Throwback Thursday: Perpetual Childhood Should be a Thing

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the left and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday July 31, 2001

Dear Diary, 

My cousin Kaylee came camping with us last week. It was so much fun! It was the Otto campout so the whole side of my Dad’s was there. Me, Stephanie and Kaylee mostly hung out together and Kyle occasionally. On the way up (Wednesday last week) we followed Kyle and his dad in their RV. Their RV broke down 2 times! The second time me and Kaylee had to go behind the cars to direct traffic! It was fun tho, because Kyle came out w/ us, and when a car didn’t turn, he’d freak out and start jumping around. But when we finally got there, we set up camp, then me and Kaylee went for a canoe ride. We went over by the marsh, and on the way home Kaylee was entertaining the whole lake by singing Pochanotas songs. (UGH!) The weather was perfect! Then, the next day, Stephanie came up, and we went for another canoe ride, and then we went swimming. That’s when we saw Brock. Oh he was HOTT! Later we went swimming with Kyle. Then Brock came and Stephanie went over to him and asked how old he was. He said 14! And then Steph wanted me to come over and talk to him (I was too shy) but I said no. We gave him points for being wet, being with a little girl (she was 3 or 4), and some more stuff, but it added up to 23! (For the 2nd time seeing him, that’s pretty good.

Then we got split up, Kaylee and Stephanie and then me and Kyle. We talked about Brandon and Kyle said that he flirted with me a lot. I said I couldn’t tell, because guys are confusing when it comes to the flirting part. He’s a cutie, but…there’s Austin! I really wish I didn’t like him! I sort of don’t. I really think I’ll always (shut u, I know this is sappy, but I don’t care!) have a place in my ♥ for him, but right now there’s other people in my life I can go for: Brandon or Cory. LOL I ♥ Guys. 

But I guess I G2G, C YA L8R!

A few weeks ago, I told you all I was on vacation. I spent the week at the same place all this swimming and Pocahontas-singing took place. While it wasn’t quite as memorable as this particular trip (or last year’s, with the Asshole Loons), it was a great vacation nonetheless.

Silhouettes. Typical.

Silhouettes. Typical.

Each year, my father’s family takes a camping trip to Boulder Lake Campground. It’s somewhere in Wisconsin. I refuse to know the surrounding cities for fear of the place losing some of its magic. Though people come and go and different times, we’re all basically there for the same week. It signifies that another year has passed, so naturally I compare myself and my circumstances to the year before. The 2001 trip probably varied from 2000 in that I talked to a male cousin instead exclusively with my female cousins. My 2013 trip varied from 2012 in that I truly welcomed a break from the twittersphere instead of just anxiously wondering if I’d come home to finding my ex in a relationship on Facebook.

I don't know what road this is, nor do I care.

I don’t know what road this is, nor do I care.

Boulder Lake exists in a separate reality. Though I’m great with directions and I’ve driven there on more than one occasion, I refuse to remember the roads on which to turn to get me there. I go there to return to a state of adolescence. Because we’ve gone there for so many years, I obviously have a lot of memories: When I was 19, my best friend and I stole wine coolers from my parents’ cooler while they slept, then ran down the camp road to the beach in our underwear, somehow not tripping over a root or loose rock in the vacuum-black that exists only in the middle of the woods. I couldn’t have been older than 8, but I remember building a miniature campsite just off a trail with Corey and being terrified when the ranger stopped and walked over – not to yell at us, but to give us little pencil bags with Smoky the Bear swag. And all those years stuck between childhood and teenage angst, when we weren’t swimming, my cousins and I would ride our bikes all over the campground, like we were hoping to discover some new loop of sites we had just been missing each year before.

My uncle told me this was my grandfather's favorite drink. Super classy old fashioned in a bottle? Sign me up.

My uncle told me this was my grandfather’s favorite drink. Super classy old fashioned in a bottle? Sign me up.

Time is swift, and any mention of life’s brevity immediately sounds trite. But that’s what each trip to Boulder Lake pounds into my head: You don’t have as much time as you think. Value the time you spend with your family. Turn off the damn phone. Read another book. Sit and listen to the noises of the woods (ignore the generator running in the campsite next door). Talk less, listen more. Have another drink with your father. And if necessary, direct the traffic around your uncle’s RV, because believe it or not, he’ll be camping with the same one in twelve  years.

Vacation was EXHAUSTING, folks.

Vacation was EXHAUSTING, folks.

I guess I don’t have much to say to Young Ashley for this one. You went camping and had fun with your cousins. Remember that.

Vacation Notice


If you need me, I won’t be here.

I’m going on vacation. And by vacation, I just mean camping with my family where I’ll be detoxing from the internet. We go camping in a magical place where my cell phone has absolutely no service, so I’m forced to live like a barbarian and not live tweet about people-watching at the LAUNDROMAT (there’s at least one reader who will get a kick out of that) and how much coffee I wish I could drink.

I think dusky is the perfect adjective here.

I think dusky is the perfect adjective here.

I’ll be reading. Maybe writing. But mostly reading. Running on trail, drinking whiskey & lemonade, night swimming, and hiking with the coolest dog ever.

Go home, dog. You are drunk.

Go home, dog. You are drunk.

I’ll catch you guys next week – I may or may not be back in time for Throwback Thursday, so don’t riot in my absence.

Loons are Assholes

So I spent the last week or so camping. Since you all religiously check for new blog posts, I’m sure you figured out that I didn’t have access to the internet and was unable to update you on all the exciting things of my day. But don’t worry, I’m prepared to let you know what my days were like:

Wake up anywhere between 8 and 9:30, make a healthy breakfast (pancakes, cereal, fudge poptarts, or breakfast pudgie pies), drink a cup of percolated coffee then put on my swimsuit, grab a book (Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying or Lorrie Moore’s Self Help) my slouchy lawnchair and park in the shallow water where I read for a few hours before breaking for lunch, dinner, a nap, and a shower in the evening. Around sunset, I might join some family members for a cocktail cruise around the lake. Once the dark set in, I’d join my aunts, uncles, and cousins around a campfire where we listened to Alice’s Restaurant, played campfire games (“I’m going camping. I’m bringing keys and a kite.” “Can I bring a ninja and a rake?” “No.” “Could I bring a ninja and a rake?” “Yes.”), and drank old fashioneds.

Each day was basically a slight variation of this. Except Tuesday, when my dad suggested we go for a midnight cocktail cruise.

What could be better than a nighttime putter in the boat while we nursed melted whiskey cocktails? The sky was a bit overcast, so the lake was darker than usual, but there were still a few pinpricked stars. By the time we boarded, I had finished three glasses of wine and had just started my first old fashioned. I joined my dad, Corey, Ryan, and my Uncle Chisi (That’s his nickname, meaning “small” in Japanese) in my dad’s fishing boat. I was giddy and giggling, laughing about the buoy that read “HYDRANT PIPELINE,” telling Ryan that it was actually a hydrangea pipeline (“What happens if you hit the hydrangea pipeline?” “If you hit it, pink and blue hydrangeas will explode out, obviously.”) and then joking about crazy things Kanye West might do if he bought Boulder lake (make his servants walk around the lake barefoot because he couldn’t stand to have shoe prints on his trails). If you can’t tell already, I have a morbid fascination with that guy. He’s a caricature of himself.

We were about halfway around the lake when Chisi heard the soft moan of a loon. “Turn off the motor,” he said, the cigarette that sat perpetually in the corner of his mouth bobbing along with the syllables. “I wanna hear the loons.”

So my dad complied. He turned the motor off and we sat drifting slowly. A loon called soft and slow from the east side of the lake. Another cooed from the north end. After a pause the east loon called again, and we all made remarks on how nice it sounded. My dad went to start the boat up again and I said, “No, one more.” And sure enough, the north loon responded to the east.

Satisfied, he went to start the motor again. And it puttered.

Just puttered.

Did not continue.

“Awww shit,” my dad said. He always accentuates the “sh” sound in shit. The desperate frustration is more apparent that way.

“Alright, how many paddles you got in here?” Chisi asked, tossing his cigarette butt into the water.


None?” Chisi asked in that incredulous tone the Otto men have mastered.

“Nope. That’s on my to-get list for the camper,” my dad responded. Then he stood up to take off his sweatshirt. “Looks like I’m swimming.”

Somebody suggested the trolling motor. Corey hooked up the trolling motor and steered the boat towards the shoreline, in hopes that the battery would last until we got to a walkable depth. We all turned our gaze toward a light at the far southeast corner of the lake, near the boat landing of the campground, as if our combined stares could propel the boat faster towards the shore.

“All to hear a damn loon,” Chisi said.

“And now it isn’t even calling,” Ryan said.

“What an asshole,” I said.

My dad kept scratching his head and tightening his face into that tight grin he gets when he’s faced with the responsibility of problem solving. He gets that look when he’s pondering what’s wrong with a car engine or how he’s going to repair the overflowing washer again.

“We’ll get there dad, don’t worry about it,” I told him.

“Yeah,” Chisi said. “This is some funny shit.”

“Yeah, it’ll make good blog material,” I said.

My dad threw his head back. “You’re gonna blog about this?”

“Of course I’m going to blog about this. It’s hilarious.”

As the tone of the trolling motor got lower and the lights on the shoreline began to go out, I was glad that I was the only woman in the boat. Because of that, I would be the last one to be asked to get in the water to pull the boat into shore.

Eventually we got to water that was shallow enough to walk in. My dad jumped in, grabbed a rope, and began the slow trudge to the boat landing.

Soon Ryan stripped down to his underwear and jumped in to help.

Earlier in the evening my dad and I had a conversation about how some people might say he spoiled me but that he didn’t care, that I was his little girl. If this wasn’t proof, I don’t know what is. I mean, I know I wasn’t the only person in the boat, but you can bet that if I was the only other person with him, he would have given me his sweatshirt to stay warm while he trekked across the lake.

About two hours after leaving the dock, we were about 50 yards from the boat landing, it started to rain. By that point, my bladder could barely contain my four drinks. The men were all lucky enough to relieve themselves in a Folgers can kept in a cubby, but the same anatomy that saved me from pulling a boat across a lake also prevented me from relieving myself. Then I remembered that I had left all the windows on my wing of the camper wide open, practically inviting the rain to make all of my clothes, bedding, and books damp. Fortunately, we were able to get back to the campsite before the rain fell below the canopy and soaked everything.

What did I take away from this experience? First off, sometimes year-old batteries decide to stop charging themselves. Second make sure to have paddles in your boat. Last, and most importantly, loons are assholes who stop calling when the year-old battery in your boat dies and you realize you have no paddles. Also, if you ask nicely, your little brother will allow you to post a picture of him in his underwear on your blog.