I’ve always joked with people that if I were to develop a life-threatening allergy to seafood, I would settle my affairs, go to my kitchen and whip up a batch of bouillabaisse the likes of which the world has never seen before, pour myself a big glass of some fine, French wine and enjoy a divine last meal.
When I went vegetarian for four years during my early 30s, I couldn’t give up seafood, such is my love for the bounty of the oceans.
I learned to cook from watching my grandmothers and my mother work their magic in their respective kitchens over my lifetime. Through their bloodlines flowed thousands of years of shared knowledge. I loved the way they knew where in the cooking process they were by the smells and the colors or the feel. Cooking was a sensory experience, it wasn’t book learning.
My uncle Peter killed himself when I was 15-years-old.
It still haunts me 25 years later.
I’ve never really gotten over his death, because as a family, we never really discussed it.
This was in part our Ukrainian culture and the superstitions that came over the ocean with my grandparents, partly our religious beliefs and partly my age at the time.
All I ever really knew about the circumstances that led to his death was that he was a lonely man, in spite of having a loving, supportive family and that he struggled with depression.
Last week an old friend and former colleague from my newspaper days in Missoula, Montana, the indefatigable humorist, baseball lover and writer of Fatuous Twaddle, Jaime Kelly, ended his life in his car in a park in Missoula.
There was always something comforting about the old black and white cruisers that police drove around town when I was a kid.
I distinctly remember the words painted on the door – To Serve and Protect. And most of the time, you felt like that’s what police officers inside did.
Of course there was an ornery old cop in the small town of Turner that I had to drive through to get to and from high school each day who would pull you over for just about anything. But we weren’t afraid of him as much as we were of losing our gas money to one of his speeding tickets.
I always hated the inverted pyramid, that news technique of speed and convenience meant to give the audience a jumping off point once they reached peak information in a story.
It felt cheap and like giving up on the power of telling story.
My career in journalism happened at an unfortunate time in history. A time when the once captive audience of print discovered the Internet and the entirety of human knowledge available at their fingertips for the price of a little portable, wireless technology.
I realized this early on when I wrote a controversial story about scarification for my hometown newspaper in Salem, Oregon.
Whereas my editors saw some gritty news about unregulated tattoo and scarification artists essentially performing surgery on people, I saw an interesting cultural discussion about body modification and self expression in young people.
I was perusing the usual tabs this morning in an attempt to see how everyone’s day will be better than mine, (I’m moving today) and I came across an interesting article referencing a story I worked on many years ago as a reporter at The Oregonian.
After reading the sad story, I wanted to go find my original story, so I Googled Tim Akimoff, Oregon State Hospital, Urns.
In and of itself, that search is fairly tame. I learned not to search for things like Tim Akimoff, scarification or other such search terms that lead me down very depressing pathways filled with haters and trolls.
I took my first solo trip when I was 13, flying from Washington D.C. to San Francisco unaccompanied and absolutely sick to my stomach through the entire flight.
I used two barf bags, which I held in my lap because the passengers next to me were both deaf and sleeping. A kind but ultimately doomed flight attendant disposed of these for me when she realized my predicament.
To top it off, upon our descent into San Francisco, our plane hit a downdraught and lost nearly 5,000 feel of altitude in a single moment. We dropped so fast the flight attendant actually hit the roof of the plane about a dozen seats in front of me.
Last night my wife and I tallied all the places we’ve lived in our nearly 20 years together.
In that time, we’ve moved more than 20 times. And the longest we’ve spent living in one location was a little over three years in a double-wide trailer on the outskirts of Salem, Oregon while I attended the University of Oregon.