Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gone Coastal

I’m on vacation! I’m on vacation! I’m on vacation! This is going to be my mantra for the remaining two days, and I am not going to answer anymore e-mails or make anymore phone calls to clients or potential clients while I am on VACATION. (Note to self: Do not bring laptop on vacation ever again.)

Jeez. Parts of the Oregon Coast hardly even look real. It’s like they’re part of a Tolkien novel.

Stairway Suitable for Hobbits

Annice Falls

Beaver Creek Falls

Gorgeous as this is, I shared the trail with no one except dozens of snails, banana slugs, and newts. No people! Up above were birds--some of those haunting flutey-sounding birds that you never hear in the Midwest. I have an idea that they might be some type of thrush, but I don’t know why I think that.

I’ve been having some trouble relaxing on this vacation, despite the fact that there’s nothing but beauty and solitude all around me. Possibly because I haven’t closed off all the work portals? Ya think?

Also, I always try to do high-mileage hikes when I’m on vacation “to get my money’s worth” (or some such rubbish) when, in reality, I always feel like it would be nice to just sit somewhere and soak in the scenery for a while rather than march hell-for-leather up the trail, barely taking time for a nibble of beef jerky. This morning (after spending about an hour dealing with work-related crap)—CRAP!—I decided that, yes, I would make a concerted effort to relax, so I stuck a book in my pack along with my trail mix and rain gear, figuring I’d pull it out and read it while perched on a sand dune overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The book is a novel called The Underminer, or The Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life (recommended by Diana). Is anyone surprised that a book with such a title would appeal to me? Turns out it’s excellent perched-on-a-sand-dune reading material. Razor-sharp satire and not at all a tax on one’s mental energies; it would make equally good plane reading. It’s written as a series of one-sided conversations that take place in various venues from 1990 to 2004. We get only the side of the effortlessly successful Casually Life-Destroying Friend and are left to imagine what the flabby, cowering, underachieving “sort of friend” must be saying and thinking as her (his?) self-esteem is calculatedly and painfully drained from her (his?) being, drop by excruciating drop.

Sample excerpt (at a French bistro: 1995):

The tea here tastes weird. Wow, where did you read about this place again?

OK, I’ll tell you. You know that children’s book that I wrote really fast for no reason, It’s a Funny, Sunny Day? Well, apparently, who knew, it’s selling like crazy and can barely stay on the shelves. So the publisher is begging for a three-book series.

And I just got another voiceover gig! It’s so funny. They just like my voice so I don’t even leave my house, I just call it in. I don’t know how it happened, I just sort of fell into it. You should try it. but it’s really hard to get into. But you should try it!

I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised that I’m still reading. I read a few chapters and basically thought, "OK. I get the gist of this; I don’t need to read any more, especially when I’ve got like four other books (most of them about carnival sideshows [?!?]) with me to read," but I find myself strangely drawn to read on. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion—or something.

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