stars so bright and real

I catch these little peaks of emotion; find myself moved nearly to tears just sitting and thinking.  OK not “nearly” to tears; to actual tears.  When I say “peaks” mean it; little storms that move through with fierce force.  Torrents of feelings about being on the road; about teaching our kids; about having no plans and nowhere to be at no time in particular.  

I drove for several hours earlier this week, south to north along the eastern edge of the Sierras.  Driving, watching the road go by, taking in the sights, I thought of being out there for a year.  Where are we going?  What are we going to do?  Will we find a rhythm, a routine?  Is it all going to be OK?

Sharaun and I put a movie on for the kids last night and sat together at the dining room table to sketch out how schooling is going to work.  When, how often, what subjects on which days, how, etc.  It was something we’ve both been anxious to put mental energy into, I think.  It worked well; I am abundantly glad she is a teacher by trade.  Things I’d labor and fret over come easy to her.  

Sunday night I was alone in a one-man tent near the shores of Virginia Lake,  just above 10,000ft on mile 72 of the JMT.  My muscles were sore and threatening to cramp-up in protest of every toss and turn.  I was thirsty but didn’t want to drink because I didn’t want to have to get out of the tent to pee in the cold night. 

So quiet up in the Sierras, I was close enough to the water that I could hear it lap against the granite when the wind blew.  One of those little storms of emotion hit me and I just cried, quietly, in solidarity with my surroundings. 

One moment the tears were of this happy, liberated vibe, like a thing of pure joy… a recognition of some great freedom about to be realized.   The next moment the tears were for some nondescript sense of “loss” – friends , moms, brothers and cousins I realize I won’t see as often.  Just as quick it’d switch, and the tears were from some fear… what am I doing… have I totally lost it?  Quick as it came on it went away.  A little burst.  

I am ready to go.  We are ready to go.  We gotta go, man.  

an admirable lack of sanity

Ran into a good friend in the cafe at work today.  

Even before we got to talking, I knew what the subject was going to be.  It’s OK, I’m not tired of talking about the trip… I mean… what else am I going to talk with people about right now?  It’s by far the dominant thing happening in my life so it makes sense.  The thing is… when I talk about the trip all kinds of thoughts come into my head…

… this person thinks we are insane …

… wait, am I boasting right now? …

… i don’t deserve this; man we’re entitled …

… oh yeah, this person clearly thinks we’re insane …

Yes, I love talking about our coming year on the road.  If, however, you catch me unable to quite make eye contact while we chat about it, or using short sentences and abbreviated speech – I’m sorry.  I have this really over-active sense of something like humility, that, when at its worst, makes me seem disinterested or aloof.  

But how do you talk about things?  Like, “How are you affording this?”  We saved.  “What about work?” I’ll come back.  “Aren’t you worried?”  Worried, sure, about all kinds of things… what’s new?  “So you’re just going to do it?  Just go?”  Yes; yes indeed… what better way to do it?

I’ll get over it soon, I have one more week of work and almost everyone knows now.  Sharaun put it on Facebook… so even her neighbor from 2nd grade knows.  

So much to do.  Peace.

Hi again.  Long time no talk.

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just do a quick thing… blurt out the meat of it… and we’ll go from there: Beginning in a mere few days, I am leaving work for a year.  We are piling the family into the RV, homeschooling the kids on the road, and traveling the country full-time.  We’ll use this time to grow closer by learning together, being active together, and serving together.

It’s not retirement, can’t afford that.  It’s just time away.  Time to reconnect.  I’ll have to go back to work, and on this side of the adventure I see myself coming back to the same sawmill & continuing my career there, but who knows what life will look like from the other side.  

Cohen, eight years old currently, would follow Sharaun and I anywhere with gusto, and he’s been nothing but excited.  Keaton, our twelve year-old, was very much not on-board initially.  So much so that she penned a three-page essay on why we should’t go (one wonders where she got her penchant for writing).  Over time, however, and with a few parent-proffered perks, she’s come around.  

Anyway there’s so much more to say but I want to start and finish something here today, post it and run away and see if I can get into the habit again.  No promises, but writing is something I love and for the first time in a long time I should have time again.  

OK then.  That’s it.  Hugs.

tomorrow will worry about itself

I like to think I’m deliberate.

That I labor over decisions, both big and small.  That I’m meticulous and make well-counselled decisions.

In something approaching 50% of the time, though, I think I operate more on impulse.  This tends to be OK, as I trust myself in most matters.  Deliberate, impulsive, these are things I’m used to both striving for an being, respectively.  One thing I’m not, or at least up until recently have not been, accustomed to is calling.  A decision calling to me is something than an impulsive one.  Impulse is fleeting; I didn’t buy those new $150 earbuds even though I liked them and seem to collect such technical doodads – better judgement, nay, deliberate decision-making, intervened.  A calling, on the other hand, does not fleet.

When there’s this feeling… in your chest or somewhere approximate.  It’s a nagging thing, isn’t it?  Even tainted around the edges to make you feel like not doing it is somehow wrong.  A calling, being willed from the inside or some outside force, as near physical a thing as a pinprick.  I was called to do the RV trip, did you know that?  I don’t say it, but I felt like we were supposed to do that; meant to bond and explore.  Yeah sure, you’re thinking that I’m likely also “called” to my daily bowel movements, that I’m some crystals and auras new-age type getting messages from the Pleiades.  I’m not; as much as one can impartially judge themselves as such a one.  I knew that trip was the right thing to do, while on it everything felt right, and looking back at it there’s no denying the overall correctness of it.  It was a calling I chose to heed.

Is “calling” even the right word?  Not sure.  When someone chooses the seminary, what’s that… a calling?  A desire?  How do you tell the difference.  In my life, I also desired (greatly) that past summer’s trip.  Called, or wanted?  Maybe it’s the persistence of the feeling that leads me to want to dub something a calling versus a desire.  I desire a steak, medium rare, salt and pepper only.  I’m called on a journey.  What does one do, then, when one feels some compelling urge to do something seemingly irrational… like a drastic career and scenery change?

Why do I daydream about teaching middle-school math in upstate New York?  What is that kind of fantasy.  I even see the town in my head, all Bedford Falls and Mayberry.  My kids know your kids and your wife and mine are in the same PTA meetings and church committees.  I don’t work until 10pm.  I don’t work until 11pm.  I don’t work until midnight.  I don’t think about work in the shower.  I don’t think about work on the weekend.  My fucking till balance at the end of my grocery-checker shift doesn’t weigh on my shoulders like an anchor.  My paycheck loses decimal places.  Our saving stalls.  I wouldn’t be able to do things like that RV trip I was “called” to; I’d have to pass-up the calling because I couldn’t afford it.  Right?  Little devil on the right, little angel on the left.  Warring.

I can’t even write one-minded about it and I’m just manic-depressive enough about it to where it’ll likely never happen.  There is this part of me that wants it like an ideal, though.  To get closer to my family, my God, my planet, the things I like about myself and the things I feel my time is best spent on.  Why waste it working until 10pm, 11pm, midnight?  Why waste it rebalancing my 401k?  Why sow or reap or store away in barns?  Why labor or spin?  How long can I keep pretending to seriously ask myself these questions before I give up and admit I’m too scared or convince the family to take the first steps with me?  I’m not serious, surely.

Self-indulgent catharsis.  Feel better.  More coming at a later time.  Thanks for reading.

a mild itch

Got into Vegas from Shanghai just an hour or so ago.

Upon seeing this shiny place ringed by desert again, I didn’t expect to have such a strong emotional reaction.  Maybe the jetlag contributed, but being here again after this summer’s RV trip, for only the second time in my life, just smashed down on me and almost made my eyes water.  It’s not like I’m remembering something that happened twenty years ago, either – we were here back in July.  I think it’s a testament to just how impactful that trip was on me.

Maybe I didn’t realize exactly how broadly the journey effected me, and to some extent maybe I’m still settling back into things and coming off that road-high.  Writing might be one example of this.  I know in my head that at some point I’m going to call this sounds familiar dead-time “the big gap.”  That I’ve already named it for future writing means I’m getting closer.  More telling still are the ideas for entries that have been jumping into my head again; on plane flights, in taxis, on the soccer field, the shower; the usual places.

It could be that I haven’t seen my family in two weeks, and won’t for another few days before we meet again in Portland.  Missing them and being here, a place where, even if we didn’t really have the best time in the world, I was last together with them on this wild transforming journey, surely plays a part.  I miss my family.

So I don’t know… but I’m going to go out and walk the strip a bit (after a shower to wash the full day’s travel off me) and see if I can catch further nostalgia.

Until later then.

a heavyset saint

I was due to start work yesterday, fresh from seven weeks away.

It’s not that I was nervous about going back to work… but a bit hesitant about diving in and trying to drink from the firehose.  Didn’t matter, in the end, as I came upon a jury duty summons while sifting through the pile of mail which accrued during our holiday.  So I sat there today, reading, working on Keaton’s last video, thinking.  I thought a lot about the trip; how lucky we were to be able to take it, how smoothly it went, how it managed to change my perspective just a bit.  To a degree, I think I was wanting to run away from normal… run away and take shelter in the little family we’ve built.  Being there, hidden away in a box just the four of us, was blissfully awesome.  To function so highly together, to enjoy our own company… something about it was almost therapeutic.  Sorry, I could talk about it for paragraphs.  I’ll stop.

So I whiled away the day at the county courthouse.  I met a woman, I figure she was about 300lbs, although I’m not sure how here weight is relevant.  She was complaining bitterly about the whole thing.  “I don’t know why they keep us so long,” she lamented.  “They ain’t never gonna pick me, my husband is a convicted felon and my dad was too.”  This left me, not being a guy who runs with many felons, lacking a proper response.  It’s so tempting, to slip into some least-common-denominator type conversation.  I could’ve said, “I watched a Dateline about felons once,” or, “I learned about felonies in Civics class,” y’know, to establish some common ground.    Instead I just found myself slightly sad that she was registered to vote.  For new readers, here’s the part of almost every paragraph I write where I go back and dilute my own writing by playing devil’s advocate: In the end I shouldn’t be too critical though, I don’t know that woman – she could be a heavyset saint who just keeps bad company.

Being on the road and not writing regularly felt odd, good-odd, but I like writing.  Double-down then, back to the keyboard and blank page and trying to bang out some good reading – things have been mundane.  Stupid brain turns vacations into “being behind” upon return.  Fix this and get back to that and do this so that can be all ready.  First-world problems… flowing like the clean, potable water which flows unabated from the five taps in my house’s central plumbing.  Malaria?  They cured that, right?  That one president invented a vaccine, I think.



Well folks, we’re back home after our extended jaunt.

I won’t spend a lot of time waxing about how great it was (it was) or how well-behaved we all were with each other (angels) or how I feel more American for the experience (Semper Fi).  Instead I wanted to write about being home.

We rolled up Tuesday afternoon and worked until late that night just unpacking the RV.  Moving load after load of our road-things back into the house – not putting them away in their proper places, mind you, just facilitating the exodus.  Wednesday we rose early and began the arduous process of cleansing the vehicle before return – a process which reminded us both of the old apartment days, facing that “how much do we need to clean?” quandary.  One final sewage and wastewater dump and we had the vehicle back on time.  It was an odd feeling, dropping it off for good again… and the resultant move-out piles are still only partially dealt with.

Sharaun has said to me several times that she’d have been ready to do another six weeks, not come back for double our time away.  I have to agree, although being home is nice.  We took the homecoming mass unpacking as an opportunity to do some spring-cleaning and organizing (something the OCD in me adores).  Having a few days off before returning to work, I had a small list of minor projects I wanted to run-through and have been able to make good progress.  Yes, it’s good being home; I love our house.

And yeah, I’m slowly beginning to peek at work stuff.  I re-downloaded the corporate email app to my phone and have been doing sporadic replies to new threads.  I’ve batch-downloaded everything which came while we were out and halfheartedly parsed through it once or twice.  I had lunch with my coverage guy and good buddy and used the hour to poke a bit about what’s been going on.  You might say I’m thinning the cobwebs, but I guess it’ll be a week or so before I’m back firing on all cylinders.  From what I’ve seen, things for the most part went as things tend to go…

And with that quick summary I’m off to enjoy the day & kick around on Keaton’s last couple videos.  Until Monday for the blog, take it easy.