Category Archives: Humor

Getting Accidentally Stranded on a Desert Island

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There will have to be great sunsets on my deserted island

Copper colored sunsets are a prerequisite on my deserted island

I’m not much of a long term planner. I’m more of a winger. Or a wingnutter. Or, as I like to say, a spontaneity buff. 

And when I (or we, because my husband is nearly as guilty as I am of this) do make plans for the future–broad notions that may or may not require a zip code change–they usually don’t last long. These plans don’t stick. One minute we think we’re ready to pick up stakes and move to Montana, and then we look at each other and say, “Who are we kidding?”

It’s sort of like trying on a million bikinis to see if there’s just one that doesn’t make you look fat. But at the very least, we get to entertain some interesting life plans. And, we get to travel well.

Travel plans are made last minute around our house. It’s dumping snow in Japan? We’re on a plane to Niseko in 24 hours. Need some beach time to dry out our cold, wet winter bones? We book a trip for the following week to Aitutaki, an island in the middle of a turquoise lagoon in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

So even with this spontaneity-fueled planning strategy, I’m making plans anyways. Can you see me? Here I am making a plan. A real-life, honest-to-God plan for the future. Ready?

I’m planning on getting accidentally stranded on a deserted island.

All I need are these coconut trees, this blue sky and this white sandy beach.

All I need are these coconut trees, this blue sky and this white sandy beach.

I realize this begs the question: how can you plan to accidentally do anything? I don’t have an answer for that. But what I do know is that the right deserted island could be a great place to spend, oh I don’t know, a month, a year, the rest of our life.

Of course not just any deserted island will work for me. It’s going to need a few essentials. Number one, my husband has to make the journey with me. It worries me a little because every time I mention this new plan, he sort of cocks his head like he didn’t hear me quite right.

Him: Where is this again?

Me: On our deserted island. Remember?

Him: Oh. Yeah.

Me: Anyways, it will definitely need coconuts, I think. Lots so them.

Him: Okay.

Me: And maybe some limes. I think limes are important.

Him: Limes?

Me: For the margaritas. and the ika mata*. That way we don’t have to rely on matches and fire. In case it rains. Which, hopefully it does rain some. For drinking water.

That’s when John just looks at me funny. Then he says, “What was this for again?”

I don’t think John realizes how serious I am. Because I’ve really thought this one through. Just look at coconuts for example. You can pretty much survive on coconuts. The green ones are full of coconut water, which is like regular water on steroids. And the brown ones are full of delicious coconut flesh. Is that what it’s called? Coconut flesh? That seems weird. But coconut meat isn’t any better. It’s just coconut. But it’s amazing. The trunks are wrapped in a sort of cloth that could be great for making shelter for when it rains (and rain is kind of important on an island that doesn’t have a lake, or a stream, or creek, or anything other than sandy beach.) And in case I decide I need to wear clothes on our deserted island those discarded coconuts make a great bra. Plus, Cook Islanders have found a way to turn the palm branches into an excellent broom. So, with the coconut alone, we could have most of our needs met. I’m pretty sure that the hierarchy of needs goes something like this: Water, food, shelter, cleanliness. And then maybe wine. And the Internet.

But we probably won’t have the Internet on our island. And that’s okay. I’m willing to make some sacrifices here. Wine though? That would be harder to give up.

Maybe some swashbuckling Johnny Depp-type pirates left a case of rum buried in the sand of our deserted island (because let’s face it, who doesn’t want a little Johnny Depp on their island?) That would be okay. I could work with rum. It goes well with coconut. And lime.

Truth be told, I actually have found my perfect deserted island. It’s a motu just off Aitutaki. It’s called Honeymoon Island, and it’s a favorite with the newlywed set. And with kiteboarders. And tevake birds. They nest here and seem to have no fear of humans, as if they don’t have a care in the world. Which is important on a deserted island. You can’t really worry about all the Internet and peanut M&Ms that you’re missing.

It only took me 25 faceplants to get this one shot.

It only took me 25 faceplants to get this one shot.

And I’d be perfectly happy with this island. Especially if we also had a few kites, say a 5 meter for those days when the trades are cranking and say a 9 meter for the rest of the days when the trades are still kind of cranking. Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? Don’t let it fool you. I owe it all to a few Aitutaki locals who are teaching us this elusive sport of kiteboarding while we fantasize about ways to claim this island for our own.

Come to think of it, kiteboarding is a crazy sport. It’s the latest thing. The new SUP, the cooler version of windsurfing, the less hostile version of surfing, the current sport, the fastest-growing-watersport-etc, etc, etc. But after a few days it seems like a more difficult version of wakeboarding. Because you’re also flying a kite at the same time. But it’s fun in that sort of how-many-sports-can-I-simultaneously-do-at-once-while-making-it-appear-absolutely-effortless sort of way. It’s frustrating enough to make you want to keep doing it, just to prove to yourself that you can.

Maybe I will revise my aforementioned future plan just a tick. Perhaps John and I can make an annual pilgrimage to our deserted island once a year and play with these kites and boards and pretend that we are taking up this challenging new sport, when in reality we just want to come back to our deserted island and pretend that we live on coconuts and rum. Maybe that’s what we’ll do.

See? That’s why I love you people. Because you help me focus on the truly important things. 

 

*The Cook Islands version of ceviche or poisson cru, a raw, lime-cured tuna concoction served in coconut milk that is so good it should probably have a sin tax on it.

Maybe It’s Just Me

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CIMG8719Lately I’ve been seeing turds everywhere. I’m not referring here to “turds” in the abstract sense of angry commuters taking it out on other drivers just trying to get to work or even too-busy mothers yanking their kids through the cereal aisle.

I’m talking about real, live turds. The human excrement kind.

Recently I saw a frozen one on the floor of a gondola cabin. I was beside myself with disgust. There it was, smooshed into the diamond plate, hidden (almost) behind the seat, as if someone just thought it would be okay to lay a douce while being whisked to the top of the mountain in a cabin that cost more than a new Chevy truck.

I couldn’t believe it. Some people. I mean really.

Then yesterday, after being out of town, I got a little surprise at my front door. What at first sight appeared to be a red rag like the kind you get in bulk at a service station turned out to be a pair of maroon panties. With a turd in them.

I didn’t know what to think. Were people really crapping their pants and leaving it on my front door step? I immediately wondered if this was something personal. Was someone trying to send me or my husband a message here? That’s so out of bounds I don’t know where to start.

Later that day I was talking to Scott, the Mountain Manager at Crystal. He said, “remember when you texted me about the turd in the gondi cabin?”

How could I forget? I was so disgusted. You’ll never guess what I found in cabin 8, I’d texted. A turd. F***ing people.

Scott laughed. “Turns out it was a rolled up towel.”

“Someone crapped in a towel and left it in the gondola cabin?”

“No.” He smiled. “It was just a brown paper towel. All rolled up and shredded.”

I was relieved to hear this news. A flood of relaxing fluid flowed briefly through my body. Then I remembered the present I’d found at my door that morning.

As it turned out my neighbor was standing nearby. I recounted the latest turd news to both of them. I told them about the maroon panties with black lace, how I’d thought at first it was one of those cloth rags used to wipe a dipstick, how I realized with shock and horror that in fact that wasn’t just dirt encrusting those panties, how I wondered if maybe I should be taking this personally.

My neighbor nodded. “Nala.”

“Your dog?”

He nodded again. “She’s disgusting.”

Turns out Nala had been eating his girlfriend’s underwear, and sometimes he didn’t know about it until the evidence went through her entire digestive tract. It had become quite a problem. Nala had chewed and eaten most of his girlfriend’s underwear and they’d recently had to make a trip to Victoria’s Secret to restock.

Needless to say, that might be a problem for Nala, but I was quite relieved.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe when you suddenly see turds everywhere you have to stop and take a good, hard look at yourself and wonder if maybe its time to put those rose-colored glasses back on.

Or perhaps I’m just ready for some good old spring skiing. This isn’t anything that slush bumps and perfect corn can’t fix. The forecast for the next few days looks perfect for continuing the current corn cycle. In fact, I think its about time to get out there and sample the goods.

 

 

Worst Day Ever? Really?

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On Saturday the line at the bottom of High Campbell chair was long enough that I couldn’t justify riding it alone. I hollered out, “Single!” and quickly found a partner to ride the old double chair that accesses expert-only terrain. The conditions were less than ideal.

crystal_mountain_view

View of Southback from the Throne. Mt. Adams in the background.

The front side was breakable crust over a foot of guanch and the the Powder Bowl side was chalky but firm. A few patches of crust still lay hidden, and a fall there could mean a long slide. Still it was the best skiing on the mountain. And the sun was out. And the crust was warming up. And it was my day off. And there was barely a line on this busiest day of the year.

On the chair I struck up a conversation with the guy I’d found in line. It was my day off, and I really didn’t need to be critiquing this guy’s skiing ability. But sometimes intermediate skiers get on this lift thinking it will take them to the Summit House Restaurant and end up staring down a step chute at the top. These people usually need to download the chair, which is a bit of an ordeal in itself. The first step in making that happen is identifying them in the first place.

This guy looked like an intermediate.

“So have you skied this chair today?” I asked.

He nodded as a way of answering my question, then said. “This is the worst day ever.”

“Really?”

“I mean it’s sunny and all that. But the crowds. And there’s no powder.”

“Well,” I started. I was about to give him my any-day-on-the-slopes-is-better-than-a-day-at-work spiel.

“Have you skied this yet?” He asked, finally looking at me. “I mean, it’s pretty difficult. Powder Bowl is okay, but you wouldn’t want to, er, fall.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“I mean, it’s not easy.” He said. “You wouldn’t want to fall.” He looked at me pointedly.

“You’re right about that.”

He stared straight ahead, not even looking at me. “I come up here every weekend. My kids are in ski school. While they’re in their lessons, I try to make some laps on this chair.”

I held my lips together and breathed.

“The skiing’s pretty tough though today,” he said again. “I mean, there’s no easy way down. You know that, right?”

This guy thought I couldn’t ski. Maybe it was the bota bag. I had to give him that. But if you ever want to see the Bad Kim come out, just make an assumption that I can’t ski. She loves that. She eats that up. It’s like swinging the doors wide open and saying, “Come out and play Bad Kim. This guy needs to learn a lesson and you’re just the gal that can do it.”

I (or the Bad Kim, rather, but how would he know that?) looked at him through my mirrored lenses. His too-thick helmet sat far enough back on his head that it revealed a two-inch gap between it and his goggles. His jacket looked like it might be a better sponge than a technical piece of clothing. And his boots were vintage.

His skis, on the other hand, looked pretty legit–K2 Sidestashes. But still. He was an intermediate skier at best trying to school me. That just wouldn’t do.

“I just took a lap out South,” I said snottily. Again, the Bad Kim was at the helm. The Good Kim would have bitten her lip. But what can you do?

Gaper Gap Guy raised his eyebrows and swiveled his head around to the left to look at Avalanche Basin. “You went out there?”

“I skied Brain Damage.” I was laying it on thick. I can be such a brat.

“You walked all the way to Brain Damage?” The patch of skin above his goggles wiggled, mirroring the action of his eyebrows. After a moment he cleared his throat. “I only go out there when there’s powder. I mean today? Not even worth it. I mean, was there any good skiing out there at all?” His laugh came out a little shrill. He was making fun of me. He was deriding me, putting me down, actually. Bad Kim didn’t like it one bit.

I sighed. “I go out there every day. I call it Crystal Mountain’s 20 Minute Workout.” I smiled, but my eyes didn’t crinkle up at the edge. It was that evil Bad Kim smile.

“20 Minutes? 20 minutes! It only takes you 20 minutes to hike out there?” He paused then shrugged. “That’s not bad. I guess.”

I swung my skis back and forth a tick. The Bad Kim was tired of this guy. “I like the sun.” I said. It was lame, but better than antagonizing him any further. “I like to think I’m stocking up on Vitamin D. Did you know that it’s foggy in town?”

“It is?”

“Yeah. And it’s sunny up here. Isn’t that great?” I was gathering momentum for my great-day-on-the-slopes lecture. But the top was getting close. We’d have to unload soon. Bad Kim had simmered down, and the Good Kim, the Real Kim, wanted to make it up to this guy.

“So are you getting off to the left?” He asked.

“Er, yeah.” I thought it was an odd question because one of the expert elements of this chair was that the off-load ramp was actually a wall. You had to literally jump off at the top to the left and get out of the way. There wasn’t any other option.

“I’m getting off to the right, so I’ll let you go left then I’ll go behind you.”

I should have said something. I should have told him that we all have to hop off left, then you can go right after the chair has passed. But Vintage Boots was pretty sure he knew the ropes around here and Bad Kim wasn’t going to let him off that easily. So I just said, “Have a nice run,” fake grins and sighs of relief all around.

I got off left and watched it unfold in the eyes of the patroller standing in front of me. He was looking back at the chair and yelled, “Watch out. Move. Get out of the way!”

I turned back just in time to watch Seasoned High Campbell Skier get stuck in the off-load ramp, the chair we’d just exited arcing back behind him at a 90º angle.

As hard as it was to do, I tucked Bad Kim back into her hiding place and buttoned my lip. When I dropped into Powder Bowl a few moments later I made myself not watch him ski a few chutes over to my right. Instead, I remembered my own unspoken advice about how any day on the slopes is better than the alternative.

All I can say for myself is that I have weaknesses. We all have them. The first step is admitting you have a problem. That and I’m also hoping that Oblivious Guy didn’t even notice that a Bad Kim had entered the conversation. It’s entirely possible.

My Cat is Cheating on Me

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I have only myself to blame, really. Tucker, the black and white cat I picked up at the Humane Society in a moment of animal weakness a year ago, has been cheating on us. I had thought he was just catting about. I assumed he was hunting the neighborhood for mice, a cat on the prowl, a man about town. I worried, sometimes, when he didn’t come home after

Injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime

dark. Our closest neighbor feeds the raccoons and keeps his own cat, Weed, in the house. But Tucker always made it home in the morning. I figured he expertly kept his distance from the raccoons and eagles, scurrying beneath the rose bushes and rhododendrons. I assumed he made a bed of dried ferns, piling up last year’s dead leaves, sleeping soundly in his little cat nest.

Sometimes he would come home only to be fed, meowing at the back door moments after he’d finished his Fancy Feast Savory Classic Salmon. This should have been a sign. I should have paid more attention. But I trusted him. I thought he just wanted to go out and play. I assumed he loved our family, imagining that even though it had been I that pointed to his little checkered face behind the bars, telling the overwhelmed Humane Society employee that I wanted that one and no other, that somehow Tucker had chosen me. That he wanted to be with our family above all others. That he would never want to live with another family.

I was wrong. I realize that now.

Our neighbors two doors down also have a cat–a short haired female with yellow eyes named Sophie. Sometimes, when I called Tucker, shaking dried food in his metal bowl (a last ditch effort I’d begun to use more and more) he’d come running from Sophie’s direction. A mere infatuation, I figured. A summer fling. It was Sophie, not her family of humans, that held his attention, I convinced myself.

After all, Sophie was a member of his own species. And so what if they touched noses in the lush grass in front of her human’s house? It wasn’t like he’d taken a liking to her humans?

Tucker has gained weight. I can’t deny it any longer. Even though I have carefully measured his food, following the Vet’s guidelines of “one mouse-sized portion” in the morning and one at night, no longer letting the fiend self-feed like the heady days of last summer, still he packed on the pounds. And still, it never dawned on me. Not once did I assume the worst. Not once did I admit the obvious: someone else, some other family, was feeding my cat.

So Saturday, sitting on the dock, with Tucker asleep under the lawn chair, we watched Sophie’s family get on their boat. Anyone living on the lake feels the end is nigh. Any sunny afternoon could be the last chance to take a cruise around the bay. People will start pulling their boats out of the water for the winter any day now.

Et tu, Brute?

We waved at our neighbors, talking about the weather and the kids’ first week of school, and the imminent change towards colder days. Their boat drifted towards us as we talked. One of the kids noticed Tucker, his eyes bulged open and he blurted out, “Your cat! Is the checkered cat your cat?”

I smiled and told them yes, figuring they must have seen Tucker courting their Sophie in the grass. Boys will be boys, after all. I shook my head and crossed my arms. Those darn cats.

Our neighbors all begin speaking at once. My eyes widened. Had I heard them right? They had assumed he was a stray. He came in their house? Like he was the King of the castle? The boys fed him saucers of milk? Something inside me just stopped. A ringing in my ears blotted out other sounds. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and yet there was no denying it. The evidence was all there. I smiled automatically as our neighbors took off; I think I waved before turning back to the cat.

He yawned and stretched his paw out at my foot, claiming me as his own. I shook him off. He wasn’t fooling me. I wasn’t born yesterday. No sirree. One part of me wanted to shoo him away. To tell him to go find Weed or Sophie or that dried leaf kitty nest I’d once imagined he frequented. Obviously he didn’t need me. He didn’t need us. All those mornings we’d spent together–me at my computer, him trying to sleep on my keyboard. I’d thought we had shared something. I thought what we had was special. But apparently not. Apparently what we had could be gotten anywhere. If I hadn’t plucked him from behind those kitty bars at the pound, he wouldn’t have been euthanized. Some other family would have chosen him.

But another part of me, that romantic side–the soft (call it feminine) part of myself that cries at Coke commercials and Obama speeches–wanted to believe in what we had. That part of me wanted to pick him up and hold him tight. To open a can of tuna and pour the entire contents in his bowl. To pour him saucer after saucer of milk warmed just enough to satisfy the deepest, most primal thirst for domestic kitty love on the planet.

Tucker looked up at me and meowed. Reading my thoughts no doubt. He jumped into my lap and purred. My heart melted a little. He pressed his head into my palm so I had to pet him. He started to drool, pieces of fur came loose and floated away on the breeze. He had cheated, and I would forgive him. The heart is a lonely place, sometimes.

8 Ways to Unplug Everyday

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Sometimes its best to enjoy nature with a friend.

Last week I questioned whether it was even possible anymore to unplug ourselves from the great Cosmic Technology outlet. The responses were interesting.

One of my FB friends simply responded with NO. It isn’t possible for him, apparently.

Another offered up a thoughtful response. But the irony was not lost on me when that same friend retweeted my post. On Twitter. On the Internet. Probably from her computer. Or maybe from her phone, which is probably worse. It is getting hard to get away from all this technology that was supposed to make our lives easier, proving more time for leisure and recreation. For some its nearly impossible.

My step-daughter recently posed a question to me. Would I rather lose my foot or lose the Internet for everyone. Before she asked me the question she told me she thought she knew my response. So before I answered I asked her what she thought I’d say. She figured I’d go for the lost foot. I explained that the Internet is not actually a necessity–like food and water. Or even an almost necessity, like walking.

She begged to differ. She reminded me of the parameters of her proposal. I could save the Internet, nay THE WORLD, by just giving up my foot. I could even wait until I was OLD to lose my foot.

“Do you mean when I’m 90 or do you mean next year?” I asked. It’s important to clarify when engaging in hypotheticals. Especially with a 10 year old. She said I could wait until I was 90 to lose my foot and save the world.

I stuck with my original answer–no way in Hell would I give up my foot for the freaking Internet. She was shocked. She reminded me that her entire life had been shaped by the Internet. I groaned. We are going to have to spend some serious time outside this summer. Without our phones. Without our iPads. Without our earbuds. This is getting serious.

So, I want to offer some tips of getting unplugged. It’s too hard to go cold turkey these days.

  1. Set your email to vacation mode, even if you aren’t going on vacation. No one will know.
  2. Go out on an errand and leave your phone at home.
  3. Do not look at Facebook today. Resist the urge to post a photo of that man walking down the street in the superhero costume. Just take a mental snapshot and tell a real-life friend about it in person. Perhaps in a coffee shop. Use your hands to gesticulate. Talk in a loud voice. Call attention to yourself. You’ll be better off for it and you might actually have others genuinely interested in your story.
  4. Take your old-school camera for a walk in nature. Notice the dew on flower petals; pay attention to the quality of the light; listen to the birds or other creatures. Take at least twenty pictures, ones that require you to focus and pay attention. Do NOT hold the camera away from your face and take a picture of yourself for your Facebook profile.
  5. Pet your cat without your video camera at the ready. Yes your cat might do something incredibly strange and worthy of the world’s best cat video. But chances are you won’t get 3 million views on your youtube account anyways. And really, who cares? The point of having a pet is that they need/love you even when you’re being weird.
  6. Go outside. Go to the mountains, the rivers, the beach. Find your happy place and resist the urge to share it on social media. Just be there. Absorb it rather than being a conduit for the virtual world. Better yet, bring along a friend/loved one/total stranger to share the experience.
  7. Try a new sport. Of course I have to mention skiing here, the ultimate HOLY COW I BETTER PAY ATTENTION sport. But there’s also surfing and kayaking and pinochle.
  8. Take up a new hobby that requires all your attention. Think birdwatching or knitting or roller derby, anything that occupies your entire mind. The trick is to come up with NEW hobbies every once in a while. Or take your old hobby and push yourself a little. Get out of the HO HUM and into the HOLY CRAP, I REALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION phase every once in a while. I suggest something challenging. Like slack lining. Or Karaoke.

Bonus*** Now its your turn. How do YOU unplug? (I do see the irony in commenting on a post–on your computer, on the Internet–about ways to get away from your computer and the Internet.) Just promise that as soon as you share your ideas you will then turn off and unplug, even for a few minutes today. After you share this post on all your social media outlets, of course.

Why Misheard Lyrics are Good for You

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Tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Misheard lyrics are high on my awesome-o-meter. This is especially true when other people mishear lyrics, and I catch them doing it. But it is equally awesome when I finally realize the real words to a song. You mean, it’s not Stairway to Kevin’s? Why didn’t someone tell me that earlier? That makes so much more sense now.

I also love the humanity of misheard lyrics. We’ve all had the words wrong to a song before. Even those of us that memorized the lyrics from the album jacket of every new record we bought from Tower Records. One song always slips through, taunting us with a jumbled verse that we usually mumble along with while driving in the car. Then someone hears you and opens their eyes wide in astonishment. “Did you just say, ‘Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight’?”

That’s when you laugh nervously. “No.” Then after a moment you shrug and ask, “what the hell are the real words anyways?”

I have a new iPhone 4S, and Siri and I are getting acquainted. I’m learning to ask her for what I want, which isn’t easy for me, even when I’m talking to a phone-bot. Caught in traffic on 405 the other day, I thought I’d give Siri something to do. She seems to like little tasks. So I asked her, “Why am I stuck in traffic?”

She thought I said, “Why am I stuck entropic?” To which she answered, “This is about you not me.” Which is probably true, and when you think about it a pretty existential question to be asking while stuck in traffic. Siri probably thinks I’m really smart. Maybe a little too smart.

But it got me thinking about misheard lyrics for some reason, because let’s face it. I’d rather consider “kissing this guy” than my own state of entropy. Of course, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”, is one of the better and most often quoted misheard lyric around. Here are a few others:

  • “Catch that bus baby, we were born to run”
  • “Wrapped up like a douche, another rinny ninny night”
  • “People are strange, women are stranger”
  • “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”
  • “There’s a bathroom on the right”
  • “You might as well face it, you’re a dickhead in love”
  • “If you change your mind Jackie Chan, I’m the first in line Jackie Chan”
  • “West Virginia, mount your mama”

It’s not just me is it? I’m not the only one that belts out misheard lyrics with great aplomb am I? My grandmother used to say that if you don’t know the answer to a question just make something up and “say it with much aplomb.” I totally live by this advice. I’m always offering up random bits of information that may or may not be correct, such as how to clean a chandelier with a q-tip and Witch Hazel or why that joint pain means you need to get more sun or how the phases of the moon are all backwards. Don’t bother looking these things up. Just trust me on this one.

Extra points for anyone who knows the real words to these songs or has more awesome misheard lyrics to share. And Siri? I’ve been thinking about my state of entropy, especially my lack of creativity lately and have decided that what I really need is a good personal assistant. But that’s more about you than me, now isn’t it.

You Might as Well Round Up

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photo by Lonnie Ball

I was at the doctor’s office last week, getting an MRI on my thumb. I had surgery last week–total tear of the thumb joint and just in case I need to thumb a ride, I’ll need that joint. As it turns out, there’s a bunch of activities that the lack of a thumb make difficult. Typing without adding superfluous spaces is one of them. Buttoning jeans, braiding hair, tying a knot, opening wine bottles, cutting apples into slices, and removing earrings for MRIs among them.

The form asked for height and weight. I’m 6’0″. The nurse checked my chart and scanned her eyes over me. 6 feet tall? she asked.

Yep. I smiled.

Really?

Yep.

She pinched her eyes together.

A few minutes later, I lay in the tomb-like machine, listening to the what sounded like a jet engine breaking apart and thought of the nurse’s question. Well, I’m almost 6 feet tall. More like 5’11 and three quarters. But you might as well round up. You have to round one way or the other, so why not up?

It’s kind of a glass half-full or half-empty kind of thing really. I’ve spent far to much energy explaining away my advantages. Sometimes people just want an easy answer. “Where do you live,” they ask. Usually I’ll say, “Crystal.” Or I might add, “in the winter.” Or sometimes I say we live, “in town in the summer and in the mountains in the winter.” That’s when people’s eyes glaze over because really they’re just trying to make conversation.

It’s almost as if I’m trying to downplay my life. Like I’m trying to short myself a few inches. But I don’t want to brag. I don’t always want to tell people that I live on the shores of Lake Washington when it’s sunny and warm and at the base of Crystal Mountain when it’s snowy and cold. I don’t want to see that look of doubt mixed with envy–eyes squinched up, lips pursed.

Because I’ve also lived out of the back of my truck on a food budget of $20 a week. It was easier to round up then because I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Now I find myself rounding down because I don’t want anyone to envy me.

I’m not really sure where this blog post is going. My thumb keeps hitting the space bar, causing an overabundance of backspacing, which makes my mind wander. I guess my point is that I’m going to keep rounding up because you never know. Life is short and very precious.

And I really am 6 feet tall.

Is Kindness the Next Big Thing?

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I know this post really has nothing to do with skiing, but I love this photo anyway.

Is niceness a new trend? I see those “Bark Less, Wag More” bumpers stickers all the time, and wonder if we’ve arrived at the Next Big Thing. Maybe this Niceness trend is the new Yoga–pretty soon we’ll see a whole culture wrapped up in Doing Unto Others–complete with a clothing phenomenon, local classes, gurus and retreat centers dedicated entirely to Shaping Your Kindness.

But being Nice isn’t anything new, in fact it’s campy enough and old-fashioned enough to be overlooked as the new rage. And yet it seems to be gaining ground. Last weekend, when I saw a “Hiss Less, Purr More” bumper sticker on a Subaru in C Lot at Crystal Mountain, I figured I might as well get on board.

Every decade has its desire for people to be nice. Not so long ago, it was common, and maybe a little groovy, to tell people to “Stop being so tense, Man”. When I was a teenager, we told our parents to “Just chill out,” and later to simply “Chill.” People have told to “Stay mellow,” have wondered “What would Jesus do?”, have admonished others when they didn’t “Relax,” and promised to adhere to the Golden Rule. Perhaps this is just our latest iteration.

But a fellow blogger, Lorraine Wilde, recently pointed out some new research about nice genes. According to researchers at UC Irvine and University of Buffalo, some people actually carry more receptor genes for oxytocin and vasopressin–hormones that, in a very non-scientific way of looking at it, make us nicer people. It’s fascinating research really. So, maybe kindness is hereditary, maybe the desire to make casseroles for others during tragedy actually runs in some people’s bloodstream, like vodka, only permanent.

If that’s true, then maybe this is evolution. Perhaps the universe is telling us that kindness is the present-day equivalent of strength. Being nice to others (in person, not just on Facebook) is going to be the new measure of character. I can just see the line of clothes that will accompany this new trend. Shirts will have extra pockets to carry Kleenex packets, and Tupperware is going to come out with a whole new line of containers–ones big enough to carry an entire lasagna that can be left in the freezer, defrosted and baked all in the same pan, then recycled!

Kindness might even be a new resume builder. Young people are going to start calling on their elders, checking in at nursing homes and engaging in card games like bridge and gin rummy just to score points for their Ivy League Applications. Maybe teenagers should start logging in those hours now, because those College Counselors are pretty strict when it comes to fact checking.

I suppose we should all embrace this new evolution of our species. Niceness is in. And if you don’t have the genes, you might want to start thinking of ways to fit into this new phenomenon. It isn’t that painful, really. Just reach out and “touch someone” as they say.