Thursday, April 7, 2016

Namaste Nepal

My body is still cleansing itself of Nepal. Little did I know that my trip would cause involuntary and voluntary consumption of various foreign properties such as dead Hindus, Nepalese and Indian food, Sherpa moonshine, homemade wine, Kathmandu dust, tea house open fire stove smoke and pollution caused by burning garbage and ridiculous amounts of vehicle exhaust. Not to mention jetlag. The way home consisted of four flights of 23 hours in the air over a 29-hour time period.

I got home Sunday afternoon and promptly slept until the next morning with the exception of intermittent waking up from odd short dreams that left me wondering where the hell I was. I’d only regain semi-consciousness realizing I was at home which confused me because my dream had me spinning a prayer wheel in the mountains or touching a Shiva in Bhaktapur or hiking through a forest of rhododendrons, but really I was on my couch. Weird.

Some people go to Disneyland. Disneyland is for pussies. Nepal is where it’s at. You want a rollercoaster? Go trekking in Nepal. Talk about ups and downs! You know how normal trails like the ones here in the Rockies utilize switchbacks like a wide Z going up the mountain? Well in Nepal, everyone walks everywhere and everyone knows the shortest distance between points A and B is a straight line so the honey badger Nepalese don’t give a shit if that straight line is also straight up! I didn’t realize the mountain hikes would be like climbing the Eiffel Tower. Nepal is really just one giant stair master.

There I was nursing one leg with a torn ligament in my knee and it turned out my good leg was the problem when I cramped up on day two of the trek. My fault for not properly hydrating – it made for a slow ending to the day. It didn’t help that I slipped and used my left hand to maintain my balance at the expense of one of my fingernails after smashing it against the face of a rock. The rock won. At this point I felt worthy only of Disneyland. What a pussy I was! Cramped leg, torn knee, bloody finger, on top of being tired in general. I was pissing myself off.

This all sounds like hell doesn’t it? It wasn’t. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Nepal is beautiful, peaceful, friendly, spiritual, mysterious, exhilarating, breathtaking, inspiring, energizing, curious, hopeful, welcoming and full of majesty. It’s a dichotomy that actually makes it all the more appealing.

The challenges Nepal presents make all of the above positive attributes even more fulfilling. Breathing in the ashes and smoke of burning Hindu bodies is bearable when you learn you are across the river from the most sacred Hindu site in the entire world. And you are watching a ritual that has been going on for thousands of years. And then a posse of Shiva worshipping hippy babas blesses you and takes photos with you and you wonder if this is all just a fucked up Wes Anderson directed dream.

The hardships of Nepal are easy to overcome when you find yourself invited in the home of a Sherpa (and by home I mean a structure made of wood, plastic and tarps that reminds me of the forts my kids make in the basement out of blankets and random furniture) and you are chasing tea with the local hooch called washa (whiskey) or rakshi (wine) that you just watched the woman of the house make on the dirt floor of the abode. Am I dreaming again? You pinch yourself and wonder if this is all just some Coen Brothers movie.

And then you are hiking with the Himalayas towering in the far away distance and you come across a monastery that is in itself a colorful display of art that houses a real lama like the Dalai kind rather than the Napoleon Dynamite kind and you get your picture taken with the lama and then you go back outside to rolling hills and ragged peaks so you slap yourself in the face to make sure you didn’t just stumble on to the set of The Sound of Music. Nepal is indeed a dream. A beautiful dream that came to life for me.

This is just a taste of my trip to Nepal. Flavored with a little dead Hindu. I have so many stories in my head, words in my journal and pictures on my phone. 

It may take awhile to figure out how to best tell it all in a worthy way. I really got a nice dose of the country with my city tours and mountain treks. And yet time and distance wise, I really only got a sliver of Nepal. But it was enough to show me a unique land and culture that holds some sort of magical spell. A magical spell that throws a harshness over you immediately followed by a beauty that is both physical and spiritual.

As I stood on top of Pikey Peak just after sunrise, with a tiny view of Everest and a huge view of the Himalayas, I thrust my arms into the air and gave out a yell of exhilaration. 

I thought about the people I love and how wonderful a life I am fortunate to have and I gave out another warrior yell to the Himalayas. And I thanked them for having me. Physically and spiritually. It was an honor to be there. And it made me realize it is an honor to be here, right now. Take nothing for granted. Love and be loved.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Screen Free Dinner and an Outstanding Brain Teaser

I was going to cook a gourmet meal last night for me and my boys, but that’s a total lie and all along I felt like going out for dinner but I thought I’d start with something cool, mature and good-parentingish for this little tale.

I told the boys we are leaving our screens at home. No iphone, no ipad, no distractions. “Drew, put down the flat screen TV. That is staying home too. I’m not taking my phone either. Let’s do this.”

There was quite a bit of whining. But I finally stopped.  Haha, kidding. The boys did whine a little bit. And they whispered in each other’s ear some diabolical plot that I knew I’d have to diffuse later.

We got to the restaurant and it already felt weird and refreshing to not see Will snapchatting nor Drew killing zombies and although I’m pretty good about leaving my phone in my pocket, it was nice to know I wouldn’t be curious who would be buzzing me over dinner. Out of sight, out of mind.

The boys little plan was to play some other distracting game involving their respective ten fingers in a quest to get the other guy out. It’s a silly game that will literally go on forever if nobody makes a mistake. The waitress came by and I told the boys the game was over. She took our orders and then Part II of the boys plan was to ignore Daddy. Haha. They got their little protest out there and finally we were sitting around the table chatting.

This turned out to be a homerun of an idea. We laughed our asses off. We got into a Yo Mama sound-off which I think Drew took home despite my original entry of “Yo mama so ugly, we can’t tell if we are looking at her face or the backside of your dog.” Drew almost peed in his pants on that one. He didn’t see that coming.

Drew also wins for most entertaining. He looked at Will and I and said, “Listen, I want to ask you some questions. First off, there is a wall made out of one hundred bricks. One falls off. How many bricks are left?”

My sons can be as trustworthy as a chronic liar’s reasons for not having done their homework so I instantly thought it was a trick question. I yelled out, “100!” At the same time, Will yelled out, “Zero!” Drew dramatically spread his arms out in disbelief and raised his eyebrows while saying, “Geez. There were 99 bricks left!”  We were laughing so hard at how dumb we are.

Next, Drew asked us to give him the three steps to put an elephant in the refrigerator. Will and I looked at each other with strategic confusion. I suggested we chop up the elephant. Will suggested we cremate the elephant. Or maybe get multiple refrigerators. I was thinking it would take way more than three steps to chop up an elephant and stuff him in a fridge. We decided to give up and asked Drew to just tell us the three steps necessary to put an elephant in a refrigerator.

Drew was incredulous again. The smug little fucker said, “Step one: Open the refrigerator door. Step two: Put the elephant in the fridge. Step three: Close the refrigerator door.”

Will and I looked at each other with stunned-aha-head-nodding looks and agreed that was brilliant. We were eager for the next question; sure we’d solve the next complicated riddle.

Drew asked, “What are the four steps for putting a giraffe in the refrigerator?”

Will and I looked at each other smiling because we both had so many great ideas. Will started with, “You cut a hole in in the top of the refrigerator.” Drew nodded side to side in disgust.

I piped in. “I got it! You tell the giraffe to duck!” I high-fived Will and we leaned back like we solved the global warming crisis.

Drew quashed our excitement and said, “No, that’s not it and you didn’t give me four steps.” We suggested that our ideas were quite feasible and that a more reasonable man (kid) would take them more seriously or at least have some bed-side manor when he rejects them so swiftly and crudely.

Drew sighed as if we were causing a great strain on his mouth making him have to move his lips and utter such obvious words. “Step one: You open the refrigerator door. Step two: You take the elephant out. Step three: You put in the giraffe. Step four: You close the door.”

Our jaws dropped. Brilliant!

We leaned forward in awe as Drew announced that he had one more question. “A pig is hosting a house-warming party and everyone is invited. But one guest didn’t show up. Who didn’t show up?”

Will quickly answered, “The pig farmer!” I shouted out, “The butcher!” We excitedly threw out tons of well thought out intelligent answers. “The bacon maker.” “The pork chop maker.” “The big bad wolf.” “Your mama.” We high-fived that one.

Drew leaned back, arms crossed, saying no to every answer. And then it dawned on me. I practically leapt out of my chair. “The fucking giraffe! He’s in the fridge!!!!”  Okay, I didn’t say fucking, but the rest is accurate.

Drew leaned forward like a proud papa and said, “That’s right. The fucking giraffe.” C’mon, he’s ten and doesn’t swear. He said we got it.

And then the food came. We talked about all kinds of stuff, including how much we all couldn’t wait to get back to the house to check our electronic gadgets. We were laughing at ourselves, although I’m pretty sure they weren’t kidding.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Preparing for Nepal and Mom's Advice

I leave for Nepal in 23 days. Yes, I’m counting. Other than organizing my gear and literally packing, I think I’m ready. I’ve purposely been avoiding researching and learning about where I’m going because I want to experience it first-hand with no preconceived notions or expectations.

Most of my days will be spent trekking – seven or eight hour hikes. My elevation will never get over 12,000 feet, but its still a lot of hiking so I’ve been trying to exercise in order to be physically ready. I’m pretty sure the porter I hired will only carry a bag and not me on his back.

My mom is gross. What? You want a segue? I’d rather just jump right into it and circle it all back to tie it together. Like the rug in the Big Lebowski. I was talking to my mom yesterday. As usual, the conversation wasn’t a conversation at all, but rather her reeling off a list of things she wanted to tell me about while I was driving somewhere.

The first topic is always health related. Usually specific to my dad who has had a hip replacement, colon cancer and prostate cancer all in the last ten years or so, in addition to numerous questionable skin cancerous looking things sliced off his body. Oh and the poor guy got a hearing aid so now he can no longer ignore everyone (particularly my mom) by claiming to be unable to hear the conversation. My favorite ailment of his is that he gets a shot in his eyeball once a month. Yes, you read that right. A fucking needle pokes his eyeball and squirts in some sort of medicine for some ailment that I can’t think of because I am so grossed out by the thought of a needle in the eye.

Well the gross level just got turned up to 11. I’m driving along on a beautiful day in sunny Colorado and my mom decides to start our convo off with an update about my dad’s latest and greatest ailment. Apparently his prostate is bleeding. And the blood is finding its way into his urine. So my old man is often peeing blood. Yay Dad! I had to tell my mom to stop saying “bleeding prostate” and “leaking into urine.” I hadn’t had lunch yet for fucks sake!

He’s fine by the way. Apparently at his advanced age, this is a harmless, fun side effect that he will just have to live with; enabling me to inquire on future phone calls, “Hey dad, how’s your bleeding prostate? Peeing red lately?”

Following my mom’s cue, I decided to tell her about my own ailment, albeit not as cool as a shot in the eye. My knee has been hurting for a couple months. Going back to a racquetball injury that felt like a bruise back in late December. January was just some lingering pain and swelling, but it seemed to be getting better.

I’ve been playing basketball and racquetball three to four days a week. Apparently those activities have irritated my knee. To the point where it stiffens up when I’m sitting or immobile. It actually feels good when I exercise. The swelling under my knee makes putting on shoes and socks a little difficult, but being the smart guy I am, I have been ignoring the pain and carrying on as usual.  I figure a slight limp and constant pain is no big deal.

Well, it dawned on me that I don’t know what the medical service is like in rural Nepal, nor do I want to find out. And it also dawned on me that walking for five days on one leg might be difficult. So I went to the knee doc.

She thinks I have a small tear that is acting like a valve and allowing fluid to escape to the backside of my knee. I’m getting an MRI, but regardless of the results, the plan is to shoot me up with cortisone a week or two before I go to Nepal and then see if I need surgery when I get back.

Oh, and the doc suggested strongly I stop playing basketball and racquetball. What a quack!

So I told my mom all this and she is so awesome. She sounded very concerned and wanted to know if I talked to the doctor about an Ace bandage. No mom, I did not. My mom strongly encouraged me to ask the doctor about an Ace bandage for the trip to Nepal. I told her after I get an MRI and a cortisone shot that I will be sure to ask about an Ace bandage.

In the meantime, I will cancel my sumo wrestling and kick boxing tournaments and start researching one-legged ass-kicking contests cuz I’m going to Nepal on one leg, no matter what.

23 days. I’m ready, one leg and all. Or I will be ready once I buy an Ace bandage.

Monday, February 15, 2016


A lot of stuff flies around the internet. Once in awhile something outstanding pops on my screen. Like the Crazy Hot Girl Matrix (search it on YouTube –I’m too lazy to link it) or anything with bacon in it or goats in trees or any Rumi quote. All great and they make me smile. 

This made the rounds recently and I love it. Unfuckwithable.

I’m trying to be unfuckwithable. I guess I’m not completely there yet. Drama and negativity don’t touch me nor do I worry about what others say or do; so I’m good there. I think I have some work to do on being truly at peace and in touch with myself (I don’t think its referring to masturbation or I’d be golden!).  I have friends that I admire for their unfuckwithableness. They are some of the most creative, happy and beautiful (inside and out) people I know.  

I’ve felt unfuckwithable at times of deeper connection with the universe. Like when a tiny airplane dropped me and a friend off on a gravel bar along an Alaskan river in the Arctic Circle and then took off without us. I’ve felt unfuckwithable at Burning Man, surrounded by other unfuckwithable people. But it’s not always at a big event where I feel more connected to the universe and in turn feeling at peace and in touch with myself.

It happens when I’m playing basketball and actually not thinking of anything else. Just playing the game. It happens when I’m laying on the trampoline with my boys at night; our respective heads on the cushioned edge watching stars and talking about nonsense. It has happened while watching live music. The music fills my heart and I get lost in my mind.

I think best of all, sometimes I feel unfuckwithable throughout the routine of the day. Like I said, I feel like I’m close to always there. But not close enough.

I’m excited to be going to Nepal next month. The heart of the trip is five days of trekking seven or eight hours a day throughout a region south of Everest consisting of paths less traveled by visitors. It will be just me and a guide. I don’t want to be a tourist, but rather a traveler (thanks Fedler for putting it that way – its perfect).

Now that my itinerary is set, I’m not researching much about where I’m going. I want to experience it first hand with as little preconceived notions as possible. I will take pictures while being careful not to spend too much time looking through a camera. I will bring empty journals to be filled along the way, being careful not to have my head down too much putting pen to paper.

I will bring an open mind, a sense of adventure, a big heart and a wandering soul. And toilet paper. I don’t want to get caught without TP. Why am I going to Nepal you ask? Because I am unfuckwithable and it feels really fucking right.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Using the Grandpa

We had a good week in Florida with my parents. My boys didn’t fight too much, nor did my parents. All four troublemakers were relatively well behaved which enabled me to relax and enjoy my sandwich generations interacting.

We rented a condo in Orlando so we could hit Universal Studios and Adventure Island primarily to do the new Harry Potter area. We spent two days in theme park hell, but made the best of it by getting along well and taking advantage of an unexpected secret weapon.

The lines were really long. Sixty to ninety minutes for everything good. Our plan was to beeline over to the new Harry Potter stuff at Universal and do the ride first thing. My dad is nearly 87 and doesn’t move very well unless there is a maple glazed donut involved so instead of putting one on a stick and holding it in front of him, we rented the old man a wheelchair. 

It was kind of fun to aggressively push my dad around all day. I wrote that on purpose. It pleases me to read it out of context. So yeah pushing him around in the wheelchair you sicko! Anytime there was a slight decline I’d shove him off on a ghost ride and the kids and I would run along side laughing our respective asses off. My dad would wave his cane around and threaten to smack us if someone didn’t get back behind the chair.

Sometimes my dad would want to stretch his legs and use the wheelchair as his walker. At which point Drew, Will and I would race to sit in the chair making my dad have to work a bit harder and my mom, well she was just shit out of luck. She’s a spry 82!

 My dad was still in the chair as we approached the Escape from Gringots ride. We didn’t see the end of the line so we plowed forward, weaving around empty cordons and a maze of people movers thinking we had gotten there early enough to beat the first crowd. We turned a corner and bam. It was like a refugee camp. People were mooing. It was horrible. We saw a Harry Potter worker dude and asked him how long the line would take. 90 to 120 minutes. I think the kids even wanted to say, “what the fuck!” but instead I said, “waffles,” and asked him if there was an escape route.

Nope, we had to backtrack against traffic though the maze and found out quickly that oncoming people really don’t give a shit about an old lady walking, two young kids and a handsome man pushing an old man in a wheelchair right at them. It was a game of chicken and they won. They were all honey badgers. I wanted to take the lead and just start plowing them over with my dad using his cane like a lance to joust their asses out of the maze. But I’m a lover, not a fighter so we worked our way out of theme park line purgatory cautiously and finally got to the entrance of the ride again. The kids were disappointed, my mom looked exhausted and my dad was making Zorro sword slashes with his cane from the comfort of his wheelchair.

I stopped my posse to regroup and a young Harry Potter worker ran up to our family meeting and asked if we got to go on the ride.  I said, “Are you fucking kidding me? That goddamn line was scarier than Lord Voldemort (a crowd around us recoiled) in the Walmart line on Black Friday!” Or maybe I said, “No we did not;” I can’t remember and I hadn’t even had any butter beer yet (Oh my god, Drew loves butter beer. He was licking the insides of our cups after we were done with them. I’m still having nightmares of his thick pulsing tongue swirling around the plastic rims and sides of all our cups like a slobbering St. Bernard after a long run in the Mojave).

The nice Harry Potter worker said, “Come with me.” So I u-turned Sir Lancelot and my mom and offspring followed as the woman took us to the Xpress line and told us to tell the next two workers Keisha sent us. It was magical. We got all the way to the ride boarding area in five minutes. My dilapidated dad was from there on deemed Fast Pass Grandpa. We had so much fun (the ride is great, by the way).

For the rest of the day and the next day too, anytime we got close to a ride, my dad would take on a sad decrepit look and I’d wheel him to the guard of the Fast Pass Lane and with big stressed eyes I’d ask if I’d be able to wheel my old dying poor father from the nursing home all the way to the ride area. The answer was always yes because they make all the rides handicapped friendly and if there are stairs, there are alternative routes to elevators that also act as major line skippers. Then we’d look longingly at the Fast Pass line with the chain pulled taut blocking the entrance and then look at the guard and then at the chain and then at the guard and then at the chain and then at the guard and my dad would moan a little bit and I’d make my left eye swell up and fill with the beginning of tears and the guard would say, “Here, go through the express lane.  Tell them I sent you.”

It worked every time but once and that was only because the regular line was really short. Fast Pass Grandpa was a godsend. I don’t even know what a Fast Pass costs for five people for two days, but I think its over eleventeen bajillion golden galleons. I told Grandpa he is a human goldmine and that he should rent himself out to weary travelers with big families.

There is a lot more to write about the week, such as spending quality time with loved ones, being thankful for all that we have and other such nonsense when compared to taking advantage of the elderly disabled. But I’ll save that for another story. Today, its all about Fast Pass Grandpa.

Thank you Fast Pass Grandpa for getting us through all the lines in record time and then having to actually go on the rides, some of which jostled me around so much I was fearing for his life instead of enjoying the whole ride, but hey, my kids had a blast.

Read all the tips and advice you want on attending theme parks. But you are really wasting your time. All you need to know is to get a wheelchair and shove a grandpa in it; any grandpa will do; and enjoy your day.