When ‘not enough’ is too much

 

That's a whole lotta bullshit.

That’s a whole lotta bullshit.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard two of my coworkers – both who’ve written and published books – were discussing their experiences with non-work-related writing projects.

They were mostly discussing the editing process (which I’m absolutely not looking forward to), but I saw my opportunity and idly inquired as to what self-publishing platform they used. I say “idly” because, while I’ve mentioned it on the blog and social media before, I don’t know who does and doesn’t know that I’m writing a book about my first year here.

The summer months, while great for getting out and doing fun stuff and seeing Maine (and terrible for my bank account), have been tough on my motivation to sit down in one place for hours at a time and write, or pull together content for the book.

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Out and About: Pittston Fair

Looks familiar...

Looks familiar…

I was a real indoors kid growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane. I was perfectly content to spend my spare time reading, writing and playing the odd video game.

When I got to high school, after an unfortunate instance of being mugged for my fundraising chocolates at the train station, I befriended the biggest guy in my grade, a kid from the country named Wayne.

Wayne and I were polar opposites but we soon became good mates, and he brought me a little ways out of my “stay inside, don’t get dirty” shell.

Wayne lived in a more rural area, one which hosted a yearly fair called the Dayboro Show. It had everything you might expect: agricultural exhibits, a car show-and-shine, baking, craft and preserves competitions, fried foods (some on sticks!), people of all ages in jeans and boots that looked not like fashion statements, but like they’d been born in them.

The last Dayboro Show I went to was in 2009, when I took my ex from New Hampshire to see what I’d seen when I was a kid. But today, I took a step back into my adolescence at the Pittston Fair.

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Tell me where to go (because I can’t work it out)

Same same...but different.

Same same…but different.

One of the more obvious differences I faced when I first moved over here – and hell, when I was making my yearly visits, too – was the whole “driving on the opposite side of the road” factor.

In the handful of instances where I actually drove in the U.S. on vacation – 2010, for the amusement of a friend, and in 2013 out of sheer necessity for the Rhode Island Seafood Festival, where I had to help return various rental vehicles I wasn’t technically licensed to drive – it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience.

When you drive exclusively on the left side of the road and right side of the car for 28 years, it’s tough to know which shoulder to look over, where your blind spots are, and how much vehicle you have on the opposite side of you.

But those aren’t the only factor that I’ve had to consider – the roads themselves are entirely different beasts as well.

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A face only a mother could love

 

Lucky I've got a great personality, right?

Lucky I’ve got a great personality, right?

For as long as I’ve been of legal age to drink (that’s over a decade…holy hell), I think my parents’ greatest fear is that, at some point on a big night out, I’m going to end up on the wrong end of a punch.

Truthfully, it probably should have happened at some point. People say I’m pretty quick with a comeback, and I’m a wise-ass at the best of times, even though I’ll wear an “I’m obviously kidding” grin while I’m joking around. I even wrote, very early in this blog, that I had a niggling concern in the back of my mind that one of these days someone’s going to take umbrage to my Australian schtick and let me know what’s what.

But despite being 6’2″ and 210lb with a shaved head and an unshaven face – or perhaps because of that? – I’ve thankfully never found myself in that position.

However, this makes the story of how exactly I woke up Saturday morning with a black eye and a split cheek even more embarrassing. But it’s a story that includes elements that basically perfectly encapsulate the small-town Maine experience.

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New column: In which I ask central Maine to hang out

I think I’ve figured out why lately I’ve felt like columns have been few and far between.

It’s not because the weeks are somehow further apart, or some weird calendar trickery, so you can rule that out.

It’s because I haven’t sat down to write one for what feels like months. This one, my last one and my next one were all written about six weeks ago, in a frantic “oh shit, I’m going to be away that weekend” panic.

As it turns out, I was only away for the Fourth of July weekend, since plans I had to go away this weekend were thwarted. Still took Friday off though!

Anyway, here’s my latest offering. In it, I wax lyrical about all the “firsts” I’ve experienced since I immigrated here, and some that I’m still yet to accomplish.

The latter category basically sees me sending out an open invitation to the papers’ readership, asking them to throw a football with me, or take me ice fishing (in a couple of months, though. The river is still rushing at this point.)

Behold…

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Making up for lost time

Thanks for inviting me to your birthday, Shipyard.

Thanks for inviting me to your birthday, Shipyard.

I asked the seething masses a couple of weeks ago what, collectively, you’d like to read more of on the blog.

The overwhelming majority of my 25 faithful voters chose more stories about my adventures around Maine and the U.S. GOOD CHOICE, GANG!

Now, that came shortly after I kicked a revolting hangover earned during a three-day bender in Los Angeles, and I didn’t actually get around to chronicling that one, but you’ll get a perfectly good explanation after the jump.

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Is it September yet? #sureamhungry

 

Best view in the house.

Best view in the house.

(Editor’s note: I promise this will actually be about the Rhode Island Seafood Festival, the east coast’s best event of the year, but lemme get some typical historical preamble in there first.)

When I first visited the U.S., in the summer of 2008, it was the final realization of something I’d always wanted to do. I’ve been reading the book I wrote about that trip a lot recently, and it kinda boggled my mind when I got to one page in particular.

The trip that fueled my ongoing obsession with this country was entirely built around August 19, the day the Chicago Cubs played host to the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

A random internet user on a random writing messageboard had advised me there was nothing more “summer” in the United States than watching the Cubbies from the bleachers at Wrigley.

Short of any other ideas about how or where to start planning, I brought up the MLB season schedule, picked a mid-August date, and built my entire seven-week boozing-and-sightseeing odyssey around that game. I think it turned out okay?

Much like that trip, my decision to really focus on immigrating here (instead of, y’know, just spending six weeks drinking here every year) can be traced back to a similarly unexpected, throwaway moment, in September 2012.

Instead of a baseball game, though, it was a promise I made to a guy who’s been like a brother to me.

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This is a democracy (I guess?): Your opinions needed!

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Free beer in exchange for your opinions! (Note: no free beer)

So after finally shaking the enormous hangover I sustained last weekend in California, not to mention the thumping headache sustained from about nine combined hours of sleep all weekend and a red-eye flight back to Maine, I’m ready to write again.

I’m intending to put together some form of trip report or something from the holiday weekend, but since it was a three-day bender that might take me until the end of the week to relive all those beers, mimosas and excessive brunches.

In the meantime, I’ve been kinda wondering. What are your personal favorite types of posts here at CrawfinUSA.com? There’s a poll after the jump… (more…)

Does this wedding get good reception?

It feels like YEARS since my last column got published. I guess that’s the upside of five-Sunday months though, right?

Anyway, I’m in Los Angeles this holiday weekend and, at this very minute, I’m probably three sheets to the wind. But to prove that I do still have, like, a job and everything, here’s my latest offering for CentralMaine.com.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll probably recognize the middle portion from a post I wrote here a little while back.

But I’ve given it some current context, by topping and tailing it with some anecdotes about my dad’s wedding.

And after the jump there are even a couple of hilarious photos of me as a cardboard cutout.

So without further ado…

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