Blowing through the jasmine of my mind


Another sultry weekend in my corner of the Pacific Northwest meant that once again, I had the ambition of a flea, an alcohol-loving flea. I may not have gotten any writing done, but I did eat two dinners cooked on outdoor grills, tossed numerous bocce balls and washers, and gulped gallons of hops and barley. As much as people like to complain about the heat and all the sticky, seat-suctioned bottoms it brings, nobody breathes a word of censure against the carefree aspect of it. It’s that deeply ingrained and hard-to-replicate notion of summer vacation. Most adults never get to feel the exhilaration that comes with returning all your books, cleaning out your desk, and running from your school like one more class will infect you with a cold. Even a lot of the teachers I know don’t really get to relax the same way for those weeks between terms.

So we make up for that fleeting sensation the best we can. We take trips. We spend every second of the warm weather outside, at least until the rays of the sun threaten to turn our skin into bacon. We consume whatever will help to stretch the nights and weekend hours a bit longer. We temporarily abandon a lot of the projects that help to define our adult lives – stoves sit cold and empty, serious reading material languishes under a layer of dust in favor of the Harry Potter series for the fifteenth time, and words go unrecorded. We blame the heat. We say it’s melted our brains, made it hard to sit down and do anything productive. If you’ve been in Portland any time during the past week or so, you completely sympathize. But just in case the heatwave continues and none of the thoughts or ideas I have make it to printed form, here are a few things I hope I remember after the summer’s over.

– You think it’s hard being a human in extreme weather? Try walking around an apartment warm enough to be certified as a sauna in a permanent fur coat. You can’t even open the freezer yourself.

– On that note, the animal in my house keeps me sane. And it is probably a testament to my depleting stores of sanity, because the animal in my house is a mean-spirited tyrant whom I can’t love more.

– People who decry the use of cars probably don’t remember what it’s like to soar down a deserted road with all the windows down, the stereo blasting something kick-ass, and your voice competing with your hair for the craziest thing in the vicinity.

– Learn activities and skills that make you feel like a real, fully-formed, non-automated human. Populate your life with people who teach you joy, kindness, and wisdom, but keep you around when you don’t understand. Know when you participate in events and take up with people who have the opposite effect.

– Fill your dwelling with artifacts and shrines to the two above things. Not surprisingly, I clearly prize an iTunes library full of varied and pleasing sounds and spent a lot of money this year on a new computer. It seemed like a gratuitously indulgent expenditure at the time, but it’s given back so much in return, at least when the weather was cooler. Plus, the newish Genius feature on iTunes is perfect for those lazy days when you want a playlist but become distracted when trying to draw up one on your own.

– Every summer soundtrack should include light, happy reminders of your past. And iTunes Genius exceeded expectations with its selections taken off cues from Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” It might as well have been called An Ode to Late 80’s and 90’s College Rock, Had I Been in College Then. It’s weird to discover that your nostalgia for certain songs doesn’t match the era when the songs came into being. But that’s a whole other topic.

– Maybe I sound like a mawkish and self-important drone by listing all these things, but even in my extended absences, it’s still my blog.

  • Sugar ~ Copper Blue ~ Ryodisc

If I Can’t Change Your Mind

  • The Pogues ~ Waiting for Herb ~ Chameleon

Tuesday Morning

  • The Replacements ~ Pleased to Meet Me ~ Sire

Alex Chilton

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