Monthly Archives: September 2011

OneWord: Port, Pressed, Playground, Dense

Port: The port of call was 17. She was looking pretty and lean. In her white jeans and light blue tank with a butterfly on her breasts. I watched the world go ’round on her dark-lensed Ray-Bans – sailboat loaded by deckhands, speedboat misbehaving on sunken badlands, sun hanging over the white sands.

Pressed: She pressed the soft inner flesh of the orange against the rotating mound of the juicer. Her knuckles were white. She was standing on the tips of her toes. And the bangs she had just tucked behind her left ear fell in front of her eyes. The juice flowed through the built-in strainer and into the collection glass, ready to be consumed by our hungry little monsters (the children). It was 9am on Saturday morning. Our family was together. There were no youth sporting events or men’s golf leagues to attend. It was just the four of us sitting on the plush pillows of our kitchen nook, eating pancakes and fresh-squeezed orange juice while watching the rain trickle down outside.

Playground: The playground at Pathfinder School – my elementary school in Traverse City, Michigan – wasn’t the typical open field or lot with over-sized toys. It was the wood and all of its components. The myrtle-covered hills, the overgrown wander paths, the elder trees, the soft blanket of brown leaves and the black dirt a farmer would love. I could explore and wander about. I could play games. I could even get lost if I dared to do so.

Dense: The denseness of the flesh of the Honeycrisp apple surprised him as he eased his butcher’s knife through the varying diameter of its body. Still shaken by the rusty blue pick-up truck clipping his dog earlier in the afternoon, his hand was unsteady. The black carbon handle of the knife, which he had just rinsed in the double-basin stainless steel Kohler kitchen sink, was wet. The ball of his right hand, located just below where the index finger joined his palm, was the primary source of pressure on the top side of the knife handle. He leaned into the motion and pressed down harder. His eye twitched. His nose tingled. He sneezed. And then, unknown to him, his hand pressed the knife down through the apple and the index, middle and ring fingers of his left hand. The world seemed to freeze in place as he stared at the grotesque still life depicting two halves of an apple laying open on the antipodal points of what used to be a whole apple, three detached fingertips aligned behind the left apple half and a pool of blood seeping across the backdrop like anti-gravity curtains in an upside down theater.

Link to OneWord.com, which prompts me with each of the words and provides one minute to write about that word. Sometimes I run long.

OneWord: Couch

The couch in the livingroom has a thin film of Yogi slobber. It’s hairy and marred from claws gripping and sharp buttons scraping. But its the couch we got married on. Yes, we got married while sitting on a couch in our living room. It’s not even a full sized couch! It’s a love seat. And our minister, who was on the couch with us, is, according to his mother, June, husky. Sitting between my beautiful bride who was consumed by dozens of layers of crinoline and a plump sweaty semi-stranger was not ideal on a 95* June day. But the couch was important to us.

Our immediate family – six of them – managed to fit on our three-seater couch across the room from us. My sister-in-law (to be at the time) readjusted mid-ceremony and caused the remote control, which was apparently under the third couch cushion, to activate the television. The Golf Channel flashed on at full volume. I did my best not to be distracted during the homily as the immediate family scrambled to mute the television. Their sweaty flesh shifting on and separating from the damp leather sounded like sheets being ripped apart by rabid wolves. Afterwords, even the extended family and friends who were seated outside on the small community lawn along Eighth Street on couches they brought, said they could hear the commotion and feared that I had defected to the “Divot side.” I thought, at the time, that the “Divot side” wasn’t very clever. But what else are non-golfers going to say?

Applebottom, Alberta

The average annual snowfall for a small village just north of a long forgotten two-track in western Canada is just over 346 inches. This past summer, the road crew for the village went to the trouble of installing fans 20 feet in diameter along its three-block long main street. The intended effect of the fans was to blow the snow up and away from the village’s main city blocks and onto the rooftops and back alleys. That way, for the six-month-long winter, the residents of the village could walk or snowmobile their way to and from the local market, pharmacy or saloon. However, the fans quickly became overwhelmed by the snow, created two heaping mounds of snow – one covering each of the two rows of buildings – and froze in place. The result, as was discovered by the local stunt helicopter pilot on his bi-weekly trip south for emergency medical provisions for the village’s residents, was the transformation of its main street into a gluteal-like cleft between two enormous pale cheek-like heaps of snow. The pilot snapped a blurry photograph with his iPhone and sent it to his ex-girlfriend Lola, the head anchor for the not-so-local TV 17 & 4 studio. The village main street was featured on that evening’s news and shared throughout Canada for the rest of the week. What many Canadians had long believed to be a fleck of pepper from the national cartographer’s pastrami sandwich was now dubbed “Applebottom, Alberta.”

Written from 11:23 pm to 11:43 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” hung on the wall of the house in which I grew up. Here it is, so that I can remember it as one of the influential details of my life.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergroth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Moroccan Mint Tea

One of the stops on Lindsey and my honeymoon was Morocco. It was an interesting cultural experience. One of the few highlights of our day trip to Morocco was our meal, and particularly, for me, the mint tea that we were served afterwards. It was strong and sweet. Our guide explained to us that mint tea was a popular and common part of Moroccan culture. It is consumed in large quantities for health benefits such as rejuvenation and clarity.

Naturally, I’ve been eager to adopt the “Moroccan way” into my own daily routine. Today I purchased one ounce of Marrakesh Mint tea from the spice market down the street from my office. I’m on my second mug (I don’t have a proper Moroccan tea cup). It is a nice change from my standard coffee guzzling, however, the local stuff isn’t quite as good as what we had in Morocco. This is likely because I’m using pre-mixed tea (green and mint) and not green tea with fresh mint leaves. I’ll try that another day.

Here is a proverb regarding Moroccan mint tea, which is traditionally steeped three times:

The first glass is as bitter as life,
The second glass is as strong as love,
The third glass is as gentle as death.

Here’s to life, love and even death! (Raises mug of tea carefully above desk as a gesture of toasting the world.)

Dreams

Today I am inspired by Walt Disney – “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”. I am praying that Chris and I have the courage to pursue our dream of having a beautiful home where we can raise Yogi for now, and someday a family. I have always been one to plan for the future….It is intimidating and daunting to think about the future, but I hope that we can take a leap of faith, and go for it!

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago today, I was standing in a pizza place in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan grabbing a bite to eat before French class. I overheard on the radio that planes had flown into the WTC towers. French class was cancelled and I went home to 1518 Golden Street to watch the events unfold with my college roommates, one of whom had friends and/or family in New York City.

First Tee

Chris teed off from the blue tees on the first hole of the TCGCC. He plucked his tee from the soft turf, stepped down the grass that his two iron brushed up, and then slid his club back into his PING carry bag. His shot was still in the air while he completed this tasks, but it had felt solid and left on the right trajectory and line. His Titleist ProV1x would be in the fairway and he would have a good shot to the green. Just as he was about to shoulder his bag, he heard a crack behind and to his right. It sounded as if a full grown hardwood tree had been snapped in an instant.

Writing Tips

Never open a book with the weather.
Avoid prologues.
Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
Keep your exclamation points under control!
Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Same for places and things.
Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Source unknown.

I’m 30 Years Old Today

From my first memories as a small child through high school graduation, life was about exploring the unknown – opening doors to new adventures. I was taught that I could be anything – do anything – discover.

Then it felt like I was closing doors. I picked a college – eliminated the rest. Majored in economics. Specialized in law. Took the bar exam for one state. All the while I’m thinking, ‘is this what I’ll be? is this my dream? what have I discovered?’

And I’m beginning to settle into what I’ll be – husband, attorney and amateur golfer. I’m living my dream, set in beautiful Traverse City fully stocked with friends and family. And although I haven’t discovered everything in my first 30 years, I’ve discovered enough about myself, other people and other places to know that, as I sit here in my office with one door closed and one open, I’m in a good place.

Happy Birthday to me! Here’s to 30 more!