Rotten Hamburger

Eject, Emit, Expel, Gag, Heave, Hurl, Nasty, Puke

 

Hey Gang!

My aunt’s birthday was Monday. The family got together, which rarely happens, and we all went out to dinner. It was a great day. The End.

Kidding.

It was a fantastic day, but I couldn’t help but realize how different I act around my family. I’ve been to college and I consider myself a somewhat douche-y intellectual. However, above all, I consider myself a good dude. It takes family to remind you just how awful you really are.

My family has always been a pretty dark humored bunch. Dark humor tends to come about from dark circumstances. My family is no different. We yell and we cry and we laugh through the dark times, of which there seem to be many. Usually, I am silly and goofy and joke about fun things but when I get together with my family, I can tell how much I change. Normal things I find taboo tend to  come front and center for cracking jokes about.

I drove down a few back roads on our way to lunch. The cool air ripped around us while we remained toasty inside, to my lament. I always enjoy things between 65-67 degrees. My aunt likes her temps between 73-hell fire degrees. It was her birthday so I said, “Well, I suppose it’s okay that I have back sweat for a little while.”

“Turn down that road over there,” Josh said pointing left. As we’ve gotten older and dealt with our own demons, I notice our bond growing. Pain knowing pain. He points down an old road leading to town.

“I thought you were hungry? Eyes on the prize,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” Josh said as he sat back into the passenger seat. He looked the smallest bit defeated. I would have felt bad had I not been hungry enough to literally eat a person (not the whole person, just, like, a leg or something).

“Well, we should go by there after dinner. There’s a creeper* van back there for sale. Who the hell would buy that?” he shook his head.

“I mean, maybe it’s meant for kidnapping,” I said. “You know, long windows and all that. Pretty easy stuff.”

We laughed. What follows from there is a conversation only meant for those in the car. However, I will tell you that, by the end, Josh had a Haram and massive house where they stayed in a particular wing and cleaned or made love to him. I, on the other hand, was madly rich because I “procured” people. Basically I was like the other side of Taken but for high class individuals. No garbage, drug-laden prostitute dens. Sultans only!

We grabbed dinner and hopped back in the car. There was a lot of heavy breathing and burps, as usually follows a trip to Golden Corral.

Josh mentioned he felt like he was about to throw up. I told him he should just let loose as it wasn’t my car.

“Must’ve been all that ROTTENNNN HAMBURGERRRR,” Josh said in a gravelly voice and glass shattered in my mind.

Isn’t it funny how things in our childhood drift away? We say or do something that is funny or terrible in the moment and then time happens. You fall in and out of love, go through school, and live your life. All the while, this one event gets pushed further and further back until someone casts their line out, hook it, and reel it to the surface.

All I needed to hear was “Rotten Hamburger” and that old memories wriggled on the hook like an angry bass.

I was seven or eight; Josh would have been twelve or thirteen. We spent most of the day together and had McDonald’s. He started feeling nauseated and we went home. He started throwing up and I was an asshole. I decided to peek my chubby brown face around the corner and lightly taunt him.

“Oh, not feeling so well?”

*blargghhhh*

*huffing*

“You know what it probably was? That hamburger. Didn’t it taste funky?”

*wretch*

*heavy breathing*

“Chris, shut the hell up and go sit down,” my mom yelled to me as she rubbed my cousin’s back.

“That’s it. It must have been that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR”

*violent barfing*

“It was so brown. I bet the cook didn’t even wash his hands when he served it up. I can smell all that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR.”

*coughing*
*brown puke*

I repeated it in differing ways, each time met with a concert of burping, puking, gagging, and farting.

I finally weaseled my way between my mom and aunt to continue my verbal assault but I stopped in my tracks.

It was the combination, really. The mixture of the sour bile smell mixed with a big mac all swirled up with half-digested fries hung in the air while the toilet in front of me bled brown, chunky liquid. The high pressure of vomit smell and the low pressure of disgusting brown chunks everywhere met and created a tornado in my stomach.

I felt dizzy and stumbled backward. To the kitchen, threw my head into the sink and through up so hard my back popped. It was one of those vomit sessions where it just keeps coming and when you finally feel like you have nothing left in you, it comes again.

My cousin walked in watery eyed behind me. I turned for a moment to see him smiling.

“Must’ve been that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR,” he smirked.

My stomach convulsed and a symphony of terrible noises came from my body as I hurled everything I had into the sink.

A split second later, I was back in my car’s driver’s seat.

I nearly crashed laughing. I apologized profusely.

“It’s okay. It’s funny now,” Josh said.

It is funny now. All of it. When you’ve known someone your whole life, you’re watching their life movie while living yours. My movie left that scene on the cutting room floor but for his movie, it made the cut.

I realized how much of an asshole I was as a kid. Doing anything for a laugh. Then I thought about who I was just hours before when talking about the creeper van. I’ve come to realize, for better or worse, we are our truest selves when around those who hold a mirror up to us and show us who we were.

-Chris

 

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Momento Animalis

Gorilla, Monkey, Primate, Animal, Portrait, Face

Hey Gang!

I recently came across the Non-Human Rights Project (NhRP). Essentially they are proposing we treat animals such as elephants, wales, dolphins and, most notably, chimpanzees as “persons”. Steve Wise, founder of NhRP, made it his mission to treat them as civil cases much like the women’s rights, civil rights, and gay marriage movements. It isn’t quite the same, of course, as he isn’t saying the personhood for animals is at the same level as the previously mentioned, but he is saying that we have different concepts of what a right is and those groups eventually found legal rights in America.

It’s funny to me that this search is even a search. I think his argument should be pushed through but probably not for the reason you think. You see, I, of course, have empathy for chimps and other animals great and small, however, I also see that we are all animals.

I have this quirky thing I do sometimes. Unfortunately, I am going to make you step into my head.

Picture this:

You walk down the street and there are animals everywhere. Chimpanzees skulk along busy sidewalks as they chip and chirp to one another. They stop into small stores and grab a bite. The smell of exhaust permeates your senses and they drive through the busy metropolitan streets that other chimpanzees built by sheer mental fortitude.

You walk further down the street and look down an alley. There, in the darkened hall of brick and mortar are two chimpanzees brutally assaulting another. It feels barbaric and you want to stop it but the sheer brutality of it makes you realize how much of an animal they really are. How uncivilized they are. You run away. You cross street after street as you try to forget the tableau of violence you stumbled upon and end up at a small park. You see chimpanzees roaming around. They crawl up trees and down them. They run openly in the park. A chimpanzee sits on the black, metal bench across from you. In her black fur covered arms, two small brown eyes blink back at you. She begins breast feeding the small chimpanzee. She looks at the baby with delight. Her eyes are large and round with a watery glisten to them as she looks at her tiny progeny.

You look down at your feet and, when you look up, you are surrounded by monolithic grey creatures. Their tusks jut out in front of them and their trunks sway back and forth. You’re in a grassy area surrounded by tombstones. In front of you is a small mound about the size of you. A tombstone just behind the dirt mound says the elephant died at the age of two. You see them walk in time as the elephants’ trumpeting trunks scream into the darkened sky. They circle the grave shaking their heads back and forth crying out in emotional pain. They’ve lost something. They’ve lost someone.

You’re back. You’re reading this and wondering why I’m juxtaposing these things.

What makes you a person? If you think it’s because your part of a community, you’re right. So are they. If it’s because you think and feel, so do they. If you think it’s because you speak and articulate, so do they.

I only spoke of this, not to show you how close to humans they are, but to remind you of the animal that YOU are. We are animals navigating the world. We give meaning to society because it’s a natural thing to do in the animal kingdom. Insanity is defined by Miriam – Webster as extreme foolishness or irrationality. We share over 99% of our genes with Chimpanzees and yet we cage them. We cage our own creatures because we fear them. In Africa, Human Zoos were quite common just a century ago. These dark skinned people looked so odd and different. They dressed strangely and worshipped different gods. They were lesser. It’s archaic to say that now and even more so to imagine it happening again. Creatures caged simply for the oddity of existing.

We make laws not meant for protecting them as entities but as things.

How can one thing hold so much over another. If they’re “things” then so are we. Look at how similar we are in “thingness”.

Replace the city street scene with humans. Is that brutality still animalistic or is it just “human nature”? Is it a mother feeding her child or is it indecency? Is it a funeral or are they just upset animals?

I could show so much more here of how we are nothing but animals who out number most semi-large mammals and how we are ruining the planet for the others.

In the end, this whole post was meant to do one thing. It was to show you that you, an ape, can read what another ape wrote. That communication is happening and you understand me much like every other animal on earth understands those within their own species.

This is your reminder that you are part of something bigger in this world.

Remember that you traverse the same ecosystem as every other creature and you are just as fragile.

Remember how it feels to lose another human creature. Then think of other animals’ losses and how much they feel.

Remember, when you stroll through the zoo, that you share 50% of your genes with every creature there. Expand that to every living creature on earth. One creature looking back at another.

Remember why you have hair all over you and why your teeth are structured the way they are and why you have opposable thumbs and why you still have a tail bone.

This is your reminder.

This is your memento animalis.

30 Signs You May Be In Your 30s

 

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Hey Gang!

My least favorite addiction happens to be the clickbait lists found scattered across the Internet (I’m looking at you Buzzfeed…). I can’t help but read them.

“Article”: 15 things that only humans know.

Me: Hmm, I’m human. I bet I can relate to these!

That’s really what it is all about. They give out broad generalities to make you say, “Hey, that’s me!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the type of entertainment they’re presenting. If anything, I’m congratulating them with a bit of my own pastiche. What I am saying is I’m not sure if my celebrity husband is Chris Pratt. I always thought of myself as a Ryan Gosling kind of guy but if a Buzzfeed test says I’m going to marry Chris Pratt, I guess I better go look at rings this weekend (I hear he is single! *squeal*).

I thought it would be fun to do something not broad at all. I want to be incredibly specific and use personal experience (my cells have decayed for about 31 years now).

Here is a list of 30 signs you may be in your 30s.

  • You hear any song by UB40 and think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!”
  • You think of dating as being an interviewer. You’ve moved past the phase where you want to hold them and watch the stars float overhead in the moonlit night. You’re now asking them direct and hard questions. You like long walks in the rain? Cool. How is your 401k? Do you have health insurance? What’s your student debt like?
  • You look into the mirror and notice a slightly receding hairline. You pull some hair down to cover it and tell yourself, Man, this bathroom lighting is awful. Better switch to LED bulbs.
  • You look at your growing amount of gray hair and believe you are “pulling it off” but really you look like the creeper who lives in the house down the street that everyone avoids on their morning power walks.
  • 10 p.m. is REALLY pushing your bed time.
  • You find it harder and harder to meet friends for drinks because the usual response is, “I wish I could but the kids really want to go to skyzone tonight. Have a drink for me!”
  • You notice your body is changing but not in that look-at-me-ma-I’m-a-growing-teen kind of way. It’s more so pops and cracks that make you think, That didn’t sound good at all…
  • You get depressed because your favorite restaurant started putting a calorie count next to their menu items.
  • If you have kids, you realize why your parents always said, “I hope you have one just like you.” Because you did and you kind of hate your younger self a.k.a. your current child/part-time hellspawn.
  • You begin “drunk-proofing” yourself. Okay, keys are in my right pocket, phone is in my left pocket with 911 speed dialed at position 1, I.D. and 20 dollars are in my shirt pocket, and I drank 16oz of Pepto-Bismol. Tonight is going to be awesome!
  • Fast forward to the day after you “only had a couple drinks.” You realize you had 4 beers and 2 shots. Someone may have bought a round but you aren’t sure. You also realize that obviously Daenerys Targaryen said “dracarys” and your brain is on fire from a massive hangover. You may have lost your soul from vomiting as well.
  • You get mad at your friend when you ask them what they are doing and they say, “Me and Beth are going to Tanner’s Orchard. Pretty stoked!” What makes this worse is that you are 30% mad because you wanted to hang with the person and have a friend brunch, but you are 70% angry because you weren’t invited and you fucking LOVE orchards (I mean fresh apples? Come on…).
  • You love brunch. Like, a lot. So much so that you may actually go by yourself even though you know they will put you over by the bathrooms at the tiny table or the table on the patio closest to the curb where inevitably someone is smoking and you think, What is this? A Jim Jarmush movie? Who still smokes?
  • You eat one, just one, piece of pizza and you gain 30 pounds. This is directly averse to when you were in your 20s and could eat 4 slices of pizza, 6 hot wings, and 8 beers. You would then be hungry roughly 3 hours later. Never. Gained. A. Pound.
  • You get really into loose-leaf tea and craft beers for some reason. Like, really into them.
  • You realize dating on apps is probably the worst thing on earth but you still have no idea how to hit on someone in public so you walk up to them and whisper, “Swipe right” lightly into their ear.
  • You hear Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and your shoulders gently sway left and right uncontrollably.
  • You begin statements by saying “when I was your age…” without any semblance of irony.
  • People between 18 and 24 look like toddlers playing dress up.
  • You start looking for “practical” cars. They most likely have heated seats, no spoiler, and “get great gas mileage.” Most times people will call it a van but you have to reiterate it is a mid-size SUV.
  • Kombucha becomes part of your diet. You hate it but you hear it’s “so good for you.”
  • Your doctor says, “That’s just part of getting older” way too much for your liking.
  • You’re super worried about when you should start getting a colonoscopy. (Including right now after reading this.)
  • You’re perpetually “hangry” due to only eating things that are supposedly good for you even though they taste like Styrofoam had a love child with cardboard.
  • You read non-fiction and actually enjoy it. Like, you seek it out. You sit down (probably with a glass of that oolong tea you brewed at home with your new tea set from China) and you open the book. You probably read the forward as well.
  • You refuse to date someone who has never heard of All That, Are You Afraid Of The Dark, or Bill and Ted’s Awesome Adventure.
  • Speaking of dating, you have come to the conclusion that people in their 30s who are still single are insane. You then have an existential crisis because YOU’RE in your 30s and still single so you must be crazy and it hurts your soul.
  • You don’t feel “immortal” like you did in your early 20s. This means you probably avoid super dangerous things like walking over sewer grates, getting too much sun (Luckily you wear enough sunscreen you look like the creeper from the Little Baby’s Ice Cream commercials), and you have your own grave plot picked out.
  • You track your steps.
  • You’re perfectly okay with not being okay all the time.
  • You love being in your 30s because you have a decent job and enough life experience to know what you want out of life and who you want in your life because you are awesome and so is your aforementioned life.

 

Until next week, friends!

 

-Chris

The RV Stalks At Noon

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Hey Gang!

 

I admit that I have an overactive imagination. I can’t help it. I have been creating these overt, elaborate plots of nothingness for no reason. For example, I once went for a walk on a trail in the back woods with some friends. Along the way, we found barrettes, a small pillow, and a blanket. As a precursor to my revelation, this is adjacent to a campground and fishing; well-travelled it is, as Yoda would say (did you read that in his voice? J). What then unraveled in my mind was that there was a serial killer on the loose in the woods, killing people while they sleep and burying them along the trail…and we were next! Completely true story! Not the murders, the imagination.

Another instance is that, on a date,   we sat and made up stories of all the people around us. We sat next to kings and queens, spies, and everything under the sun. It was a fun night and rare that you meet someone who shares that imagination with you. I understand that my imagination is ridiculous but it is fun and makes the mundane seem like a festival. However, it does get to me. I get uber-paranoid because I let my imagination run. For instance, I was driving through town and the car behind me mirrored every turn that I made. It was unnerving because I thought of every Creepypasta and episode of Alfred Hitchcock that was even remotely similar and it made me freak out. I started going faster, and they matched my speed, I slowed down thinking they would go around but nope, they stayed behind me. I finally whipped into my parking lot to see them speed past and into the distant night. I let out a long exhale and contemplated my sanity.

Fast forward to now. I come to work and every day there is an RV camped out in our lot. We share a rather large parking lot with a couple other corporate buildings. This isn’t your average RV; this is the watch-the-back-windows-for-someone-mouthing-“help” type of RV. It has not moved in 2 months and I have to say, it is a bit creepy but it is bringing out my inner sleuth. I have seen a balding man come out of it once and walk up to the building. The next time I saw him place something on the back bumper and then hop in a little S10 with filing cabinets in it and drive away. Below are the theories I have come up with:

  1. He works there and is having an unfortunate circumstance where he cannot afford a house
  2. He may be in the movement of not planting roots.
  3. He is a murderer that is on the move and needs to be mobile to finish his awful deeds
  4. He is using the RV as a kidnap shack in the open because he secretly wants to get caught
  5. It broke down after he was traveling the world, making it by ship from Russia and is too attached to just leave it
  6. He is a member of a secret society that only live in RVs used in ‘80s horror movies
  7. He is Illuminati….
  8. He may or may not be a vampire, which means I am living the real version of Fright Night
  9. He is a meth dealer who used to be a chemistry teacher and now has cancer but this is his way of paying for the bills and not leaving his family in debt (followed closely by his sidekick, Jessie).
  10. I need to get a life.

It’s definitely one of these!

-Chris

Campfire Tales: Mr. Raccoon Has His Day (Conclusion)

Hey Gang!

(Continued from Previous)

Sleep was hard. I had gotten taller since I last camped, which meant my torso was completely exposed. This caused a problem as a snap cold front came through and it dipped down into the low 30s. I was freezing. I put on all of my clothes and my hoodie, yet I still shivered. I used my hiking backpack as a pillow and shivered the whole night. I woke up with the sun around 5:30. I had to pee but it was about 10 degrees colder outside than in my tent. I did what any good man would do, got on my knees and urinated out the door of my tent. Not glamorous but it worked.

We had to move our tents the next day as we had accidentally camped at the wrong site. This other campsite was close to the old one but in a less glamorous area that was downhill. We repeated the steps and night came again. Chad regaled us of why we should fear the night and I listened to that voice in my head that grew. It screamed, “You will be eaten!”

I literally jumped into my tent, zipped it fast, and breathed a sigh of relief. Obviously, a creature could not penetrate a zipped tent door nor the material. I hear the laughter from a campsite near and it kept me sedated. I played a game on my cellphone until I fell asleep. I had come to realize that my imagination was just playing with me. Life is a lot more than silly stories.

I AM AWAKE.

I heard something outside my tent. It cracks as it moves around me. It moves to the front of me and begins hitting my tent’s door. Bigfoot. He is here. I stayed silent. The great beast moved on from me and began rummaging through the make-shift, all-in-one kitchen we erected. I knew if I moved, I would be killed.

“Hey, get outta there,” Chad yelled from outside my tent. “Why you little son of bitch!” I hear as his tent unzips. The beast scurries away with a clang. Chad zips his tent up and I fade back to sleep after a long silence.

I found out what happened the next day. An even bigger raccoon had made its way through our camp, tipped over our psuedokitchen, and tore apart our trash. It was like a terrible horror movie when the monster turns out to be a cute-looking fuzzy bandit. What was better was on my tent’s door I found….muddy claw prints….dun-dun-DUHHHHHH!

The next day I woke up early and essentially did the same thing the raccoon did to me to Juan. I pawed at his tent and he punched at the air. This went on for longer than I care to admit. We went home and the sun set on our adventure. I am not sure there is a moral here or but there is a lesson: My imagination scares me more than nature. Which is also scary.

Here’s to my next camping trip and yours!

-Chris

Campfire Tales: Mr. Raccoon Has His Day

Hey Gang!

I decided to go with some friends to this beautiful campground close by last year. We drove the 30 minutes or so to the lake where our campsite was. The trek to the location was somewhat far in, about a quarter of a mile. This made it quite difficult to lug all of the equipment to the campsite. I am very much a minimalist. I enjoy having a tent, a sleeping bag, matches, a hatchet, and gumption. All of which failed me, but I will get there later.

My friend brings a multi-tool furniture contraption that is a sink, a stove, a wrack for dishes, and a waste disposal. This, as you can imagine, weighed a ton. It took us around 30 minutes to get everything set up. I put my tent together in no time, situating it near the clearing facing the water. It was beautiful and blue, shimmering with the setting sun. I wanted to watch it each morning as the yellow rays crept over the gentle ebb and flow of the water’s motion.

Chad puts his tent up rather quickly. It is a one-man tent. He has all the bells and whistles: sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, in-tent warmer, three fleece blankets, and three pillows.

“Nice hotel,” I scoffed.

I am man! I went to the woods to chop wood and fish. To scour the land and rough it. The thought of having “amenities” was deplorable. Plus, why the heck would someone need three blankets when it is 80 degrees out?

Juan was unfortunate enough to not have a tent. Chad gave Juan his spare tent, which turned out to look more like a coffin. It was only suitable for lying down. Seven feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet high. Perfect for sleeping or practicing being dead, your decision. He put his up with some help and we decided to wander. The day was filled with amazingly uneventfulness. The wood gathered was from a bin near the front for 10 dollars a cord. Most of the time was passed by sitting in silence as the trees swayed and the sounds of nature surrounded us. Nature is beautiful and I love being in it, however, being in a hot forest while bored is not conducive. I walked down some trails, which led to other people’s campsite. We saw each other and the immediate response was, “What the hell are you doing in my woods?” I have no idea why but it feels instinctual to stake claim in wooded areas. “This is my area, that is yours. Keep it that way!”

I eventually find some downed trees and take a stick. You guessed it! Carved wood. I tried to make a spear for fishing. It just sounded right. In the woods, I could only imagine a bigfoot coming out and killing me. Irrational, I know. I admit, I have a flair for looking into paranormal stuff and cryptozoology. Urban legends, folklore, and cyberlore are my favorites as well! (Maybe I should post a few of my favorites…) So, I became obsessed with the fear of possibly seeing a mythical beast. I mean there have been sightings in the area…in the 70s. On top of that, Chad would give little quips about “creepers.” Those people who surprise you or you catch watching you. Basically, a boogeyman in real life. I already have an overactive imagination and had just started reading stuff about the dark net. Not conducive to being in a tent alone.

Night comes and I have freaked myself out. We look up at the stars and they are amazing. Massive out in the woods. I enjoy it but I hear those sounds of the night. Wood creaking and people at campsites in the distance. Guitar carries across the water where a lantern glows. A sound cracks from behind us and we walk over to investigate. Nothing. We go back to the table and talk about nothingness. Another pop followed by thrashing of paper. We shine a light and see a raccoon as big as a medium-sized dog shredding through Juan’s tortilla chips bag. Its eyes glistened a greenish white.

“Hey! Get the hell outta there!” Chad screamed into the night and the little booger ran away. We laughed about it for a while and made sure to secure our food before heading to sleep.

(To be concluded…)

A lot like gravity.

Force

Hey Gang!

I recently had the privilege of being the best man for my closest friend of nearly 15 years. I wanted to share the speech I wrote. I wrote it because it rang true about he and his wife from my point of view. When I was done with it, I wanted to share it with my gang because I think it is really about what we all want at the end of our story. What follows is the original words I used, with errors, I am sure. I hope you enjoy.

*****

Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that I love storytelling in any form. I love reading them in books and telling some of my own. However, my favorite story isn’t my story but I will tell it anyway.

I don’t want to take up all of your time because, ya know, open bar but it is a story about a boy and a girl.

The boy was a bit of a troublemaker some 15 years ago when I first met him. We had our own adventures for a long time. We grew up together.

Eventually, the boy went to college here at ISU. We would talk every once in a while and he told me about these amazing characters who sit around me at this table and in this room now.

However, he would frequently tell me about this girl. He always talked about how funny she was and how she was like his best friend. I remember the first time I talked to the girl, it was over the phone while they were at Goodwill and found a picture that be known as T-bear for years. I knew then that this girl meant a lot to my friend.

Years pass and their friendship grew. Like any good story there were the ups and downs, the will they or won’t they get together moments.

Spoiler alert: they did.

They loved each other but then they fell in love. They were in love across town, they we in love from city to city, and their love spanned hundreds of miles to Georgia.

Like any good story, the boy too a leap by writing a few words on an egg.*

Now, we are here and the boy and girl are together as man and wife.

This isn’t the end of my favorite story however, it is just the end of that first book in a series of books.

Like any good story, there is a moral her. And I believe it is this:

There is a pretty famous book that says “love is patient, love is kind” but I think there is something more here. Robert Frost said he took the road less travelled and it made all the difference.

These two unintentionally took all of the right turns, out of billions of turns, to get to one another.

You can call that fate, or serendipity, or kismet. But I like to think there was something more there. A force that made them naturally drawn together. That had to be in each others’ space, in each others’ orbit.

These two people are together and bound with love. I think the moral of the story is that love is a lot like gravity. It cannot be denied. When it happens, you can’t fight it, you just have to fall.

So please, raise your glass with me as I make a toast. To gravity, to love, and to my two favorite characters.

Cheers!

*****

I hope you enjoyed. I got a lot of thank you afterward. Many told me that they cried during it, which was not my intention. I wanted to get across the idea of love being something that is hard to define, merely experienced.

I hope you have experienced gravity such as this as well.

-Chris

*Author’s Note: The words on the egg is a reference to how he proposed. It was on, or near, their first Easter living together. They were coloring eggs and he showed her the one he was working on that read: “Marry Me?” I know, it sounds too good to be true but that is how it went down. As I said, my favorite story.

Say Anything…

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Hey Gang,

It has been an insanely long amount of time since I posted. A lot has happened in my personal life and professional. I graduated, you may now officially call me Master Chris, and I got a job. Here is the thing that I have learned in a relatively short amount of time.

Lesson: You are youer than you.

You probably recognize this from a quote by Dr. Suess. I know most people wouldn’t quote Dr. Suess in a fashion such as this, but I find that it is true. There is a point when you have to reevaluate the steps you have taken in life, the baby ones and the strides. This can be as simple as what you ate for breakfast (Was that too high in calories?…Great, straight to my butt!) or it can come from a deeper place (Is this the ‘forever’ person?….Am I fit to be a parent?). Either way, there is something that we all have to do when we come to crossroads such as these. I did this as well.

I am working at a relatively easy job, with decent pay. It is actually incredibly relaxed as it is a non-traditional role. However, I must admit that something is missing. One of my favorite musicians died not too long ago. BB King had an amazing record called “The Thrill is Gone”; this is how I feel about this new job at this new point in my life.

I ask myself, “If it is all so new, why does it feel so old.”

I am sure you have experienced this too, dear reader. Maybe even as you are working and reading this. Whatever activity you did today, there may be that feeling of deja vu. This feeling of being lost in the woods and suddenly you see a tree but it gives no solace as you have seen that tree multiple times but you are still lost. You realize you have just been going in circles. Maybe this melancholy harkens to you now or some other time.

It is funny to think about it. In this new role, I watch the person who does my same job work fervently as they get things done, a rigorous pace that is on track to cause hypertension, anxiety, and even death. I try to speak of life and things that follow but they talk about work. To everyone, they speak of work. I know that work is their life but it is a fairly simple role. It is only made difficult because you seek a challenge where none can be had.

I realized not too long ago that I need stimulation on a deeper level. It is much like dating in that way for me. You do a job and you find out it isn’t the right fit for you so you have to have an awkward break-up with them. (“I’m happy working this organization but I feel like we have grown apart.”, “I’m sorry but there’s some employer else…”, “They’re not better than you, just different…they have dental.”)

I have chosen the next step. To get my PhD. It just makes sense for me. I loved teaching, as it was the only thing that made sense to me. It is a far cry from the professional role I am in now that has some esteem to it. I realize now that money is meaningless. Fact: Joy can only increase, due to income, until one reaches $75,000 annual salary. After that, it levels off. I realize that money is meaningless to me. You can’t buy the feeling you get when you see a student finally understand a concept. Work dozens of hours and get those worksheets done, but you have missed the silent beauty of the world. You missed some incredible even in a forrest. You missed watching the sun rise and set on a day that will never return. The inescapable cycle we experience regarding work is the hardest pill for me to swallow.

Say “mirror,mirror on the wall, how can I be happiest and end this living life withdrawal?” I think once you hold that mirror up to yourself and you see the person you are, you are able to say, “This is the person I am trying to be” or “This is the person I hoped I wouldn’t be”. The latter is mine. However, remember that the person in the mirror is tentative, fleeting. Tomorrow is a new day but you are youer than you and that is truer than true.

Being you should be a gift. You are all beautiful. Be organic and be truthful. If something isn’t working, make sure you look in the mirror, as I always do, and be honest with yourself. The person in the mirror waits for directions, it waits to be what you feel you want to be. All you have to do is speak the words and put it to task. A job, a love, a longing, an addiction, anything. Just say it. Say something. Silence kills the thing we want to become, the reflection in the mirror stale if you neglect the nectar of life, which is the true you.

You have to say something to that reflected you.

Say anything…

Campfire Tales Part 2: Creepy-Crawlies and The Scream That Ended The Trip

This was the first time I had ever camped, except in my ninja turtle tent in my bedroom floor as a tot. I feel like that doesn’t count.

I know one thing, the dark is pretty terrifying. Let me clarify, what is in the dark, or the possibility thereof, is terrifying. I use this preface to go on about when our noses started to run. We had no toilet paper, tissues, or paper towels. However, in the darkened exterior of the camp, about 50 yards away, was the public restroom. Ben essentially made fun of me when I proposed we both go look for toilet paper. It didn’t bother me. At least this way, when the three-eyed beast came to eat me, I wouldn’t be alone in its stomach!

I carried my gas lantern as Ben led the way to the outhouse. It was impossibly dark only three feet away from the lantern. This made my mind go to places I didn’t know possible, which is kind of impressive for me, no?

We get to the bathroom and he opens the door. I peek around inside, slowly lifting the lantern up to illuminate the small, dark space, and notice cockroaches all over the bathroom. Ceiling, floor, and walls were covered by long, dark insects. I was blown away from disgust.

“Got it,” Ben says as he takes a roll from the bathroom.

He passes in front of me. Now, the entire time he was in there, all I saw was the left side of his body. As he passes, I see the right side of him…which is now home to about four massive cockroaches. I try to emote but it comes out in stumbles.

“Er.. You..On your back…Cockroach! Dude! Dude!”

Now, there are two versions on what happened next. Ben’s recounting and then the real story.

Ben said it freaked him out that I was yelling. That’s why he jumped.

What really happened:

He had a look of shear horror as he ran into the darkness swatting cockroaches off his back. I was dying laughing at this point. Grossed out and laughing.

He skulks as he is visibly embarrassed. We go back to the fire and blow our running, cold noses as the fire dies out. It is then the cold sets in but above us are stars; billions of stars unlike anything I had ever seen. We stood there looking upwards in the cold for quite a while.

Ben then decided he needed to go back to the truck for something. I thought, “Oh god…I have to be by myself in the dark with a broken lantern (lantern broke, I guess a breeze blew by and knocked it over. I blame karma).”

He went off and I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. My ears perked up and I could hear every insect landing on a leaf from 10 meters away. It was terrifying for no real reason. I felt like I was being watched the entire evening and now, by myself, it was amplified. He finally skulked back but the feeling never left me. We stood there growing colder but still in awe of the heavens above us for a while longer.

That was when we heard the lack of frogs croaking. It was silent. I remarked something to him for a moment, I can’t recall right now, and that is when we heard this blood-curdling scream coming from where we fished not but a few hours ago. We looked at each other in shock. The scream continued and moved up towards us as if it was coming up the hill. We were immobile. It then sounded like it went through the woods, which Ben’s back was to, and then flew over head and away. Its scream drowned out as it flew into the distance.

“So, go to sleep?” I said.

“Umm, yeah,” he quickly retorted.

We dove into the tent and set up the partition between us. We joked about the sound for a bit, calling it a witch, and then went to sleep. The next day, the boredom and monsters finally got to us. We decided to fish one last time in the main river and head home.

I guess that’s how most people camp, right? Fear and boredom?

Stay tuned for my next campfire tale: Mr. Raccoon has his day!

-Chris

Campfire Tales Part 1: Chris, Ben and the Infinite Boredom

Hey Gang!

So, it is getting that time of year where being outdoors becomes a life-goal. I have decided to tell a few stories of literally the only times I have been camping. It is funny, my best friend Ben and I have this saying: We can never be normal. It does not matter how boring the activity we do is, we never have a genuine normal experience. There was one time where we hung out, went to best buy, scoped out chicks with our 17-year-old eyes at the mall, grabbed lunch, and started our way home. Nothing abnormal happened. It was a beautiful sunny day with the windows rolled down and the breeze coming in through the small s10’s windows. Once again, it was completely normal, until a huge yellow jacket flew into the cab at about 55 miles per hour. We swerved and screamed as it landed on us and around us. After what seemed like an hour, the bug flew away and we breathed a sigh of relief, laughed, and yelled “Why?!”

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These are some more (s’more, get it?!) of our stories that should have been a relaxing or uneventful tale, but took a sharp right. I think it makes for a better story anyway.

We found this great little place off a major lake a few years back. It was great and we wanted to spend the entire weekend camping in my massive tent that is bigger than my dorm room in undergrad. We get there and it is probably a hike of about an eighth of a mile in to where we camp. The walk way is beautiful and green. The path laid flat by lawnmowers. It had a natural elegance to it that I couldn’t put my finger on.

We put the tent up and went for a short hike along a path. We wound around and found a small two-person boat someone had repurposed as a bridge. The earth showed signs of recent flooding. The trees bent over the river in towering ways. It was quite beautiful. Until we got lost. I am not sure how it happened. Maybe it was the boat that threw us off or maybe our imaginations that ran wild when we saw cigarette butts and old, empty beer cans. Whatever it was, we got lost. I guess “lost” is a harsh word. We could see houses about a mile away and we could hear traffic but we could not find a way out of the wooded area or where our campground was. We felt crazy and slightly embarrassed.

“What if this is how we die?” I remember joking but not.

We found our way out as the sun began to set. We went fishing at a little pond about 100 feet downhill from where our tent was. We caught small sunfish most of the day and finally gave up on catching the big ones. We walked back to our tent as the sun set. I don’t really remember what we ate for dinner or anything like that. I do remember one thing….

We were so bored. I mean the bored that sent you into crazy fits. I remember at one point we were gathered around the fire as the pink sky faded into night. It was quiet except for the buzzing of insects and the croaking of frogs. Orange and black alternated around the foliage near the fire. I remember looking up at Ben, as he carved something out of a large branch, and thinking about how much he looks primal. It was all so very primal. I too was carving wood; a wooden shiv because what do you do with empty time.

We grunted and laughed every once in a while. We eventually found out that we each had been creating shivs; his more brilliantly crafted than mine, I admit.

END OF PART 1