Swimming Up River – A Chinook

I bought a van last week–a 1986 Ford Chinook!

We don’t have a name for it yet. But, this is why I have been less active on the blog, and on Twitter, lately. I have been tearing the van down to its bones.

Interior Cab

I’ve already taken out the bench-seat/bed and freshwater tank to clean and renovate them. I am also tearing up carpet, lots of carpet. I’m fairly certain the previous owner derived sexual pleasure from carpeting, because there are places where there are two layers of different carpet.

Interior shot - Chinook

Over the next few weeks I am checking all of my lines (water, propane, electric), reinstalling insulation, and re-upholstering to make this into a more perfect dominion–and to make as energy efficient as possible. Once I have the interior torn out I will update more frequently with what it looks like to bring a 1986 Chinook into the 21st century.

If you have any suggestions for what we should name it please put those in the comments!

Sharing Your Joy

Back in the Pleistocene, circa 2001, I was dating this one.

Her name is Laura Jean; if you read Blue Like Jazz, she is Chapter 5. One day, in between clumsy courtship, whimsical adventures, and discussions of the genius of Kurt Vonnegut she said  (I shit you not), ” No one co-joys.  I mean, everyone is willing to share in your misery, but hardly anyone wants to share your joy.  More people should co-joy!”

This is the first time that I had someone put this into words. These days it is a concept that I spend a lot of time talking about. It is often referred to as compersion, or frubble. It has many names, but my favorite is still co-joy.

One of the very important things to remember is that it’s not just about sharing the joy of other people, but also, sharing the things that bring you joy. One of the traps that many of us fall into is only ever talking about the things that we disagree with, or that we find unpleasant. Only ever talking about the things that make you unhappy makes you a real buzzkill be around. It also leaves the people that you like unaware of your positive feelings.

This week one of my goals is to share my joy. To show my love by telling people the things I like about them, and sharing with people the things I know that might please them too. #50love

The Depression To-Do List

Depression is like having a to-do list where almost everything is marked “Lowest Priority.” It’s not so much that you don’t want to fix things so much as you just don’t ever get around to doing anything because literally everything else gets in the way. So, by the time you get home from work you just flop down into a pile of unfolded laundry and contemplate which episode of Archer will make you laugh enough to dull the crushing weight of the fact that you still haven’t folded your laundry and it is almost time to stick it all back in the washing machine to make it clean again. Lucky for me I only own two pairs of pants, so the cycle is pretty short.

I think one of the most difficult parts of depression is that for most people it goes away pretty quickly. They have a bad day, they feel like some alone time, and then they get back to the regularly scheduled program. It’s a commercial break of depression. But, for others it is like everyday everything gets an ounce heavier or an inch further away until the door is a mile from your bed, your toothbrush weighs five pounds, and you have to squat-press your laundry basket. At some point you need to start taking medication, which is like a mental weight belt that makes sure you don’t blow out your metaphorical colon while doing your household chores.

And to make it just that little bit harder, no one is ever congratulatory of your accomplishments, because you are the only one that sees the invisible weight and distance–it’s like being the kid from The Sixth Sense and all of the ghosts are sitting on top of your stuff and trying to trip you while you walk.

Having a community is incredibly important when you find yourself pinned under this massively mixed metaphor I have created. You need to kill your pride and show your love for someone by confiding in them your dark secret.

Get a depression buddy (or buddies):

  1. Text them when you take your meds.
  2. Tell them the thing that you did today.
  3. Tell them what you eat.

If you eat well, hold yourself responsible for taking at least one productive step a day, and you take your meds, you can dust of the ounces and push back the inches. It might not be fast, but it will be real, and it will become a habit. Even if it has to be cultivated as a rote habit, eating well and taking your meds is crucial to winning your battle.

Ultimately, depression is a very personal experience. Your mileage may vary; this works for me, and if nothing else, it’s a place where you can start.

I want to thank my buddies that help me with my PTSD.

I don't know who to credit for this image. YAY DEPRESSION. Thanks Loading Artist!

Hey, Jealousy, How You Been?

On Sunday I went to a video game themed bar in Vancouver, BC. (EXP Bar) with my friend Chelsey. While talking with a couple I met there they asked about my Wife. When I replied that she was at home having a date with our baby the conversation quickly turned to whether Rose is jealous of my being out.

I’ll save you most of the rambling that happened that night and boil it down to this: “Sometimes, and that is both good and okay.” I know that sound mean, but bear with me while I explain.

Jealousy Is Interesting
Jealousy is a very interesting feeling because it is an extension of a feeling of desire: desire for time, desire for attention, desire for an activity…you get the point. It is also one of the few emotions that is easy to fix, if you take the time to examine what the jealousy is directed at. What makes you jealous will tell you a lot about how you should present your desires and what is important to ask of your partners and friends.

Jealousy Can Help You Get What You Want
So, jealousy is a feeling, and I think that feelings are always okay; problems arise in how you deal with them. As long as your enactment of your jealousy isn’t something destructive, it can be salvaged for the good of your relationships. If you are jealous because you want to go dancing and your partner had an opportunity to do so without you, the constructive way to deal with it is tell them. Use the words I like and I want you when you do it.

Like and Want
I like dancing, I want you to go dancing with me next weekend.” In that statement you are telling your partner what you want to do AND that you want to do it expressly with them. You are slipping a compliment in with the solution to your desire–because you are expressing a desire that is about them. The other advice I’m going to give on this is that you should use this discussion additively; make it in addition to the thing that made you feel the jealousy, not instead of.

Let Jealousy Remind You
When you feel jealous let it be a reminder to express desire. Let it be a reminder to reconnect with the things that you like about your friends and partners. Use it as an excuse to say something sweet, instead of an excuse to do something mean.

Photo Credit: alles-shlumpf

A flatter kind of love.

You should read All About Love: New Visions. It is a thought-provoking collection of essays on love by bell hooks. One of the very important points that she makes is that you don’t have to marry your soul mate, and you don’t have to hate your exes.

bell hooks was instrumental in me being able to say this: “I believe in Flat Love.” By flat love I mean that I try to approach each relationship the same; negotiate a mutually beneficial expectation, do my best to communicate my desires and my interest in the other party. Whether it is my wife, a friend, or a lover I have the same goal, enjoy our time together (however that ends up working).

And Here Is Why I Feel This Way.

Being a friend and being a lover are often measured by the same marks: time and intensity. Being a good friend or a good lover is limited by the same skills: communication and attention. So, why should our language or behavior treat them as different entities? I feel like we should call a date a date. Whether I am meeting you at the bar to complain about work, watch a game, or to tell you stories about my deepest secret I am still making time and attention for you. If the night ends with hugging from “a socially approved distance” or a polite peck or with breakfast the next morning I am still trying to communicate my level of affection for you.

I think that my life is simpler when I treat my son, my wife, and the guy I brew beer with the same way: I tell them what I like about them, I express my desire to make a time for them, and I show attention to their needs and communications—in different degrees, but the same way.

I would do the same with work and the dog, but the dog doesn’t really care for much beyond a butt-scratch. And, work, it is more like a frenemy, so I try not to obsess about it (much).  In reality there are many people that treat their job or hobby with greater care than their lovers, but we will save that discussion for another time.

Whatever and whoever you love requires time and attention. If you let that be the primary guide they will all grow with you.

More Love

Scariest Thing

About this time last year I was sitting on a secret. An incredible, life altering secret. I was going to be someone’s father within the next year. We knew that Rockford was coming, we had seen his heart, we were still calling him Blueberry Danger.

Because of this I was wrestling with one of the biggest decisions of my life: how am I going to support my Family. Not just my sullen dog and cranky wife, but what turns out to be my cranky mohawked son. I did something that I thought I would never do again, I applied for a job. It was a cool job, in my reckoning, and it was in Canada.

Like many Americans I had been threatening to move to Canada for many years. I had even briefly negotiated with a woman from Victoria, BC in 1999 about the possibility of marriage. Her name was Sarita; we met in Monte Verde, Costa Rica. But, those stars didn’t align. For over a decade I was sad about that, it always seemed like a fork in the road where I went the wrong direction. Now it seemed I had an excuse to correct this error,  to go boldly where I suspected I should have gone before, in my other life when I was pursuing the most basic me–in the shadow of my father’s death.

In that drift through the year after my dad died I kind of melted away and ended up on the path that I was on, feeling like maybe I was too much the path I was on and not enough like the person I imagine myself as.

In the end the stars still haven’t aligned for Canada. The job wasn’t the right fit, but I did meet some very important and meaningful people. It has been an important adventure. So, now with the new year Rose and I are taking on our biggest challenge, and forcing the dog and baby to come along for the ride.

We are selling everything. All the beds, all the furniture, almost all the electronics, all but the most essential kitchen supplies, all but the most essential books and clothes. We are buying a motorhome and a REALLY big data plan.

I want to see you again

Reconnecting and Writing

Over the next year my goal is visit all of our family: every sibling, every aunt and uncle, every cousin, every person we love and don’t see enough, every person that feels they don’t see enough of us, and as many of the people who want to meet us as possible. We hope to start and renew meaningful relationships in the process.

During our trip I will continue to do online consulting. But, we will also be conducting interviews with whoever wants to be part of our joint-project for the year. Rose and I are going to write a book about relationships and family–real ones, not tropes and stereotypes.
The birth of our child has made us both have a different perspective on our relationships and our lives (both together and individually) and we want to enter into the next era of our lives in a more people focused way–by learning from and sharing new experience with the people we meet and visit on the journey. We would like to share a meal, or a conversation with you. We want to know how you see the world and share honestly with you about our lives and challenges.

Grumpy Come Ons

Over the last few weeks we have been trying some new pick-up lines during our lunch outings. But, so far we haven’t found the right one that just fits. How would you pimp a flakey, buttery, delicious pie, little pie, or pie cookie? If I choose your line you will get a special super secret prize.

Things we’ve tried:

  1. I want to put this cookie in your mouth.
  2. You look like a man (woman) who likes pie.
  3. Do you like pie?
  4. If you buy a pie I’ll stop bothering you.
  5. Hey, you! Stop running away.

The McDistasterous is Real

This is so not pie, hell, it’s not even food by many peoples standards. I submit for your amusement the McDisasterous (2x McRibs and a medium french fries). The Internet claims no one has ever died of McRib poisoning.

I am hopeful that the pain in my stomach is not the early warning system for my eventual death. But, if I don’t make it please share my stories so my death won’t be in vain.

McDisasterous and Turducken of Pie

Last year due to a slow work schedule and being next to a KFC I challenged myself to eat what I called the Quadstrocity. The Quadstrocity was two KFC Double Downs smooshed together. It took me 17 minutes and I was unable to excrete properly for 2-days.

This has lead to two new semi-obsessions:

  1. Inventing the Turducken of Pie
  2. Eating a McDisasterous
Rose has yet to make the turducken of pie for me, but I’m sure if you make lots of comments she will be forced to make me one. And then I will eat it on camera. The McDisasterous, in my mind, is two McRibs and a Medium Fries all smooshed together. My goal is to consume the entire McDisaterous in < 5 minutes. I will do it and recorded it if even one person asks for it in the comments.
Mr. Pie

Mr.Pie Gets Pickled

I am a huge fan of things that are spicy. So, one of my contributions to the household fermented goods is pickled peppers and spicy pickled carrots. This is the recipe I use to make two 32oz mason jars of wonderful spiciness. It is, for the most part, a take off from a David Lebovitz recipe.

  • 1 cup (250ml) white vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 3 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt (not grey, or iodized salt)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf

1.) Set aside your peppers and vegetables and put everything else in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring the vinegar, water, and spices to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.

2.) While your brine is cooking, slice your peppers and garlic into 1/4-1/2 inch discs. I leave the baby carrots whole.

3.) Pack about an inch or two of jalapeños into each jar and some of the garlic, followed by the rest of the peppers and/or carrots. If you like powerful heat, fill one of jars with only jalapeños and garlic and the other with carrots and garlic (this is how I do it). If you want a little less heat put a mixture in both.

4.) Take the brine off the heat and pour the still hot brine into the jars and screw down the caps loosely. Once the jars are cool to the touch, refrigerate for at least a week before using.

[Note: If you want to limit the heat in this pickle separate out some of the seeds. The seeds are what makes the peppers hot.]