Slacker Hiking


A week without a new post…  Yep, I’m doin’ nothing’ but confirming my complete slackerdom…


Anyway, since it’s been a while since I put up some pictures, I figured I would try to make amends by posting a handful of random shots from my last few hikes.  There is no rhyme or reason to these, they’re just shots I took to give folks — those folks who have never been up here, anyway — a feel for what the place is like, both in beauty and in variety.

Oh, by the way, the last few shots should be an illustration that I have no fear of heights…


So I was out writing the other day.

Nothing new in that, except that I was writing a couple of hours before I was to host a bonfire in the staff RV park.

In an RV park, by the way, there is no privacy.  Even in a Yellowstone park — especially in a Yellowstone park, for folks who travel thousands of miles to work seasonally — there is no privacy…

It’s a small village, really, this place.  Everyone knows everyone else’s business…everyone wants to know everyone else’s business…

In the set-up for the bonfire, as my writing finished and I was trying to come down, someone asked me about my stories…

More specifically, they asked me why I write the kinds of things I do.

Now, normally, I dissemble on questions like that.  Normally, I let the stories stand for themselves, and challenge folks to read between the lines to understand the what and why.

Normally…but not when I’m coming down from a writing session.  Not when I’m living a story in my head…and in my memory.

So, in the absence of something else to write, here is the answer I gave to those other Yellowstone workers:

I went to my first real funeral at 17.

He was one of my best friends, and he died because he loved another of our friends — a guy — and he couldn’t deal with that “failure”.

Our society — our “perfect” society, our “lovely” society of forgiveness and tolerance and freedom — told him that he was flawed and broken.  It — WE — told him that he was worthless, that he had no future…that he had no hope.

So he hung himself.

And I went to his funeral.

I have been to many funerals since, three of those for the suicides of friends.

Every single one of those suicides resonates with me.  Every single one of those hurts.  Just as every single one has its own story, and its own meaning — but they all come back to Mike’s funeral, to be honest.  They all come back to when I was seventeen, and just didn’t understand.

“Why do you cry when you write your stories?” I get asked.  “Why do you care so much about your characters?”

Because they are me.  Because Oz IS Mike in a very real way…because the story IS about my own life, and my own friends…

Look, I’m writing this post in response to a bunch of questions from folks who just don’t know…

Those folks don’t know me, not really.  In most respects, they don’t even know the same world I do.  They are folks who have never lacked for comfort, who have never lacked for influence or a voice.  They are folks who never can understand why a rope — or a knife — in the dark of night can sometimes seem like the best answer of all…

”What’s your story about?” I get asked…all the time.

Usually, I give the 30-second “elevator answer” to that question, the marketing and sales answer.

Usually, but not always.

What’s it about?


When you get right down to it, the whole 300,000-word trilogy comes down to one image: one broken kid holding the body of another, far more broken, kid.

That’s it.

Welcome to my life.


The Devil Wins…Again

82ECF84F-56DC-4496-B0D9-4185AFE10F6FThat little devil came again.  You know the one I’m talking about, the one that sits on your shoulder and convinces you to push the “sarcastic jerk” button…

…or…err…tell me that’s not just me…


I went to a trailhead this morning, intending to do a short (6-8 mile) hike before settling down to write for the rest of the day.  I set out, but I forgot it was Saturday.  Saturday…in July…in freaking Yellowstone.  Now, look, you all know my, umm, distaste* for crowds on the hiking trails.  It took just one look at all those cars lining the road and pullout near the trail I wanted to hike for me to shake my head, turn around, and decide a bit of off-trail travel seemed like a REALLY good idea just then.

*It’s a whole lot like my “distaste” for syphilis, as a matter of fact.

I didn’t do a whole lot of off-trail travel, I should explain.  And I certainly didn’t go into any of the deeper, more inaccessible areas that I truly love.  No, I still was focused on a short two-hour stint to stretch my legs and get my brain working.  Up and down a few hills, across a couple of seasonal streams…even a bit of tramping through an annoying bog…

012699CA-BFDF-4B16-9403-E0F559F8F579…oh, and, by the way: FUCK MOSQUITOES!  Those little bastards just powered right through the damned spray I put on before I set out.  Harrumph!!

Anyway, I didn’t have a goal for this hike.  I was just wandering aimlessly.  I did, when you get right down to it, my best impression of a normal bison: “Hmm, that looks good over there, I think I’ll just wander that way.”  “I’m bored with this side of the stream, what’s it like on the other bank?”  “I’m still hungry — and horny — so let’s try the far side of that hill.”

I crested said hill, and that’s when the little devil popped out.

Okay, so the little devil never actually goes away for me, but usually he’s quiet enough to let me be at least it a little bit civilized and polite.

This time, however, sarcastic jerk was just too tempting…

There they were, below me: a small bison herd snacking and napping at the base of the hill…and a giant tourist herd bison-spotting and selfie-ing on the road just past the poor bison.

Angel: “Be nice!  You live here, you get to see and do things they don’t.  They just don’t know any better.  Go back and around the bison — like you’re supposed to! — then you can go onto the road and teach them about the wildlife and the really good places to see them.”

Devil: “Fuck that!  Walk out right through the herd and laugh at all their expressions!”

Ummm…score one for the devil.

Microfiction Monday: “A Night Like This”

Umm…this one got some inspiration from a song — as usual — but it came also from my own life.  Err … umm … did I forget to mention that I may just happen to have attended a few raves in my younger days?  Ahem.

“A Night Like This”

The music was deafening, the room chaos.  The bodies were sweaty and heaving, pressed into intimacy on every side.  Blue hair, brown eyes, barely clad in just the right ways, the girl in his arms was a beautiful stranger.

He had no business with her, not in any world he understood.  Not on any night…except this night, this carnival of light and sound and lust.  On a night like this, outside lives — normal lives — died with barely a whimper, and many sins were born.

Dances and kisses, that was their language.  Words, even whispered ones, were pointless.  Caresses and passion said more than words ever could, anyway.  More booze, even a few pills, as the night developed, and the carnival of light and sound turned into a full-blown riot.

He’d had far too many nights predictable and boring.  But not this night, he vowed.  On this night he would finally live.  This was one night that would not end like all the others.  A night like this would end only in fire.

In the restroom, then, packed tightly into a single stall.  For once his surroundings meant nothing.  For once — for this night, at least — he had life itself in his arms.  His life — his real life, his “wonderful” life — meant nothing in the fire of that embrace.  

“How was your weekend?” his friends asked, on Monday, in their cubicles grey and drab and oh-so-normal.

“Oh, you know,” he replied, “the usual.”