An adventure you won’t soon forget

Well I’m back already. To be honest, I got bored.

I drove up to Madison last weekend to see my good friend Kris and my brother Todd, who just had surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma from his nose, and his wife Darcy and my cousin Tim and Tim’s daughter Lily. Nobody who reads this knows any of these people but it’s important to set a scene. They’re all good people, btw, and funny and fun to be around. You’d like them a lot. Kris and I had lunch and then went shopping at REI and stopped for coffee at a little French bakery in a strip mall where the gray, bearded proprietor conversed with friends in French and a lady stood behind a small folding table next to the front counter making crepes.

On Wednesday I flew to Portland, Ore, for training. I volunteered to go because I enjoy field trips and had never been to Portland before. It was a beautiful city and I got to shop at Powell’s, which was a long-time goal finally achieved (purchases: Beloved [used], Angle of Repose [used], Don’t Save Anything [new]). We were treated well everywhere we went, although I had to switch both flights from United to Alaska Airlines for reasons I will not elaborate, and ended up getting approximately zero hours of sleep over three days. An exciting failed experiment in mental preparedness and knowledge retention. I’m 90% confident on any given day I’ll get fired from this job, and this trip did not improve those odds, but I’m hanging on til the bitter end. What else do I have to do with my time.

Things I’ve been thinking about:

+ In addition to my brother Todd, my dad is having cataract surgery next month, my uncle is recovering from open heart surgery, and my aunt is recovering from spinal surgery. With the exception of Todd these are all people over the age of 80, but still. Every time I see an especially fit individual going about their daily business, feeling good and free and proud, I think to myself, keep going. Do your best. Just know even your body will betray you in the end.

+ Vanitas.

+ On Being / Elizabeth Gilbert: “And curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly, and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you.”

+ On Being / Pico Iyer: “The ultimate luxury now might be just a blank space in the calendar."

+ On Being / Helen Fisher: “I happen to be an atheist, and I always have been. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the Hubble Telescope site on the internet, but when you take a look at what’s out there, it’s so staggering — reality is so staggering. The real meanings of life, for me, are in reality, I guess.”

+ My new blog inspiration: Spencer Tweedy. I’m going to follow his idea of keeping regular notes, of checking in, of simply observing and recording without worrying about hooking it to some larger idea.

+ According to the liturgy of liberal dogma or whatever I’m not supposed to read Bret Stephens, but I thought this piece on Neil Armstrong was wonderful.

+ The worst thing in the world is ventriloquists. At the low end of the worst-things-in-the-world spectrum, I mean.

+ I took the red-eye back from Portland on Friday and had a layover in Seattle. We left Seattle at about 12:45 a.m., which for me was nearly three o’clock in the morning. I was wedged into the window seat at the back of the plane, wild-eyed with exhaustion, and I pressed my forehead against the window and watched as we swung out wide over Puget Sound and then back again over the city, a blanket of lights and motion winking back up at us. I understand that flying is a miserable experience, especially now and especially after last week, and yet…I can’t lift into the sky in the dark without thinking a not insignificant part of it is still magic.

+ At the end of The West Wing episode “He Shall, From Time to Time,” Jed Bartlet explains the logic of restocking the government in the event of an emergency to the secretary of agriculture—played by the same dude who played the mayor who turned into a giant snake on Buffy and was going to eat all those kids at graduation—and his very last lines are, “You’ll do fine. People have phenomenal capacity.” And it’s so good! This show was fiction even at the time, lord knows, but do you remember what it felt like to feel that way and not have it seem like a miracle? My god.

I don’t know, man. Life is shitty and sad and hard a lot of the time, even if you’re lucky. Grab whatever makes you laugh or think and run for the hills. You’ll do fine. People have phenomenal capacity.