Charleston

Spring in Charleston

People from Minnesota laugh at our winters. Why do we do that? Project our reality onto other people. If you live in Minnesota, you better learn how to deal with a frigid and dominating winter. If you live in Charleston, SC, two days below freezing is a damn ice age. It actually snowed in January of last year. I grew up north of here and I’ve never experienced snow like that. Six inches of snow that turned into ice. The city was frozen for a week. I walked to the grocery store down the street and was almost killed by a car sliding off the road. I didn’t leave the house again until it thawed. You could hear the people from Minnesota laughing at the Charleston “snowpocalypse” clips on the weather channel. Everyone in northern states loves a good southern snow storm so they can make fun of how unprepared we are. It just reinforces their stereotypes of us. Fine because we have some pretty good ones about them.

We can’t drive in snow and ice because we never have to. A few weeks before the snow it was 65 degrees on Christmas Eve. I’ve always said if I need to use a heater to get my car battery warm enough to start my engine, I will only do that once, pack whatever fits into the car and hightail it south as fast as I can. I’m proud of my novice snow driving because driving in snow and ice stinks. I think snow is pretty for a day and then I’m ready to say goodbye. Enough already. Last year, snow piles in Boston were still around in June. Oh, the superiority. 

If you live in a place that is stunningly beautiful and pleasant in the spring and fall like Charleston, winter is a real burden, even if it is mild. The short days and gray skies are like a sedative for the population. People are less happy, a little fatter, sun deprived and tired of being inside. Occasionally a 70-degree day will pop out of January and we all become like escaped inmates. We had one of those days this year and I went outside and stood in some sunlight for about thirty minutes. It’s a real weather tease.  

Now it is spring and Charleston is alive again. Our cars are yellow and our noses are running; a small price to pay. Most days in the Charleston spring feel like nothing. You don’t notice temperature, which allows you to notice other things like the sweetness of the air or the gentle sea breeze. The temperature allows your mind to wander; to search for better descriptions than “it’s hot” or “it’s freezing.” 

Humidity begins to build in the spring. In the early morning, it lays across everything like streaks on a freshly washed window, slowly disappearing. Green returns to the marsh grass. Color creeps up the spartina stalks beginning in late march. I actually think it is prettiest when the grass is half brown and half green.  Spring happens underwater as well. Nutrients return to the marshes fed by the Ashley and the Cooper rivers. That brings mullet and shrimp that bring bigger fish and so on. Winter water is a pretty aqua, but it is also dormant. When marsh water is dark with mud, it is alive. Life pops and flips throughout. Winter is hard under water. Food is scarce and the water is clear making it tougher to hide from dolphins. Fish from Minnesota wouldn’t stand a chance. 

I would not drive around Charleston during the first week of spring. People are delirious, gray-eyed, like they haven’t completely awoken from hibernation yet. I imagine when a grizzly emerges from her winter sleep, she is also ravenous and irrational. We are starved for sun and pleasantness. The winter sun is lower in the sky and most of its rays go right over our heads. The summer sun shines down on us like a cop interrogation scene from 80s television. The spring sun is gentle, friendly. 

The spring sun gets inside the house as well. It turns the shades burnt orange as it breaks the horizon. Then, it paints everything a soft yellow as the day moves on. 

Charleston isn’t a sports town. It is too nice in the fall to bother with football all the time. We watch, but we aren’t fanatics. Your team stinks? Let’s play nine. College basketball has a presence here. The College of Charleston has a great mid-major arena right downtown. We enjoy sports with an eye outdoors. We can just as easy listen to the game on the boat. Worlds are never as in sync as they are when it is beautiful at The Masters as well as out your window. The green of the fairways of Augusta National seem to spread from the TV into your living room and beyond. We also love March Madness. Not because we are rabid fans but because we love excuses not to work. If you have business in Charleston on a beautiful spring Friday, you better get it done before noon. 

Spring in Charleston has some flaws. No-see-ums will ruin a pleasant morning. Female no-see-ums have to feed on your flesh so they can have the energy to reproduce. Males don’t bite. Metaphor all you want. No-see-ums are warded off by wind and the hot sun. Early morning and late afternoon hours can be torturous if you get into a swarm. The worst thing they do is bite your scalp. The bites raise huge welts on me because I’m allergic. The welts don’t last long but they are itchy and painful. I always think about the days in the south in the past when working and living in the marsh must have been almost unbearable. I’m sure they had some no-see-um remedy that was a solid lead salve or something equally as deadly. I wish they had passed it on to us. Lead poisoning might be preferable. 

Springtime ushers in abundance. Tourists come and spend their money. The city is teeming with life again. Farmers markets begin. My health and my mind are both benefited by weekly farmers markets. I’m not sure I have grasped their privilege yet. Lots of places struggle to get fresh anything, even in summer, and here we are with a weekly cornucopia. Blueberries are my favorite. There’s a farm in Awendaw that specializes in growing them. I think they grow the best blueberries you can buy anywhere. 

I do not believe there is a prettier place on earth than Charleston in the spring. I try not to take it for granted; to enjoy as much of it as I can. Don’t worry Minnesota, spring will come to you as well. It will be summer down here by then. Hang in there. Come on down if you are feeling restless. The weather is fine.

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Essay

Not My Last Supper

I have the luxury (or curse) of having ten plus years of stuff I’ve written on record, either in this blog or in thousands of pages of notes. We have a terrible habit these days of taking a tweet some guy wrote ten years ago and using it to sink their entire career. On occasion, I’m going to uses things I’ve written in the past to show you how absurd this practice is. I barely recognize things I wrote a year ago, much less ten. While I take responsibility for the things I wrote, because I did write them, I ask that you allow me the opportunity to change my mind. To admit I was wrong. Please let me learn from my mistakes, even if it takes years.

This is not easy for me to do but I think it is important. Something I wrote two years ago came up again and I feel the need to address it. “My Last Supper” is a small post, only 500 words, but it still lives with people I care about. And it’s ugly. And I’d like to correct the record. 

This old post is about how much trouble I used to have attending large gatherings like dinners. Instead of trying to figure out why and fix the issues in my life, I decided to blame the dinners themselves and my friends for even inviting me to them. I wanted you to know how much I hated the evenings and I wanted you to in turn quit having them or at least quit inviting me. The people that I’m speaking to in this post aren’t adversaries, they are people that I love. Why do I so crudely admonish them for inviting me to a party? I don’t know. I think I was looking for something or someone to blame for my unhappiness. Other than me of course. 

Honestly, I wanted to just delete the post because it is so hard for me to read and admit I even wrote. But because someone recently brought it up again, because they were planing a nice dinner and they were worried I would not agree to come, I feel the only way I can erase the damage the post has done is to address it verbatim. I so easily forget that the things I write and say matter. Even if it only matters to a few people.  

The words in bold are from the old post. They appear unchanged. I’ll also link the post here. Continue reading “Not My Last Supper”

Humor

Sizzling Hot Fruit Series

Part I- El Chapo’s Avocado

I loved avocados for a while. I ate at least one a day for a year. Now, I can’t stand the thought of eating one and I don’t know why. Something just clicked, switched. I bought a box of single-serve tubs of guacamole that sat in my fridge for five months after the click. I used those small tubs as a substitute for fresh avocado when I felt lazy. Not that I couldn’t get a fresh one, I just didn’t want to do the work required to clean and open the damn things. Opening a tub of processed guac and scooping it onto eggs is a lot easier and safer than slicing into a fresh avocado. 

People don’t realize that you have to clean the outside of the avocado before you cut into it. The inside is protected by the leathery shell but bacteria can be transferred to it from the outside on the edge of your knife. That’s got to be why so many people get sick at Chipotle. Unwashed avocados (This is an unsubstantiated opinion. It’s a fine restaurant). Anything, regardless of outer layer, must be cleaned with some sort of bacteria-killing wash before it is cut into. Think about how many times Larry who doesn’t wash his hands after going to the toilet in the grocery store squeezes lemons before he finds the perfect one. You don’t want Larry’s wee-wee-hand in your lemonade, do you? Continue reading “Sizzling Hot Fruit Series”

Music

Music Theory

Lately, I’ve been apologizing to no one in particular because I don’t like the band Tool. I’ve tried to like them, but I just don’t. They produce different wave lengths than I’m wired to receive, I think. When I’m alone in the car and one of their songs comes on the Turbo or Lithium channels on Sirius XM, which is a lot, I find myself saying out loud, “I just don’t like them.” I kind of like Sober because it has a good hook, but not really. Now, don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I’m apologizing because I don’t like Tool because they are so popular. Their style is unique and I’m sure that’s why their fans love them so much. I just don’t. Sorry. 

I’ve discovered that my taste in music is very fluid, changing without any reason or warning. A few years ago, I only listened to reggae. A reggae-seed gets planted in my head and sometimes an obsession blooms over time. Steel Pulse was my favorite band in the genre. (Really, it’s Bob Marley but I don’t categorize him as anything besides genius) I saw Steel Pulse live in Charleston a few years before my obsession took hold. A few years after that, reggae was all I listened too.  Continue reading “Music Theory”

Travel

Creep in Clearwater

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Last Saturday, I received an email from Side Splitters comedy club in Tampa announcing a “very special event.” I am on their email list because I have attended a few shows there over the years. Most comedy clubs start their emails with some sort of baloney pumping up the announced act and I didn’t think much of it until I saw the name “Louis” before the email preview cut off. I love Louis Anderson, but he wouldn’t be a “very special event.” No, they were advertising that Louis C.K. would be appearing “next week” for 5 shows. For me, that is like announcing Paul McCartney was going to play “The Poor House” in Charleston, SC. I jumped on the opportunity and decided I would at the last minute drive to see Louis in a small comedy club six hours away. Louis has to do business like this now because if he gives too much advanced notice, people who wish to do him and his career harm would be there to ruin the shows. The show was fantastic, it was a chance of a lifetime and I’m so glad I did it. This blog post is not about Louis C.K. 

I am an unapologetic fan of cults. I am also a fan of Leah Remini’s show on Scientology. Maybe those two things are correlated but my lawyer has advised me to let you figure that out for yourself. The most recent episodes of Leah’s show were about Scientology’s involvement in Clearwater, Florida. L. Ron Hubbard wanted a place for Scientology like Utah is for Mormons. He picked Clearwater as that place. Clearwater is about 20 miles outside of Tampa. The show made Clearwater out to be some sort of ghost town where all the main attractions were owned and controlled by the Church of Scientology. I had to see this place for myself and since I was going to be in Tampa anyway, I went. Continue reading “Creep in Clearwater”

Charleston, Humor, Travel

Jack Hanna Flies Coach

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On a recent trip out of Charleston, I noticed a celebrity on my flight to Atlanta. None other than TV’s Jack Hanna was standing with his wife, waiting for his boarding zone to be called. I didn’t bother him. I like the man and I appreciate his work, but he’s not exactly the Crocodile Hunter. The odd thing about the encounter was that “Premium” was already boarding and I was next in “Sky” (because I foolishly paid more for the extra leg room and the free banana) and Jack and his wife weren’t in my boarding group. They were in coach with all the other people who weren’t international TV personalities or frequent Late Show with David Letterman guests. Continue reading “Jack Hanna Flies Coach”

Charleston, Christmas, Humor

So This is Christmas

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And what have you done, Yoko?

I wouldn’t say it’s my “favorite” time of year only because a seventy-five degree day in April is pretty awesome; but I do enjoy Christmastime. I realize that I have neglected these pages the last few months, and for that I am sorry. No excuses. I do appreciate those who have enjoyed and supported this blog over the years. My most popular work by far is pieces about the holidays, so I would be remiss if I didn’t disappoint you one more time before 2019 with some thoughts on Christmas. Continue reading “So This is Christmas”