Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Barney Umbrella

In elementary at the beginning of the school year I was always the kid with a theme. In first grade it was the Power Rangers. I had every piece of Power Rangers back to school paraphernalia available at Shopko, Target, and Kmart . On the first day of school I was covered from head to toe in power rangers. I had the shirt, the shorts, the socks and a pair of tighty whities that placed the Red Ranger's face securely on my bottom. I had the Power Rangers lunchbox, backpack and velcro light up tennis shoes. I had a stationary set complete with a Power Rangers binder, ruler, pencils, and those crappy erasers that only ever seem to smudge. In short, I was a dinosaur kid and the Power Rangers were a combination of martial arts, lasers, explosions, robots, AND dinosaurs. I had have them, all of them.

In kindergarten though, my thing was Barney. I don't remember what it was in particular that made me love Barney so much. I think it may just be that I was a sucker for the sing-along shows like Barney, Lambchop's Play-along, and Mr. Rogers.

The one piece of Barney schwag that I remember vividly was my Barney umbrella. The top of the umbrella was a purple and yellow pinwheel; great for spinning. The handle was Barney's reassuring face. His wide smile seeming to offer comfort no matter how loud the thunder thundered or how hard the wind blew. It was with this umbrella, Barney's smile clutched in my fist, that I saved the lives of at least six of my fellow A.M. kindergartners.

Or at least, I like to think I did.

Indian Hills was set on 4 terraces climbing up one of the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The school was on the bottom terrace and the playgrounds, kickball diamonds, and soccer fields were on the next three. The kindergartners and the first graders would wind their way up through the south side of school to exit a few floors up onto what was called the "first level" for recess. On the first level, just to the right at the top of the stairs was a metal and plastic contraption of a playground painted in the distinctly 90's shades of pale green, maroon, and black. It was underneath this structure that I made my heroic stand.

Every once and a while we would have a "windy" day at Indian Hills Elementary. On these windy days I could almost prop myself up against the wind. As we got older my friends and I would run and jump with, and against the wind; startled by how much it affected our movement. As a kindergartner though, wind of this magnitude was terrifying.

It must have been my first windy day. That morning my mom made me take my umbrella just in case "all that wind turned into rain." I got to school, did some coloring, organized my cubby, looked at the chicken eggs my class was incubating, and argued with Mrs. Gilson about how the letter G sometimes makes the same sound as the letter J. She didn't believe me, and neither did her hand puppets.

After the standoff with Mrs. Gilson and her puppets it was time for recess. My classmates and I filed out the back door to the rows of hooks where we hung our backpacks, coats, and my umbrella. We suited up, and rushed down the hall. At the exit the wind was blowing so hard against the doors two people were needed to open it. Just like skydivers jumping out of an airplane we exited the building in twos and threes. My umbrella and I being in one of the last teams to jump.

Turbulence ensued.

It was what I imagine standing in the middle of a vacuum cleaner to be like; loud and windy with particulate pelting me from every direction. Every step I took threatened to take me airborne. Panicking, I searched for the nearest shelter, and found the pale green and maroon jungle gym. I rushed over and ducked underneath, crouching low in the space between the second step and the wood chips. In this space it was less windy but the wind still gusted into the gap I had ducked through kicking wood chips in my face. Suddenly it came to me. I brandished my Barney umbrella, opened it, and thrust it into the open space.

In my little shelter, my adrenaline rush was fading, the wind was trying to rip the umbrella from my hands and suck me out into oblivion. I was a little worried. How was I going to get out? Where were my friends? Could I make it back to the school alive? Suddenly a hand grabbed at the side of the umbrella and a voice shouted "Let me in!" I pushed the umbrella to the side and pulled a very windswept kindergartner inside my shelter. So it continued; every few minutes a terrified voice pleading to be allowed in, followed by a rush of air and shouts of "Close it!". We sat there, in the dim light shivering; nothing between us and the awesome fury of nature but a bit of polyester. A bit of polyester held fast by my hand.

The bell rang. We decided that we couldn't just sit there. We would definitely be in trouble if we didn't return from recess. "One. Two. THREE!! AHHHHHH!!!" Spilling from underneath the playground we ran and as fast as we could towards the safety of the school. I had a few moments of panic as I realized that my open umbrella was about to be violently ripped from my hands if I wasn't just carried away into the wild blue yonder with it. With much difficulty I closed it and dashed towards the doors.

Inside, Mrs. Gilson's stunned A.M. kindergartners tottered through the corridors and down the staircases towards our classroom. We shuffled past Mrs. Lemon's room. I had heard she was nice.

Friday, April 10, 2009

On the Topics of Trash and the Apocalypse.

I think about the Boot on 33rd and it amazes me that it was able to remain undisturbed for so long; and for me it is full of some serious implications.

My vision of the Apocalypse used to consist of fire, brimstone, the living dead, and maybe a meteor of some kind. Now I think the end of the world will be much more of a man made event. I picture a cold, dim lifeless world cast in shades of grey with drifts of crumbled styrofoam shifting in the wind. I find the styrofoam apocalypse much more depressing. It's the difference between being taken slowly from this world by sickness, versus a few seconds of panic over a blue wire and then exploding. Both are tragic events, but there is at least some excitement in the latter.

Don't get me wrong, I sincerely believe that humanity has the ability and the good sense to prevent this vision from coming true. It is in our self interest to survive. :)

But back to the Boot. I can't help but think about what other pieces of trash are out there in the world sitting patiently, waiting... Lawn chairs, umbrellas, dolls, coins, orange traffic cones, plastic bottles, a tire lying in a field. We are talking about the product of mankind's collective industrial capacity for the past 4000 years or so, just lying around. I was raised to value intellectual and spiritual achievements over physical ones because: "You can't take your toys with you when you die." The other side of that coin is that when I die, my toys get left here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

An Intersecting of Moments

a mug of coffee
four rows
barista flirting excessively
man with tattoos on his neck
neglected co-worker
man and woman in harmony with the music
pink un-gelled mohawk and ear gauges reading the newspaper
her partner grabs her hand
man balancing to-go cup playing on blackberry
overenthusiastic clapper with cannoli
guy much more interested in the lady next to him
friend's hand on my shoulder
couple awkwardly look for nonexistent seat
loud Japanese in the background

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Imagination: Episode 1

What makes human beings powerful is our imagination. Using only our minds, we can create with infinite variation. Imagination is the source of the arts, the discovery of the laws that govern the universe, empathy, reality, and the infinite questions of "How?" "Why?" and "What if?"

If I were to show the Mona Lisa to an octopus... See, I'm sure there was a very entertaining image in your head just now. My point being, that if an octopus were to look at the Mona Lisa it would mean absolutely nothing to it. We however, can recognize that it is a portrait of a human female. We can recognize the skill necessary to create it, and we can wonder what she is thinking about to make her quirk her mouth at us like that. We can then imagine a short blonde guy trying to explain how important the Mona Lisa is to an octopus and find the humor in it.

When I was little, and even now, I loved to lay on the grass and watch the clouds pass over me and find shapes in them. I used to think how cool God must be to spend time making these fluffy clouds into elephants just so kids like me could find them. I realize now that it is me who is creating these shapes. If I were to take the octopus to the park and have him look at the clouds, he would say "I don't know what you are talking about..." when I asked him if he could see the elephant in the clouds. In that same vein; constellations are bogus. I resent the drillings my scout master gave us on scorpio, draco, orion, and ursa minor. "Oh, over there? Umm... does it look kinda like a chicken?"

This was a crushed leaf on Kelsey and Lahdan's steps... Just a leaf, right?

To Be Continued...


I was driving up 33rd South today, just passing REI when I saw an old sock lying in the road. It reminded me of a Boot I once knew. 

 On 33rd South last winter, a little way up the hill from McDonalds, there was a Boot that sat upright in the median for about 4 months. When I first noticied it, I drove by briefly thinking about how lazy someone must be to say "meh" to a boot flying out their window. After three or four days I started to feel that maybe I should stop to pick it up and throw it away. I never did. I was always in a hurry. I could get it on my way home. I could always hop out and grab it the next day on my way to wherever. 

After a week or so, the game changed. The days wore on, and the Boot remained. It never moved; its toe pointing out and its laces looking at me. It always seemed to say "Hi." I started hoping that the Boot would still be there as I drove past. It always was. Through thick and thin, the Boot endured. 

"You show 'em Boot. You show 'em."

The Boot survived snow storms, plows, construction, and the kind of traffic one would expect on 33rd South. I couldn't help but think that this Boot was trying to prove something every time I drove past. It silently exclaimed the victory of one more day. I admired this inanimate object who, day by day, was winning the battle against the animate 45 mph world of the 33rd South median.

"You show 'em Boot. You show 'em"

One day, it was gone. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was starting to feel warm again, and the Boot was gone. It was a tragedy. I envisioned some careless man in an orange vest bending over to pluck the Boot from its post and toss it into an unmarked black plastic bag.

"Good run Boot. Good run."

For Zack

I was told recently by a friend that if I had a blog, he would read it. I have very loosely kept a journal with doodles and thoughts for a couple of years. I thought that this blog could maybe become some extension of that.

I am Scotty, and this is my blog.