Make the Wave Crest

Here, I'm watching all the water crashing from afar. A few minutes later, I was at the base of the Falls, surrounded by that power.

Here, I’m watching all the water crashing from afar. A few minutes later, I was at the base of the Falls, surrounded by that power.

Travel changes you. At least, it changes me. Every time.

I could just say that, and I guess you’d believe me. But I have a nugget of tangible proof—easy evidence you can check out to confirm. For a while, I had been blogging weekly. Until now, I haven’t posted in over a month. My trip to Toronto is the cause. Not because I was unplugged from the matrix for that long, but because the waves of that change I’ve been hinting at are still rippling through me. It took this long for the rocking to settle down enough that I could wordify it.

Toronto kinda just happened. With an unspoken stirring-of-sorts already inside me, a rare 4-day weekend appeared. I seized its throat.

[While the trip itself could encompass a month’s worth of posts, I’m challenging myself to cram it all into a single paragraph.]

Amtrak’s time management skills suck. Still, travel by train is enjoyable. Toronto, for me, exists as a wonderland of breadth & depth, a thousand cultures coexisting in complicated public transport channels & rolling towers of skyscrapers stretched out like they’ll eventually spread to both horizons. As I already knew, Couchsurfing has my heart forever. My hosts were amazing. They introduced me to their particular nooks & crannies of the city, and gifted me with unforgettable experiences. Among them: poutine, Canadian beer, the Village, Distillery District, Fringe Festival, a refrigerated wall of cheese, Honest Ed’s, a rainbow of nationalities partying on a high-rise patio, a real-life impromptu game of Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego (only, I was Carmen), the Vomit Comet, a four-feet diameter orange made out of flip-flops, much laughter, etc, etc.

The pace of this short trip can be summed as: fuck sleep & cram in as much as you can. Embracing that philosophy, I left my house at 3 a.m. on July 4th, and rolled straight from the train station to work at 7 a.m. on July 8th. Yeah, worst.Monday.ever. It wasn’t until Tuesday, once I had caught up on sleep & could logically process incoming data, that I realized a major shift had happened inside me.

This can best be described as an opening up, an enlarging. Perhaps a renewal. But not like an atomic blast of realization. More subtle & barely noticeable, the way sunrise slowly tickles its light through the darkness until, suddenly, all is noon-bright.

I know that sounds all poetic & dreamy and shit. But it’s honest.

This trip changed me.

And it wasn’t [particularly] Toronto, or the long layovers in Buffalo, or visiting Niagara, or the people, libations, architecture. The newness did it to me. The possibilities of passion. The opportunity to embrace each day with wonder & exploration & expectancy. I thought I was already doing that. In fact, I know that I was. Or, perhaps more accurately, that I had done so in the past.

Passion undulates through a life. It crests & crescendos, but eventually flows over the downhill side into a trough. And it waits there, stuck, rocking back and forth with no reason to do otherwise. Journeys into new surroundings take all that potential energy at the bottom of the cycle & thrusts it up into another kinetic crest.

Or something.

I suppose you want more proof of this change, you needy buggers.

Well, much of it is uber-personal. Things which you wouldn’t reel at as I am reeling. A few, concrete examples I can offer:

– A reset in my relationships. An infusion of passion & forward-thinking. [Okay maybe this isn’t as concrete as you’d like. Get hold of me and I’ll gladly share. You know, if you can handle details of a life which often raises eyebrows. SEE: everyone who’s ever asked.]

– New drive in my business life. I’d been slacking in this area for *reasons*. No more. Re-oxygenated blood is pumping through the veins. Passion has been revived.

– A fresh commitment [and an actual plan!!! Seriously, I have a calendar on the fridge now] to travel more. And often. And keep kineticizing those stubborn waves.

– Oh yeah, after 3# years of waiting/denial/fear/trepidation, I finally came out to my conservative, Southern Mama. So there’s that. Pretty damn concrete.

Supposedly this blog is about writing, right? My trials & tribulations, progress & successes. Not much of that included in this post, Lucas. Ahhhh, but that’s where you’re wrong. [Actually, now that I’ve mentioned it, I’m sure your mind is connecting the dots, imagining how every word of this post, every tendril of feeling within it, has tickled my writing bone like that poetic sunrise tickling the world.]

My unsolicited advice: GO SOMEWHERE. DO SOMETHING.

Hop on a bike, book a flight, inflate a raft, take a train that will never be on time. Hell, strap on a pair of skates and try not to break your neck as you slide down the handrail. Pop out your thumb and jump into a semi with a burly truckdriver named Bo or Nancy. Take a walk through an unexplored or long-forgotten part of your hamlet. Dust off your passport. Taste new eats. Get nosy with the stranger in the elevator, bookstore, grocery store line. Yes, especially the weird one. Shit–invite your neighbor over to watch a movie or play Canasta. With as much abandon as you can muster, break your damn routine. DO IT. Today.

Make the wave crest.

If I’m wrong about the whole change-and-passion-catalyst-thing, you can totally fire me as your life coach.
If I’m right, send pics. Tell me stories. If you’re doing it right, you’ll have plenty of both. And some passion to spare.

Scrubbing Bubbles

scrubbing bubbles

It’s winter. Here in Ohio, that means snow. Lately it’s been falling every other day. Not a blizzard mind you, but a shower here, a light snowfall there. And that means the towns  and the state crews continually spread salt and brine to keep the roads from turning into slippery deathtraps.

And that, in turn, makes the roads a slushy mess. The salty muck ensures the thoroughfares are passable, but the poor cars suffer for it. My sad, winter-worn Altima looks like it’s covered in soapscum. They ought to use Scrubbing Bubbles on the roadways. That way, the dry, white film of winter wouldn’t cling to my tires, quarter-panels, hood & especially my windshield.

The freezing, melting, scraping & cleaning of a season’s worth of snow and ice has destroyed my wipers. Now, combine that with the soapscum splashing up from the roads and off the semis as they pass. Add to that the fact that, more times than not, the little nozzles for my windshield washer fluid are frozen over. This makes for some rather obscured driving. Like an old lady with cloudy cataracts.

There was a rare day this week when the planets aligned. It didn’t snow. The roads were actually dry. [Can you believe it?] The washer fluid squirted. My mangled wipers somehow worked like a dream. I could see.

And during my morning commute, I marveled at the wonder of glass: that it is both clear and structural, that it is so thin & fragile but strong, and that someone figured out how to make it. In a pinch, I could build a shelter. I could cut down some trees and lash them together to construct myself a makeshift hovel. It would take some trial and error, but I could probably make bricks if I had to. I could definitely make paper. (Like we did back in 3rd grade.) I can create paintings on blank canvas & trick words into becoming a novel. But glass? I can’t make glass.

First of all, I’d need the technical knowledge. The interweb tells me I’d need a furnace,  a mixture composed of 75% silica (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from soda ash, lime (CaO), and other additives. After melting, homogenization and removing the bubbles, I’d have to form the glass using the ‘float glass’ process, or glassblowing, or pressing. Then I’d have to anneal it to remove the ‘stresses’.

Like I said, I can’t make glass.

But I can use it, admire it, marvel at the fact that someone else can. I can’t make a porcelain toilet or run plumbing, but I’m thankful that someone else can. I can’t engineer a circuit board or string together zeros and ones [10011010] to create a contraption which allows me to tap buttons which magically form letters on a screen. But I’m glad others have figured it out.

They work hard so I don’t have to.

I admit, I can go weeks without marveling at anything. The days tick by and I do my thing without ever feeling a moment of awe or wonder or appreciation. But, this week, on a rare, dry, clear-windshield day, I marveled at glass. It got me thinking about what I can’t–and what I can–do. I want to be the kind of person who makes things which others can not. I have the responsibility, the charge, and the honor, of creating something which only I can.

This is why I write.

And this is what I must remind myself when soapscum muddies the glass, when I not only fail to marvel at what others have created, but also when I fail to create marvelous things myself. And, since you’re reading this, let me challenge you to set the Scrubbing Bubbles loose in your own life. Right now. Clear away the crud and see yourself clearly. Allow yourself a moment to peel off the cataracts that have hindered you from seeing how amazing you are. No backtalk, no sassing. Just do it.

Can you see it? The awe-inspiring thing you’re supposed to do? Now hurry up and make it happen. Quick. Before the snow falls again, before the slag trucks muck up the streets and the windshield gets dirty.

Maybe, like me, you can’t make glass either. But that shouldn’t stop either of us from doing what we can do, and doing it well. We ought to be Scrubbing Bubbles.

Poem: So She Sings

Sarasvati: Hindu goddess of words


Snow shafts like ‘shroom stems
Shift slow so sleet stings
Slipshod shaped shadows
Slice straight through sun strings

Slung south since smooth skin
Sail silent sea springs
Side-saddle soldiers
Swing swords so steel stings

Sticks, stones, scabs, sutures
Sewn shut yet sap seeps
Sleep softly, soundly
Sweet song her soul sings

Sweet song her souls sings