too early to start drankin’

So I guess I’ll do an end of the year post instead. Here’s some random shit I noticed this year.

When you see your people after a long time apart, it almost makes your heart explode for the first couple of moments, then it’s like no time has passed and you settle into a delightful groove. When it’s time to leave, the tears show up to say goodbye too. It’s hard, but maybe not as hard as the first time. Maybe.

In the nine months we’ve lived in Pacific Grove, I’ve heard only one driver honk their horn. That driver was me.

I’ve spent much more time walking and much less time in San Francisco than I expected.

There are almost no bugs here.

People are very comfortable openly smoking pot in California.

The first time I went hiking by myself in Big Sur, I alternated between worrying an animal would attack me or a person would knock me on the head and steal my shit. This is a change from living in Houston when I only worried about a person knocking me on the head. Eventually I’ll only worry about animal attacks or falling to my death off the side of a mountain. (Contrary to what Kerouac’s buddy says, you can fall off a mountain.)

When you see comedy outside of Texas, you find out that comedians make fun of Houston.

Recently we were drinking wine on the porch when we heard Taps being played (at the Defense Language Institute). A storm was coming in, a “Pineapple Express” from Hawaii, and the wind was blowing a different direction than usual. The next morning, I got up early to photograph the big waves and heard Reveille. Here’s an article about PG that mentions the different things you can hear, depending on the wind. When we got back from Houston a couple of nights ago, I heard the ocean in the darkness. A fitting welcome back.

This is my favorite paragraph from a post I didn’t publish this year. It was too bitchy, if you can imagine that.
This guy had spent the weekend in Big Sur, but he hadn’t really been there. This place of respite. This untamed wilderness. This edge of the world, west of the west, final frontier. I picture him standing at one of the many breathtaking vistas, one hand holding a pre-paid cellphone fruitlessly searching for a signal, the other holding a Coors Light while he desperately tries to connect with civilization to tell them what a wonderful time he’s having getting away from it all.

Here are some accomplishments from 2014 I’d like to remember: saw my first full-length play produced; puked four times off the side of a whale watching boat; started working from home and not wearing pants; moved across the country in a fit of middle-age crazies; fell on multiple hikes in multiple parks; saw otters, seals, dolphins, whales, pelicans, sea gulls, black squirrels, hawks, one bobcat and a dog parade; learned to make kick-ass cheese enchiladas; hung out with my family in California and Texas; packed our shit so well that literally not one thing broke on the trailer ride out here; didn’t hit any of the pedestrians that walked out in front of my car like baby deer; and, finally, nine months in, am happy to report that my heart still beats a little faster every time I look at the Pacific.

Here’s to a healthy and happy–and not too bitchy–2015 for us all. See you on the other side.

Stella is ready to party
gotta go – Stella is ready to party

formative years

During the four years I spent in high school, I worked at a grocery/feed store in the small town I lived in. Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, every Saturday and every other Sunday. I credit working there and bartending as two major factors in my becoming a writer. Because when you meet people who are such characters, you start spinning narratives about who they are. How they are. Why they are.

One of my favorite people to work with was a Justice of the Peace named Tommy who was probably five or 10 years older than my parents. We typically worked together on Sundays, and I always looked forward to our shift. Because he was funny as hell. The 12-year-old-boy sense of humor that still strongly resides inside my brain was immensely entertained by this guy. And he enjoyed having a willing, giggling audience.

He looked like a good ole boy and I was the same liberal asshole I am now, so we cut quite a figure. Here’s a picture of him from later years.

he's the one on the tractor
he’s the one on the tractor

I snagged this photo from a facebook event listing for a scholarship fundraiser a few years back held in his honor. Glad to know his presence is still being felt. I thought of him tonight because this nonsense little ditty that he used to recite popped into my brain. There are quite a few variations on the interwebs, but this is how I remember him telling it.

I see, said the blind man to the deaf woman
over the disconnected telephone line
with her wooden leg hanging out the window
in the rain saying, “I feel! I feel!”

Funny the things you remember about people. There was an old lady with gray hair who wore a black wig that was more like a hat than a wig, her gray hair curling up around the sides. I’d carry her groceries to the car and she’d make me place them on the floorboard so I didn’t crush the invisible person on the seat. There was the time my boss told me his brother Tiny was coming for a visit. Out in the country, nicknames often are the opposite of the person they describe, so I assumed Tiny would be tall and 300 pounds. Nope. He was a little person. And he had the name TINY stamped on the back of his wee little belt. The people who ran the meat market would occasionally get a pig’s head, which they would dress up with a hat, glasses and scarf. I tried to stay away from the meat counter as much as possible, but there were many evenings I had to reach into a big jar to grab someone a pickled pig’s foot that I would wrap in wax paper. There were a few dirty old men who liked to take a gander at my goods when I bent over to bag their groceries, so my father suggested I write “What the fuck are you looking at?” upside down in my cleavage. There was a guy with an extra finger, only it didn’t have any bones. It was like a deflated, flesh-colored balloon just hanging off the side of his hand. Every time I’d go to give him his change, he’d flip his hand over and the boneless finger would flop around. There was a rich guy from Houston who wore short white shorts and liked to “stretch” while he was at the store. Usually when it was just high school girls working the counter. Because there’s nothing high school girls like more than a 40-something year old dad bending over and almost touching his toes.

Not everyone who walked in the store was a character, but the characters are the ones I still remember 25 years later. So, in the grand scheme of things, I’d rather someone remember me for my stupid jokes (or extra finger) than not at all. Here’s another of Tommy’s favorites:

Him: I had to defend you the other day.
Me: Really? Why?
Him: Someone said you smelled bad, and I said, “Like shit she does.”

a thanksgiveaway

I’m giving away two tickets to see Louis CK in Austin next month. I bought them when the Houston show was sold out (because I wasn’t going to miss this tour). Then he added a second Houston show (to which I scored front row seats) (yes, it was fecking awesome), so I’m giving the Austin tickets away. Maybe to you.

Here’s the deal:

  • You must live in Austin (or somewhere in Texas, if you can convince me that you’ll be able to see a late show in Austin on a Thursday night)
  • You must agree to email me a picture from the venue, preferably from your seat, the night of the show
  • You must leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite Louis CK bit is (from his stand up or his series) and why – I want these tickets to go to a fan

In exchange for the above, I will email you the link to print the tickets within a few days of the show (not sending earlier than that because I don’t want them to be resold).

Here are the specific details about the show:

And…go.

UPDATE: Thanks to the three people who’ve chimed in so far. I’ll be drawing a name from a hat (or maybe a bowl) some time tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll do it in the frenzy of the morning or the drunken stupor of the evening. Either way, I’ll email the winner and post the name here.

As for the rest of you – you have at least 24 hours left to enter. Be sure to follow the simple instructions above. (There are two reasons I’m giving away these tickets in this fashion: 1. I didn’t want to have to choose from among my friends and 2. this is a chance for us to share some funny shit with each other. It’s a small price to pay to see one of the greatest comics of our generation, even if they are balcony seats…)

FINAL UPDATE: And the winner is…

Thanks for playing!