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What is Friendship? Part Two

Note: This is the second section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Two: Friendships are a narrative resource In the spring of 2012, I was preparing to apply to graduate programs to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. My intended area of study [...]

What is Friendship? Introduction and Part One

Introduction: Why Friendship? I am entering the phase of life in which I am supposed to “put away childish things,” as the Biblical saying goes (1 Corinthians 13:11). I’m in my early thirties, I’ve got a wife, a home, a good job and a dog. What comes next? Have a kid or two, build up your career. [...]

Working It Out: Reflections on a Five-Year Experiment

Introduction: How I Got Here Five years ago, in October 2013, I committed myself to an experiment that felt both comfortably secure and quite risky. After teaching abroad in Japan for a year, I returned to my hometown in Humboldt County, CA, moved in with my mother and girlfriend, and actively eschewed all forms of [...]

My Life as a Shepherd’s Dog: Iron & Wine’s Masterpiece Turns Ten

Introduction In fall 2007, I was beginning my sophomore year at the University of Oregon. Having made it through the growing pains of freshman year, I had begun to relax a little. I’d found a great group of friends to live with, and finally felt ready to embrace the college persona that made the most [...]

Traveling in Post-Brexit Britain

Introduction: Waves Across the Pond I can’t remember a time when the political coverage of Britain in the United States was more fervent than during this summer’s Brexit vote. Given the parallels between the Brexit movement and the rise of Donald Trump, it makes sense that many interpreted the referendum as a testing ground not [...]

The Life and Death of Sweet Meats: A Tribute to Barry Snitkin

This is my fiftieth journal, which feels like an appropriate time to reflect on the origins of the words&dirt blog. When I began this project more than two years ago, I wanted to develop ideas about a way of life that was experimental for me. I wanted to step outside the traditional channels of education [...]

Journal #49: Rocky Road

Anyone who has visited the Raymers knows the gravel road that spans the two acres between the main road and our house. The road is in generally poor condition, with grass growing in a strip down the center and a number of sizable potholes that hold standing water in the wet season. We’ve been wanting [...]

Journal #48: Circling America, Pt. 3

Readers who’ve come this far might justifiably be thinking: Yeah, America’s a nice place and all, but six weeks on the road couldn’t have been pure bliss! Where’s the dirt? Our trip was surprisingly devoid of setbacks (no car trouble, natural disasters, relationship-altering fights, etc.), but it definitely wasn’t a perfect pleasure all the time. [...]

Journal #47: Circling America, Pt. 2

There are lots of ways to design a cross-country road trip, but Jessie’s goal was to see as many National Parks as possible. We visited few major cities, and spent about half our nights camped under the stars. Seeing National Parks has never been a particular ambition of mine, but I’m not much of an [...]

Journal #46: Circling America, Pt. 1

6 weeks. 12,000 miles. 26 states. 23 National Parks.   Back in April, Jessie laid out the schedule for our upcoming summer road trip. She wanted us to trace a loop around the country, heading north from our home in Northern California, turning east when we got to Washington, cutting through southern Canada into Maine, [...]