one-way ticket to Palm Springs. Two days later, she's picking me up from the airport. She even has a cardboard sign with my name on it. With a heart on it -- I'm in.


For the next week, we're inseparable. We cover incredible ground together. Hours and hours and hours on the road. Circling the Salton Sea, we explore Slab City and Salvation Mountain before driving to LA for beaches, LACMA and fine dining. We end up crashing in a Motel 6 in Gilroy (the garlic capitol of America) on New Years eve, rising early to eat a shitty meal at a shitty diner. We cut up the coastline, exploring Santa Cruz, my mother's old stamping ground, before making a staggering nine hour voyage back to Oregon.

Completely fried from the highway, we stay over at my parent's house for a night before heading back to Portland. Sitting in a hot tub with my arm around her, staring at the kind of starry sky you can only get in the country, I feel happier than I've been in a long, long time.

-----


Thanks for a friend with an extra ticket, I finally caught to see Refused play a small venue, 15 years after the fact. It was better than my 16 year old self could ever have imagined.

-----


After five years of hustling, I finally hit eject on agency life. Over those five years, I poured myself into the work and the company. I was employee number 15 and by the time I quit, we'd grown to 115. We'd gone from small one-off projects to huge multi-million dollar campaigns. But throughout this growth, we never really changed our approach to how we work. What works for small teams doesn't scale to larger ones. The fallout from this is that I had to work much, much harder to deliver the same level of quality. Eventually, I found myself burnt-out, exhausted and jaded. I'd worked hard to grow a kick-ass team, only to watch the morale erode.

Despite years of stellar performance, I felt completely unheard by the company partners. Despite the stunning success of the company, there were many fractures that they just couldn't see and were far too proud to admit to, let alone address.

I felt painted into a corner. The stress wasn't worth the compensation. I felt it bleeding into my personal life. I've continually held a job since I was 16 and For the first time in my life, I found myself fantasizing about being unemployed. Realizing that with my fastidious saving tendencies, I had more than enough to not really work for awhile, a plan started taking shape -- I'd bail on this bullshit and take a few of months off. I'd travel. I'd shop for groceries during the day. I'd sit in the park and read a book. I'd go for a 10am run. I'd do whatever the fuck I wanted to do.

So I quit. And it felt great.

-----


We take a fifteen minute cab to the airport. Nine hours later, I'm bathing in an Icelandic hot spring in the pouring rain. We are to call this island home for the next 2.5 weeks. My head resting on volcanic rock, the rain on my face, I'm already in love with it.

-----


She handles the accommodations while I handle the transportation, so after landing, we take a shuttle to get our rental car. On her suggestion, I booked it through "SADCars." Per their website, they provide very cheap rentals by using older cars and not charging crazy rates when cars get dinged up. Based on my understanding of the Island's rough terrain and gravel roads, this makes perfect sense to me. However, when we're finally introduced to our car, it's absolutely thrashed. A mid-ninteties gold Toyota Yaris. Filthy. Rust patches. The entire car is a dent.

I tell the man behind the counter of our plans to circumnavigate the island. In a stern, stoic Icelandic voice, he assures me that while it doesn't look like much, it's mechanically sound. I believe him, sign my name and we depart.

Chatting as we make our way to the hot springs, we laugh at the car and it's horrible condition. She gives it the somewhat obvious moniker of "Goldie", but it fits, so it sticks. We decide that the car, in it's condition, will surely help us blend in with the locals. We hatch a plan to photograph Goldie in the most picturesque locations we can find, contrasting her against the beauty of this place. Eventually, through the mocking, it starts being endearing, in a little-engine-that-could sort of way. Eventually, Goldie becomes part of the team.

-----


We spend two days in Reykjavik, wandering around the adorable city, trying our best to break our jetlag with the country's horrible coffee. After getting our fill of city life, we head west in search of isolation.

The capitol at our backs, the fog breaks to reveal the gigantic mountains that surround us. We sit in silence, dumbfounded by the scale and beauty of this island. And we're only an hour out of the city. We make our way across the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Hellnar, a small fishing village with ~10 year-round residents. She's booked an adorable cottage for us, one with a view of the ocean and the tiny church. At 11pm, as the sun starts setting, we walk to the shore and perch ourselves beside the oceanside cliffs. We watch the birds fish offshore as the sky changes colors.

Later, lying in bed while eating weird Icelandic candy, we brainstorm an itinerary for tomorrow's adventure. It's our first real day to explore, so there's a lot on the list.

We wake up early, drink some shitty coffee, eat a small meal and start packing the car. It's only as we depart that we notice that we have a flat tire. Shit.


Thankfully Goldie comes equipped with a spare, but it's only barely inflated. I jack up the car to swap it out while she calls the rental company. They'll pay for a replacement, but we'll have to drive to another town to get it. Looking it up on a map, it looks like it's about 30km away. We plot a route and start off.

The route we'd chosen was the most direct, but unbeknownst to us, the most treacherous. The map indicated it as a major road, but in reality, it was little more than windy gravel road across across a mountain pass. This was our first taste of Icelandic roads. What we thought was going to be a 45 minute trip turned out taking nearly two hours.

White-knuckles the entire trip, we finally make it to town around noon and locate the small shop, which is closed for lunch. We sit in the grass and snack on the sandwhiches we'd made. Eventually, the shop owner appears and helps us out. A short while later, we're back on the road.

-----


It's 10pm but it's still light out. We're naked, dipping our toes into a hotspring located in the middle of an ancient lava flow. Not a soul for miles, I reflect on the stress and strife that, just a few weeks ago, was the worst thing in my life. Now, from here, it all seems so small and unimportant.

-----



-----


Our next stop, Akureyri, is about five hours away. Since I'd be driving, I plot our route the previous night. Starting early as to give ourselves enough time to explore, we pack our car and say goodbye to Hellnar. I salute the mighty Snæfellsjökull mountain as we pass along it's base. We make our way over the mountain pass that we'd crossed with a spare tire a few days earlier. This time, there's much less stress and more time to enjoy the scenery. We stop at a mountain lake. I try to teach her how to skip rocks.

We travel along one of the (seemingly) major roads, but just a few kilometers into it, it turns into a poorly maintained, pitted gravel road. After an hour, the road is still in terrible condition and we're way off the beaten path, but the scenery is magnificent, so we keep putting along.

She's driving, doing her best to avoid the potholes, but she's not doing very well. She hits a jarring hole. Suddenly, Goldie is pulling right, hard. My heart sinks as I exit the car. Worst fears confirmed: another flat tire.

For the second time in two days, I jack up the car and install the tiny spare tire. She calls the rental company and asks them where the closest shop is, which is about 70km away. Beyond that, just like everywhere else is Iceland, they close at 5pm. Looking at the clock, that gives us about two hours to make it. Surely the road will turn to pavement soon, right? Nope. 65 of those 70km was spent on that brutal gravel road.

Carefully balancing speed with caution, we find ourselves limping along in a race against the clock. Eventually, the road turns to pavement, which was a victory in itself. After hours of gravel roads, the blacktop felt like luxury.

We make it to the shop with 10 minutes to spare. The majority of Icelanders speak english, but we're well off the beaten path and the mechanic isn't versed. Thankfully, there's a secretary who helps us translate. The stern man clearly wants close shop for the night, but with a little pleading, he helps us out. While he replaces the tire, the secretary talks to us about the US, shows us some of her photography and teaches us how to correctly pronounce 'Snæfellsnes'.

-----

The traffic lights in the Reykjavik have an extra setting to them. Similar to how our lights show yellow before transitioning to red, their lights have another yellow, as red transitions to green. I quite enjoyed this, as it gave me a heads-up to start revving the shit out of the engine, since our car had the loosest clutch in the known universe.

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-----

We rise in the morning on a horse farm outside of Egilsstaðir. We make some coffee and step out into the brisk morning. Heading into the field, I whistle. Within seconds, we're surrounded by a pack of gorgeous icelandic horses. Having no natural predators on the island, they're extremely friendly. We pet them and marvel at their glorious manes. The sleep still in my eyes, the clouds break, revealing the a sprawling, snow-capped mountain range looming over the farm that we didn't even know was there.

-----


In some of the more remote areas, especially in the eastern fjords, you'll find long, claustrophobic tunnels upwards of 7km in length. Adding to the stress, some of them are single-lane, meaning that if you meet in the middle, you're in reverse for a km or two, until you can find a small pull-out and carefully squeeze by each other.

-----

Exploring the small town of Egilsstaðir, we find ourselves in the midst of Ormsteiti, a ten-day festival which celebrates the (possible) existence of a giant monster dwelling in Lagarfljót, the nearby lake. We watch a musical performed by children, drink hot chocolate, eat hot dogs, peruse a flea market, examine the vontage tractor contest and watch a demonstration by two skilled men in which they carve a tiny chair from a log with nothing more than chainsaws.

-----


We spend hours watching the glacier calve huge chunks of ice. We follow them as they float out of the lagoon, beckoned by the Atlantic.

-----

We ended our trip in Stokkseyri, spending two nights in a delightful little bed and breakfast owned by an adorable icelandic couple. This place marks the spot where, aeons ago, a huge lava flow met the ocean. A shelf of volcanic rock extends into the water. We spend hours hopping between rocks, poking at tidepools and hunting for shells.

-----



-----


A famous Icelandic architect purchased an old tackle shop in Stokkseyri. Intending to build, instead of tearing down the old building, he merely constructed a new structure around the existing shop. He did so without permits, or even the appropriate building materials. Eventually, a lawsuit is brought against him. He ends up fleeing the country.

Fifteen years later, the structure is still there, but it's vacant, falling apart. Broken windows, flaking paint and water damage, the locals have taken to calling the building "Misery".

-----


Icelanders take great pride in their automobiles. They even have a remarkable 4x4 culture that puts the US to shame in terms of scale. Gravedigger-esqe. We had thought that Goldie would help us blend in, but for the entire duration of the trip, we never once saw a car that was in worse condition. When hosts of the bed and breakfast commented on it, we laughed and told them about the cut-rate rental company, our misadventures and our subsequent appreciation of the vehicle.

Instead of laughing along, she just shakes her head.

"No. No. We do not like this."

-----

After quitting my job, I promised to give myself at least one solid month off before starting my hunt for another. Keeping to my word, after 30 days, I wrote an e-mail to the CEO of a wildly successful coffee company in town. I'd crossed paths with the company earlier in the year, when they hired the agency to do some work for them. I ended up building a whiz-bang commerce website for them. Some of my finest work to date. The project was a massive success, no thanks to them, as they didn't have a single technical person in their ranks.

In my e-mail, I explained my perspective to him. That while their product was amazing, the company lacked any sort of technical prowess, that if the company was serious about smart growth, he needed to hire me immediately.

He bit. Shortly thereafter, we talk in person. Shortly thereafter, I sign a job offer to be their Director of Technology. Low(er) stress, great perks, a fat raise and free reign to do what I want.

Life is sweet.

-----


I've been with her for a year now. It's my first long-ish relationship in quite some time. The high parts have been amazing, the low parts, terrible. She's a great, loyal friend and I love her, but I fear that some of the idiosyncrasies that attracted me are starting to irritate me. More news to come.

the unexamined life

eric

Sunday 18 October 2015 at 7:35 pm

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Hi. I am now 31, almost 32.

To catch you up:

I now work for an independent radio station. It's new. It's a lot of work. I don't really get paid. I like it. At this point, if this doesn't lead anywhere for me, I'm out of ideas on what to do with my life.

My social life is pretty superficial overall. I am getting to meet a lot of the movers and shakers around town now. I go to a lot of things. Everyone I see regularly knows pretty minimal things about me, and its mostly the self-deprecating things I say about myself and my life to make people laugh. Its a horrible trap I continue to get myself into due to desperation for positive social interaction. I think most people I encounter regularly think favorably of me overall, but I honestly don't fucking know anymore.

I have been dating up a storm in the last few years. Nothing sticks. I feel autistic. Or something. When did shit get so complicated? In the adult dating world, in the "young" creative person dating world of Portland, I have a few strikes against me from the get go. I am on the lower rungs on the physical attractiveness-scale. I make barely any money. I am not talented at anything at all. The two things that have always gotten me around those obstacles were always my sense of humor and my outwardly fragile interior. What I am discovering is demonstrating my insides now only leads to drunk mistakes and flexing my humor muscle leads to a few dates until the one where I feel comfortable enough to not be funny the whole damn time and then I suddenly never hear back and without any explanation. Shit is always going great until I stop being funny for a sec.

There are a lot of people that reach out for support on things they are doing. Projects, endeavors, performances, achievements, birthdays, get-togethers, etc. I see supporting these things as a part of what friendship is to human beings. I like participating in this.

There are anonymous women sending me naked pictures of themselves through snapchat. There are women that want to just fuck and be done with it. There are women who want me to entertain them through social media and text. There are women who like to laugh while they are drunk and want/need attention. This all can be fun too.

But I think I am done with it all now. I'm tired. I can no longer be someones interim entertainment until something better comes along. I can no longer be another body in a room to help reinforce someone's social status. I can no longer be the one to cross town every single time if I want to hang out because no one is willing to make a trip every once in awhile an extra mile out of their way. I'm tired of walking home at 4 in the morning by myself. I'm tired of being understanding. I'm tired of being a good sport. Because now all of that is just expected of me.

The big favor I did for myself when I was trying to overcome my depression was throw away the expectation that anyone would understand. The big favor I am doing for myself in trying to get over loneliness is getting rid of all expectations for other people. I am tired of feeling weird. I am tired of feeling crazy. I am tired of feeling out of place. I'm tired of feeling like everyone is doing me a favor. I'm tired of being made to feel desirable while there are drinks around and then when hangover/sobriety hits I'm an awkward mistake.

Call it winter hibernation or whatever you want, but my appearances will be rare from here on out. I'm going to focus on creating a life of doing things that make me happy. And only me. Maybe I should just move into a cabin in the woods and stop fucking around. Maybe I should start writing my australian ex-girlfriend more emails she won't answer. Maybe I should stop smiling. Maybe I smile too much. Maybe I should settle for the one who loves me. Maybe I should stop whining. Maybe I should get a haircut. Maybe I should tone down my personality. Maybe I should tone UP my personality. Maybe I should drink less. Maybe I should drink more. Maybe I need to focus on being creative again. Maybe I need to play more video games. Maybe I just need to work all of the time. Maybe I should go get another tattoo right now. Maybe I should try to make another mix. Maybe I should start running my website again. Maybe I should learn something new. Maybe I should only work and workout and prepare healthy meals and sleep every day. Maybe I should go see more movies by myself. Maybe I should start working on losing my empathy. Maybe I should just read more and get better rest. Maybe I should never go on the internet again. Maybe I should watch more porn. Maybe I should watch less porn. Maybe I should make some music. Maybe I should see some music. Maybe I should see if I can meet some new people. Oh wait, fuck.


I am high on cocaine in this mirror selfie. Exciting stuff.

"My Early 30's Were The Best Time Of My Life!" - Dad

ian

Friday 16 May 2014 at 09:41 am

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I find myself in a pop-up shop where local footwear designers show off and sell their side-project wares. It's all pretty remarkable work and knowing a bit about the footwear industry, I find it fascinating to contrast their day jobs vs. their art.

I meet a woman selling a few prints and paintings. She's incredibly nice, albeit a bit shy. I thumb through a small rack of larger prints and ask her about what she does for a living. She starts telling me of her days spent designing boxes, which is simultaneously more interesting, yet more boring than I previously imagined. She asks about me, what I do. I tell her of my new-ish job. I tell her of my near burnout and subsequent escape from shoe game. I almost tell her of being trapped in the suburbs, but I hold back.

Returning my attention to the rack, I flip to the next print. It's a top-down drawing of roads, lined with suburban homes, but things are arranged strangely. Confused, I pull it out of the rack to get a better look. After a few seconds, letters and words show themselves, revealing a message:

"oops, wrong dream"

I pause for a second, absorbing it. A perfectly-timed, coincidental punch in the gut. I do my best to maintain composure as I immediately pull out my wallet, purchase it, frame it and hang it above my bed.

I'd been contemplating it for awhile, but this was the only sign I needed -- Time to pack up this little dream. It's time for something new.

-----


Selling off the big-ticket items (bed, table, chairs, treadmill, car parts, BBQ, monitors, etc) was the easiest part. I'm hella good at Craigslist and know a fair price, so offloading them required little more than coordination.

I parted with the beastly PC I built myself right after I got out of college -- a reward for landing a job. I met with a guy, who turned out to be a recent high school graduate in desperate need for a workhorse computer for his upcoming collegiate career. As it were, he would be attending OSU to study computer science, just as I did. I gave him a discount and told him where to find the secret computer lab.

Years ago, I inherited a giant cache of Playboys from a dead relative, the same one who willed me his computers (which also contained much pornography). The magazines have been sitting in my garage for years. Finding a buyer was proving difficult, despite it being a very comprehensive set (decades worth). No demand. My reasoning? No one ever threw them away.

After months of continual re-posting, I finally find someone to buy them. Someone with the last name of 'McNutt'. No joke. After piling the giant boxes of pornography into my car, I meet up with him after work. Note: switchblade in my pocket. He's driving an obnoxious Dodge Ram pickup, which I complement. He tells me that his day job is driving refrigerated truck. Apparently, it's a very difficult, frustrating job that he is incredibly skilled at.

He tells me that he's already completed one set of Playboys and that mine will round out his second. He's trying to collect four complete sets. He Also tells me of his endgame: to be able to pass a complete set to all four of his sons. Unreal.

Next, I gather all the smaller, non-essentials for my very first garage sale. In order to identify what stays and what goes, I inventoried my entire set of belongings, assessing value. This meant cleaning out every closet, box, drawer and cupboard. In doing so, I experienced so many moments of heartbreak. Old photos. Birthday gifts. A bobby-pin in the back of the closet. Notes hidden years ago but never found. No fun.

In the end, I pocketed a tidy sum of cash. Anything that didn't sell, I gave away or donated. I rented a dumpster and threw away the rest.

After all this, I was left with but a small subset of what I used to possess, a bare-minimum for my version of comfortable living. Despite the emotionally-jarring surprises and weighty malaise, there's joy to be found in discarding the unnecessary.

-----


A dear friend flies in from New York. I pick her up at the airport. We drop her bags at my place and walk to my favorite local bar. It's a dive with a few choice pinball tables and a killer jukebox. Seriously. Any bar that allows me to transition Husker Du -> Wu Tang -> Heatmiser -> Huey Lewis on their juke is a-okay. We drink and catch up, eventually crawling back to my place for some sleep.

In the morning, we rise and crawl to a breakfast spot two blocks away. We come to life as we drink our coffee, both consuming copious quantities of delicious food. Back in the game, we stock up on snacks, drop currency at the liquor store and speed into the gorge -- our mutual friend has rented a classy (and giant) cabin, overlooking the Columbia, for new years eve party. There's 20 people, a fire pit, hot tub, ping-pong table, sprawling yard, 2000 gallons of spirits and 300 pounds of weed. It's amazing.

Intoxication ensues. Ridiculousness ensues. Debauchery ensues. It's 5:30am before I find myself crawling into a child's daybed for sleep. Happy fucking new year.

Later that morning, everyone rises with crippling hangovers. We brew coffee and make breakfast, mostly in silence. After a meal, everyone grabs a blanket and crashes on a couch as we watch Blade and eat snacks. Then Blade III. Then Blade II.

Note: Skipping Blade II made for a more enjoyable, engaging experience, as the shitty movie was made interesting if only by our confusion.

-----


With new responsibilities at work and trying to execute my gameplan for escaping the suburbs, 30 really snuck up on me. 30 had always been one of those landmark ages that seemed so far away. However, in a blink, it was here. And since noone else was going to throw me a killer party, I took it upon myself to do it right.

When I was ten, I remember hearing about a middle school kid who rented out a movie theater for his birthday. In my small world, that was the coolest, most extravagant shit ever. Coming from humble backgrounds, I knew it was way too expensive for a simple farmboy like myself. Fast-forward twenty years and I find myself with the resources to achieve this long-forgotten dream.

So that's exactly what I did. Renting out the single-screen Clinton St. Theater for the evening, I secured a cache of cheap-ass beer for the drinking and invited nearly everyone I know to partake in the crown-jewel of 1992 cinema: Encino man. Doors at 8, show at 9.

My birthday finally rolls around. I show up at the theater, unload the beer, set up a boombox and wait for people to arrive. People start filtering in, bringing gifts, hugs and even more beer. At 9pm, the theater is remarkably full and people are feverishly downing beer as the movie begins.

I'd expected a good time, as people seemed to be equally excited by the theater-renting birthday concept, but I wasn't prepared for the sheer outpouring of love. The ugly feelings of isolation and loneliness that I'd been wrestling with were quelled by a throng of amazing people who, seemingly, like me (or at least my beer / taste in cinema).

Fuck yeah, 30.

Note: I'd assured the theater staff that it would be a low key event, as it was taking place on a weeknight. After seeing everyone off, the owner of the establishment tells me that we have vastly different concepts of "low key."

-----



-----


I'd taken a mid-week day off for the move, in hopes of lower traffic and a better chance of front-row parking. By 7am, I had the truck in my driveway. Boxes staged in the garage, I pack up the first load by myself. My friend arrives and we drive it into the city. Finding a truck-sized parking spot directly in-front of the building, we quickly carry everything to the top floor, up three flights of stairs.

We grab a bite to eat. Making our way back to the suburbs, we load up all the furniture and zip back to the city. Moving my three-piece sectional couch up the stairs nearly destroys me.

By the time I drop my friend off, return the truck, retrieve my car and get back to the city, it's late and I'm 100% spent. Unpacking only my bedding, I immediately fall asleep in my living room, sprawled across a mattress, nestled between a canyon of boxes, huge smile on my face, no doubt.

-----

70 of us, camped out on some remote acreage towards the Oregon coast. It's 1am and I'm holding an old Sony boombox on my shoulder, a mariachi mixtape blaring. A group of people, sun-kissed from a day by the river, surround a makeshift fire, all wearing thick ponchos emblazoned with reindeer and pine trees. Passing a bottle of tequila around, they take turns jumping over the fire. Someone behind us lights a roman candle and yells 'internet' (pronounced 'innuh-neeeet'). Someone lights a joint. I flip the tape over, revealing my Hall and Oates secret weapon. The crowd goes wild.

These are my coworkers. This is our summer office party.

-----


It was supposed to be a quick, week-long trip down to LA for some training on a particular software framework that I'll be required to use for a big-dollar project on the horizon. I'd be traveling solo, which sucks, but they put me up in a real nice hotel. Class during the day, with my nights spent gallivanting around LA with some long-lost friends. I can deal with that.

I thought I was arriving at LAX, but as it turns out, my flight had been set up to land in Long Beach. It's not that far on a map, but in my rental Kia (fuck), it took nearly an extra hour of freeway travel to reach my hotel. I shrugged it off, but it was indicative of how my week would turn out.

The plan was to study during the day and party at night, with one exception: Monday night. One of the projects I'd been leading was set to launch that night. I'm a fastidious planner when it comes to deploying new software, so the fact that I'd be doing it remotely, off-hours wasn't much of a concern to me. After 8 hours of class, a quick dinner and a little downtime, 10pm rolls around. Five of my developers on videochat, I pull the trigger, remotely rolling out our code to all the servers. For a minute, everything is perfect. Laughter and celebration in the chat, I notice that one of the servers just went offline. Puzzling. As I'm looking into it, another one goes down. Shit. And then another. Panic sets in. Disaster-mode enabled.

Within 10 minutes, the entire server cluster is wholly unresponsive. Everything is dead. They might as well be powered off.

We'd tested our code for weeks without issue, so this is completely unexpected. After some frantic calls to the datacenter, I convince someone to hit the 'reset' button on the block of servers. They come alive, but after a few minutes, flame-out again. Goddamnit.

Another call, another reboot, but this time, I rollback our changes and everything goes back to normal. This means that there is something wrong with our code. Motherfuck.

More frantic phonecalls, we decide to call it quits for the night and try again tomorrow. It's 1am and I'm still at a complete loss as to why this is happening. I feel absolutely horrible. My peers consoles me, but this is the worst roll-out that I've ever been a part of, let alone lead. Defeated.

I get in bed and try to sleep, but my brain is humming. Despite having a top-notch team, I'm really the only one capable of figuring out what the problem is. After 30 minutes of staring at the ceiling, I realize I won't be able to fall asleep. Thusly, I hoist myself out of bed and perch in the warm glow of my laptop, perusing through stack traces, server configurations and logs.

At 5:30am, I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm about to call it quits again in hopes of getting some sleep before I have to head back to the classroom. As I close my connection to the server, I notice something blink on the screen. I quickly reconnect and take another peek. Eureka!

I stand up, kicking my chair back. Arms over my head, clad only in my underwear, I yell "fuck yes." After hours of complete cluelessness, I'd found the smoking gun. Mind you, it wasn't a fix to the problem, but I at least knew what the problem was. Half the battle. It's 6am when I finally crawl into my bed with a smile on my face.

The following day, after class, I immediately returned to my hotel for some hardcore hacking. After some research, I learn that the ultimate 'fix' is ridiculously complicated and will take some heavy lifting to pull off correctly. Again, I'm the only one on the team who could make this work. Pressure. The next two days were spent in similar fashions: class during the day, solo coding during the night in my lonely hotel room.

Thursday night, my fix in place, we try again. This time, everything works as expected. Perfect. I'm over-fucking-joyed.

The final session of class on friday, I feel like I'm going to lose my goddamned mind if I have to look at ant more code. Thusly, I skip out mid-morning, taking my shitty rental Kia (fuck) to venice beach for some sunny day-drinking with my friend, which turns into an LA adventure as the sun sets. A very suitable way to end out a ridiculously shit week.

-----


I'd moved out, but the house required a deep-clean / paint touchup / minor repairs / yard maintenance. So close, yet still tied down by dirty floors and paint and broken light fixtures and landscaping.

Again, underestimating how long things take, I spend entirely too much time commuting from the city to the suburbs to wrap things up. Painful.

And then, one day, without really realizing it, everything is perfect -- there's nothing left to be done. Thusly, I drag the trashcan to the curb for pickup and pack assorted cleaning products in the back of my car. Driving home, windows down on a gloriously warm evening, I feel so fucking happy.

-----


Meredith grew up on a farm, riding horses in the high deserts of Oregon. Now she lives in LA and designs clothing for a fancy couture brand.

I met her at the beginning of her transformation: college, freshman year. I had a big crush on her best friend, who lived in my dorm building. Keeping in very loose contact over the years, I'm delighted to find a text message from her. She's in town and wants to share a meal. It's been a few years since I've seen her, so I jump at the chance. I suggest a venue. She obliges, telling me 8pm.

I arrive expecting a one-on-one dinner, but instead, she has three of her (fuckin' foxy) colleagues in tow. All on vacation, all looking for some Portland-style fun. One million thumbs up.

We feast on Japanese food and drink sour whiskey cocktails for hours. It's coming on midnight before we make it outside.

"Where now?" one of them says.

I suggest a few of my favorite haunts within walking distance. As we discus options, one of them pulls out a bag and proceeds to roll a fine-looking joint with mastery.

"Isn't Portland, like, famous for it's strip clubs?" she asks, licking the paper and twisting it between her fingers.

Thinking she's joking, I laugh, telling her about Sassy's, a Portland institution. I haven't been in years, but it *is* just a few blocks away...

"Well then, let's do this" she says, lighting the joint. Not joking.

Note: later, I come to find out that three of the four attend a bar-dancing class together and are looking to see "how the pros do it"

With a brief walk and a flash of out IDs, we're in a loud, crowded strip club. I find myself in (long) line for the bar while the girls hit the ATM and find us some seats. I wait for what seems like ages, nodding in approval at how the DJ just made a seamless transition from Waka Flocka Flame into Talking Heads, when I suddenly hear a man excitedly say my full name.

Looking over my shoulder in surprise, I see my old college roommate, whom I haven't seen or spoken in nearly 8 years. Not by accident, either -- he's kind of an asshole.

Note: also a slob (evidence from 2006) -- 1 & 2

He gives me a high-five and tries to do the catch-up thing, despite the glaring fact that it's so entirely the wrong venue for such discussions. I don't really want to talk to him right now, but I manage to be cordial (and concise). I allude to the fact that we should postpone this until later, but he misses the point. He humble-brags about his grad school program and scuba certifications. I feign interest.

And what follows is undeniably the coolest cool-dude moment that has ever happened to me:

"So wait, are you here alone?" he says in a mildly joking / mocking tone.

At that moment, Meredith appears with two drinks in her hand. Completely disregarding my old roommate, she hands them both to me. I accept. Digging in her purse, she procures a giant fucking stack of currency. She cuts it in half.

"Here, trade" she says, handing me a wad of cash in exchange for a drink. "Merry Christmas".

"Someone came to party" my old roommate says.

"Yeah, let's go have fun" she says, motioning across the room with a fistful of dollars. All three of us look in that direction, seeing the other girls, seated at a prime table. They wave back.

"Sorry Mike, I gotta go." I say, lifting my drink and doing a farewell wave with my cash-filled hand.

-----


Software, as a career, is full of ego, nerd-posturing and one-upmanship. I pride myself on avoiding this behavior at all cost, but there are three distinct ego-stroking moments I've experienced over the last few months that seem notable:

_ Making it to a third-round interview for a CTO position with very well-funded New York startup.

_ Contracting for a giant (and recently IPO'd) social networking site to solve hard problems they can't.

_ A 1% share of company profits with my current employer.

Baller.

-----

The next time that we cross paths, it's at a birthday party for a mutual friend. We drink and laugh and flirt and joke. It's probably not the right thing to do, but it feels good. Just like old times. And we both realize it.

After that, we start making excuses to cross paths.

This continues until we start toeing the line of "just friends." A loaded phrase. This is starting to turn into something else. And we both realize it.

The correct move would have been to keep my boundaries in check, to stick to my guns, to stay strong. Instead, I do the complete opposite.

And then we go way over the line. And we both realize it.

I'm so foolishly weak.

Love your abuser.

-----


Someone brought a cheetah into the office. I watched it devour a giant, raw steak in a matter of seconds.

-----

After sealing the house, I take a one week break to situate my apartment and enjoy the city while the weather is still nice. Once the blur of unpacking and staying-out-way-past-my-bedtime-on-a-schoolnight diversion was over, I get back to business. Having read a bunch of shitty books and armed with some guidance from one of my colleagues, who happens to be a land baroness, I put my house up for rent and waited.

The response was remarkable. Within a few days, there was enough interest to fill out a saturday with 30-minute walkthroughs. Everyone who visits takes an application. Towards the end of the day, a younger couple arrives. We make small-talk as I show the house. They're incredibly pleasant people, far nicer than anyone else I talked with that day. Oh, and they're recently-married doctors who work all the time. No kids and no pets.

Perfect tenants.

They immediately fill out applications and cut me a check for background checks. After a green light on their rental history and background checks, they send me a deposit.

I meet them at the house on a Wednesday night to sign final papers. They cut me a pro-rated rent check, at which point I shake their hands and hand over the keys.

Smiles abound as they walk me to the front door. Exiting, I stand on the porch, telling them to call me if they need anything. They thank me, waving as they shut the door. As it clicks shut, I realize it's the first time anyone had closed that door on me. A certain sense of finality rushes over me. All the good things that have happened under this roof, and all the bad, it's doesn't matter anymore -- this isn't my house anymore, it's just an asset.

Liberating, yes, but sad all the same.

Shutdown sequence: complete.

-----

After that night, I'm a fucking mess. All these feelings I try to kill: they persist. All this baggage that I thought I'd offloaded: still securely stowed. A mild, mini identity crisis, as I've built my current self around the notion of moving on -- shutting down the past, trying something new, growing.

I thought I'd put some distance between us, but after turning around, it's still within reach. And that's disappointing.

There's still comfort to be found in her arms. And that's conflicting.

After an adequate moratorium, we meet up her place to talk about it. About us. About what to do with all of this. She makes makes a meal as we skirt the subject.

After the meal, as the tension fades, we open up. We talk, for a long time. Spilling our guts, I tell her that I think I need to walk away.

Truly, my love of this woman is immutable, but simply I can't bring myself to do it again.

"We had our shot."

Shortly thereafter, she asks me to leave. Standing by the door, we embrace. I kiss her on the forehead before I exit to the hallway, head spinning.

The gravity of it all doesn't hit me until I get home. Passing a mirror, I notice something on my jacket -- two perfect tear stains on my chest. Devastating.

-----



After executing the suburban escape plan, I reward myself with a gorgeous bass that I intend to keep (and abuse) for the rest of my life.

-----

City living is glorious. Convenient. Vibrant. Exciting. I love my apartment. I love my commute (< 1 mile). I love the coffee. I love the parks. I love the women. I love the women. I love the pinball. I love how everything just fell into place, once I started the ball rolling.

-----



I expected more. I expected a modicum of resolve, resolution. Instead, little more than the slow-fade of smoldering flame.

I hate it. I hate how it ended. Bittersweet.

Not only did I watch the dream fall apart, I somehow managed to start a fire with the rubble.

ESC

eric

Sunday 16 March 2014 at 7:48 pm

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