Stuff. And more stuff.

Dear Laura:

You said this is how you keep up with my life, so this one goes out to you (cue lounge-act wink and point).

Well, I’ve been home for a little over a week now, and I’m pretty much back to my regular routine. I spent last week going out with friends, talking and telling stories until even I was sick of hearing my own voice. I’m happy to say I’m fully recovered from the trauma of spending all that time alone. Also, I’m only about halfway through editing my 600mb of photos. Vacation is a lot of work.

Saturday, we continued the tradition of bringing friends out to breakfast with Heather’s dad, who is rapidly approaching full-blown celebrity status. Ray told stories, the rest of us laughed and ate. I got him to admit that the real reason he wants to be a pirate is that he thinks he’d look good in a blouse. I think he could pull it off, actually.

Afterwards, Heather, Daniel, Benjamin (Daniel’s brother), and I headed to Stillwater for Lumberjack Days1, an event which confirmed that the mullet is alive and well in America. I’m sorry to say that we didn’t stick around too see Pat Benatar (who was playing on a barge on the river), but we had other things to do2. Also, for the very first time in my life, I seriously considered kicking this girl’s ass in a bar. I didn’t, but it makes me wonder if maybe all the kickboxing and self-defense and weightlifting and shootin’ have anything to do with it. Regardless, she deserved it.

And, yeah! I went shooting again! And, no, [insert name here – there are too many of you to list], I do not need a gun. So, Thursday morning, Dave and I went to the gun club, of which he is now a very proud member. We shot rifles at the 25-yard range, which means that in the past year I have covered all manner of guns except those of the fully-automatic variety (and I admit that I have this fantasy about anything involving a bandolier). One of the rifles was this big sniper-type thing, with the two legs on the front, a long-range scope, and monster bullets3. The magazine holds five bullets, which is perfect, because after shooting it five times, you have to put it down and wave your right arm wildly to try to regain sensation in your shoulder. It hurts. The second rifle was less about precision:

Dave: This is purely a defensive weapon. And it’s really cheap.
Me: Is cheap something you want in a gun? Is it going to misfire on me?
Dave: Well, no. I mean, it hasn’t misfired yet.
Me: And by ‘defensive’, you mean it’s just for killing people, right?
Dave: Right. It’s not accurate enough for hunting.
Me: Um. OK.
Dave: It’s the same gun those kids used at Columbine.

Then I made the mistake of asking why some of the bullets had flat tips. He said, “More impact. And so they stay in the victim. Those things really make a mess.” Which made me think: this is a vicious, ugly activity. It’s not a sport. It’s not even about hunting or self-defense. There’s some equation involving hormones and dick size and brain chemistry at work here, and I’m not quite sure how I fit in. I don’t really want to understand. And having considered that, I got up and shot that semiautomatic rifle exactly the way he showed me: not looking through the sights, but at hip level, relaxed, spraying bullets all over the end of the range. A dust cloud hung in the air for a few minutes afterwards as we laughed. It’s sick and wrong, and I liked it.

Yesterday, Heather and I went to Jay Cooke State Park. While we were there, I bought an annual state parks pass, to complement the national parks pass I bought while I was on vacation. For some reason, I had decided that I actually enjoyed being outside in the wilderness, witnessing nature’s majesty, and all that crap you read about in National Geographic. Since Minnesota has only one national park4, we had to settle. Anyway, the thing I have realized with all this fumbling around in the out-of-doors is that I am a thrill-seeker. Much like those who jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, and eat at fast-food restaurants, I crave danger. I enjoy the possibility that at any moment, I could slip and fall into a river, be buried in an avalanche, break my limbs on sharp rocks, get lost in the woods and starve to death, be mauled by the resident wildlife, or fall prey to a serial killer posing as a park ranger. But that’s not even where the real excitement comes in: it’s the fact that I don’t have health insurance. Because not only am I endangering my person, I’m also threatening my financial stability (as well as Heather’s), and therefore my future happiness and well-being. It makes me wonder, would I rather be dead or bankrupt5? I’ll have to give that some thought.

After that, we attended a family event at the parents’ house, involving some out-of-town relatives and much jello salad. We spent most of the night at the kids’ table6 with Stephanie and Escobar Sanchez. One of the relatives informed me that Lake Harriet had been closed since Saturday morning due to an e.Coli outbreak. I’m less than happy about that, since I’m at the lake at least once, usually twice, a day. In fact, I’m there so often than I consider this not only an ecological disaster, but a personal affront. You go away for a day, and somebody shits in your lake. Ain’t that always the way?

In other news, my old hip injury decided to pay me a visit about two miles into my morning walk. While I was trying not to limp, a woman with what looked to be four or five infants in a giant stroller passed me, and then I was pissed. Based on personal experience, there are a few things that seem to exacerbate the strained ligament:

  • Telling people the hip problem finally went away. Medical experts refer to this as the ‘jinx’.
  • Swinging your hips

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