woke up in the rain and everyone turned over

The way I remember it, the last day of school was always the hottest day of the year, capping at least a week of warm and sunny weather that brought with it the promise of spending every day of our impending summer vacation by the pool or at the beach. I didn't care that my parochial school forced us to wear dark shirts and corduroy pants when it was over ninety degrees outside, because in just a few days, the only corduroy I'd wear for months would be in the form of two-toned OP shorts.

Invariably, the first day of summer vacation arrived under cloudy and cold grey skies, and June Gloom settled in and stuck around until at least the Fourth of July.

I always felt cheated and ripped off. Why did the weather tease us so cruelly, and with such unforgiving regularity? Moreover, why did I fall for nature's cruel tricks year after year, and why was I suddenly wearing corduroy pants to stay warm?

I thought about this yesterday morning, as Anne and I prepared to walk our dog around the Rose Bowl. Mornings are almost always cool and damp down in the Arroyo Seco, and fog is quite common, especially this time of year. 

"I think I should have worn long sleeves," I said to her as we got out of the car.

"No, it'll warm up soon, and you'll be glad you're in a T-shirt." 

Seamus hopped out of the car and thumped his tail against the side of my leg.

"Someone's pretty excited to take a walk," I said.

Upon hearing the word walk, Seamus began wagging his entire body.

We met our friend Marie, who brought her dogs with her. Seamus adores her dog Quincy, and always wants to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with him, which we don't mind at all because it's adorable.

It seems like everyone loves my dog. Almost all the people who came toward and then passed us made some comment about how cute he was, or how happy he seemed. 

"We really hit the jackpot with this little guy," I said.

"We really did," Anne said.

"I can't believe someone abandoned him."

"Yeah, people suck."


We walked around the Western side of the Rose Bowl, along the golf course. It seemed like every group I saw wasn't having any fun, which must have sucked for them because that course is expensive. I used to play golf about once a week at public courses that were close to La Crescenta, like Scholl Canyon in Glendale, De Bell in Burbank, and Eaton Canyon up in Altadena. Even though I was never any good, I still enjoyed it when I played with my friends. Most golfers took it way too seriously for my tastes, though, and getting grouped with guys who seemed to think that we were on the PGA Tour took all the fun out of it for me. If I play at all these days, it's usually at a 3 Par with one of my kids.

There's this saying that golf is "a good walk, spoiled", and I smiled to myself as I thought that I was on the better side of the fence between us, with little risk of anything spoiling my walk.

I guess we'd been walking for about ten minutes when I realized that the sun had burned off the last lingering vestiges of the marine layer, and my face and neck were warm. 

"Good thing I didn't wear long sleeves," I said.

"Told you."

While Anne and Marie talked about mom things, I let my mind drift and opened my senses to the world around me. I heard the familiar low drone of a distant lawn mower, the fairly regular tink! of metal drivers shanking tee shots, and the quiet white noise of the 210 freeway, nearby. I smelled flowers and chemical fertilizer and wet grass, and when I reached down to pet Seamus, I felt heat radiating off his black fur.

I've been working a lot, spending most of my days confined to my office when I'm not on the set for something, and I haven't made much of an effort to get outside and enjoy the world. I don't think it's coincidence that I haven't felt particularly creative or able to write much of anything narrative for my blog. Getting outside and experiencing a significant change of scenery, opening myself up to whatever sensory input I could, felt good; by the time we got to the clubhouse on the Eastern side of the golf course, just over two and a half miles into the three mile walk, I felt like my writing mojo was beginning to return.

"I'm going to write about this," I thought to myself. "I don't know what it's really going to be about, but I'm going to write about it, for the sake of writing. It probably won't be particularly interesting or entertaining, but if I'm going to get to the interesting and entertaining stuff again, I have to grind out some boring stuff."

I walked into the clubhouse to use the bathroom. It was cooler inside than it was outside, and the faint smells of sterno and banquet food lingered in the air. 

When I opened the bathroom door, there were two old white guys inside using the urinals. One of them leaned on a cane, nodding along as the other one said, "…and now that there's so darn many women everywhere, you can't just take a leak on a tree whenever you want to!"

He spoke with equal parts lamentation and indignation, and as they walked over to the sink to wash their hands, I knew that, even if I didn't have something interesting to write about, there was at least one small part that was going to be entertaining.

I washed my hands and went back outside to meet Anne and Marie so we could finish our walk. I told them about a world, forgotten by all but a few aging men who once lived in it, where every tree belonged to every man and no woman ever came between them.

"I'm really glad I came out here to walk with you guys today," I said.

68 thoughts on “woke up in the rain and everyone turned over”

  1. Really enjoyed this piece. The incident with the two old guys reminded me of a quote from Futurama –
    (elderly narrator): “Do you remember a time when women couldn’t vote and certain people weren’t allowed on golf courses? Pepperidge Farm remembers”. :)

  2. Thankyou for reminding us of the beauty of the free spirit. Nature truly is the teacher of all things. I have known moments of complete exhilaration as well as peaceful quiet contemplation as if I was the only person on the planet. It’s pretty easy out here. I remember the words of C.W.McCall … there won’t be no country music, there won’t be no rock and roll, when they take away our country, they’ll take away our soul…

  3. I thought about that, too, but “guys” is the standard Californian gender-neutral pronoun (even though it technically isn’t) and because Hollywood is in California, it is becoming nationally-standard, as well. I keep trying not to use it, but then I get stumped because I don’t have any other good gender-neutral pronoun! And I’m certainly not going to use “y’all” like my wife (though I admit that it is the perfect gender neutral pronoun, being actually gender neutral, and being home-grown American).

  4. Wil, I love your posts, and although I can relate to your many gaming references, I think I relate to these little moments of “normal” life more. It’s these quiet, everyday scenes that touch most of us because they’re a part of us, too. Thanks for sharing your walk with us! I’m so looking forward to seeing you perform with everyone else at w00tstock Chicago on Sunday!

  5. I love reading blogs entries from writers I enjoy, no matter what the subject. But my favorite entries tend to be those where they actually write, unfettered by having to pass on important information or relate an important persuasive argument, about anything that strikes their inspiration.
    When I add a writer to my list of favorites, it’s because I enjoy their Voice. The Voice is the way they relate the world to me through the medium of words, and it’s the view of the world that I enjoy.
    It’s certainly why I write; to convey what the world (any world) is to me, and the part I find most fascinating is how readers take that view and Voice and interpret it within their own paradigm.
    I can relate to your quiet, peaceful, dog-walking morning. Thanks for sharing your view of it!

  6. Hey Wil- I meant to ask, do you have any quirky writer rituals that you do? Does your muse abandon you if you don’t have the right tools? I find it difficult to write sitting in front of the computer, and I think it is because I am a Code Monkey by trade. You know “This job fulfilling in creative way…such a load of crap.” Yeah, for me totally true. So if I’m trying to actually write I find it impossible to put a sentence together in front of the computer. I have to have a pen & paper, and my handwriting becomes atrocious in a way that it isn’t when I am writing down a grocery list.
    I just wondered. I’m always interested to hear little things like that from very creative people. I find it fascinating how differently different people’s brains work. :)

  7. Wow. I STILL get flack for my OP-cordshorts-wearing days. Looking back though, they were not as great as I thought they were when I’d don them for ‘Joe Cool’ nights cruising in Irvine. With a mullet. Yes, I’m a recovering OP/mullet guy.
    I really enjoy reading your work because of the flood of, “Holy crap that reminds me of the time…!” bricks that always seem to fall on me. . . mostly enjoyable.
    Thank you.

  8. I wish I could just sit down wherever and "open a vein" like Cory Doctorow, but I need some pattern, some ritual to get to work.
    It's easier for me to get going if I start first thing in the morning, and I really do need it to be quiet whenever and wherever I'm writing. I used to work longhand, but my brain moves much faster than my pen these days, so I prefer to work at a keyboard.

  9. As horrible it is to use a Star Trek metaphor, it reminds me of the moment in time that Jean-Luc saw the hummingbird flying at the flower. Your such the normal guy out for a walk that can express what he experiences with humor and grace. Am just glad to know that you all washed your hands after. Try not to question your ability to entertain because sharing what we are brings us all closer to the same page I think. Keep posting and we’ll keep reading. Cheers

  10. Anything well-written is an interesting read. Anything written by a great writer is an interesting read. Your posts are always both, Mr. Double Trouble!

  11. You know, I had always heard that quote was Churchill. But he was a contemporary of Clemons, so maybe it migrated back and forth between them.

  12. Very interesting. I am always in awe of how you can really capture a moment when you write. I sure would love to see you read from one of your books again in person. I never got to tell you (because I was too nervous) how much I love your books-while you were signing them at Mysterious Galaxy. What a dork right?!:) I just rattled on about crap…but I just had to say it finally! You are amazing!

  13. Good stuff happens when you get up and get out of the house. I’ve been shooting outdoor photographs and blogging about them every day in an attempt to be less attached to my computer and more active. I appreciated your story about the simple enjoyment you can get from a walk, especially how you described how the sunshine felt. It’s such a good feeling.

  14. These are the posts that I missed and the reason why readers both new and old continue to check on you from time to time. Reading about your boring little life is very calming, I dare say almost as calming as the experience it gives you living it.
    You’ve got such a big voice, Wil and I for one am glad that you found it so many years ago and that you continue to use it. And it seems as though I’m not the only one.
    Thank you for the lovely image and, to quote an excellent writer, “I’m really glad I came out here to walk with you guys today.”

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