Every summer for the past seven years I have been privileged to enjoy an absurd bounty of days off from work. This year’s hiatus from the workaday world was my longest yet: 95 days. That sort of time off would be perfect for traveling the world, of course, but unpaid leave from a low-paying job is no way to finance globetrotting adventures. Besides, leaving Oregon just when the state is at its most spectacular seems silly. So, while I did do some traveling, I have sought most of my adventures in the realm of minutiae. “To see a world in a grain of sand,” as William Blake has it. Even the smallest, quietest life contains galaxies and for the last three months it has been my privilege to devote myself to exploring such galaxies full-time. With exploration comes learning, so, for the third consecutive year, I have collected what I have learned for you, dear Reader. I do not pretend these lessons are profound or true in any universal sense. They may not even be of interest. Nevertheless:
– Thanks to the Harry Potter novels the name Seamus has, at long last, found widespread acceptance in the US.
– Wearing a Charlotte’s Web tee-shirt will get you a lot of smiles and compliments. It will also get you invited to Bible Camp.
– One could probably spend three months discussing the concept of grace— maybe a week defining the word.
– If you’ve overheard one conversation where someone recommends the film American Psycho, you’ve overheard them all. (“…there’s this one amazing scene where a bunch of guys are comparing business cards…”)
– It’s impossible to be glum after an hour of Zumba.
– I am done with Wes Anderson. DONE.
– Out past 8:00? Think again.
– Invisibility is a conditional state and diminishes over time. Related: transparency counteracts invisibility.
– It still surprises people that I’m pretty damned good with kids.
– There is always something to celebrate.
– I’m really tall.
– “Happiness is an angel with a serious face.”
– When peacocks strut around displaying their feathers, people are much more impressed than peahens.
– Contrary to past experience I am, apparently, capable of winning a contest that requires luck.
– Little did I know on Day 2 of my time off that when I watched Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beater through a restaurant window with an impromptu sidewalk gathering of Blazer fans, I would repeat this feat myself on Day 91.
– Somewhere along the line I became one of those people who can have an entire conversation about working out at the gym.
– Some people genuinely like Ace of Base.
– “Some people want nothing and need nothing and are free.”
– A dull, unsettling weight in pit of your stomach can be a necessary precondition for progress.
– If a young woman makes eye contact from half a block away and then gives me a broad, welcoming smile, I’m about to be asked to sponsor a Third World child again.
– Overproof rum.
– Sometimes the right song on the radio is all it takes.
– “To be accessible is to lose magic.”
– Getting a band-aid stuck in your chest hair is unpleasant.
– Three words on a tee-shirt can speak volumes.
– Ethan Hawke is the greatest stone skipper I have ever seen. (According to Guinness, though, the record is 51 skips.)
– Hopped cider is an abomination
– Demonstrating what a blog is on a barroom table is surprisingly easy.
– Getting to the first step can take a lot of time, effort, and patience . . . then the dance begins.