Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wilmington, NC

I've been going to Wilmington, North Carolina at least once a year since I started college back in 2004.  It may be one of my favorite cities in NC (if you know me you are already nodding saying "it's because of the beach, isn't it?") and I've often imagined living there--as I did one summer in 2006.  I almost stayed there this summer actually.  Sadly it has lost some of its appeal as most of the people I know there have moved elsewhere and begun lives anew.

Downtown overlooking the river.

Still, it always has the memories.  Places remind me of my past more than anything else.  When I travel to someplace that has been a part of my life over so many years, it is like living the memories all over.  Memories I thought I had long forgotten.

They come back like a flood as I pull off highway 17 into downtown.  A different way then I've ever come before.  As soon as I hit the familiar crawl, my mind is back wandering the night though it's barely past noon to the eye.  Blue Post and its collection of friendly bouncers all twice my size.  Slice of Life which I could have sworn only served late night pizza and a wicked cheap lunchtime special.  Turn down market and head toward the hotel I will be staying at with my family for memorial day and I can't help but remember what the streets look like in the dark, in a haze.

I spent the whole weekend enjoying talks with my brother and eating good food with my family.  But I also spent it reliving old times and past friends.  Bonfires on the beach.  Surfing the waves.  The fireworks over the river.  Parties and drunken walks home.

The people you leave behind when moving from place to place are never really gone.  Sometimes it just takes a short trip to kick-start the memory.  And maybe an email or phone call to get some help filling in some of the black spots.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dale versus Hulk

Right, so my testing ran into a little hitch.

We’ve suited up and hit to the town.  Really dressed to the nines and ready to impress.  Kev, Jared, and myself, the Cannon Street Regulars, are joined by a number of handsome men ready to put all other gents to shame.  We are celebrating something, probably med school related, but every knows this is just us embracing our youth.  And our beauty.

Pub to pub, we chat up strangers and let the beer flow.  And the shots.  You all know I hate shots… at least rounds one and two, but tonight we are not mere men.  We are something more.  Deep in my cups, three sheets to the wind, and other euphemisms for being completely drunk, things start getting a little blurry.  We’re having a blast.

Fast forward a bit (note: this is not a literary device, blurry just turned to black) and I snap to.  Laughing.  And a foot off the ground.  Well both feet really.  I was referring to the unit of measure; language is tricky.  Right, some brute of a man has lifted me clear into the air by my coat collar.  Or lapels.  Whatever.  A quick survey: we are in the middle of the street, a cab is stopped, Kevin is being yelled at by two other guys, and I’m the best dressed man here even if suspended in midair by the hulk.  “Oh, I believe I’m in a fight,” slurs forth from my lips.  Hulk agrees.

Now don’t fret, my friends!  My gorgeous mug is preserved (seriously, my stumbling ass would have been murdered).  The police show up for the rescue.  Course as soon as they are out of sight, Kev slips by another shocked gentlemen holding open the door for Not-Us and steels a different cab.  I give him a shrug and shoot in beside Kev.  Ha!  Where's your hulk?  Jared hails us about a block away having watched the entire affair from afar.  The cheeky bastard assures me he would have jumped in should the moment have arisen.  Element of surprise and such.

All's well that ends well or so they say.

This delightful evening leads elegantly into the topic of today’s entry: health insurance.  Buy it.  You can get catastrophic failure insurance for some 35 bucks a month.  Yea, it isn’t going to help with regular doctor visits and has a high deductable, but if you end up in the hospital with a punctured lung…  

Being the gambling man I am, I went with the 60 dollar plan.  I’m betting that I'm more likely than average to make use of it.  So thank you, Blue Cross.  Particularly for not even asking about my drinking habits.

Here’s to hoping they don’t read my blog.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Priviet, Russia!

Right, so Blogger or Blogspot or whatever it is I am using to blog tracks all these different statistics.  And if you weren’t as incredibly self-assured as myself, you might spend hours every day pondering over them.  I did happen to take a look; ya know just to see what there is to see.

Congratulations, readers!  You are part of an international community!

USA for the win.

Now, I know you are all excitedly telling everyone you know to check out this hilarious blog your friend is writing.  And that’s exactly what you should be doing… but I have a question.

Who the fuck is reading this thing in Russia?  Pretty sure I don't know anyone in Russia (though presumably I'm wrong).  I mean… I can shout out to Japan.  Konnichiwa, Sarrin (and thanks Wu-tang clan for the linguistic lesson).  I can say “hola” to Boss Tony down in Nicaragua and to Faith in Honduras.  Sarah is hanging out in London, the only English speaking place on the list aside from the good ole US of A.  I’d venture a guess that South Korea is my boy Mekale or Miss Anna.  And Germany… OK, I’ve no idea on Germany either.  Still, Russia is number three on the list!

Well, to whoever you are: Priviet, my Russian friend.  Kak dela?  (This Russian brought to you by a cute girl in college I was trying to impress.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Charleston, South Carolina

“Summertime and the livin’s easy…”

Oh, sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.  Why don’t you take a seat in my office?

The Office.  Also known as the Badass Porch.  
Where the neighbors jealously find me… kinda all the time.

I suppose you are going to ask me how in the world I am entertaining myself.  Well, I have been quite busy.  Very, very busy.  You see, I have been doing a hell of a lot of reading, writing, and research (for the writing of course).
As to the reading, I just finished a book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  It’s about a man only slightly younger than I and fresh out of college.  Both of his parents succumb to cancer within the span of a year and he is forced to raise his seven year old brother.  Oh boy, does hilarity ensue!  (It really does; his humor is after my own heart.  My black, black heart.)  I’m also reading a book about Norse mythology since I spent a few hours the other night lost in Wikipedia after trying to recall the name of Odin’s spear (Gungnir, how do I forget these things?).  Kevin was kind enough to provide me with a book so I can avoid some future faux pas.  Finally, I’m reading a book about meditation called Wherever you go, There you are.  Seems exactly the sort of thing I would say.  I thought it was a travel memoir and would put me in the right mind for Africa.  Alas, it is not.  Damn title.  It does put me in the right mind for times spent in the study.  And by Odin’s beard, don’t worry Mother!  I’m not going to become a Buddhist.  For fear of Thor’s electrical wrath.

The Study: chair for reading/research, towel for nap… 
contemplating the soul of humanity, and iPod to listen to the Black Keys 
(because they are awesome… and possibly help me contemplate the soul of humanity?)

As to the writing, well I’ve never written this much in my life.  I’m filling little books recounting my whole damn existence.  Cradle to... now.  I’ve been pouring over the journals kept in Italy and transcribing them onto my laptop (over 20,000 words so far on Italy alone) and going through the ridiculous number of pictures I took to fill in the gaps.  Oh, and I suppose occasionally trying to entertain you with this blog.  Such mooches; living vicariously through the glory that is me.

As to the research… well I suppose you could call going through old journals, emails, and pictures research.  As I only ever really write about my own life (and possibly yours; it was an implicit agreement), technically anything I do can be classified as “research”.  I find most of my best research seems to be found at the tail end of bottles.  I am not entirely sure why that is, but rest assured, more testing to follow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Summer in Flux

I enjoy going with the flow.  Carrying a demeanor of relaxed ease.  My life just happens.  I used to be much better with this, but I think three years of working with deadlines, budgeting my life in DC, and just... getting older took away some of that.  But that's a skill I enjoy and it just makes life so damn interesting.  This summer, I mean to gain it back.

I have yet to stay in one place more than four days since I left DC.  Mobile and agile, I have been traveling around visiting friends and family.  That was the general plan anyway; spend my last month or so before shipping off visiting everyone.  Let's talk the breakdown:

Anytime I have the freedom to move, you can find me at the beach.  My college friends all got together and we rented a beach house in Emerald Isle, NC.  Glorious.

In case you are lost: I'm the bloke.  The lovely blonde threw the trip together.

The ocean having recharged me, I went to stay with my brother in Raleigh, NC.  He's going to NC State to be some fancy engineer.  A much more guided life than that of his nomad brother.  He took me on a hike literally ten minutes from campus that was nice and secluded.  Probably in part because of the fence saying keep out, but we feinted illiteracy and got nice and lost in the woods.  Jumping and climbing over creeks and rivers.

After that I spent some time with my father in Wake Forest, NC.  Not the college, that's lost up in Winston-Salem after the tobacco tycoon of the same name donated some sizeable acreage.  Wake Forest is a quiet town right with a downtown that can only be described as quaint--highlight being the classic car dealership.  There I was by far my most productive.  Writing and reading.  And actually making it to the gym.

Next up, my hometown: Greenville, NC.  That's where my mom and step-dad live.  Spent some quality time with old friends and ate delicious home-cooked meals.  I repaid in full by cooking up some of my famous jambalaya to assure my sweet mother I could provide for myself.  Though there is no telling what I will be eating in the jungles of Cameroon...

I drove down to Charleston, SC to... take advantage of more beach time.  And see some friends.  Had a wild and crazy weekend on the town as I always do.  As I just did again.  In fact, I'm nursing a hangover as I write.  There I got an email from an long lost friend who was hiding out in someplace called Macon, GA.  Never heard of the place, but it wasn't as if I had someplace else to be.

In Macon, I became a farmer.  She was doing something called WWOOFing.  Apparently you can travel the country and world staying at little farms for nothing more than a roof and three meals a day.  I did not know I was doing this until I was already underway, but hey, this is the kind of winging it I'm looking for.  I don't know much about farming (read:anything more than plants come from the ground), but I do enjoy hard work and manual labor.  Though the rain excused me from using much of my talent, I helped raise chickens and goats and horses.  I helped with the planting of crops and the making of jam (Christ, there is a TON of sugar in jam!).  And otherwise wandered around the 15 acres; mostly being called upon for my height as the lady running the show was amazed at my ability to reach the highest of places.  "Sure, I will dust your fans for you.  Farmer's need their fans dusted too.  And it seems like a fair trade for tonight's chili dinner.  No, I'm not sure why I traveled to Georgia to dust fans."

That strange interlude in my rearview mirror and I returned to do the NC family circuit all over.  Managed to kayak down the river and found myself at the Orange County Speedway watching weekend racers fly round the track.  But finally, I have settled down.  Like I said from the beginning, if you leave me to my own devices, you can find me at the beach.  I'm renting a room downtown Charleston, SC.  Just got in.  The room isn't much, but I have a porch to write on and am never far from the ocean's call.  What better way to spend an American summer?