This year has been pretty cool so far, but my favorite part so far has to be summer vacation. Between getting life lessons on carbon monoxide inhalation and learning all I could about asbestosis, the school year could not end fast enough.
Contrary to popular belief, I did not participate in the raid on Bin Laden's compound in Afghanistan. (I was growing my hair and beard for a totally different reason.) I went to Walt Disney World instead, which is a lot like Afghanistan except the dollar is even more worthless than it is in Kandahar. And the giant animals, princesses and castles you see aren't because of the poppies--everybody sees them.
Ate at Le Cellier, an experience I can only describe as Star Wars in my mouth. (Original, unaltered version.) I had the Le Cellier Mushroom Filet Mignon--an 8 oz. Canadian AAA Beef Tenderloin with wild mushroom risotto, white truffle butter sauce and micro chervil--for the second year in a row. I convinced Heidi to do the same, and with each bite I could see that she remembered why she married me. The rest of her family DID NOT take my advice, and ordered chicken or some other shit.
Before and after the Disney trip I got to do a lot of mountain biking. And, as is always the case, the biking waned as the summer wore on. In June we rode like gangbusters--two or three times a week. But before we went to the beach I broke my cassette on a gnarly downhill (bystanders were like, 'He's f-ing crazy, they don't call it the Widowmaker for nothin'')and used that as an excuse to sleep until ten for the last three weeks. Coincidentally, the lack of riding corresponds directly with the five pounds I gained since Florida.
This summer, despite all of the leisurely pursuits, was actually quite productive. The book Heidi co-edited, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, was released in June to much fanfare. It was such a big deal the story was spread across three sections of the Herald Standard. Thank goodness nobody stabbed anybody with a sword, or the article would've been much smaller, I'm sure. A lot of the older folks in town saw the article and made sure they stopped us in the grocery store or Panera with the same joke, "I can say 'I knew them before they were famous'" to which I always replied, "I am famous, Betty White!" and now we can't go back to Uniontown Giant Eagle ever again.
Of course, the reason for my inflated ego was the release of my own novel, THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK (eBook $2.99, paperback $14.99). In fact, if nobody else is going to claim it, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK has been selling so well that IT caused the Virginia earthquake. (We were in the area just a week prior.) (I'm just saying, prove it DIDN'T cause the quake.)
Having Hatch Show Print do the cover was also a pretty exceptional experience. Jim Sherraden of Hatch gave me some great advice for the book's ending. I'm not going to give it away here (a magician doesn't have to reveal his secrets, why should a writer?) but it had nothing to do with making a deal with the devil. He did say the cover alone was good for a hundred thousand copies. If it was good enough for Elvis...
Right before school we went to the Outer Banks. It's my way of dealing with the nightmares and anxiety that manifest every August. I didn't get sunburned, read the GQ with Mila Kunis on the cover and finished HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE by Geoff Emerick and started JOHN LENNON:THE LIFE by Philip Norman which is the fattest book I ever read (WAR AND PEACE for folks like me). We saw a bunch of porpoises, some jellyfish, a blue crab (I kept doing the Chief Brody line from JAWS 2 over and over, "It's just blue crab! Just blue crab.) and a dead puffer fish. Then I yelled at a bad dog-owner for not being able to control his Bichon. Mama Kwan's became my new #1 OBX place to eat, followed by a new #2, Mexicali Brews. (Sorry Kill Devil Grill, you just don't do it for me anymore. Maybe I was blinded by the hype, I don't know.)
What else... tried rye whiskey, went to see U2, which was pretty much in my top
To conclude, it was an amazing summer. Probably the best since the my YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER (1988--dad went to rehab, broke my arm in 5 places requiring extensive bone manipulation, mom and dad got divorced. You asked. You think I like talking about this stuff?)
But guess what--it's over. Time to put the white pants and straw hats away. The skies are darkening. A stiff breeze blows through Panera Bread as I write this, foretelling a time when Steeler jerseys and 19 hours of darkness become normal, a time when I will vow to not let a single second of summer slip by unacknowledged or unappreciated.
That's what I like about living in the north--seasons mean something. Even if it it's only making vows that aren't meant to be kept. Bring on the pumpkin pie!