Friday, December 31, 2010

The Drought is Over!

I wasn't real optimistic, but my friend Rob from Fort Smith had a hunch that Blackburn Creek got hit with enough rain to bring Lee Creek up. I knew his hunches were far better informed than my hunches so I loaded up the kayak and headed out. Turns out about a dozen of us had the same hunch and were rewarded with the prettiest brown water we've seen on Lee Creek since spring! The gauge, 30 miles downstream in Oklahoma, just broke four feet which is barely runnable but the section we were on was running more like seven feet. We caught it right on the swell! It was cool to be able to paddle with the Fort Smith crew again and to finally test out my 40th birthday present on some moving water. I've had a pristine, scratch-free Jackson 4Fun kayak sitting in my dry and desolate closet since August, begging for rain. The rain came on New Year's Eve!

A picture of Nick watching as Rob takes a picture of Don surfing a wave.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Just Turned 40 an Hour Ago

which puts me in the twilight years of my botched life. Ain't a damn thing changed, though. I've known it was coming. I also knew that the Cossatot River would be running at a sweetheart level today and that my mom would be visiting from Houston and that I would choose, because everything in life is choice, to spend my birthday with her and my wife and son rather than leaving at six in the morning to do the one thing I say I love to do but have proven that I don't love to do because I consistently chose not to do it whenever the rare opportunity arises. I have the heart of a kayaker but life has given me a triple bypass. Actually that's bullshit. I do not have the heart of a kayaker. I do not have the heart of a runner, climber, bicycler, or even a disc golfer. Truth is, and I understand this with greater clarity now, at 40, than I ever have before--the truth is that I have the heart of a man, or a person, let's say, who has never broken a bone or even had a stitch, save the one which closed my gum after having a wisdom tooth pulled. I have the heart of a person so cautious that the most dangerous thing I've done in my life is fail to properly brush my back teeth, and that was more a matter of poor technique than intent; I tried my best to brush every tooth! But forty is here. Forty is the age when you realise who you are, and that who you are is who you are, and that who you are is not going to change. Forty is the age when you are able to examine your past decisions regarding kayaking and from that, accurately project future decisions. For instance, I know with great certainty that I will puss out from at least one trip to the Ocoee next summer. No doubt I'll have some lame excuse like "It's my son's birthday" or "I'm taking my boy camping" as if my son has no mother to take care of him. It's hard, I tell you! It's hard knowing that I could go kayaking tomorrow on the Cossatot and that doing so would not result in me getting divorced and that I reached the decision not to go kayaking very easily. Is it possible that in the deepest depth of my soul, in the part of me which I never explore because I'm afraid of what I might find--is it possible that I'm actually looking forward to the quaint and understated celebration my wife no doubt has planned for me in which by boy hands me the wrapped Andis Ceramic Advanced Hair Clipper #21490 which I've already purchased on ebay along with a card drawn in crayons and a cupcake with one of those candles shaped like a 40? Could that be?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Syndrome that Sounds Like Ass Burgers

There is such a thing, and I have it! The fact that I have been medically diagnosed with this condition, by myself, changes nothing. If anything, it just disappoints me to learn that I'm not the only one to have this crippling lack of social acumen; I thought I had invented something new! Other than that, the Dave who now knows his condition has a name is indistinguishable from the Dave who didn't know. I still alternate daily between constipation so severe it must be cleared digitally and diarrhea that makes a bad bout of amoebic dysentery feel like a single bad taco; I still get beat up for using words like ennui in the break room; I still have people ask me, "Jesus Christ, Renfro, do you talk about kayaks all the time?" "Not when I'm sleeping." I always reply as I continue my twenty-minute explanation of a method of running waterfalls called "boofing," a technique which I myself have never attempted. The diagnosis was a slam-dunk just from reading the Wikipedia article; it was mere curiosity that--and this is a stylistically terrible way to write this sentence--drove me to drive to the bookstore to purchase a copy of Tony Attwood's The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome* along with Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. When I read it (the Asperger's book), it was is if I had written it myself! About me! Seriously, every paragraph is like a mirror into my own socially dysfunctional soul. It talks about "pedantic speech" and "unusual prosody" and such: I have no fucking idea what prosody is but I'm all about pedantry! Why be merely correct when you can be pedantic? That's what I always say! The fact is, I know I must speak and write using rigorously correct grammar or everything I say will definitely be misunderstood, probably earning me a slap in the face or worse. The book also talks about unusual and narrow interests. Here's an actual quote: "The child with Asperger's may have read fifty novels by 19th century French realists with syphilis but won't be able to explain the meaning of any of them" (Attwood, 2007). No shit! It's really in there! And of course it mentions "using metaphor meaningful only to the speaker." I'm the poster boy for using metaphor meaningful only to the speaker! Did you know that the marriage to my partner of now fifteen years nearly never happened because of a botched metaphor? I was working as an airframe mechanic at the time that I composed what I thought was the most tender and heartfelt tribute I could ever offer her, that going a day without her love holding me tight would be like going a day without my cleco pliers. I guess she didn't understand how completely fucking impossible it is to perform even the simplest airframe repair without cleco pliers. It took a month of grovelling to win her back! So yes! It's a slam dunk. I do have Asperger's and I'm going to continue to have it till I die, eighty frustrating years from now, because I like it and I want to have it. Without it, or more precisely without the knowledge of it, I would still be wandering about looking for something to explain my astonishing lack of success in this world. Now I know!

*It is true that this book was recommended to me by a therapist who works with young children. Infer nothing! It is Mrs. DMG's position, and therefore my position, that even if DMG Jr. had what my Guru to All Things Rod White calls "the most grand and glorious 'wrong' that a person can have," and it would thrill me to learn that he did because it is glorious and it is grand, I should not post anything about it here. And so I won't.