i like my boyfriend and airplanes and that’s about it
Happy Birthday, Uncle Larry
Something evil overcame Larry on Thursday. It went like this: Larry, an Eagle Scout, a churchgoer, a part-time trombonist, systems analyst and news-watcher, was also a watcher of the neighborhood. Elbows pressed against the silver star in the center of the steering wheel, hands at something like 12:00 and 12:30, he passed through the Cottonwood Cove gate at a crawl (the gate kept out all the unsavory characters who might try skateboarding, or listening to loud music that wasn’t jazz, or doing drugs, or otherwise ruining the neighborhood). In front of the McMaynerberry house, the grass was an inch too long. Giraffe topiaries at the Bernards’ place had overgrown ears and tails. The Prescotts were patronizing a lemonade stand surely established without a vendor permit, as the proprietors were children. And, worst of all, the brown paper box meant for the Northrops was still an eyesore on the kitchen island. He’d hoped it would do away with itself. Just disappear when he came home. But the package didn’t have legs and nobody else in the house was using theirs, so there it stayed, ugly, beckoning, a curiosity with no return address or shipping information. Larry wanted it open. The problem was putting it back together.
Friendly World: Iceland
Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital, was named “smokey bay” by the Vikings for the steam rising from its geothermal vents. Pinned between the North American and Eurasian plates, the island is a geological hotspot, constantly growing thanks to its volcanoes. Two-thirds of Iceland’s tiny population of 360,000 live in Reykjavík, and the whole country feels like an idyllic small town where everyone knows each other. Or, as our tour guide put it, “Knows someone who knows someone.”
Don't Eat the Chocolate Cake
Breakfast is coffee and a chocolate donut with rainbow sprinkles, paid for today by the gentleman across the counter. Nothing tastes better on a grey autumn morning. In all his neck-bearded glory, Wayne waves at me, and I raise my mug to him. Still trying to make up for bullying me in high school, I guess. I would tell him the statute of limitations for whitewashing me in mushy Oregon snow is long past, but I like free food as much as the next guy—provided it’s actually free. He leaves a bunch of cash on the counter, shoulders on the teal letter jacket he can’t button all the way up anymore, and leaves in a gust of cold air. My knee stops bouncing.
The ships always come after the bonfire—great, shining leviathans carrying people from the far reaches. Some speak with the cadence of trickling water. Some wobble when they step out of the sea and into the sand. Some have gold around their necks, hanging from their ears, wrapped around their wrists, and the people who go ashore hand-in-hand have gold on their fingers. Papa has gold of his own, but he doesn’t wear it.
Where It’s Always Green
Little hands grab at the half-empty box of orange juice, and I can’t catch it this time. Katie’s eyes meet mine. My hand goes to my temple. All my frustration slips out in a sigh I can’t hold back, and then come the tears. She lost a game I never play willingly, a game she’s never lost before. Looks like this is the end of normal.
So You Want to Be a Pilot.
So you want to be a pilot. Maybe someone inspiring in your family is a pilot. Maybe you’re a trust fund baby with nothing better to do. Maybe you just like airplanes. Navigating the aviation world as a rookie is tough no matter who you are, so I’m here to tell you everything an instructor won’t.
my wingtips golden in the glow of dawn i turn my sleepy head toward the light a lustrous crown upon the mountains' brawn smothering the last echoes of night.
The Wild West Desert
The beginning of the apocalypse—toilet paper and bottled water absent from the shelves; schools and gyms and restaurants closing indefinitely; hospitals overflowing with sick people. Neighbors and friends are terrified. People have to stand six feet apart or risk death. And then, in the middle of everything, an earthquake. It shook me awake at about 7:00 AM on a rainy day in March, and I thought the world really would end. Maybe the Mormons had been right all along.