#idontgetit

I don’t understand Twitter. #thereisaidit

I joined because at the time that was the only way I could read @shitmydadsays. And that shit is funny. I have 19 tweets, 5 followers and am following 14. I only know this because I just looked. Otherwise it’s as if I don’t even have an account. All my tweets are from 2009. They are trivial, so maybe I do get Twitter after all. One of them says “pc load letter,” another, “nacho belly.” Not a single tweet has a hashtag. I follow friends who are just as inactive as me, and Stephen Colbert, the Onion, the Daily Show, Barack Obama, textsfromlastnight, shitmydadsays, and Khloe Kardashian. #jokes #exceptbarackobama

I am equally clueless about Instagram. I only realized I had an account when I received a notification that someone liked one of my photos. Apparently I have 10 followers. I have one photo. It’s of a giant tub of cheese balls. I didn’t even use a filter. #rookie

I get that the hashtag is there so people can search under that topic and find all sorts of random tweets. But more often people use hashtags so specific or wacky that no one would ever search for them. Or they are using the hashtag to add to or explain their tweet, which is unnecessary. Like if I had added a hashtag #fatass to my tweet “nacho belly.” #obvious

Now people put hashtags and @’s on Facebook status updates. It’s not possible to search via hashtags on Facebook and the @ should create a hyperlink to the person in question, so these random #’s and @’s are distracting and pointless. Distracting and pointless may sum up Twitter nicely, but when that specific language is used outside of that realm it’s #annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about brevity. I doubt I have a Facebook status longer than 140 characters. And no one loves meaningless more than me. It’s the hashtag that bothers me. The hashtag that means nothing and goes nowhere. Or is outside of Twitter. #pleasestop

I’m as lazy as they come, but I refuse to let a hashtag speak for me. If I have something to say, I will say it in narrative fashion, as it was meant to be.

I realize that my blog has tags. But no hash.

#dontdodrugs

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Campingness

As I recline on a lawn chair in the midst of giant Douglas fir trees, sipping coffee and mesmerized by the dancing fire; the smell of bacon wafts over me, and I am overcome with campingness.

Douglas fir canopy.

Last weekend I was tent camping with my best friend for the first time in over 20 years. I scrounged up a classic picture from our last camping trip where we are staring down at the tent lying flat on the ground, dumfounded as to how to put it up. We reenacted the photo for this trip, even though we are now pros.

Then and now.

This time around we were in the Pacific Northwest, not the Midwest; children and husbands accompanied us, and we brought real food that we prepared instead of a bag of chips and a cooler of beer. But we laughed and connected with each other just like last time. We even made friendship bracelets, a nod to our tenure as Girl Scouts.

Are you ready for the summer? Are you ready for the good times?
Camping as kids, before we even pulled into the site my brother and I would start fighting over whose turn it was to “pop-up” the camper. We loved to turn the crank and watch that Jayco come to life. After that, we had zero interest in helping with any other tasks. Instead, it was on our bikes to explore the campground before commencing the “begging to go to the beach” ritual.

We would spend all day in the lake or playing in the sand. Even if I came out of the water covered in leaches, my tears were only a momentary break. Mom pulled them off, covered the wounds with smiley face “dambaids,” and I was back in the water to face the next adventure.

We played board games inside when it rained, and the deafening sound of rain on a plastic roof is one of my all-time favorite sounds. I remember feeling simultaneously scared and safe inside that camper.

The fish and game commission has raised the legal kill limit on campers to three
Some of my favorite camping trips involved imminent danger. One summer at YMCA camp, after backpacking all day to the top of a hill, our group of 12-year old girls and our camp counselor, all of 18, had settled into the tent and were playing cards, just as the sun started fading. I looked up and saw a black bear perfectly centered in the middle of the triangle opening of the tent and filling up all the tiny squares of the screen door. He was about 10 feet away, his side facing us, his front paws stretched up on the rock where our packs were leaning. From a 12-year old perspective and seated position in a flimsy nylon tent, he seemed 20 feet tall. I was laughing so hard (I laugh when I’m scared) I almost couldn’t spit out,

“Oh my god, there’s a bear.”

Something in my tone, despite the laughter, made the rest look at once. The counselor, who had read somewhere that loud noises scare off bears, grabbed a flashlight and hit it against the back of a small metal sauce pan.

“Ting!”

It was a noise so soft I wondered if the bear even heard it. He did. He very slowly tilted his head sideways toward us, as if to say, “You have got to be kidding me.” He finally ambled off to try to get our food down from the tree. The counselor suggested we quietly exit the tent, put on our shoes, and slowly walk away. We fled in a panic in our socks, running at full speed back down the hill.

Here’s an update on tonight’s dinner. It was veal. I repeat, veal.
Everything smells and tastes better outside. And the fresh air mixed with the rudimentary cookery and makeshift prep brings a rustic charm to each meal. Our pop-up camper had one of those stoves that slid outside. We would fry up bacon and make “eggs in a basket” – buttered bread with a hole cut out of the middle and an egg fried in the center.

Inside, we sat at the table that would later fold down to become my bed and ate off square, primary colored plastic plates. Since we camped in the Midwest, we couldn’t eat outside unless we were safely confined in a screened-in tent, because of the mosquitos. Every meal tasted like it had a slight hint of Off! bug spray. We ended each day around the campfire roasting marshmallows for s’mores or baking “pies” in the pie iron, made from Wonder bread and cherry pie filling.

If you let me, I could be your good friend
When I was older I got to bring a friend along and we would take the canoe out to “flip it.” Flipping a canoe on purpose is thrilling, but not that easy. Once it’s flipped, you can swim underneath and pop your head up in the space between the water and the bottom of the canoe, which is now on top. We would rest our forearms on the bars in the middle of the canoe, tread water, and share secrets. To the outside world, it might be an abandoned upside down canoe floating down a river or resting in a lake. To us, it was an aluminum fort oasis.

The kids are brats, the food is hideous
Ahhh, summer camp. I had my first boyfriend, first kiss, first dance, and first heartbreak at a summer camp. It was also my first taste of independence, which was delicious. I felt powerful and liberated. Camp was where I could make instant new best friends, develop several crushes, and acquire skills and confidence, all while having unbridled, non-stop fun. I was devastated each time it ended.

I have so many fond memories of summer camp that I got married at one. The festivities spanned an entire weekend and guests stayed in cabins with bunk beds, laughed around bonfires, and danced under the moondust… that drifted down from heaven…

Cabin

Cabin at Olympic Park Institute. Photo by Jenny Jimenez.

Makin’ It
Whether acting as a verb or a noun, the word “camp” makes me smile. As soon as I hear it I get that rush of camping happiness – “campingness.” The feeling is a mixture of fond memories, nervous excitement, and a sense of freedom, mixed with a peacefulness found only when immersed in nature. The feeling is describable and indescribable, universal yet personal. It comes from being surrounded by people you love, sharing stories and laughter, stoking campfires and relationships.

It just doesn’t matter!
A few things have changed since I went camping as a kid. Alcohol is involved, and I no longer dare ride a bike or don a swimsuit. I have the same canoe but wouldn’t dream of flipping it. I still light the marshmallow on fire for my s’more, but the pie iron is now used for gourmet grilled cheese. We play music and tell stories around the fire, but music from an iPod and stories laced with profanity. We all – even the kids – have smart phones and can update our Facebook status from the tent.

But the feeling is the same.

Stop Talking

An open letter to extroverts from an introvert.

Found under: Stories/Stop Talking

Millston

This is a story about small towns, the midwest, Wisconsin, family, grandma.

Found under: Stories/Millston

Legs

This is a story about hunting, deer legs, childhood, parents, and gifts.

Found under: Stories/Legs

A 100-word version is published in RiverLit

Miracle #1

This is a story about coming back to life, literally and metaphorically.

Found under: Stories/Miracle #1

ps: your friend is dead

This is a story about death, high school reunions, and friendships.

Found under: Stories/ps: your friend is dead

Uncategorized

I’m not OCD about many things, but I am obsessed with making lists, categorizing and cross-referencing. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I even went to library school. So it’s driving me crazy that wordpress.com doesn’t allow me to add categories – or even tags – to pages, only posts. And even though there IS the option to assign categories to posts, as a default they are filed under “uncategorized.” Oh hell no. That is as offensive as “miscellaneous” or “other.”

The posts I have written so far have been silly tales. While it might be difficult to apply a meaningful category structure to them; I gleefully accept the challenge. And as for my current (and subsequent) pages, I will write a corresponding post, cross-reference the post to the page, and categorize the shit out of it. Then I will be able to sleep at night.

I’m filing this post under “uncategorized.” Obviously.

The Comedy Club, the marriage proposal, and mortification

My husband and I went to a comedy club last night. We also went to one on our second date, which is the night he fell in love with me (I waited until our third date, like a lady.) I cannot go to one of these clubs now without thinking back to our second date. I wasn’t paying attention to the comedians; I was overwhelmed by the thought of touching my date. I started with the nonchalant leg grazing classic move and then tried the laugh/lean a few times so my shoulder touched his arm. Several times I moved my hand to hover over his thigh, but each time I chickened out and quickly moved it back. After the show he walked me to my car and we stood there on the sidewalk and “made out” for almost four hours. Eight months later, it was to this place he took me, got down on one knee, and proposed.

The comedy club we went to last night was not the same one as our second date, but we had been there one other time. That time, we sat in the front row, and the warm-up comedian called on me. I do not do well on the spot. I freeze, and it’s anyone’s guess what might happen next. He pointed right at me, and said “Pick a word, any word.” Now, the key here is “any.” I was given free reign to pick any word in the English language. Hell, I could pick any word in any language. It was probably the easiest question ever asked. And what I selected as my answer – and yelled out – was this word.

“TITS!”

Let me be clear. I hate this word! I do not use it. But, did I mention that I don’t do well on the spot? I would like to say that I said it to help out the comedian by giving him some great material to work with, but even he was confused and flustered. And no Andrew Dice Clay. He ignored me and quickly moved on. “Ahh, you there,” he stammered, pointing to the big Italian guy with gold chains, who would surely say something less offensive than me, “Give me the name of a mammal, any mammal.”

So now when I go to a comedy club, I think of both the site of my marriage proposal, and the site of where I yelled “TITS” in public for no apparent reason.

No wonder I keep going back.