Stupid, Stupid Boy

So, it’s fairly certain that one of the biggest fires in Oregon at the moment was started by a 15-year-old boy playfully throwing a smoke bomb into a ravine while hiking in the woods. To hell with burn bans. The world is one big video game! Woo hoo! If we destroy everything, we just hit the reset button, right?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The vast majority of the crime and destruction in this world is perpetrated by boys between the ages of 15 and 24, regardless of race or religion. It’s like they take out their brains and set them on a dusty shelf in the back of their closets for a decade.

I know that’s a sweeping generalization. I’m sure there are plenty of good kids wandering around. But from a statistical standpoint, I wouldn’t bet the farm on any of them. When it comes to violence, theft, graffiti, traffic accidents, bar fights, rape, DUI, and general stupidity, the numbers bear me out.

I hope there are consequences for this kid. I hope he has to help fight this fire. I hope he has to walk through the devastated landscape afterwards and see what he’s done. Somehow, someone has to get through to him.

He won’t be in the stupid stage forever. How will he feel in his 30’s about what he did? This may sound strange, but I hope he regrets it quite a lot. Because that will show that he has developed some sort of a moral compass, as painful as it will be for him. If, on the other hand, he laughs it off, is allowed to get over it, or becomes angry and bitter and stays stuck in his stupidity, then heaven help us all.

forest-fire

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Vancouver Not Exactly According to Plan

I just got back from my first ever visit to Vancouver. What a fantastic time I had! I was meeting up with a friend (more on him in another blog entry) and I figured he’d be more comfortable with a specific game plan, so I read my guidebook from cover to cover, and set out an itinerary so that everything would flow like clockwork. Ha! The Gods must have been laughing.

I was to meet him at 1:30 on Sunday at a coffee shop. I wasn’t expecting to have a 5 mile long line at the border crossing. Since I don’t follow sports very closely, I didn’t realize that the USA women’s soccer team would be playing Japan for the FIFA world cup that day in Vancouver, and it seemed that half of Washington State wanted to see it for themselves. And a lot of the downtown streets were blocked off, too, when I finally arrived in town. So I got to the coffee shop around 3:30. Fortunately my friend was still there, patiently waiting.

My first impression of Vancouver was…my God, is that pollution? Everything was enveloped in a smoky grey fog. But no, it turned out that there were forest fires to the north, and the smoke was blowing down into the city. I know that this city is near mountains, but I didn’t get to see them at all during my visit. But I view it as a good excuse to go back.

So the plan was to pick up sandwiches from I place I had read about that I was dying to try. It’s called Meat and Bread, and it sounded delicious. So we walked over there, and my mouth was watering. Turns out they were closed on Sundays. Picnic crisis! But we found a shop next door and I managed to get a really delicious hummus and eggplant panini. Crisis averted.

The next plan was to go to Stanley Park, check out the totem poles, and then picnic at Lumberman’s Arch. But by then I was ravenous, so we sat on a hill and watched a couple teams play an enthusiastic game of cricket. I’d never seen cricket outside of TV, and I find the rules incomprehensible, but we enjoyed our picnic and were happy when the people cheered, even if we had no idea why they were doing so. It was a pleasant way to pass the time. And the whole time I was thinking to myself, “I’m in a foreign country! And with a great friend! This is so awesome!”

Cricket in Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Cricket in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

Then we made it to the totem poles, and they were as impressive and amazing as I thought they would be. I love seeing things I’ve never seen before.

IMG_0810 IMG_0814 IMG_0815 IMG_0823

Then we wandered amongst the immense cedar trees. It was hard to believe we were in a city. We drove around the park, too. It’s huge.

IMG_0825

After that we hung out for a while at my friend’s apartment, and then the plan was to go to the Chinatown Night Market. The guidebook really talked it up and I was excited. But it’s no longer there. On line they said it was at a new location, but it wasn’t there, either. Major bummer. We did drive through Chinatown, though, which was pretty amazing.

IMG_0829

We also intended to see a sunset, but the dense smoke pretty much destroyed that plan. So we went back to the apartment and had a kind of slumber party. I offered to paint his toe nails and gossip about boys, but for some reason he wasn’t into that. But it was nice catching up with a friend. I fell asleep to the sounds of the city, and it was really nice to be with company for the first time in ages. I slept well.

So pretty much nothing went according to plan, and I’m so glad it didn’t, because it was a perfectly lovely day.

More about Vancouver tomorrow…

I Heart October

Ah, the first brisk chill in the air that heralds the end of the oppressive heat of September! Oktoberfest. The riot of color that makes one fall in love with the trees all over again. Apple cider. The chance to break out a completely different part of my wardrobe. Corn mazes. The renewed energy of dogs. Fires in the fireplace. Change! October is my favorite month.

Too bad I live in Florida, where the only seasons are summer and January.

I keep trying to convince my northern friends to get about 50 autumn leaves of various shapes, sizes and colors, laminate them, and send them to me so that I can scatter them all over my living room carpet, but so far my powers of persuasion leave a great deal to be desired.

Having spent the first 10 years of my life in Connecticut, I must say that I miss autumn, winter and spring. I miss snowballs and icicles (that most strangely spelled of all words), I miss planting flower bulbs and watching them burst through that very last patch of snow, those first hints of color heralding new life and new possibilities.

Without seasons, it’s hard to gauge the passage of time. Without that death, hibernation and rebirth, how can you be reminded that life goes on? How can you keep the faith that things will get better?

I have been trying to move north for nearly 30 years, and something always gets in my way. So I am left to gaze longingly at photos like the one below.

Enjoy what you have.

autumn leaves