"Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?"

1)So you know I've lived in New England most of my life, and I've never made maple syrup?
2)Finally, today, I went "syruping," and you know what I realized? That is some Good Shit.
3)It's funny, there are a very few people that think I don't swear, and of course that's not true.
4)I just don't swear about the things they swear about. Work, traffic, personal injury... it's all good.
5)I've run the profanity gauntlet, you know, from construction crew to kindergarden teacher.
6)On the repair crew no one even realized you were talking if you didn't preface every statement with "fuckin' a."
7)And darned if those kindergardeners weren't convinced that "suck" was the worst word you could possibly say.
8)We had a bet, which I ultimately lost, that I couldn't go a whole day without saying "that sucks."
9)So I've come to believe that profanity is a great way of expressing yourself, as long as you use it to express yourself.
10)If you use it for everything, like "cool" or "awesome," it just loses all its meaning.
11)Like if I tell you, "this fettucine alfredo is some good shit," what does that even mean?
12)Or "I was playing this video game, and holy crap was it hard!" How hard is that, exactly?
13)But if I say, "I went over Niagara Falls without a barrel," suddenly "holy crap" is an appropriate response.
14)I once crashed someone else's car into three consecutive trees, and the first word out of my mouth was, "Shit."
15)It expressed my feelings about the situation pretty well. $3000 worth of damage, if you're curious.
16)So I think that swearing has its place, and in less dire circumstances it's also a great form of humor.
17)For example, Kevin's song that declares, "We're all damned, we're all going to hell"
18)Actually I guess that's not funny unless you know what it's about, and I can't remember.
19)Still funny to me, though. My point is just that maple syruping is so fun it's worth swearing over.
20)Or whatever. I think that was it. There was some good shit involved.

"I think it's time for a beer run."
"Go no further than the back of my truck, eh."

1)Here's the thing about alcohol and lemon.
2)I notice them. I notice them a lot.
3)I would never, ever mistake hard cider for apple juice.
4)Don swears this cider tasted like apple juice.
5)No, I told him, it tastes like hard cider.
6)We argued for a while, I lost, blah blah blah.
7)Adam comes around, refilling cups, and I said "just a little."
8)I can drink alcohol to be social, you know?
9)For the experience. I don't like it, but I can swallow it.
10)He made fun of me, because I had so far to drive, you know?
11)I was staying overnight. I was like, it's not the driving.
12)I don't like it, and I don't want to have to choke down a whole cup.
13)I didn't say that, of course; it was homemade.
14)Josh did a beer run and I turned him down.
15)"Did enough of that in college, huh?" he asked.
16)Yeah, I told him. I'm still recovering.
17)Hey, if we all drink as much as we did in college, we'd be dead.
18)According to him. This, in my case, is obviously untrue.
19)I think I drank more at Camp Hell than I did in college.
20)I loved Paul: "I just walked in and bought beer in a camp t-shirt.
21)"That probably wasn't very smart. Maybe they'll fire me," he added hopefully.
22)I learned even before college that beer and ice tea look the same with ice in them.
23)Also, apple juice can pass as brandy, and sprite can be almost anything.
24)Bars always have orange juice and cranberry juice, when you need to have a glass in hand.
25)You pay more for the glass than you would for a whole carton, but oh well.
26)And if you're really sensitive to something, just find something else you're sensitive to and mix them.
27)Like lemon. I'm really sensitive to alcohol and lemon, so when I mix them I dislike them less.
28)Actually I like lemon and I dislike alcohol, so together they almost neutralize each other.
29)Citrus-flavored gatorade is the same way. The lemon partly masks the taste of iron.
30)Zima. Zima is the most tolerable alcoholic drink I can think of.
31)Pretty much anything clear and citrus-flavored is okay, which serious drinkers scoff at.
32)They're like, have you tried hard liquor? You just mix it with things and you can't even taste it.
33)What kind of taste buds do they have? Are they like, the anti-alcohol taste buds?
34)I can tell you which glasses have had alcohol in them after they've been washed.
37)I have nothing against drinking, I really don't. I'm sure I would drink if I liked alcohol, but I don't.
38)It's the only thing in the world that tastes worst than benadryl, and I really can't stand benadryl.
39)I would refuse to take benadryl as a child, prefering to be sick than to stomach that stuff.
40)Now I can drink enough alcohol to be friendly, and no one can identify the full glass left on the windowsill hours later.

"I'm going syruping tomorrow, so that'll be a blast."
"Yeah... or something."

1)I know people who apparently believe the entire world is western, urban, new-fangled.
2)That the only entertainment is virtual, artificial, humanmade, like their lives.
3)I know that some people like this idea. There are city people, born and bred to plastic, neon, and concrete.
4)I know that some people claim to miss the old days, when things were simpler and more "real."
5)But they live in cities because they're convenient, and they wouldn't know what to do with themselves anywhere else.
6)There are also people who think cities are an interesting novelty, a kind of passing fad.
7)And there are people that don't give a hoot, because the sticks are more than a place to live.
8)They're a way of life, and there ain't nobody gonna tell them a better way to do it.
9)It's funny how this population is changing, though--like all the others in the world.
10)You know, park rangers used to be rugged loners escaping from the world.
11)Now they're rugged idealists trying to change the world.
12)Thank you, yes, my most sweeping generalization of the day. I try to work those in.
13)Anyway, backcountry folk have quietly become just as educated as their urban counterparts.
13.5)(My personal theory is not that country people are smartening up, but rather that smart people are moving to the country.)
14)I find this amusing, the way you meeting people at cons and discover their day job is rocket science.
15)That's so not where I was going with this, but I'm hungry and my mind is wandering.
16)It's my whole problem with walking meditation: my feet stay on course but my thoughts go off track.
17)This is relevant because my fingers keep typing, right, even when I have no idea what I'm saying.
18)But you know, so many people just don't look around and see what's happening right next door.
19)Terri Clark has this song, "All this running nowhere fast, all these faces that I pass
20)"All these souls that don't reach out leave me feeling so without"
21)I meant to relate this to dancing. I told this person that I liked to dance, right?
22)She was like, "Where can you do that? I mean, you don't like to go to bars."
23)"No," I told her. "I mean, actual dancing, with a partner and steps and music."
24)I like dancing alone too, but there are so many places to dance with people that one shouldn't limit oneself.
25)There's contra dancing and line dancing and square dancing and ballroom dancing and the POLKA!
26)I love the polka. Not as much as line dancing, but still... it's pretty cute.
27)So this woman was like, "I didn't know people still did that."
28)It reminded me of what Jaki said about her dishwasher, but I didn't tell her that.
29)Jaki's dishwasher broke, see, and I went over to clean the same day the repair person came.
30)Jaki told me, "The recycling's in the basement for today, because we didn't want the repair guy to see how much we drink.
31)"He'd take one look and be like, well, of course you can't get the dishwasher to work--you're drunk!"
32)My point (lost) was that this person seemed to think the only thing to do on Friday nights was to go to bars.
33)Lots of town halls have dancing on the weekends, and our local skate rink has a dance party every Friday.
34)And I live in the sticks. Imagine what you could find to do near a city.
35)Coffeehouses. Coffeehouses are regional. (I was horrified to learn this.) But dancing isn't. Even square dancing.

"Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even."

1)I think empathic people who live in the city must have really good shields.
2)I have to meditate like three times a day in cities, because they're just so mad.
3)You know how you go to this party, and when you leave you feel so, so empty?
4)Like all these people were running through you, and when you leave you just sit down and shake.
5)That makes it sound bad, and it's not, it's just so draining and... husk-like.
6)First, I think, you get the people who just radiate some emotion or other.
7)Good or bad, you can feel them coming a mile away, and it sinks into you.
8)Then you have the people who want some particular emotion from you.
9)Either for a story they've told or the image they project, they want you to react to them.
10)And finally, there's this constant wash of attention drifting over and around you.
11)You don't even feel like people are watching you, until you step out of sight for a moment.
12)Suddenly other people's idle focus slides off, stops settling on you, and you're calmer.
13)I'm so much more social now than I used to be. I can handle people's feelings better.
14)I think maybe because I've started to understand my own. I can separate what I feel from what other people feel.
15)I never realized how important that is, how easy it is for some people and how hard for others.
16)I've long had a lot of trouble expressing my emotions. It's one of the reasons I write.
17)Recently, the last six or seven years, I've been on a quest to better express myself.
18)Funny that that's led me to myself instead of to other people.
19)Expressing myself means validating my own feelings, accepting that what I feel is real and legitimate and worthy of comment.
20)I wonder if I had trouble with that for so long because I had so much difficulty separating my feelings from other people's.
21)"My" feelings seemed to me to change depending on who I was around, so I was reluctant to take them seriously.
22)I didn't really feel sad, I reasoned, if I wanted to cry around one person but not around another.
23)No, it might not have been my emotion. But other times when I felt sad I really was sad, and I brushed it off.
24)Now when I feel sad I say so, and a lot of times that makes the source of the feeling clearer.
25)Funny how it's sort of a positive feeback loop, that way.
26)Distinguishing between emotions make them feel more valid, and validating them makes them easier to distinguish.

Run Away