What’s a Pea-Shooter Anyway? 480 Words of Nonsense

“Put that pea-shooter down.” It keeps running through my head. But he doesn’t say “down,” does he? It’s more like “day-ow-n.”

“Put that pea-shootah day-own-n.” What’s a pea-shooter anyway? It sounds delicious. Like an oyster shooter but instead of an oyster there’s a frozen pea, and instead of bloody mary mix (or whatever they put in oysters shooters; I don’t really know because I’ve never actually had one) it’s split pea soup. Though I guess if you put a pea into split pea soup you wouldn’t even notice it’s there. Kind of like the princess and the pea, you know, but with soup instead of a towering stack of mattresses.

So presumably you’d need something else. What goes with peas, potatoes? So it could be a shooter with really, really thin mashed potatoes and a pea.

Then I’d call it “Frog Eye Soup,” though, because that’s what my big sister and I used to call it when we mixed our peas into our mashed potatoes. We thought we were so clever, but actually we were just elementary school kids. Anyway, close enough to a pea-shooter. And besides:

“Put that pea-shooter down.”

The whole point of this is that a couple of weeks ago my lady and I watched Robin Hood. Not Men in Tights, not the bizarro Kevin Costner one, but the real one. The one with music by Roger Miller. “Every town / has its ups and downs / Sometimes the ups / outnumber the downs / Not in Nottingham.” But again, it’s more like “day-ow-ns.” But when you’re rhyming a word with itself it doesn’t really matter how you pronounce it.

So we were watching Robin Hood, the real one, the good one. And we fell asleep on the couch. Maybe that’s what adults do when they watch children’s movies. And now two or three or four or five weeks later (who’s to say how long ago we watched it?) one random phrase from the movie is running through my brain. Like, literally running. Inside my head there’s a vast emptiness, where for other people a functioning brain would be. And I mean it’s vast. Have you seen the size of my head? Huge head, tiny ears. I’m the anti-elf.

So there’s this vast emptiness, and there’s a marquee that just spans the entire width of it. Sometimes (usually) the marquee has random song lyrics running across it, just on a loop, singing non-stop. Sometimes it’s names that I encountered and liked, like Quincy Pondexter. But today it’s Robin Hood. “Put that pea-shootah day-ow-n.”

And the funny thing is I still haven’t figured out what a pea-shooter is.

Maybe the whole point of this is that sometimes we take things so seriously, and we should just cool it and snuggle on the couch and take naps while watching children’s movies from the 1970s.

That’s just me over-utilizing my pea-shooter. I need to put that pea-shootah day-ow-n.

On Being a Tugboat Captain

Or, Thoughts on the New Year, 2015 Edition

This is the fourth year in a row I’ve used Tumblr to write an essay for the new year. Read previous year’s musings here.

This is something I do. Every year I write the same essay, looking back on the past year, looking forward to the next, getting deep-and-thought-y, drinking too much coffee, listening to music, feeling big emotions. I still firmly believe that New Year’s is sort of a stupid holiday — in that we put too much stock in it, demanding big things when, at most, it’s just the worst of the drinking holidays. And New Year’s resolutions are gimmicky and too easy to forget about when January becomes February. Still, as I wrote at the end of 2011, there is value in marking the arrival of a new year.

Today’s feelings are muted. 2014 was fine — it was full of a number of personal victories, but still it feels like sort of a throwaway year. Perhaps that will change with time. I did, after all, start this past year feeling just about as low as a person can get. As I wrote last New Year’s, I was completely unsettled, floundering in my work and my life, feeling like everything was basically the worst. I didn’t like myself and had trouble showing those around me that I loved them. In 2014 I got back to equilibrium, which (in light of how I ended 2013) is itself a pretty big victory.

Instead of making resolutions, I make big declarations. 2010 was The Year of the Alex, 2011 was The Year of Good Decisions, 2012 was The Year of Good Work, 2013 was The Year of Getting Right (ha!), 2014 was The Year of Good Returns. I think that title for this past year was pretty accurate.

There was a point, in mid-April, when I was getting pretty down about my attempts to get out of restaurants and back into my career*. I wanted to move from online publishing to doing digital things in traditional book publishing. I was applying for jobs, never hearing anything back, and I felt awful. But an opportunity arose that, through much effort and difficulty, could lead to something good. When faced with the option of re-enrolling in community college to take an internship, which would require me to work seven days a week (commuting into the city for two of them), I found myself in the parking lot of Napa Valley College saying unto myself: “Just do the damn thing.” I did the damn thing, got the internship, got a job, kept working seven days a week across two jobs, moved to Walnut Creek, got myself down to just six days a week in two jobs, and am truly moving forward. Lots of work, but good returns.

Here, an inexhaustive (and non-chronological) list of my victories from the past year. I did these damn things:

  • Ran my first half-marathon in Oakland in March
  • Ran my second and third half-marathons in San Francisco and Walnut Creek
  • Ran my first full marathon in my hometown of Baltimore, coming in 73rd place overall
  • Saw my family in Baltimore twice this fall, both helping satisfy (but also feeding) my growing homesickness
  • Started a new job back on my career track, at a fun little office doing and learning interesting things
  • Started a new restaurant job at a restaurant that, for the first time in a very, very long time, I truly enjoy
  • Moved back into our own apartment after a year with the fiancee’s parents

This next year will be huge, too. I’m getting married in June, and that large event — and the smaller events associated with the big one — will define this coming year in a very real (and very great!) way. But somehow I have this feeling that by the end of this year, I won’t be in all that different of a place. I’ll be married, sure (yay!), but I plan on still being in both of my current jobs — hopefully being more successful in both, but still there — and in my current apartment. But that stability, that unrelenting forward momentum pushing ever slowly and consistently like a tugboat pushing a barge upriver, is its own victory. I’ve never had stability in my adult life. I crave it, and having it will contribute to further growth, further victories, and future adventures.

This, then, is the Year of Stability. It’s the year of moving forward with maturity and consistency and dedication. It’s the year of chugging along like a tugboat.

*Funny. I just re-read last year’s essay and my pessimism about getting out of restaurants is so apparent. I didn’t get out of restaurant work, but I got back into my career, and that’s a victory.