family

Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Austin, TX

All of our previous trips have been via car, but Austin, TX is way too far to drive from Rochester, NY. This one deserved a couple plane tickets. We hopped on a plane Friday afternoon and arrived in Austin by midnight. It was still 100 degrees at night, by the way.

Austin, TX

Why go to Austin? A very special family reunion, that’s why. My family! I don’t usually go to these things. I’ve never been very close to my family. And honestly, being caged up with a bunch of them in a foreign area sounds less like a vacation and more like a nightmare, or at least a plot proposal for a new sequel in the Saw movie franchise.

But as it turns out, not all of my family is as crazy as the ones who raised me. More on that later.

Oh my god, the food. When I returned from Austin, all I wanted to talk about was the food. Still, all I want to talk about is the food. That Tex Mex is something else. Ughhh, I can’t find the words. Instead, I’ll just make stomach noises: euuuuuoooooo ggaaaraaahhhh vrrrruuuuuuuu euuhhooahhh.

Got it? Yeah, that’s how great it was. Here’s a place (Joe’s Mexican Bakery) we randomly found, right off the highway. The parking lot was bustling which we felt was as good a sign as any. (more…)

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Saturday Skit: Roll With It

“Smell it,” he says.

“I don’t want to smell it.” Davey lifts up the plate and pushes it towards my face. I jerk my head back, saving my nose from shame.

“Piss, right?”

“It does not smell like piss.”

“My sushi is drenched in piss, here—“ he lifts the plate higher. “Brian, I’m telling you, my rainbow roll is absolutely radiating of piss.” We stare at each other, and Davey doesn’t budge: “Smell it!”

“Get your sushi out of my face.” One by one, surrounding tables pick up our conversation and begin eating their edamame like popcorn. One skinny Japanese waitress—the one who isn’t fooling anyone with that accent—she walks by and finds us arguing.

“Ever-ting arright?” She twirls her pointer in a curl. Her name tag says Sarah.

“Fine, thanks.”

“It’s not fine,” Davey fires. “Ma’m, my rainbow roll… it…”

“Uh-huuh”

“It smells like pee.” The quick sound of a half-popped edamame shell plopping into a bowl of soy sauce is heard. Even the fish have stopped swimming. (more…)

That One Time I Married Special Agent Dana Scully

My favorite X-File comes from Season 10. It’s called “Marriage.” In this freaky episode, two harmless citizens dedicate the rest of their lives to each other until they die. The man and woman follow one another all across the world, leaving friends and family behind, and even if they aren’t always happy, they stick together and see through it. Quickly dispatched are Agents Mulder and Scully who investigate this unexplained phenomena.

Scully, the scientist, suggests brain trauma. Mulder, the dreamer, hypothesizes anew.

MULDER: What if they’re in love, Scully?

SCULLY: In love?

MULDER: Ancient Irish folklore suggests the idea of ‘love’ as early…

I Want to Believe

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I’m a huge X-Files fan. Right? That little outdated show from the ‘90s is my TV bread and butter. It’s on Netflix now, which means I get to drag my wife through the entire series.

The X-Files means a lot to me. It’s the salient reason I ever started writing. As a child, I loved the idea of exploring different pockets of the country and each week discovering a different monster. Pushing boundaries and all. I began writing short stories in elementary school because of it.

My wife, she’s an awesome wife, got me a book for my birthday called The Philosophy of The X-Files. Nerdy? A little. You know your wife loves you when she encourages you to nerd-out.

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Grandpa Jerry: A Remembrance

Amidst a week of midterms, class projects, Steinbeckian novels, and part-time (but really more hours than any college-student could ever function with) employment training, my grandfather, Jerry Hilstein, passed away.

It wasn’t a complete shock. We received message that hospice had taken over and that any day Grandpa Jerry would move on to another world. The next morning he was gone.

A crazy week ends and I’m finally able to process my grandfather’s death.

So I’ll try my best for an obituary or eulogy. Me and him were never very close, to be honest. I have a handful of memories, all good, but just a handful. This year I lived in California (where I’m originally from) for a six-month internship while awaiting to start University of Rochester.

I worked for my uncle, Jerry’s son, and Jerry lived in the area. My grandfather suffered a heart attack, and we knew things were spiraling down. The good news, for me at least, was that I was around and got to know him a little better, if even just a little.

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Adventure: Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Adventure is weird and complicated. Like ordering a martini for the first time or Thai food, it’s not easy. It’s sexy, sure. We escape the familiar in favor of the unknown. We leave our friends and family behind. We buy maps (or iPhones) and plot new courses.

My wife and I have only five days left of our six-month stay in California. From here, we’ll pack up and drive to Idaho for a few weeks and then drive, finally, to Rochester, New York, where we’ll settle.

The idea of living in three states in one year sounded fun, initially. A couple of fair-skinned gypsies in a Prius-charriot awaiting adventure—that was us.

All I’ve ever wanted was adventure, and truth be told, I’ve had my fair share.

I’ve back-packed through Ireland; I’ve driven to the Grand Canyon on a whim; I’ve rode through a carwash on a razor scooter… Adventure is in my blood.

Is adventure good for blood?

Fake Adventures

I grew up idolizing movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and The Mummy where characters traveled to the ends of the Earth, or universe, to conduct business. I’d watch TV shows like The X-Files and swoon. The monster-of-the-week storyline, on the search in a new area, fascinated me (and still does).

But it’s all fake. It’s exciting, but truth be told, if I met a new monster every week and I’d be dead by now. I’d be digesting in some mutant’s stomach and that’d be an awkward funeral.

Then there is the whole social media thing. All the fake adventurers. I recently read an article about the “Instagram Envy Effect,” which, really, is just how it sounds. Instagram captures everybody’s good moments, new moments. The rest of us watch and wish we could have those moments. Really, it’s all just fake. We post the interesting moments and leave the rest hidden, like reality TV.

I bring the Instagram article up because social media—as well as movies, music, and books—teach us some falsehoods about adventure. They tell us adventure has no downside. That it’s all just fun all the time and YOLO and pose!!!

Warning: Adventure is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Here are some tips to make sure you never, ever have an adventure.

Issue number 1:

You’re basically always packing. I’m not sure how you feel about packing, but I’m not a big fan.

Issue number 2:

Friendships are rare. It’s hard to get close to people when you’re always on the go. It’s not like the comic books where the hero has all the friends. The real-life hero, the traveler, is awkward at parties, unable to connect—not sure if he even wants to.

Issue number 3:

It gets harder and harder to leave. Maybe I’m getting older, maybe the traveler’s heart is just failing to pump like it used to, I don’t know. Maybe a six-month vacation wasn’t a very good idea. All I know, is that it’s getting harder to leave.

My friends, my family, my town. Sometimes, adventure just kind of sucks.

The memories are worth it, and that’s what I’m holding on to, for now.

the gang 043

What are your thoughts on adventure?

Becoming a Better Friend/Leaving All My Friends

It’s June 5th; this means we have 25 sunny (foggy) days left in California. Time has been flying. I didn’t quite realize how fast it was flying until June 1st came around. Really? It’s June???

It hit me like a pile of time bricks… if that’s a thing…

Five of our six California months have been spent. Geez… In a few days we’ll be flying to Rochester to look for places to stay. When we get back we’ll have another couple weeks here; sooner or later, though, July 1st will roll around and I’ll have to say goodbye to all my California friends and family once more.

July 1st we drive back to Idaho to square up our belongings; sometime in August we’ll make—what I’m dubbing—The Great Drive.

(Confused? About Me is a good place to go to catch up)

Good at Leaving

About four years ago I left California for Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. It was there I met my wife, started school, and got really cold. Originally, I was looking for a change of pace. I used to say, “God called me to Idaho;” truthfully, our signal has never been that strong. I just sort of ended up there.

Every time I leave California, whether it be a weekend visit, six month stay, or major life move, I’m reminded of the friendships I have here. The term friend doesn’t really cut it as much as the term family does.

There’s times where I feel just as connected to Randall, Patrick, Scott, Justin, Timmy, both Aaron Boyds, as I would my own brother or sister. Generally, these people have always been there for me. As I get older, I realize how much I’ve taken them for granted. These goofy, weird people.

Friendships Never Sink

When I was younger I assumed the world existed for my benefit. I thought my friends were suppose to be some sort of accessory—something that benefited me in the way I talked, looked, and spent my time. Consequently, I took way more than I received.

Remember that episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon dumps all of her problems on to Kenneth, and then Kenneth goes crazy and needs therapy? I think that’s what I did to the majority of my friends. I really wouldn’t be surprised if they were all in therapy.

That said, I’m trying to be a better friend. I’m trying to be a better person, in general. I’m hoping to give more than I take. This includes listening more than talking, or not turning every conversation into something about me.

My friends have stood by me all these years, despite my selfishness. I hope I will get the opportunity to stand by them someday.

We’re starting to get a little older; responsibilities are starting to pile up. But when we get together, we still laugh as much as ever. We pick up right where we left off and I feel at home.

I guess, what I’m getting at, is that I don’t want to leave my friends again. I know that I’ll have to, but this time it wont be as easy.

Cheezy Friendship Gallery

A few photos, recent and old. I guess I’m being emotional or something.