28 May 2014

Throwback Thursday, Lazy Writer Edition

It’s been way too long since I posted, but I’m working on some new stuff. Big stuff. You’ll see. Also, I’m way overdue on the Postcard Gallery updates. I got your mail, I promise. Yes, you with the endearing fake telegram; you with the oversized-produce postcard; you with the old-school aerograms. All coming soon to this spot.

In the meantime, hey, it’s Throwback Thursday, also known as The Internet’s Way of Generating Content When All You Really Have Is Old Stuff. So here are some old stories of mine that I happen to like and think you will, too. And some old photos, too.

Throwback #1: A sketchy hotel in Scotland
For starters, here's a photo from 1999, during one of my first trips abroad. That's me in the middle, with my sister and my dad, outside the Nigg Hotel, (sort of) near Inverness. This is the morning after the memorably odd day I discuss in "Seven Travel Rules From a Brooding Teenager." The story was my attempt to capture the angst of a teenager on a family-bonding trip just before he heads off to college. The hotel played along, offering plenty of fuel for my gloomy mood. Seriously: just try to tell me that place doesn't look like a Scottish stand-in for the Bates Motel.

Throwback #2: That other place in Scotland, the one where they play a game with a ball that (probably) symbolizes a severed head
My parents have a mild obsession with Scotland. Hence that trip in 1999, as well as a few other journeys throughout my childhood. My parents live frugally, largely so that they can save up for the next trip. About ten years ago, they moved to Scotland for a year, to a charming town with a certain offbeat tradition, a rugby-like game that involves hundreds of burly men. It was an interesting reporting challenge to try not to get run over, but I lived to tell the tale, "The Old Ba' Game."

Throwback #3: The park in Ecuador with 300 iguanas, all of them out to get me
I can be a bit, shall we say, jumpy. It's a theme that comes up in a lot of my stories (including the two above) because, while the world is a pretty cool and interesting place, it also sorta wants me dead, and is forever contriving new ways to make me think that my demise may well be imminent. At one point, I considered calling this blog A Neurotic Abroad. Mind you, I do have my own adventurous streak. I put myself out there. But then, pretty quickly, I reach the OH HELL NO threshold, like that time in Ecuador when an iguana mistook my ass for a chew toy.

And now, a Throwback to Look Forward.
Here's another photo from that 1999 trip to Scotland. (Based on photographic evidence, I wore that white hoodie the whole trip. I AM FASHION.)

That's me on the left and my friend Doug on the right. He's Scottish, I'm American, and we're posing with our respective national soft drinks. (His being Irn-Bru, which is the most cloyingly sweet substance yet discovered by science, bright orange in color, quite possibly radioactive, and kinda delicious for, like, the first two sips. Mine being Coca-Cola, which, aside from the color, could be described in largely the same terms.)

There's nothing more to that story, except that it's one small bit of evidence of my long obsession with Americana and the question of what things and ideas and archetypes make up our national identity. Which is one of the themes of my next book. More details soon.