Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It Ain't Easy Coming Home

It's never easy to start a new project. Whether it's a novel, a fresh beard, or a batch of beer, I just seem to have trouble getting into gear.

Not moving. I've never had a problem actually doing the thing. When I went to Japan I jumped in with both feet on the tatami mat, and in Europe, when I realized that sitting down at a restaurant meant to be bled to death by way of my wallet, I did what any sensible cheapskate would do and only ate standing up or on trains.

Yet, the problem persists. I start that batch of beer, or go to trim my beard for the first time in a spell, and though the brew paddle spins or the scissors snip, it takes me a hot second to understand what the hell I'm talking about.

This project I think I should understand. I'm not moving anywhere for a while, just signed a ten month lease, and not changing jobs. I have a (funding permitting) three year contract as a science coach at a nearby elementary school. So I doubt I'll be loading up on a plane for another continent, as much as I'd like to.

Shit. Even if I said damn the engagements and just went for it there's the troubling problem of not having a penny to my name. That's not true. I suppose I have a few pennies, but not much more. I have medical bills ahead of me (testicular cancer ain't cheap in this country, even if I just need a CT-scan to check up on it now and then) and my wife's working for nickles as a substitute teacher until she can join the prestigious ranks of those of us who like kids enough to not work with them three months of the year.

So that's what this project is to be about. My next year, stuck in my hometown, without much money. I think many of us fall into the trap of complacency in our home town. We've seen the festivals when we were younger, before the crowds and the californians. We remember orignal locations, and lower prices, and shorter lines. Its easy to get jaded and fall into that most deadly of human constructs, the routine. Sure at work, a routine's great. Teach mondays, practice until friday then time for the test, but a weekend or anytime after four o'clock can hardly be held to such rigor.

I once read in a Steven King book (Mr. King please correct me if I'm wrong, but don't send no secretary on to the interweb to do it) that those who write ultimately do it because they don't do.

I disagree with this sentiment.

For fiction perhaps. There are times I wish nothing more than to craft a story and forget about all of it, but non-fiction awakens something different in me, something wiggly.

I feel as arrogant as Aristotle, as educating as Euripades. I feel, when writing non-fiction, that I know a very small ammount. I am a master of no subject. I know ecologists and computer programmers, electricians and balloon clowns, yet I do little more than teach ten year olds and type away at an overpowered word processor. So, when writing non-fiction, I feel compelled to get off my butt, dust off the carkeys, and go see what's out there. There's little and less happening in my backyard, so I rely on projects like these to drive me from the home.

Last weekend, for example, before I started this project, my time was marred with inactivity. Not total inactivity of course, when a man has little to do he must prepare for the times ahead of him. For one such as I this means one thing: beer. I needed to brew, specifically, I needed to transfer a beer to get ready to bottle it.

Yet alas, my dear neighbor and best friend was using my fermenter, so off I went to the sister's boyfriend to procure this all-too-necesary tool. I crept into his backyard past a fiercely barking dog and territorial chickens to find the glass carboy. 6 gallons of glass-encased negative space. Beauty in a bottle. I tucked it under my arm and hurried home. Once in my humble abode, I set about cleaning and sanitizing my supplies, spun on my toes to grab the carboy (homebrewer parlance for big ol' jug) and bumped it with my knee. Not to worry, it rose barely an inch before coming back down the the gravitational embrace of sweet mother earth.

Only no one told it about the tile floor.

Somehow, defying all expectaction. The glass carboy shattered. Only the bottom didn't break, instead the top half exploded, a twisted firework of broken glass that shattered as utterly as my hopes of brewing that day.

Crestfallen, I thanked the brew gods for their mercy. My dad had broken his carboy the day before and been marked with two gushing wounds. At least I was unhurt, and no beer was lost.

I had not been stopped by the brew gods, only fined, I set out for the brew store to procure a six gallon jug.

Having done this I returned home only to find the six-gallon box was in fact a dirty liar. It housed only the carboy's diminutive cousin inside. The homebrew store closed, there was little I could do besides lament a weekend lost.

Yes, I'd partied the night before, and yes, I'd partied the night before that, but without beer moving along its fermentation, what's a man to hope for?

And that, I suppose, though roundabout and convuluted, is what this project is all about. I want more than broken brew equipment and foggy memories.

I want festivals. I want adventure. I want to meet interesting people and condemn their soul to haunting the internet.

I want my hometown to feel like somewhere new.

And maybe, if I can accomplish that, when I go new places, they'll feel a little more like home, and that can allow me to just sit back, relax, and drink a goddamn beer for a minute.