Tag Archives: vacation

Oh. Canada.

Hello there! I’m not dead, but I am in Canada, so you could be forgiven for making that mistake.

There’s something revitalizing about being in a place that’s just so green. You drive from one place to another out here and there’s nothing but trees for miles and miles (sorry, kilometers and kilometers). Like a bunch of unicorns ate a pile of leprechauns and took off through the countryside spraying green in their wake.

Basically everywhere feels like this:

(For the curious, this is a beach in St. Something – apparently it’s required that every twenty miles or so [sorry, every thirty kilometers] you have to have a town called St. Something-or-other.)

Anyway, we’re on a flight tomorrow and back in the dirty south by the weekend. Normality will resume.


A Week Away

We were away from the homestead for a few days on a much-needed vacation. Missed a metaphor Monday and a couple of other posts I might have made in the meantime. So instead of a deep-dive on a topic, here’s a rapid-fire scatter-shot swipe at a few things I think I’m thinking about the week.

The Orange One continues to have his own personal version of the Midas Touch, which is the same as the fabled king who turned everything he touched into gold, except in the case of the DT, he turns everything he touches to poop. This week he’s poopifying the NFL, getting his poopy little fingers into all its nooks and crannies and ensuring that we can’t even watch a brainless game for a few hours on Sunday without having conversation hijacked and steered into the mountainside that is the poop-in-chief. I’ll leave it to you to figure out that while DT claims he’s having a hissy fit about the flag and by extension the military, it’s interesting that he’s doing so by disparaging a league wherein something like 3/4 of the players are black. Let’s not forget that the taking-a-knee thing started out because of race issues and had to do with visibility, not the flag or the military. You might argue that the national anthem isn’t the place for such protests, and maybe it isn’t, but the point of protest isn’t to make things as comfortable and unobtrusive for bystanders as possible, now, is it? Oh, there was also that kerfuffle with the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry. (Also mostly black.)

Whatever, the Daily Show and Samantha Bee and other venues have handled this better than I can; if you haven’t watched their clips, you should.

And while I’m on the subject of the DT (sorry, it’s been a while and he’s on a roll — a sharknado-rolls-downhill kind of roll), he’s intimating that our aid efforts to Puerto Rico are in some way concerned with the island’s debt. Never mind that Puerto Ricans are citizens, so it’s kind of like a few major cities are crippled, starving, and barely in communication. They’re people. And he’s worried about their debt in the same breath as talking about their literal survival. If you’re not enraged, you’re not paying attention.

In other eff-you-I’ve-got-mine news, I was sitting beachside with my kids, watching them do their best sandpiper imitations — chasing the waves and foam around, cackling and basically being adorable — and a pair of old ladies comes strolling up the beach. One of them slows down as she nears us. This isn’t totally unusual — grandparents tend to love watching little kids play, and as far as little kids go, mine are particularly adorable — but I glance at her and notice not the usual smile of watching the younger generation at play, but the sneer of the put-upon. Turns out, we were right in her walk path, which I guess I should have known, given that there was only an entire beach around us in literally half of all the available directions. She huffs a little and detours around us as closely as possible, even going so far as to step on my little finger as she resumes her path.

I feel like this may have been her little way of making the beaches great again, but I can’t be totally sure of her political leanings after such a tiny interaction.

While walking to a restaurant to pick up dinner one night, I saw a group of kids (and man, that sentiment crossing my fingers onto the page made me take a good, hard look at myself, because they were certainly college-aged) sitting at a sidewalk table in front of an ice cream shop. Six or seven of them, clearly all there together. In total silence. Not a word being said. Their attention, instead, entirely engrossed in their cell phones. I stopped. I stared. They didn’t notice me. (I’d have taken a picture, but I left my phone charging in the hotel room — it was dead from playing video games while my kids splashed in the pool all afternoon.) I continued to stare, and they continued not to notice, until a full thirty seconds had passed and I became uncomfortable.


I know, I know. It’s nothing new, these youths and their cell phones. But it shook me. I mean, Panama City Beach (aka the Redneck Riviera) is a haven for college kids having a good time, and here they sat, passively shoveling ice cream into their beaks, staring blankly at their little hypno-boxes. Creepy.

Vacation is great, but it’s terrible for eating. I figure my diet was roughly 60% grease-based, 35% straight-up fried, and maybe 5% green — and that green was only in the form of guacamole smeared on something else deep-fried. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to see my own kitchen and my cast-iron murder skillet (come on, that thing is a home-defense system as much as it’s a dream for searing a steak).

And on the six-hour drive back from the beach, I was amused to be barraged with example after example that my theory about the rampant-yet-undiagnosed road disorder, PBV syndrome, is a real thing. Give me a minivan doing 75, and I’ll show you a beat-up old chevy that was doing 65 a minute ago now driving 80. Maybe I’ll mock-up a pamphlet and plant a few of them in doctors’ offices around town.

That feels like a heck of a lot of negativity. Here to right that ship is the sunset from our last night. I’m pretty sure there are at least a hundred shades of crimson in the sky, and I’m almost certain that the blue of the ocean here is described as “cobalt conundrum.”20170927_193132



(Tiny) King of the Beach

I didn’t post this at the time, because with two kids running around, you become a lot less concerned with taking adorable pictures and posting them to your various social media right away for the adulation of friends, neighbors and acquaintances and more concerned with making sure that one child does not kill the other or itself while you try to close the door to use the bathroom in peace for a moment.

Still, though, despite your dubious parenting and hopeless second-child-syndroming of the second child, you do catch a good picture from time to time.

King of the Beach.

King of the Beach.

The boy has mastered at age 3 a pose that I can only hope to emulate. Maybe after I sell a few books and buy a beach house that I can just lounge around in at day’s end, I can come close to his casual indifference to the world, his satisfaction at a day’s work well done, a beach’s worth of sand castles properly kicked over, a pink bouncy ball thoroughly bopped around.

His shirt even says “Life is Good,” for the love of all that’s shameless.

So, yeah. Usually I have more to say, but sometimes it’s better to just let the picture speak for itself.

On Leave

Communications may be somewhat interrupted this week, because this is the view that I’m waking up to:


We arrived Saturday, and will be back later this week. It is perfect summer weather here in Florida, with the scorching sun overhead during the day giving way to cool breezes in the evening. Absolutely ideal for washing the school year off. Not bad for inspiration either, if I could find a free minute to park my keester and bang on the laptop for a while. But if you have kids, you know that a free minute on vacation is a little like a Bigfoot sighting: gone the moment you realize it’s there, and impossible to plan for.

That said, there are few delights more satisfying than the peals of laughter and overhyped shouts of glee as your kids splash around in the ocean, root around in the sand, jump into and out of the pool, and stuff down piles of junk food. I don’t recall vacations being this much work when my parents would take my three siblings and me to the beach, but then it’s a whole different animal once you’re the one who has to care for the little monsters. Being on vacation with a toddler and an infant is almost as much work as actually being at work.

But the key word there is almost. When the sun is setting amidst a skyscape of purple clouds and temperate breezes, the kids are snoring in their beds like they’ve never slept a day in their lives (running around on the beach will do that to them), and you’ve got a lovely glass of wine and your lovelier wife next to you, it’s hard to even remember four-letter words like “work”.

So I’ll leave with this image of the most complete rainbow I’ve ever seen firsthand, because, you know, that’s happening here, now.



Rookie Move (or, why writers should keep pens and paper handy all the time, even when it’s impractical to do so)

One of the sort of take-it-for-granted bits of writing advice I once heard was, “make sure you’re always able to write something down.”  It makes sense.  If you believe in inspiration as I do (for the most part) then you know that it can strike you at any moment, without the slightest provocation, and that it can depart again with as little warning as it gave you when it arrived.  This is why, in my work bag, I keep a composition book and two pens at all times, no matter where I’m going or for how long.  It’s why I keep a stack of note cards binder-clipped in my back pocket and a pencil on my ear just about everywhere I go.  It’s why I keep a pocketknife ready to carve strips of flesh from my arm in the semblance of words I can later affix to a page, though I’m happy to announce I’ve not yet been reduced to that particular method of transcription yet.

Still, ideas sometimes slip through.  Occasionally I’ll have a brilliant idea strike my cerebellum only to bounce off like so many hailstones on the pavement.  Or, more often, something will seem earth-shatteringly clever to me as the thought strikes, but then when I try to articulate it, I realize it’s so foolish it doesn’t bear further thought.  Then there are the days when the fountain seems to dry up entirely and no amount of coaxing, cajoling, pondering or preening will make the ideas come forth.  It’s a crap shoot, in other words, whether the good ideas will get through or not, which is why it’s doubly important to always have the net ready to catch them before they crater in the vast depths of the ideas I will never write.

Let me back up.

The wife and kids and some extended family and I were all on vacation in a fairly swanky condo in Florida over the weekend.  I mentioned it last time, and then in a dutiful showing of a man on vacation, I didn’t write again until today.  Anyway, I had to come back for work, but my wife and kids stayed on and are staying on for a few more days of sun and surf (NOT THAT I’M JEALOUS OR ANYTHING), which means I’m at home by myself for a few days.  No kids.  No wife.  No distractions.  Perfect conditions to get some writing done.  And I did, and I plan to, and night one was brilliant and night two is shaping up just fine so far.

But at night the monsters come out.

Routine is a powerful thing, and when your routine is shattered, it tends to snowball out of control, like a tiny crack in your windshield spiderwebbing like a mutant octopus every time you hit a bump in the pavement.  With no kids, there is no bedtime.  With no wife, there is no meditative glass of wine before the bedtime I don’t have.  I found myself in bed at the appropriate time last night but unable to get to sleep for lack of the vague comforts that knowing your children are asleep in the next room can bring.  No warm backside to press my cold, bony toes into.  The actual night part of last night was, in short, all wrong.  In addition to staying awake for an hour and a half before sleep took me, I woke up of my own volition several times in the night: something I never do (if only because the kids will make noise and wake me up before I ever have the chance to wake myself).  But something else happened unexpectedly in the night: inspiration struck.

It struck with the illumination and voltage of a 1.21 gigawatt lightning strike direct to my cortex, and unfortunately departed just as quickly.  Because for all my various preparations and eventualities for capturing the most fleeting of writerly ideas during my waking hours, I’ve somehow never had the good sense to stash pen and paper next to the bed.  I just don’t get great ideas at night (or if I have, I’ve forgotten them).  But inspiration struck hard and fast enough to wake me and make me think, “gosh golly, I should really write that down,” which lasted me roughly until I remembered that I didn’t have pen and paper at bedside, and I’m sorry, but I’m not one of those writers who is going to huddle over and mash my latest screenplay snippet into my phone with my mutant monkey thumbs.  I’m just not.  No, the inspiration struck, and I realized I had no way to write it down, and I assured myself that this idea was so good, so inescapably awesome, that I would surely remember it in the morning.

So here I am, grasping at the straws that may once have stuffed its scarecrow, but which more likely were the bed for some flea-bitten ox with a penchant for pooping literal poop rather than the brilliant story ideas I might prefer it to poop.  I know it involved either Sherlock Holmes or some Holmesian character.  I’m pretty sure there was genetic modification involved.  There may have been a jetpack.  Also a rhinoceros on a train.  But it’s all one big useless jumble.  No more good to me than the vague idea that I really should have gotten up early and gone for a run today.

Lesson learned.  Paper is going on the bedside table tonight, where it will probably lie untouched until, months from now, I wonder what the hell I put paper on the bedside table for, and move it back downstairs where it belongs.

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