“The livin’s easy…”

I was having some blog-related writer’s block this week, you guys. We’ve been busy and I haven’t really had time to find any new, cool things to geek out on. There are a lot of political things happening that I could babble on and fucking on about, but we all know how that gets old pretty quickly. But yay for gay marriage! Ok, I’m done, I promise. So I asked Twitter what I should write about. My buddy Luther (who is also my web guru – everybody, all together now: Thanks, Luther!) tweeted: “I say you go way out in left field…baseball.” See what he did there?

And I thought, Shit, I don’t know anything about baseball. I actually kind of dislike baseball. But, turns out, so does Luther, so it doesn’t really matter. I guess I prefer my sports a little more…what? Smashy-into-each-other-y. That’s not a thing. You know what I mean. Point is, when I think of baseball, I think of summertime. Summertime in America, to be more specific. And then I realized that this post will go up on the Fourth of July. Holy shitsnacks, kids. That there’s some writertastic serendipity.

What is it about summertime that’s so wonderful? The weather? It couldn’t just be the weather. Because tornadoes. I think a lot of it has to do with the structure of our school year. Those twelve to twenty years we spend getting an education trains us to want to fuck off for three months at a time, give our brains a break. Makes sense. But most of us can’t do that once we’re done with school. When I was working at the Giant Evil Bookstore, the summer was absolute torture – kids run rampant, haggard parents, too much air conditioning, tourists everywhere. Bleh. And all I wanted to do was sit in the sun with a beer and read a good book, you know? Because I love summertime, and I felt like I was wasting it trapped in a corporate box. That’s no way to spend a summer. But what is?

When I was younger, I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent. Who would’ve guessed, right? Just a touch, just in spirit. Perhaps “rebellious” would be a better term. Or “nightmare.” I never got sent to jail or anything (well, except for that one time). Anyway, combine that rule-ignoring with my obsession with Jack Kerouac and having all summer to do whatever I wanted, and chaos ensued, my friends. Utter chaos. Several years ago, I was actually thinking about compiling and fictionalizing some of my best summer stories, changing the names to protect the innocent (or the guilty, as the case may be). I spent a whole sweaty July just writing writing writing down every story I could remember that smacked of summertime shenanigans. And then autumn came and I fell into a dark pit and gave up on it. Seasonal affective disorder can go take a flying fuck off a high, rocky cliff for not letting me write between September and November. But the fact remains that there are some things in life that can only happen in the summer. People seem more laid-back, more willing to do something they wouldn’t normally do, more adventurous, more reckless. It’s a really weird quirk of the species, but I use it to further my theory that we’re really hibernating mammals. So there.

Like, for example, have you ever hitchhiked across the country? I’m sure some of you have. In fact, I’m absolutely positive that some of you have. I was there. One can most certainly hitchhike through this great land of ours in the winter, but it seems like that would be more of an arduous slog and not so much a fun adventure, right? That’s the thing about summertime: it’s finite. It’s the Breakfast Club of seasons. I had to get back before fall because I had shit to do. Spending a couple of months just wandering, just experiencing, just absorbing, with no money and nowhere to be? Worth it. This country is like Never Never Land if you have the right mindset and the appropriate gear. Second star to the right and straight on ’til Boise, walking down the highway like Sal fucking Paradise, meeting interesting people, seeing all the weird stuff that’s on the back roads of America, loving every minute of it. I wrote some of the worst poetry in the history of mankind that summer, and the one after that, actually. Back when I still thought anyone could be a poet. But I got to see a rainbow at sunrise while it snowed in the middle of July in Montana. And that’s worth every horrible line of verse I’ve ever put to paper.

(At this point I should issue a small disclaimer: hitchhiking is dangerous. It’s cheaper than driving, but it does have its drawbacks. NEVER hitchhike alone, or pick up hitchhikers when you’re alone. Lot of psychos out there, y’all. Be aware. Protect yourself. Do NOT drink the kool-aid. For real. And pack light.)

Summer isn’t just about these little adventures, though. In the South, as soon as it starts to stay warm all night we call it porch-sitting weather. Some of the best times of my life have been just sitting in a chair, chatting and sweating all night long on someone’s back deck, usually while somebody murders a bad song on an out-of-tune guitar (it’s the humidity, seems like every guitar is out of tune in the South in the summer). Or when the small neighborhood bars open up their patios after a long winter of drinking indoors. Man, that’s the best. Here in Northern California it gets cold at night year-round. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around needing to carry a sweater every single day. It’s not right, I say! When I went to visit my mom a couple of years ago it was ninety-five degrees at her house at midnight. She had to drag me inside and make me go to bed. I miss that. Porch-sitting. I really do.

Oh, and the Fourth of July. My favorite holiday (also my baby sister’s birthday – everybody, all together now: happy birthday!). It’s like the outdoor version of Thanksgiving, but with explosives. That’s another thing I miss here in Cali. It’s forest fire season, so fireworks are absolutely verboten. But I used to love blowing shit up. (Juvenile delinquent, what? Pyromania, who?) Hot dogs and beer and sticky little kids running around screaming their fool heads off and spiked watermelons plus bonus explosions. What more could you ask for? What’s more American than that? I mean, I guess hot dogs are technically German, but whatever. And fireworks are Chinese. Who cares? That’s not the point. Melting pot, guys, melting pot. Standing barefoot in the grass, watching my idiot friends shoot roman candles at passing cars, belly full of recombined meat food product. Damn, that’s about as summertime as it gets, right?

Anyway. I suppose I’m just musing. This post is not very goal-oriented. That’s fine. It’s a holiday. I can muse and ramble all I want. Maybe one of these days I’ll drag out all those old stories, though, and start working on them again. There’s hope for them still. Because everyone knows those rooftop of summer moments. There’s just something about them. It’s intangible but unmistakable. Something in the air. Possibility, maybe. On a hot summer night anything can happen. Love, madness, bad poetry, cool breezes, fireworks. Even baseball. Anything at all.

7 thoughts on ““The livin’s easy…”

  1. I don’t follow baseball, but, if you want to appreciate why some people like it:

    Michael Chabon’s Summerland
    Philip Roth’s American Pastoral and Great American Novel.

    I didn’t understand why anyone found it interesting until I read Chabon.

    1. I’m actually about halfway through Summerland right now. I tried to read it back in the winter but decided it wanted me to read it when it was hot and sunny out. It’s pretty great so far. I think I’ll read his Maps and Legends next.

      1. If I recall, Maps & Legends is a mixed bag, but mostly good. His defense of genre lit is worth a read, even if you’re already on his side.

  2. Aw, thanks for the plug there…. 🙂 I’ll light a firework for you. Love you!

  3. Yea! Baseball comment did help lead you somewhere that doesn’t suck baseballs. Note in kids and summers off. That isn’t part of the adult real world and that is exactly why we don’t take summer off in our home school. We only do school 3 days a week for summer but no full break. It doesn’t make sense to do that really. Anyway, good summer ramblings!

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