Some notes from the World Series and the victory parade: Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, the most sincere pumpkins in Linus’ patch. Mike Krukow, pimpin’ it and fired up at the parade! Pablo: never wear orange pants again. Marco Scutaro: here’s my cell number. Sergio Romo: bold enough to advertise immigration in an election year and bouncing like Tigger. Tim Lincecum: way to rock the Cobain sweater and be gracious when the chips are down. Love the hardworking southern boys mixed with those professional Venezuelans. Brandon Crawford: soft hands never looked so good. Thanks for teaching kids how the game is played (I lifted that from my favorite commentator, Harold Reynolds, but I agree).
My relationship with the outdoors comes down to one sentence: I will try my best not to destroy you and you will keep your scaly creatures away from me. And that’s pretty much it. Once, at age 21 or so, my boyfriend took me to a close friend’s house in Amador County. I was excited; this was a big step! Perhaps we would get married! Maybe the words “rustic” and “country” really described the decor more than the lifestyle! Once we were on the back roads, he flicked off the headlights and screeched the VW bug to a halt. “Did you see that guy with the chainsaw?”
Did I mention he was funny?
When our kids were born, Mr. Halfstory (who was not the aforementioned boyfriend, just for the record) and I chose to school our offspring in Nature’s Church: respect nature, revere it, visit it. Do you think we’ve ever taken our kids camping to “see something bigger than themselves?” We managed two days in Yosemite and, once, the grand micro climates of Maui, but nothing that ever involved a sleeping bag, a tin cup or standing in a pond. The kids are great walkers but spectacular hurlers, so those lists of car vacations? Erase and start over. As for myself, the only thing that scares me more than sleeping in the wilderness are: underground parking garages at night and white vans without windows.
So it was with interest and some trepidation I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Let me just say, it made me want to hike, and then hike some more. Reeling from the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, Strayed decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail alone. She admits she is not prepared, although she’s done decent research, mindful shopping and has had shrewd conversations with REI personnel. And she’s just really, exceptionally brave. She’s an accomplished and straightforward writer, even though this was clearly and emotional, powerful journey for her. I must say, some of the things she had to do – being calm in the face of a possible assault, drinking potentially toxic water – made this book a supreme page-turner.
Then, I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple, which was a satisfying and zany romp into a family of geniuses. Bernadette (and I have my hand raised here, too) is being slowly irritated to death by Seattle and her life choices. She has a brilliant, workaholic husband, a sweet and independent (also quite brilliant) daughter, and yet she cannot bring herself to have normal exchanges with people. As someone who often falls out of bed pre-annoyed (Mr. Halfstory: “You woke up swingin’ today.”), I saw a lot of myself in Bernadette, minus the eccentric genius part. Filled with rapid-fire and hilarious (and implausible) letters, e-mail exchanges, depositions and secret notes, it’s one of those novels you can’t put down; I have the dark circles to prove it.