Newlywed fun in the State of Oregon.

You know those really cool movies you sometimes read about in really cool magazines that you know are going to be terrific but can never see because they release only in cool indie theatres? The Bijou Metro is one of those theaters and it’s smack in the middle of downtown Eugene. Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary, isn’t as obscure as those cool movies, but it was showing at the Bijou and it was a mesmerizing film.

You see this distinct point in the film, years before her death, where it still seems we’ve lost the Amy we saw in the first half. And it’s crazy because I remember when Rehab was on the air and when jokes about it were in vogue. Deanna and I came to the conclusion that fame doesn’t really do anybody good. Some people manage to handle it better than others, but it’s hard to think of an example where somebody’s character was improved as a result of fame. Despite our lack of positive examples, it’s still something we crave like crazy sometimes. Not that I’d ever want to be Amy Winehouse level famous, but I often think of how much nicer life could be if my writing or podcasting had such a following that I could live off of it, using it to open doors. I’m sure it’d be pretty nice, but I’m also aware that it would include a cost that would need to be counted. It’s also valid to be thankful for the things you don’t have.

There have been two things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. One of them was to see Over The Rhine perform live. They’ve consistently been one of my favorite musical duos for a long time, and their style suggested that their live show would be hauntingly good. The other thing I wanted to do was to see a show at the Doug Fir Lounge, since I’d heard nothing but great things.

At the beginning of the month, I got to do both these things when Over The Rhine played at Doug Fir. They put on a real solid show. And I got to have Meaghan and Menekse to join me at the show. Crazy to think that they’ve been touring and making music for as long as they have. Over The Rhine, that is.

Good news for Eugene! I’ve always wanted to eat here, a) because it looked like good food and b) even if it wasn’t, it’s name is Belly, and that’s fantastic. But it looks (and kind of is) on the upscale and pricier side.

But since Belly turns seven this month, seven appetizers and a few desserts are up for $7 a piece, and they are good enough to be meals themselves. A spontaneous evening brought Deanna and I here, and $20 got us a pork confit, shrimp and grits, and a Lompoc Proletariat Red. And there’s still a lot of September left.

I’m all for gracious winning and everything, but after that pretty dirty hit on Vernon Adams, there’s at least one Eastern Washington player who had earned a good old fashioned suck itttttt.

In other news, yesterday was a good one to spend at Autzen Stadium. Vernon’s got some huge cleats to fill, but he’s looking pretty good at QB.

Really looking forward to a return to normal! Safe to say, it’s been a little while.

The past few months have been really non-stop, for many, many different reasons, the majority of them good. But when you go that long without your state of normalcy, it becomes missed.

Sunday afternoons. Watercolors in the park. Not much of a schedule. I look forward to that sort of thing.

On Labor Day, Deanna and I got to knock out another item from our adventures list… one of the odder ones: visiting the Enchanted Forest of Salem. This poor man’s Disneyland sits right off the freeway and it’s the epitome of a quirky roadside attraction. And it’s a pretty fun park, too, including the straightforwardly named “Log Ride” that gets you ten times as wet as Splash Mountain. Unfortunately, there was no Fast Pass to get us around the eight other people in line.

The parallels between the Enchanted Forest and Disneyland became more and more hilarious. In lieu of the Matterhorn, you had “Snowy Bobsled.” Instead of World of Color, there was a colored water show. Even the Tiki Room was translated into a singing, animatronic four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie. At the very end of the day, there was no denying, we had a really good one. As a discounted-Disney, it was hilarious, and as a discounted-Disney, it was also pretty great. We had a lot of fun and it didn’t cost us much money at all.

Every time we’ve driven up to Portland, we’ve passed by roadside signs telling us to stop at the next exit just outside of Salem to visit what looked like an odd amusement park for kids.

On Labor Day, we decided to erase the mystery behind those freeway signs and went with our friends Brianna and Anthony to explore Salem’s oddity. And it was a blast. An odd storybook area with the “crooked man’s crooked house” and the old woman’s shoe that was actually an epic slide. And an interactive shooting range that was the best fifty cents ever spent.

A huge congrats to Eliza on getting engaged! Super excited for our friend.

Also glad we had the chance to meet Geoff the other month in Portland. Over Salt & Staw too.

Had a blast while Ben was in town. Got to see a Ducks game, discover a new board game, and of course, climb to the top of Spencer’s Butte. We just so happened to run into the mayor while we were up there.

Ben is such a fun friend to hang out with, and finding fun stuff to do just comes real naturally. Thrilled to have been able to host him up for the weekend. It’s one of our favorite things to do.

The Ducks game against Georgia State was incredibly undramatic, but the good kind of dramatic at least, where we enter the second half with a huge lead, and only continue to build on it. We did get to enjoy the game with our friend Ben in town, and that made it a great afternoon.

This weekend was so much fun. Perfect blend between going out and doing fun things and also sitting around to relax. Just what was needed prior to the week that followed.

Ducks vs. Utah, not the best game I’ve ever been to.

I feel like Elk Horn often gets overlooked when it comes to food and drink in Eugene, and that really isn’t fair now, is it? Their pub snacks are great.

Plus last time I was there, their Twisted Wood Saison was on sale for only $2.50- such a great deal.

Last week was Deanna Lazaro’s first birthday! She turned 26, but it was her first one as Deanna Lazaro, so that counts as some sort of milestone of significance.

After coming home from work, and before we went out for dinner, she took on the great scavenger hunt to find my present- one that consisted entirely of emoji’s. (The scavenger hunt was emojis, not the present.) In the end, she found what she was seeking. Her pearl on a chain.

Solid weekend. Lots of time doing fun hangouty things with the wife and dog.

While on a run, I saw a squirrel totally get hit by a car. The squirrel scrambled out of the car’s way, but made the terrible decision to reverse his route right when the car approached. I figured he was a goner and heard him smash underneath the carriage as it went over. Amazingly the squirrel survived. In fact it didn’t even have any visible cuts or missing chunks of fur. It ran away super confused, probably with a squirrel concussion, but it could still run.

Don’t know why I’m sharing this here but I was the only one who saw and I wish someone else coulda been there.

The other weekend, Deanna and I took a little day trip on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. I had an awesome time, especially after a really long and stressful week beforehand. Deanna enjoyed herself too, but I know she probably would have chosen to stay in town that weekend if she was just choosing for herself. The following weekend, we did just that, and it was much needed rest.

When I’m cooped up for too long, I can start to go stir crazy. When Deanna doesn’t get a chance to rest, she isn’t as able to enjoy experiences to the fullest. When I have a bunch of minor things going wrong all the time, I can get a bit cranky. And I know that when it comes to adventure, I can sometimes turn into an overexcited puppy that wants too play, and I know I need to be extra careful not to push too hard.

We’ve both spent a lifetime learning about how to take care of ourselves and our needs. We’ve learned what rhythms of work and play work best for us. Since we both like to take on a lot of things, we know how we respond to high demands. But our situations are now different. We’re a team, and it’s not just about taking care of ourselves anymore. When one person isn’t doing so well, the team isn’t doing well.

Work has been nuts lately, and the theme of the past week has been “being over it.” Good thing I married a girl who knows exactly what I’d need after a week like that.

Deanna planned out a whole weekend for us on the coast that started with a ride on the historic railroad in Neahem. Had a total blast every minute of it.

I spent most of my early twenties traveling and asking myself what I want out of life. Pretty typical. At the time it just seemed like a good way to spend those years.

I’m starting to get why knowing that actually kind of matters. I have a small but irreplaceable family to take care of and enjoy and limited hours in a day. I don’t want to spend them doing things that won’t contribute to the more ultimate things I want from life.

Grace, presence, gratitude, adventure, people, generosity. My internal manifesto is always evolving but those are its mainstays. Right now, I’m looking past the end of grad school at a white blank page- it’s a lot of opportunity to build a life from the ground up and it can go in so many directions. At least I have a pretty solid starting block.

I overslept today. It doesn’t happen often, but it has been of late. It’s like something inside me decided that winter hibernation sounded like a good idea and that it was time to call the shots.

Exhausted seems to be an appropriate word for right now. Personally exhausted from an overambitious workload the past few months. Globally exhausted from the hate and violence in the world. Just a day ago, I felt a little tired of constant exposure to people’s argumentative spirits and was feeling pretty ready to take a step back.

In the wake of a terrible incident, though, it seems like we’ve all just been reminded of the terrible end towards which divisiveness leads. I’ve gotten a late start on today, but it seems to hold a slightly different story. More unity. Reds, whites, and blues, and je suis’es. And perhaps these are just icons and symbols and slogans that can’t bring back lives or put an end to terror once and for all. But they’re doing something. Something in me is switching from exhaustion to encouragement. I can hold on to a belief in hope and Love all while witnessing outrageous and very real evil. It’s tough to do that when you’re on your own.

Of course, mourning needs to happen, and sometimes grief takes longer than what we’d like. But I think it’s worthwhile for the other side of things.

There’s no such thing as a job that you love a full 100 percent of the time. Even when you have a job you love, not every day will be stupendous. And it’s during those moments that are more challenging and that aren’t as good that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re able to do something you really want to do.

Of course, that’s why I think weekends like the one Deanna and I were able to spend in Tillamook are important. Even when you have a job you love, it’s important to have a life you love outside of it. I personally think that a job should never really be priority number one, anyways. Being able to step away from what goes on between Mondays and Fridays and tend to the rest of you is extremely important.

Wishing Tillamook cafés were all around me.

Tempting not to go for a burger or even a mac and cheese, but I knew I had to keep it classic. Grilled cheese all the way.

The pumpkin keg is prepped and the ale is chilling in the fridge.

The eggs are deviled.

Tonight is gonna be a really fun night.

Meet Joe, former championship winning quarterback (and point guard… and pitcher…) from Murder High School, class of 1985.

He’s now the gym teacher at his old alma mater and is really excited to welcome everybody back to MHS for the 30 year class reunion and to relive some of the glory days.

Sometimes the prom king goes back to the high school reunion… Sometimes it’s the prom king who graduated two years before everyone who nobody seems to remember.

This weekend was one of my best Halloweens yet.

This fall has gone by so fast and has been a pretty stressful couple months, but we’ve gotten to have some fun along the way. One of the most fun things we’ve gotten to do was to throw a 1980’s high school reunion themed Murder Mystery Party on Halloween. It was not only a chance to unwind, but a chance to see the neat little community we’ve built in Eugene.

After our Halloween party, while cleaning up the neon glow sticks and remnants of purple feathers, I realized that we had come a long way from months ago in terms of getting to know people around us. It didn’t happen quickly or on my timetable, but it happened. And Deanna and I are still in the process of building a community. I suppose its a process that resembles certain spots on the freeway where construction never ends. But at the same time, it’s a little more fun than that. It’s a lot more fun.

And more important than fun, I think it’s necessary. Maybe parties aren’t necessary or big, super-structured social circles aren’t necessary, but having people around you is necessary. Having people who know the honest version of yourself is necessary. Being able to let loose and have fun and be completely ridiculous around some trusted company. That’s necessary.

Dear Mr. Vernon,
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Halloween at a high school reunion for a murder, apparently. What the murderer did WAS wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a mathlete… a class president… a jock… a reporter… and a murderer. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours,

the Murder High School class of ’85.

Heckuva weekend hanging out in the hallways of our old high school with B.A. and Byron in town!

Plus it was great to eventually meet Jesse after a few hours of getting to know his high school mathlete self.