“The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is Often Unbearable”


I looked at the temperature gauge quizzically. How was smoke pouring out of the smoker but not able to get to that 185-190 degree Fahrenheit temperature that I like to smoke at? A couple of troubleshoot activities I ran through. It wasn’t my smoker and I had only used it once before. So I rechecked all my connections. The smoker box wasn’t totally attached to the cabinet. So I made sure to reattach it and waited. For a moment it seemed my problem had resolved itself. The smoker temperature was climbing. Yet I was only able to get it to around 115 degrees. This would be a problem because I was smoking Boston Butts and needed them to reach 175 to 180 degrees. I knew I was going to have to enlist my back up plan and throw them on the grill and smoke them that way. So I pulled out the grill, quickly washed the grates, replaced them, opened the hood, cut on the gas and went to fire this sucker up. Click. Click. Click. Great. Some asshole (me) forgot to replace the gas when he used it up last. 18 hours until my daughter’s first birthday and birthday party and things weren’t going well.

My wife and I had decided that we should throw a party for my daughter’s first birthday. We had kicked around a couple of ideas and finally settled on having it at the Oyster Catcher Community Center on Seabrook. The rate to rent it was fairly low, and I figured I’d make all the food for the event so we wouldn’t have to pay to have it catered. On top of that, if the weather was nice there was a swimming pool and the beach was a boardwalk away. So we made a guest list and it got a little out of hand and so I made the trip to Costco to get supplies.

Luckily I had a backup gas canister. I mean, letting one go empty is not the end of the world when you’ve got yourself a backup. Click. Click. Shit. Some asshole (me) had also used up that canister without getting it refilled. So I jumped into my truck, gassed it out the driveway, and probably scared my neighbors in the process. I run to the closest filling station and trade out my empties. No problem. I’ve scheduled some time into food preparation for these types of crises, I just have to be diligent about my time use from now on. I take the wood pellets I was going to use in the smoker and stack them up in a foil packet and place them on one of the burners and get them going. I trick the grill into holding a little over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a little hotter than I’d like but it will do. I walk in the house to prepare the sides. We’ve decided to have potato salad with the Barbeque (Barbeque is a proper noun) sandwiches I’m currently smoking the meat for. I course cut a large bowl of red potatoes and throw them in a large bowl. I fill a pot with water, put it on my stove top and…. Click. Click. Click. Oh come the fuck on. How did the large tank in front of the house run out of gas? This time it was not my fault, rather the company that services our house’s tank. Luckily, the stove was electric. It looks like it’s going to be a roasted potato salad.

Despite everything going wrong that could go wrong, the wife and I were able to jointly get a meal out for the 60 expected people that had RSVP’d “Yes” to our daughter’s birthday party. The party would go off without any major incidents or meltdowns. My Inlaws, my parents, my wife, and my 3 sisters along with myself all seemed to enjoy ourselves and didn’t even bicker at our normal level. It probably helped that there was a lot of children, ages 5 and under, at the party. By the time it was over I was sending plates and containers full of Barbeque with folks. Only about half of those who RSVP’d “Yes” actually attended.  

It was a very nice day and I was full of pork but I had to come to the realization that my baby was now a year old. She had spoken her first word a few days earlier (despite my best efforts to get her to say “Tar Heels” it came out “dad”) and would be walking in the week following the party. And I get it, as a parent you want your child to develop, learn, and share with you, but selfishly part of you wishes that they would always fit on one arm or snuggle up under your chin when they sleep. And while I would hardly call the process “unbearable” as my Bukowski inspired title would suggest to you, I do write this with tears in my eyes. Both happy and sad for my little baby.


It’s Only Love


Love is easy. It’s in a look. It’s in a sentence. It’s the way you feel in the backseat of a car. We’ve all been in love many times. And love always lasts, despite our best efforts. Love is really hard. Sustained love is the hardest. I mean that being with someone for 5 years, for 20 years, and forever is really hard. You have to ignore the noise that will surround you. You have to be willing to be the most vulnerable. You have to tell the truth even when it hurts.
I’m no expert on love. I wish this was a play where we all could follow my instructions and we’d end up happy, satisfied, and forever. But I did spend the day with my friend Apryl at her bachelorette party. And I don’t know if she and her husband to be will last forever. I really hope they do. I just hope that this love is released into the atmosphere that they have and it makes us all love a little better, no matter how long or short the interval.
To the 1’s and to the 0’s I hope you know I love you all. As binary becomes more complicated so do we all. And so does our modus operandi.  


Into My Arms

“I don’t believe in an interventionist God / But I know, darling, that you do / But if I did I would kneel down and ask him / Not to intervene when it came to you.”

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my wife and my first date.  

My friends Cullen and Molly were getting married.  I was tentatively supposed to bring the maid of honor as my date but she and I weren’t speaking to each other very much.  My wife was, at the time, coming around to all the shifts I was working at the bar.  She would come and talk to me about music or books, as I would either pass my time working the door reading or listening to my iPod.  She liked the fact that I listened to Cat Power and would introduce her to other artists that I like.  I was impressed when she asked me what my favorite book was and when I answered “The Autobiorgraphy of Malcom X” that she seemed genuinely interested in reading it.  


When we were young

So about a week before the wedding I asked her to come to the wedding with me.  She said yes.  I also had planned a bit of a cookout at my house before the wedding.  I lived a block or two from the venue at the time and had just come into possession of a large grill.  I know how much booze that me and my friends would be consuming that night and thought that having a good base of food in our stomachs was a good idea.  So I had invited her to that also.  

In the meantime my friend Cullen had asked me to pick up his mother’s mini van and deliver it to the rehearsal site so the caterers would have it.  The cookout wasn’t the success I had planned and mostly everyone had left by the time I was to leave and get the van.  Also she hadn’t shown up and I figured she wasn’t coming at this point.  

Meanwhile she was nervously getting ready for the wedding.  Even having three sisters I hadn’t anticipated that someone would take a little more time than my shower, shave, and throw on my suit that it takes me to get ready.  She finally was ready to leave and got a ride over to my house to find it empty, minus my roommate playing video games on the couch.  I had told him what I was doing but apparently didn’t listen as he was involved in his game.  


Typical wedding dress

I was returning from dropping off the liquor when I saw her on the front porch, with her best friend.  She looked like she was about to be in tears.  I felt like the biggest idiot for not leaving a note or something.  But she was just happy that I had returned and we made our way over to the ceremony.  

We proceeded to laugh, dance, drink, and eat.  It was a good time.  She got to meet many of my friends for the first time.  We headed to Vickeries after the reception with a group of people.  She had a cell phone and we called her parents to say congratulations about Tennesse’s basketball victory over Kentucky earlier that day (luckily they were still out).  

10 years later the lessons from that day still stand.  Clear communication with each other makes the relationship work so much better.  We’ve had our good times and bad times over the years.  There have been times when I thought my life would be better without her as part of it.  I’m glad there was always something that made me just want to give it a little more, talk things out a little better, and maybe just wait to see what came next.  I’m glad she’s been kind enough to keep me around after all this time as well.  Here’s to another decade together, and in the words of that wedding reception, Mazel Tov!

(PS – feel free to vote for my blog in the “Best of Charleston” competition at Charleston City Paper). Thanks y’all!