Category Archives: Hither and Thither

Priorities: Same same but different.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine did a radio interview and she had to choose a single word on which to focus. She chose “priorities.” Her explanation resonated with me, which isn’t really surprising, as I’m sure that it’s part of the reason we’re friends, but the funny thing is that I keep coming back to it. I’ve had a lot of conversations about priorities lately and the word just seems so weirdly pertinent to my life right now. (My life always?)

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about priorities is lifestyle–and the choices we make that contribute to it. I will never be the person who says, “Must be nice!” (I swear that few more irritating, passive-aggressive comments have ever been uttered.)

While I realize that many things in life are beyond our control and, of course, it’s not always feasible for people to, say, up and journey across the globe, I also believe that if that were truly what said people wanted, they’d find a way of making it happen.

I’ve received lots of generous messages from friends and family while traveling, asking how it is that I’m able to visit so many extraordinary places. I usually say that I am very fortunate that I’m paid for doing what I love: Writing (particularly about action sports) has not only taught me a lot, but it’s taken me to remarkable locations and brought so many incredible people (above-mentioned friend included) into my life.

But you know what? Journalism–and especially that kind of journalism—is not a job into which you simply fall. I’ve worked hard for those experiences, and I’ve sacrificed things that most 30-year-olds take for granted (nice car, savings) in order to get them. Of course, I’m glad that I have, but the point is, when I had to choose between a 9-to-5 with benefits and a risky adventure, complete with a heap of credit card debt, I chose the latter. And that’s how I ended up in New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Lisbon… It was just a choice–and for me, it was a no-brainer because that was what I wanted from life at the time.

Now, I don’t want exactly the same things, and Continue reading

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Long Hours. Short Summers.

You know when Monday feels a lot like Wednesday, which could just as easily be Saturday?

“Happy Friday!” your friends say.

“What’s Friday?” you respond. Four hours later, on your late-arvo lunch break.

Tuesday is the new Saturday. (And Sunday.) Thursday is the new Tuesday.

You have dreams about cash registers/finicky customers/spreadsheets. You don’t think it’s weird when you receive texts before seven in the morning. ‘Cause you’ve been up since five, when you jolted upright in a cold sweat, certain that you’d overslept. (You hadn’t.)

The fact that you earned the “Power Month” badge on UNTAPPD might be cause for concern if you didn’t live in a ski town and if you hadn’t conveniently surrounded yourself with people who count craft beer consumption as a valid hobby and/or part of their jobs.

Your natural state is extroverted. Presently, though, you hate everyone. You spend your Saturday nights cocooned, with catatonic-looking eyes and hands that continuously shovel utterly unnutritious food into your mouth. To boot, you’ve ceased working out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

These are all telltale signs that work has completely consumed your life. (And, possibly, crushed your soul.) (Just a little.) It happens to the best of us. It’s alright when it’s the work about which you’re passionate that takes over your life, but when it’s the make-ends-meet kinda work, that’s another story. And it sort of makes you question what, exactly, you’re doing with yourself.

Right now, I’m running the heat in my car on my drive to work. A couple of weeks ago, I could, theoretically, get up and go for a run, shower, eat eggs, and be at work by 6 :30 a.m. This morning, I didn’t do any of that extra, productive stuff that makes me feel good about myself and I still got up before the sun. The sky, covered in bruises, mirrors morale inside the vehicle. The air on the other side of the glass is crisp. 46 degrees. It feels like fall.

Just like that, the summer has escaped me. My first Maine summer—well, my first real, complete summer. I envisioned leaping from cliffs and swinging from ropes and spontaneously swimming under the stars [more]. I didn’t really anticipate 50 [daylight] hours spent inside each week, and while I’m honestly grateful for the work, I sort of wish that I’d spent some more time hiking, swimming, boating, surfing, and most of all, writing before sweater weather returned. (It has.) Before red leaves fell into my yard. (They have.) Before pumpkin beers hit the shelves. (They, too, have.) Shiiiit.

A couple of weeks ago, the realization that summer was nearing its close hit me about as hard as Chopes likes to clock Koa Rothman.

And I know what you’re thinking: But it’s August. It’s totes still summertime.

And you’d be correct if I didn’t live in Maine, where you can (marvelously) ski six months of the year. So yeah, August is pretty much fall. And that’s fine. I mean, autumn is my favorite season and I have definitely taken advantage of the pittance of freedom that I’ve allowed myself since Memorial Day: Driving hours in every direction in the name of exploration, visiting many a brewery, blowing into unfamiliar beaches. And even breaking a bone while rope swinging. But the summer I’d imagined? Not quite.

Possibly the worst part about this is that everyone else I know is doing exactly the same thing, and maybe it’s just because, at this point, we’ve been doing it for three months straight (or more), but we’re all burnt out. Misery loves company, but not when everyone’s collectively too exhausted and too strapped for time to invest in face-to-face time. (Girls gotta have some face time—not FaceTime—sometimes.) This is summer around here, I’m told.

So I say, bring on autumn! Let’s cordially bid tyrannical, wetsuit necessitating summer and its weirdo tourists adieu. Let’s wear fullsuits during suitable months! And find time to share robust, soul-warming beers! Pull all-nighters through longer nights! Autumn: It’s the new summer.

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Plans, and an absence of.

I was standing in the warm garage, talking to the mechanic.

“We know where to find you,” she said, smiling. I can’t remember what we’d said before that, but I know that I replied, “Always in the same place.”

I’d meant the mountain, but it occurred to me how odd it was for that to be true.

Five-year plans. I’ve never, in my life, had a five-year plan. Even when I was a junior in high school, when everyone who wants to go to college has a five-year plan, I didn’t. For me, it was more like, I’m going to design school. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll become a doctor. Eh. We’ll see…

Do people actually make those things—five-year plans? I suppose they do. I went to J-School with a really ambitious guy who wasn’t content with a five-year plan. He had a “15-year plan.” It may or may not be worth noting that it began to disintegrate even before we’d graduated. I can say that without feeling bad because he’s doing really well now.

But yeah, I thought he was mad, and for exactly that reason: Plans are arbitrary. I believe that there are reasons why things happen, but I do not believe that the plans we lay, should we choose to do so, have much, if anything, to do with it. “The best-laid plans…”

I prefer a vague plan full of qualifications and the freedom of ambiguity:

  • I’d like to do that. Some time.
  • I’ll probably be [insert whatever here] six months from now/two weeks from now/Saturday…

Flight map.A year ago, I was heartbroken, not by a person, but by a country. I was about to leave a place that I loved. Love. Will always love. People who I love. My “plan,” if you will, included two months of intense, intercontinental travel, a couple of surf comps, and many, many youth hostels. And then, big, glaring—if kind of glamorous—blank space.

What would I do between France in October and Sydney in December? Well, I’d figure it out, I reasoned. But last July, it was a mystery, and one that became less and less sexy with time.

A few weeks in Bali put me off living there for any real length of time. Vietnam was still a quasi option. A girl who I met in Malaysia invited me to Nepal. I could do Nepal. This is how these things happen, you know. You meet a girl in Malaysia who invites you to Nepal. But I couldn’t afford the flight. Truthfully, I couldn’t afford anything. Change of plans.

I returned to the States disheartened, with designs of getting my proverbial shit together. (I’m still working on it.)

I only intended to stay here through a single ski season, but I sensed pretty quickly that Maine numbed my nomad tendencies. Eight months in, I’m surprised to find myself calling this place home. More than that, I’m surprised that it feels like home. I am surprised every day when I don’t want to leave. Then again, I’m astonished every day by the beauty of this place. And that of its people. I feel the occasional searing pang for the inconstant, but it only takes a minute of clarity to see that it’s all around, regardless of venue.

So, I think I’ll use that airline credit for an actual vacation—or two—instead of a one-way ticket. And then come home.

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A Tale of Two Climbs.

The thing about tequila is… just kidding.  Unlike this story, today’s tale of misadventure has nothing to do with tequila. It has to do with lots and lots of vodka and one damning, ill-conceived shot of some horrendous cinnamon liqueur. (It was free.) And also, some unfortunate weather.

I woke up on Saturday morning and asked myself, “Where am I?” And then I looked down at my watch, which read 10:30, and asked, “Is that a.m. or p.m.?” Friday night was a doozy. I think…

Here’s the back story: Red Bull’s Frozen Rush, a truck race that took place on ski slopes, has been the center of our universe for a while. It didn’t just go off without a hitch on Friday. It was a great success. So, we celebrated.

Saturday morning didn’t go quite as smoothly. As laid on the floor, gingerly sipping ginger beer and forcing down some DiGiorno, I heard from various sources how terrible the roads were. Sheets of ice = general consensus. It was 12:45 before I deigned to attempt a homeward journey. I successfully (if slowly) navigated 90% of the trip, which was great, because I didn’t have my license on me. But then, I got less than halfway up my mountain-climbing road before my car, Ethel, would go no further. The road hadn’t been sanded at all and the car just couldn’t gain any traction. I bumped the first of many snow banks and somehow turned my car halfway around before it began sliding, sideways, down the hill. I’m not sure if it was the powerful over hang or extraordinary mental fortitude, but I remained calm. I was able to get the car facing the right direction, which gave me false hope. From that point on, I had absolutely zero control over the vehicle. I slid into a snow bank, crawled out of the rut, slid straight into another one, five feet down the road. Rinse and repeat.

As much as it pained me, I decided I had to leave Ethel. The question at this point was whether to hike up to my house or down to someone else’s and call for a ride. Down was a lot shorter. But my phone was dead, so I’d have to knock on a stranger danger’s door and request to use his or her phone, reeking of poor decisions. I opted for the climb.  Continue reading

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The year is new.

Oh, so it is. I’m usually much more on top of my New Year’s posts, but 2013 was one heck of a year and I wasn’t really sure where to start. Then I thought, I’ll just begin with what’s always closest to my heart: the food. (And drink.) And I’m gonna preemptively put a few dollars in the proverbial jar, because I’m about to sound like a… well, maybe just don’t read this if you’re prone to fits of jealous rage. Right, the food…  Continue reading

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Sap Sap Sappy Thanksgiving 2oThirteen.

This Thanksgiving Eve finds me sitting at an Ikea kitchen table that I shared with an ex, once upon a time. It’s now in my bedroom. In my parents’ house. There’s only one chair. (The other one was lost in a flood.) It’s also from Ikea. This visual gets more depressing with every passing detail. There’s even a candle. Unlit. And an opened box of Entenmann’s “donuts.” And a feline reposing in my lap. Just kidding… about those last two things, anyway.

The floor behind me is, literally, covered with books and laundry and 10 pairs of shoes and five pieces of luggage and 37 pieces of cameras and a statue of Ganesha.

So, at 28, this probably isn’t exactly where most people would want to be. But I am thankful to be here.

This has been one crazy year (so far). I didn’t realise until my mum brought it to my attention, but I set foot on five continents in eight months. That’s, like, the definition of a crazy year. But also the definition of a remarkable year.

Continue reading

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More quality spam.

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 9.41.07 AM

Oh, you’re very welcome, Mr. Sexdate. Thank you. And may I just say what a lovely and unusual first name you have.

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Pine Tree State Beerin’

While I was up in the hinterlands (Maine), I acquired a few exceptional new beers for the Yankee List. My favorite was Sunday River Brew Pub’s Alpine Porter, which tastes like pine trees. Seriously. It’s weird but amazing. Portland, M.E.’s Allagash Black (which I’d never seen before) is fantastic, as well.

Allagash. black.

Anddd I realize this is kind of annoying, but I’ve also added a very small-batch beer that you’re unlikely to come across… I feel it deserves a spot on the list: The Maple Brown Sugar Cranberry Xmas Ale was created by my friend Josh Hahn. Josh is probably not related to those Hahn brewers in Oz, but he has equal (if not greater) brewmaster skills. Thanks, Josh!

If you click on that link up there, you can see the entire list. As always, discourse is encouraged.

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2012

@casebut

12 Things I Learned in 2012:

  1. I actually do like barrels.
  2. I actually don’t hate [carefully selected] hostels.
  3. Learning new languages really does get harder as you get older.  Continue reading
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Non-resolutions.

Around this time last year, I was on this pro-fate, anti-resolution kick. After listening to me prattle on for a couple of days, my housemate suggested that I read The Secret. Matty mentioned something about the Law of Attraction. I’m not sure what, exactly (and I still haven’t finished the book), but he went on to tell me that he’d made a list one year–simply written down things that he’d wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year–and forgotten all about it. When he went back to the list a year later, he’d accomplished almost everything on it. The good, old Law of Attraction. I think. I seem to remember him explaining that in expressing his desires in a concrete way, he gave them some kind of power. My interest (skepticism?) was piqued. So, I wrote my own list of non-resolutions for 2012 somewhere in the middle of my leatherbound notebook, folded down the page’s corner, moved on.The List

A few days ago, I remembered the non-resolutions and confessed to my friend, Megan, that although I couldn’t remember exactly what I’d written down, I was pretty sure I hadn’t accomplished any of it. Shrug.

Alas, mere moments ago, I dug the notebook out of my over-stuffed bookcase and unearthed “My 2012 List (of Goals).” There are eight items on it. Some of them are embarrassing, so I will not be divulging them here. But as it turns out, I did every single one of them. Sometimes in the strictly literal sense, and occasionally, on a very temporary basis: I visited Yudi in Bondi; not Indo. I got a new board from California; not the board I’d intended to retrieve. I guess, like most things, it’s all about perspective.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m making a list for 2013. If I do, it certainly will not be called “2013 Resolutions.

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