Writing 101: Dashing Under the Night Sky (Part 1 of 3)

What I remember, when I was maybe four years old, is staring up at the night sky through the back window of my father’s hatchback.  We were on the road and it was dark, except for the billions of stars above me.  I could feel the tires of the car, a flesh-colored Volkswagen Dasher, on the highway, and it was so late at night, or maybe so early in the morning.  I was tired, but being lulled back to sleep by the movement of the car, the smell of the car’s dry heat coming from the plastic vents, and the soft glow of the lights in the dashboard.  My brother, a year and a half younger, was asleep next to me.  It is a brief memory, but one that I have held onto for some reason.

The events surrounding the memory are a little less clear.  I seem to recall my dad waking me up in the middle of the night – or was it early morning and still dark? – and telling me and my brother to get up, that we were going.  I can’t remember if the car was packed with our belongings.  Previous to that night, I don’t remember my dad packing our things, or telling us we were moving, although I’m sure he did and I was just too young to really know what it meant.  I don’t remember arriving at our destination, or if a moving truck was involved.  I didn’t know at the time why we were moving.

It was the first time though, that I remember knowing, really understanding, that my mother was not with us, would not be joining us along the way, and would not meet us there.  I didn’t know when my brother and I would see her again.  I worried that she wouldn’t know how to find us.  I worried that we would not see her again, or that perhaps we would be too old and that she wouldn’t recognize us.

And as those stars slipped across the night sky, as we dashed along the highway moving from our home in Wisconsin to our new home in Oklahoma, the distance between me and my mother seemed to grow greater and greater, until we became no closer than the nearest stars in the sky.


Photo by Frank Delargy

Photo by Frank Delargy

Related post:  Silence is never louder than when you should be asleep



This is Day 4 of Writing 101.  Today’s assignment was to:  Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.  And the twist:  Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

I really struggled with this post in that I couldn’t think of what to write about, let alone how to incorporate it into a three-post trilogy.  I thought of all kinds of losses – people, pets, objects, games…but nothing really stood out, until I found this memory, lurking in the corner of my mind.  It wasn’t a permanent loss; today, my mother is very much a part of my life, I am happy to say.  I’m not quite sure how this will start my trilogy, but I’ll think of something, eventually!

New Digs

I know I’ve totally been slacking on my blog. Sorry! But facebook has been getting a lot of my attention – so if you’re on facebook, you can check me out there. I’ll attempt to catch up a little bit now though, for all you non-facebookers…

First off, before I left for Portland, my friends in Carlsbad threw me an AWESOME going away party. Susan hosted and nearly all my friends made it to the party – there was even a Snow White pinata filled with mini-alcohol beverages, courtesy of Michelle and jeep. And the food was awesome! Everyone chipped in to get me a $170 gift card to Powell’s Books, and I gave everyone an appropriate Non-Performance Award.

The next day several folks helped me with loading the truck. At one point they were convinced that not everything would fit and I almost had to rent a trailer, which I was definitely not looking forward to doing. However, everything was jammed in – not a square foot to spare – and only two things didn’t make it: the cat tree was donated to Sparkles (Michelle’s new kitty), and jeep had to bring up my office chair the following week. It always works out in the end, but I’m thinking that my next move will entail a 17′ truck instead of a 14′ truck. At least.

It took two full days of driving, but Mom and I finally got to Portland. My apartment managers are assholes, but I’m trying to forget about that. I got really lucky in finding my apartment – it’s in the Bretnor Building, constructed in 1912, on NW 20th and Lovejoy – right in the heart of all the cool stuff that happens in Portland. 21st and 23rd have a ton of restaurants and shops, and I’m about 6 blocks from the Pearl District. Everything is within walking distance, too – aside from work, I don’t have to drive my car. I’ve walked to Powell’s Books a few times, and even down to the Saturday Market. And now that I have a bike, it will be even easier.

I had to start my new job at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office the next week – I wish I had some more time off, but dems de breaks. Gots to make money, you know. The new office is nice – lots of native plants around the building, and one entire wall of my office is windows that look out into a virtual jungle of bushes and trees. I’ve been enjoying watching hummingbirds and chickadees – and a towhee – along with bees and other insects buzzing around. My office seems to have quite the spider population in it, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. Once those little guys grow up though…that’s another story…

Catching Up…

So…lots of stuff has happened between now and my last post. There’s too much to write about right now, but I will provide you with links to pictures. That’s the good part, anyway, right? The big news is that I recently moved up to Portland, Oregon, where I will be starting a job with the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office in Vancouver, Washington. I guess my official title is Recovery Assessment Program Leader, but basically I’ll be a fish biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was definitely sad leaving all of my friends behind in Carlsbad, but I’m very happy to be up here in Portland. I found a great apartment in a really cool part of town…the next step is getting a bike! I’ll post some pictures of my place once I get a bit more unpacked.

In the meantime, here are some photos from previous events.

First, in the beginning of July, my friend Michelle came and visited me from Pennsylvania. I hadn’t seen her (or talked with her) since graduating from West Chester University in 1998, but we found each other on facebook. We met up in Old Town San Diego, went to the Wild Animal Park (of course), and cruised around Point Loma and downtown San Diego over the weekend. You can view the photos from her visit here.

Next, at the end of July, I drove north to Blue Lakes (near Ukiah) for a Koski family reunion. I was there for a couple of days and it was really nice to see everyone, especially the next generation of Koski’s. The weather was perfect and it was great connecting with most of my cousins, although three of my blonde beautiful cousins were MIA (you know who you are, H’s!). Check out the photos from the reunion here.

After the reunion I drove up to Eureka to meet my friend Cara. We went to a Roller Derby (go, North Jetty Betty’s!), then went to Arcata to dine on crepes at one of Cara’s favorite restaurants. The crepes were FANTASTIC! Cara works and lives at Redwoods National Park, so the next day we hiked the Damnation Creek trail to the coast where we explored the tidepools. Then, it was time for me to head back south (sigh)…but the photos still linger here.

The only unfortunate part of the trip was that my check engine light went on, and upon taking it to the shop for a diagnosis, I learned that one of the catalytic converters has crapped out on me and it would cost $2000 to fix in California. Fortunately, I’ve moved to Oregon where it may not be illegal to use an after-market catalytic converter so I might not have to junk my car…but like I said, it looks like I’ll be wanting to invest in a bike soon. It won’t work for getting me over to Vancouver every day, but it’s at least a little less pressure on my aging Outback when I need to go out for groceries or local errands!

My Pacific Northwest "Vacation"

So last week I used 40 of my hard-earned annual leave hours to fly up to Portland. I had originally planned on simply visiting my mom and brother (it was his birthday on the 19th – happy birthday, Paul!), his wife, and new daughter Adelaide. However, additional vacation duties also included helping my mom pack up her house, clean it, and drive back down to Escondido for her move back down to SoCal. I still had a good time though, even though Mom’s cat, Leo, had to be put down the morning I arrived in Oregon. Leo will definitely be missed, although I don’t think we could have fit him into the car for the long trip south considering that the parrot and dog took up the majority of the available space.Other activities involved visiting two (!) REI stores, walking around Lacamas Park in Camas, initiating a corruptive influence on my beautiful and awesome niece (I bought that ABCD onsie for her when she was only a fetus!), celebrating Paul’s 33rd birthday at Deschutes Brewery in downtown Portland, and spending the better portion of a day walking around the Pearl district.

Lacamas Park in Camas

Corruption Phase 1 Initiated

Packing for the trip home…

The drive back down to Escondido was fairly uneventful, and let me tell you that the landscape only gets MORE BEAUTIFUL as you travel south, leaving the lush green fresh scenery of Washington and Oregon for the shriveled brown smog-laiden traffic-scape of our urban coastal community. Sigh. And, to make things even better, Michael (Mom’s parrot, severe macaw, actually) took the opportunity to fly away the evening of our arrival home. She went missing for two days, but Mom miraculously recovered her after plying her with wheat thins, peanuts, and a squeaky ball. I’m thinking that with this experience, Mom now has the know-how for earning supplemental income recovering rogue feathered pets.

Then it was back to work on Monday…it will only take another five months of work to gain those 40 hours of annual leave back, so I’d better get on that I guess.

Stress stress stress

I know I haven’t written in a while, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t have anything particularly interesting to report. No pictures, either. But I’ve been busy, alright??? Work has been particularly chaotic – I’ve had to make some BIG decisions concerning my job, but I finally got my promotion so money will not be an issue. Basically, I was offered a position as the Recovery Branch Chief, and I went back and forth for a couple of weeks trying to decide whether or not to take it. In the end I decided to decline the offer; mostly, I feel like I still need to spend some time in the trenches, and one of the things I like most about my job is seeing the results of my work fairly quickly and concretely. For example, there are projects that I’ve worked on that have ended up having more habitat conserved partly as a result of my efforts. And I like that. So, that’s pretty much what it came down to, among a few other factors.

I’ve also been looking for a new place to live. I want to move to Carlsbad or Oceanside to be closer to work and friends, and to get away from the heat of Infernodido. Rent is a little higher on the coast, but with the way gas prices are going, I’ll probably spend less money just having a shorter commute. But, looking for apartments is one of my VERY LEAST FAVORITE things to do, and I have very limited tolerance for trying to get in touch with potential landlords and viewing crapholes. So, if anyone knows of a really great place that takes dogs and cats and is big and cheap and requires no security deposit and has a great view of the ocean and a complimentary on-call masseur, please let me know.

Sound good? Hope you’re all doing great and are having a fantastic summer!

Whirlwind trip to Portland and Back

Well, it finally happened. Mom sold her house in Escondido and moved up to Portland. What an endeavor! Packing up her home took several weeks and it was very strange seeing the house completely empty. We started out on Friday and drove for about ten hours, stopping overnight just north of Sacramento. From there we drove about eleven hours all the way up to Portland. The second day was much prettier – we drove past Mount Shasta, and the landscape became rolling and green. I’m actually kind of jealous – I want to move up there now! Michael (the parrot) was very good the entire trip – she sat next to me the entire time and happily clucked throughout the drive. I think she rather enjoyed sitting in the car! Mom drove the white Durango (pictured below) with Leo and Bailey, and overall, the trip went very well. I flew back home on Sunday and called in sick on Monday to rest. It will be very weird being here without my mom, but things change, and I think she’ll be very happy in Portland. Here are some pictures of our adventure:

It’s Like Christmas in June!!!

Ok, so I’m still trying to catch up on my blogging. Some of you may know that I’ve recently moved – I’m finally out of my mom’s place (leaving 50% of the animals behind, thank goodness), and into my own little apartment. Unfortunately, I had to move the day before I had to travel to Denver, which I will write about in the next blog. Not having very much time, I hired movers to get my stuff out of my storage unit and into my new place – it was a little pricey, but they sure didn’t just sit on their asses, complain about how heavy all my boxes of books were, and demand pizza and beer. They were actually very quick, and got all my stuff up to my 2nd floor apartment in under four hours! And so far, I don’t think anything is broken or missing. So it was a good deal for me. I still had a bunch of stuff left at Mom’s house to take over, but I dealt with that when I got back from my trip the following weekend.

Here are some pictures – the first one is the outside of my apartment – 2nd floor, big balcony. It’s a small apartment, and I’m appalled that for the same money, I could rent TWO apartments of this size in Colorado. But I’m paying a lot less living in Escondido compared to Carlsbad (where I work), which is really outrageous. Even though it’s just a regular place, it’s all my own, and my things are out of storage! Woo hoo!!! And, there are some nice features – vaulted ceilings, a huge walk-in closet, a good sized storage closet on my balcony, a pool/hot tub, and I even get a free gym membership (anyone want to take bets on whether or not I’ll actually ever use that membership?). It’s a nice neighborhood too – lots of greenery, with a creek running through the back, and it doesn’t feel too ghetto. So I guess I made a good find. The second picture features just a small fraction of the boxes that were waiting for me when I returned from Denver. I think Santa left them there for me!

Nothing to report, really.

Yeah, yeah – I know I haven’t written anything in a while. Well, that’s just because I don’t have anything particularly exciting to write about. I’m still here though – still working, trying to catch up on sleep, trying to survive the mayhem of all the animals in one tiny, tiny space…

Actually, work is going a little better – I’m starting to get a better feel for how things work, and can at least “act” competent around everyone except for my supervisor. Isn’t that the luck? And, more good news – I move into my own place in the beginning of June (the 10th). It’s no place special, still in Escondido, and rather small. But it’s cute, and it will save me several hundred dollars a month as opposed to renting in Carlsbad near work. So hopefully, I’ll be able to pay off some debt in the next year or two, then maybe I’ll move to a better place. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad, not in the ghetto or anything, it’s just your typical apartment in your typical apartment complex. But there’s a pool, hot tub, vaulted ceilings, and a huge walk-in closet. And best of all, it will be my own space, with only three (officially two, so don’t tell anyone) pets.

But that’s all for now. I just didn’t want you all to worry. I’m still alive and twitching.