A Wild Sheep Chase

 "Almost all the customers in the place were university student couples, neatly dressed and politely sipping their highballs. No girls on the verge of passing out drunk, no hot fights brewing. You could tell that when they went home, they put on pajamas, brushed their teeth, and went straight to bed. There was nothing wrong with that. Nice and neat is fine and dandy. There's nothing in a bar or in the world at large that says things have to be a certain way."

-Haruki Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase)


Some of My Favorite Strange Old Stories

It's been a while since I've written anything that wasn't technical in nature - Earlier tonight, and since the program I've been in ended, I've been catching up on marathon phone conversations with woefully neglected friends (both old and new). So I'm going to write some of my favorite strange, old stories - which have become allegorical at best over the years - but were originally true.

Stuck on the Island

One time, Bridget and I kayaked out to a party on an island a stone's throw from Three Mile Island (as a result I have a particular fondness for Jason Isbell - also, maybe cancer). There are about three very large 'party' islands on that part of the Susquehanna. Through a series of unfortunate events, the person we were meeting allowed his phone to die completely. Also, the party was on a different island that the one we landed on. Additionally, there was a rather large dam which made it easy to get the island and difficult to leave. And finally, evening is the parallel to daytime. 

That was the first time in my life I have ever been trapped somewhere that I literally could not leave. We slept on hammocks near the nicest looking group of drunk people we could find. The party ended up looking after us like den mothers, and even shooed a drunkard away from 'those girls in the trees'.

We got up at dawn to paddle home. When we finally got to the car, we immediately drove it to a diner, and we celebrated life and survival and pancakes by eating all the pancakes. 

Skipping School

My friend Mikey in high school had a car that we called 'the Oldsmotank'. One time, we skipped school and did the following things in the following order:

1. Go to Aldi

2. Buy every food we could find in an aerosol can

3. Drive around dumpsters picking up broken appliances

4. Drive the car to a field, take a sledge hammer out of the trunk, destroy the appliances

5. Drive back to another grocery store (but not Aldi, the owners of Aldi scared us) and hit a grocery cart repeatedly at full speed (in as much as an Oldsmobile can achieve full speed).

6. Cover the car in drawings done in aerosol cheese and other assorted can-foods

7. Take the car through a car wash

8. Return to school

I cannot stress this enough, we were taking and took exactly zero mind altering substances. I have no idea why we did any of this. I choose to blame Mercury in Retrograde.

The Anime Convention

At an anime convention, we realized that everyone was holding signs like 'free hugs'. TJ made a sign, something like 'Once upon a time' and I made one that said 'Fin.' We waited and after about 20 minutes, we had a fully story's worth of people holding signs between us. Also, a guy I liked said he liked me back. It was a pretty good day.

The Weirdest Roadtrip

My college roommate and I decided we would go on a road trip over Easter break. We decided that we both had a unified lousy sense of direction, so we opted to not plan the trip at all. We refused to discuss it, other than to pack supplies into the car, for weeks. On the day of the trip, we started up the car and then started just taking random turns. Taking turns, as it turns out, takes you back pretty much to where you were... so we devised many fate based signals to dictate our progress instead. At one point, we had a color-scheme worked out relating to truck station condoms. Purple: left, right, left - etc. 

There are two things that are very strange and sad in this world

1. The feeling of attending an event, like a movie or a haunted house, and right as it ends, walking out into the night and realizing that absolutely no one is expecting you anywhere

and 2. Central Pennsylvania

Still - we had a pretty good time. And once the overwhelming weirdness of the trip overtook us and we detoured to meet a bunch of friends and my parents, we had an even better time.

The Construction Site in Spain

One time we wandered into a construction site in Spain and sat around a giant open fire with the workers and drank rum while the sun rose

More Hammocks with Bridget

One time, Bridget and I went backcountry camping in Montana. We took our hammocks, Bandit wine cartons, snacks and a lot of bear spray. We hiked to a beautiful place - beautiful in part because it had been a burn site in the last decade and there were bursts of wildflowers that were not choked out by trees. 

Unfortunately, hammocks. Trees. We made a makeshift tent out of hammocks and slept on the ground. 

There was one other campsite in the area, and a group of what I can only describe as 'super active yoga moms' kayaked out to that site. They thought we were very bad ass, what with the sleeping on stones. 

We didn't discourage the misconception. 

How I Learned Not To Do Spit Takes

My best friend from childhood, Sam, used to make me laugh so hard I would spit whatever I was drinking. At one point, we decided to try and train ourselves to be spit-free laugh warriors. We stood over the sink, chugging water, and then collapsing into fits of absurdist laughter.

I was getting pretty immune after an hour, but then Sam said: "Spew............... You know you want to."

And that's probably the funniest thing I'll ever hear in my entire life.

But anyway, I haven't spit anything from laughing since.


As I get older, the number of weird things that happen to me (or that I cause to happen) has decreased. I generally prepare for camping trips better, and a few parts of my brain have, I suspect, developed themselves into ennui... But it's nice to remember the strange expanse of possibility that was 13 to 21. (Except for the island story - that one was embarrassingly recent).