Tickets are booked and we’re leaving a week from today to go trucking, trailering, trailer-converting, roof rack fabricating, and otherwise little dogging all over the CONUS in preparation for our new biz start-up.  About two months from now, I’ll be able to add “custom trailer conversions” to my schizophrenic resume; who woulda thought.

Let’s just give a moment of silence to the fact that I’ll be cold again no doubt.  I haven’t been cold, in my physical body, since November first, the day we got on the airplane to move to Hawaii.  I did get into the ocean and make a total hash of boogie boarding on a few occasions, and that was cold-ish, but actually not really lol.  Fire season number five…or six?…for me, number two for Nick.

Perhaps helpfully, I weighed myself this morning, as usual, and I weigh more than I ever have, ever.  It was crazy to step on the scale and be 141.2.  I’ve hovered around 122 for decades, on purpose, but decided to take on this fitness competition process with eyes wide open so that means getting bigger and stronger, first.  I still haven’t been consuming enough daily calories, not remotely, so I’m actually surprised it’s working.  (I try, it’s just tedious.)  I don’t crave the right things.  Or, I crave the right things for remaining 122 for the rest of my life, but not the right things for this.

These days if you go veg or vegan, it’s literally as easy as buying vegan versions of what you normally eat.  The only thing they haven’t conquered yet is cottage cheese.  Also, people who cry “GMO” or other nutritional foul in regards to vegan alternatives clearly don’t know what the fuck they’re consuming in their meat, to include trenbolone, the most powerful anabolic growth hormone on the market.  People accuse Nick of being a juice head and he’s like, ‘You’re the juice head and you don’t even know it’.

Anyway, my dietary inclinations solidified into their current patterns long before vegan meats and cheeses existed in any viable way, so my appetite is like a pre-industrial infrastructure that just isn’t ever going to look like a post-industrial infrastructure.  I made us sandwiches yesterday and put vegan deli meat in Nick’s but not in mine because I just can’t handle it — it’s the most invasive texture in the world, for a kid who grew up on not that.

In other news, I want to give a shout out to my brother Abe!  Mainly because I’m feeling sad about leaving for so long, and I’m gonna miss him so much, and I never comment on him because he’s just a wonderful, zero-drama fixture of my life.  So, Abe is the co-owner of a delicious vegan Thai restaurant in Seattle called Kati, and also works full-time remotely doing xyz computer shit.  He has a simple card table set up, out on the lanai overlooking the pool, the yard, and the ocean, and creates video games in his spare time as he’s consistently done since we were both kids, having taught himself how.

We all lived in different places, before this Hawaii experiment, and Abe was in Seattle of course.  As the original funding partner, the daily hands-on ops of his restaurant had shifted from his AO to his partner’s AO several years before, and she’s done a fantastic job navigating the fledgeling enterprise through not only the rocky waters of the fake pandemic and 12 months to flatten the curve, but also Seattle’s signature variation on the peaceful protest theme which, last I checked, did accomplish all it hoped for and more in terms of ushering in an era of racial harmony and national unity.  (By the way, off-topic — I almost spit my drink when I read Minneapolis just spent 6 or 7 million dollars trying to hire back police after the great defund-ening.)  So props to her, ALTHOUGH she was more inclined to close in the early stages of fake pandemic and my brother was like ‘fuck that, we’re staying open’.

But what I think is an even cooler backstory, to this card table on the lanai overlooking the ocean where my brother diligently works everyday, is how he got the money to open the restaurant in the first place, which was like 600k and not the kind of money we grew up with.

Basically he taught himself to be really good at his skill and then taught a bunch of other people to be really good at that skill, for 16 years, WHILE attempting several entrepreneurial endeavors along those lines.  One time he lived in his rented office for like 5 years, I’m talking, and showered at the gym, and had a car that always broke down.

He paired up with a friend and partner years ago, decades ago in fact, and they made a go of it together at various times in various ways.  I don’t think anything they were doing was working very well, money-wise, but then one of those right-time, right-place things happened.  They couldn’t pay the bills doing the projects they wanted, so they’d had to bid on a couple projects they definitely didn’t want, but which paid better, and they did those.  Then the company who was subcontracting those undesirable projects got bought out by another company who essentially eliminated everything except projects of that nature, and offered-slash-demanded that my brother and his partner come on full time to run the expansion of the thing that, now, they were the only ones on the face of the earth who knew how to do, and move to Seattle and get paid salaries and stock options etc.

Abe and his partner were like ‘goddammit this is even more not what we want to do’ — they just want to make games, and they’re really good at it — but they did it.  Abe was miffed down the road because his original partner kind of got caught up in some, idk, weird thinking, and froze Abe out a bit, and was spending all his money on yachts and dumb shit, and Abe was just HODLing before that was even a thing.  Abe had a nice apartment but other than that he was just like, ANYWAY.  Trying to focus on his games, and play with his cats but spray them with water when they interfered to much with the programming, and drink iced tea and otherwise resume getting things done.  Abe just wants to make video games, and it is amazing what a goddamn ordeal it is, just to create space and time for that.  The partner/friend freezing him out had no effect on Abe’s income and actually helped him get out from under a bunch of work he didn’t even really want to do, so Abe was kind of bemused.

Anyway, then another, bigger company bought that company out, and the stock options paid out, and Abe peaced out, and (it’s actually a much longer story but) held onto his payouts until he met the right partner to help him start the right business in the right location and voila — Kati.  He had a dream of opening a vegan restaurant long, long ago — I remember him talking about it more than ten years ago.  It didn’t have to be Thai, it didn’t have to be in Seattle, and it didn’t have to be fancy, but it had to be vegan.  He made it happen and it got off the ground and BOOM, headshot to the US economy, but it’s still going okay.  Truly delicious food; I lose my mind every time I eat there.  And I waitressed there for like a minute.

Anyway, things don’t always go perfectly with business partners, as Abe already learned in the first go, and there came a time where things got a little frosty, just as Seattle got a lot less desirable — can you imagine trying to sell a house in Seattle right now?  I’d burn it down for the insurance money — and Abe found himself living in one of the most woke, chaotic, defunded, mask-mandated, and EXPENSIVE places in the country, for really no reason since all of his necessary work with the restaurant could now be accomplished remotely.  The sister cat had died of old age, the brother cat had been first babysat, then adopted entirely by the kitchen’s cook, who to this day cooks with a full color photo of the cat propped up on the shelf where he can see it, and additionally got a half-sleeve tattoo portrait of the cat.  My brother’s cat hit this cook like a fever, like a Texas tornado, I tell you.  No one has ever loved anything like Phoom loves this cat.

Anyway, so Abe was at loose ends but increasingly committed to moving, and by that time Nick and I had realized it’s stupid to live anywhere but Hawaii.  I say that kind of flippantly, but…not really.  I mean, if you just thought that doing laundry meant going down to the river and beating garments against rocks, and someone showed you a Maytag washer and dryer, you’d make the switch, right?  That’s how Nick and I felt after visiting Hawaii last fall.  We were like: Okay then, that’s all but settled.

So Abe made noises about moving back to Arizona and we said JESUS CHRIST MOVE TO HAWAII, and Abe said ‘jeez, alright’, and did so, sight unseen.  He had zero support for his 14 day quarantine here, because none of us were here yet — Nick and I were still out wrassling fire junk — and Abe had assumed there would be food delivery services here because he came from Seattle where you don’t have to lift a finger to get food delivered.  There are no delivery services here, it is basically like Jurassic Park meets rural Texas.  So Abe had to eat shelf-stable foods for two straight weeks, like a goddamn doomsday prepper.  But he had his desk and computer set up, on the lanai of that rental, overlooking something oceanic I believe, and did his job and worked on his games and just made it happen!

So, the moral of the story is that so much of what we’ve enjoyed and accomplished here has been because of Abe forging the trail, doing the hard work of finding a rental we could all be happy with, in a location that turned out to have the best weather on the whole Big Island, and coincidentally down the street from a Spell sister girlfriend I already had, online, years since.  Nick and I were able to convince my dad to move out, thereby allowing us to put our Flagstaff house on the market, and do the work of wrapping up that household, but Abe has been the one to buy my dad four box fans when he’s convinced he’ll die if he doesn’t have more fans, and a space heater when he’s convinced he’ll die if he doesn’t have a heat source (we’re all still scratching our heads about that one), and do more to smooth out my dad’s rough moods than I was able to.

My dad’s feeling better, but having his children do all the work to move him to literal paradise represented a spiritual injury and acute assault on everything he held dear that it took him a while to bounce back from.  He would sit on the lanai in a Uhaul blanket (we have other blankets, but no), in a funk, for weeks, months.  So I don’t really understand that part, but I guess there’s a possibility that Nick and I can eventually get some fire season HQ roots laid out in Boise area and my dad could potentially enjoy being there?  I’m not sure, but I feel confident things will work out one way or the other.

Anyway, Abe is “at work” right now, looking over the ocean and surreptitiously checking to see how badly the Supreme Court is fucking us — pretty bad, looks like — and just generally holding it down WHILE continuing, always, to make video games when and as he can.  He’s making one now based on a character he and I created, in childhood, as a by-product of having read too many Conan the Barbarian comics.  This character is called Axor the Mighty, and we would try to out-do each other, crafting stories of Axor preventing a volcano from exploding with his bare hands, or Axor trouncing a dragon and saving a princess.  It was really good for me to have a highly literate, creative, and intelligent brother three years my senior, as a kid, because it made me want to compete with him as a writer and creator.  We also wrote alternating chapters on a book called Ho-Hum Yeng’s Wisdom of the Ages, which was a by-product of watching too much Karate Kid.

I’m sad to be leaving, for the whole…fire season plus safety margins…but I’m excited about our project.  There’s a very large parcel of land just south of us (ie up the steep hill, further from the ocean but overlooking it much more magnificently), and just north of Haley and William’s big parcel, that all four of us are very keen on trying to buy.  It’s not listed for sale yet, and we are not in a position to buy yet in any case, but Nick and I have realized that we better level up our money game dramatically if we, as a family, hope to buy this land.  Abe can move mountains, but he can’t do everything by himself.  Haley has already said she wants to grow old with me and share dresses forever, so I just feel like being forever neighbors is in the vibrational cards.  Her shoulders have stayed the same size and I’m having to sell a bunch of dresses and blouses right now because my shoulders are swelling to she-hulk dimensions, with all this lifting and eating, but at least we can share strapppies lol.

So yes, feels good to pay homage to all my brother has accomplished, none of it in really a straight line or entirely premeditated manner, but more of a dogged focus and consistent offering of positivity.  Thanks to him, thousands of people can go get a delicious, affordable vegan meal, and play really fun video games, and a bunch of people have work where they otherwise might not.  My brother is a ray of sunshine and a powerful source of good, and I feel lucky to have grown up with him, continuing on into our 40’s and beyond!

In closing: the she-hulk shoulders in question:

Here’s me and Haley the other day:

And some nice recent ones of Nick with the dogs, and my dad:

And finally, a bunch of Abe, and me and Abe, over the years!