July 29, 2012


maryland, summer, nighttime: silent but for the sound of the crickets -- endless crickets. the windows open, the house warm and sticky and still.

the yard is populated primarily by weeds, which must always have been the case. there's an enormous amount of wild strawberry. the backyard is overgrown, or rather, overgrowing, but in a sweet, homey, unkempt way. the front yard, flat and easy to mow, is tame. business in the front, party in the back.

the smells are all different. I can't put my finger on how, exactly. when I was a kid growing up in that house, I used to think of the smell of the front yard (as I spent hours mowing it) as "buttery." now, better accustomed to it, I can recognize it as a kind of hay smell, though buttery still comes to mind: warm, yellow. as a teen on the mower in late summer, grasshoppers would shoot in all directions from the dried stalks of grass as I passed up and down the yard. six acres. it took a long time.

my brother is taller than me -- taller than me!! this was a great novelty to both of us -- but still the kid I know, just surrounded by a new, slightly surlier teenage exterior. we play frisbee in the yard. we're both pretty bad at it but we have a good time. one night while my mom and sister are at 4-H camp, we watch a bunch of episodes of "deadliest warrior" on spike TV. we eat pizza, which he heats in the oven and brings out for us. he's finally hooked on doctor who (I've been telling him for years) and we watch something like 15 episodes while I'm home.

the cornfields are everywhere. the houses are old, with older barns, the silos crumbling into the earth. in general, everything feels older on the east coast. I might just be imagining it.

I eat snowballs. I actually declared to my mom when I landed at BWI that I wanted a snowball at least every other day, since it's such a regional food that there's no chance in hell of ever having one here. I didn't get my first one for four days, which continues to feel like a great travesty. then, instead of getting a bunch of kiddie cups of every flavor I like (fireball, spearmint, chocolate, egg custard, birthday cake, sour cherry), I got chocolate every time. I did get crazy and ask for a chocolate/fireball combo for my last one, the day before I left. it was delicious.

actually, I ordered chocolate cherry a few times. with marshmallow. so probably you shouldn't pay attention to my complaining.

my sister showed two lambs at the 4-H county fair. do you know how you trim a lamb's hooves? it's hilarious.


they flip the lambs over (an athletic maneuver in itself) and plop them on their butts. for whatever reason the lambs go totally docile the minute they're put like that. I don't know whether there's something akin to twitching a horse in it (where maybe the position releases some sort of calming endorphin?) but more likely the lamb is like, "fuck it. I'm stuck." I took like a hundred pictures of this because I could not get over how hilarious it was. also my sister clipped those hooves like a boss. I'm glad I don't have to do this to Cookie.


(practice-showing her southdown)

I showed my sheep earlier in the week.
that's ethel. lucy was in the other room. in the background you can see my brother racing out the door. this is because my sister was about to recite, apparently for the 900th time, the FFA creed. I was holding the lamb as a tribute.

we drove to the beach. I already told you about that. on the drive, I told my sister wicked stories about my troublemaking as a kid. I didn't think I was a particularly bad kid but in comparison to her, I was. she was pretty horrified. I hope I didn't give her any ideas, or blackmail fodder.

my mom and I visited my brother at his internship at the national aquarium. they still have the bubble columns from when I was a kid. I was pretty nervous about them because they used to be right at the entrance and they weren't there when we walked in, but it turns out that's because they built a whole other wing that you have to walk through to get to the old entrance. I was so happy about the columns that I hugged them.

yeah, I don't know either. that's a shark fin on my head, in case you're wondering. my brother was, sadly, not embarrassed. he's pretty used to these shenanigans by now.

also at the aquarium there is the best sign ever. EVER.
I really wanted to.

this fucker is beautiful but he starts crowing at, I don't know, 4 AM? party foul, buddy.
his name is jimbob. that's not a joke.

we go to an O's game. not-quite-nosebleed seats that turn out to be pretty good, and in the foul zone, but no luck on catching any. we do get there in time for FREE JERSEY NIGHT which I am irrationally stoked about.

fuck yeah, natty boh.

yeah, nobody can ever see the family resemblance.

one day travis and I run one of my favorite old trails, whose turnaround point is a spot on the gunpowder where my track buddies used to sometimes jump from a bridge into the river. the water was too shallow to make the leap but I did wade in from the shore. it was utterly frigid. of course we skipped stones, because anybody who's ever been with me near a body of water knows I can't not skip stones. the trail was just as I had remembered it. but harder.

I unearthed some treasures from the basement, in the midst of searching for my yearbooks. all my old track ribbons, two pairs of track spikes, my powderpuff jersey, my kindergarten gym uniform (private school). my uniforms from the years I spent as a competitive jumproper. they still fit. sort of.

jacket model, jumprope model

a great deal of nostalgia, in general, but when it was time to go, there was none of the homesickness of last year. in truth, part of me was glad to be coming back here. the country doesn't get any smaller, and it doesn't get any easier to be so far from them, but in oregon, there's more to look forward to these days. which I am grateful for.

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